Monday, September 01, 2014

Me And My Own Issues

Being mindfully grateful is a big part of it. I make the choice to spend as many moments as possible noticing what's good about my day, my surroundings, my life, my family and myself. After all it's only the present moment we have -- the past is history and the future is imagination.

As often as I can, I savor each one for at least 20 seconds. Why? Because, "The longer that something is held in awareness and the more emotionally stimulating it is, the more neurons that fire and thus wire together, and the stronger the trace in memory." So that means we are getting more than fleeting value from each one: we are rewiring our brain for happiness. 

Here I am so often talking about the miswiring in the brains of my children, not seeing the forest for the trees maybe?  My own brain now changed by exposure to trauma, thus a virulent case of PTSD, why don't I work on repairing my own brain?  Clean my own house first, so to speak.

I'm still walking for about an hour barefoot each day on the soft pine needles, grinning goofily on the mossy part of the path, and treading more gingerly where my mowing the blackberry bushes has resulted still in some thorns.  My speed isn't what it is while wearing shoes, but the benefits of earthing are coming through to me.

Scoff if you want, I don't care.  Reading the scientific evidence convinces me

I do adore tiny houses and minimalism, but it's not feasible for a mom with ten kids still living at home.

Plan B?  Keep on seeing what I can do without, lessening a negative impact upon the planet, flying under the bar code radar while also concentrating on zero waste principles, and not acquiring more stuff that I don't need anyway, still relishing the challenges of it all in a family this large.

My downsizing will result someday in a big, empty house.  Literally bereft of furniture, I'll delight in its empty spaces, nothing to dust and little to have to clean, thus allowing me more time outside to work happily in the gardens.

Daniel was here for the UGA-Clemson game, explaining to me that the laptop computer I'd bought for CW's foray into college was a sorry choice, "Here's a better one," he'd explained, detailing how CW's UNG technology account needed this other one.  Fortunately I save receipts and we exchanged it yesterday, buying a better one that costs $50 less.  Go figure.

The electronics section in Sam's Club does provoke a desire to acquire within me, I am tempted by the stuff I can't afford, so I don't even look around.  I'd gotten an advertising circular for Pier One (also with temptations) and I did leaf through it, but I told the kids, "Here's the stuff we'll soon find at yard sales for cheap."

Our church had a Movie On The Lawn last night, showing God's Not Dead to several hundred people in lawn chairs watching an inflatable screen about two stories high.  My inner reclusive nature had me balking at the thought of staying still for two hours, my fidgeting likely to annoy others, so I dropped off the kids who wanted to go, and I stayed home with the others.

Me rife with my social avoidance tendencies, and I like everyone there on the lawn.  I just kind of feel too emotionally exhausted to make small talk sometimes.  I wanted to wallow in my pjs alone, to regroup emotionally instead.

So instead of watching something fulfilling, I went home to eat popcorn and watch some forensic show on the Investigative Discovery channel, but I got to thinking.  It was a murder story and the murderer felt justified in murdering someone just because they'd rejected him.

Now there's a line of thinking I can't buy into at all.  When I'm rejected, or not chosen, I deeply believe it's because that's not God's Will for me.  I don't wanna punish the person or situation that isn't for me.  I don't wanna hurt people who hurt me, nor do I feel the need to retaliate.  It just doesn't make sense in my mind.  I move on, and try shake it off.  Life's easier and more simple that way, right?

I crave simple.  I can do this, I can simplify in my own way in my own home. The abstract to the study quoted is here, I'd have to copy and paste the entire paragraph, so important and earth shattering is it, but, hey, I do buy into it.

And while working on my over-taxed mind, Sarah'd told me about this:

Plant-based diets may positively influence mental health. Vegetarians, in both cross-sectional and interventional studies, appear to have fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and mood disturbance than omnivores, perhaps because of less need for medical treatment or because of the significantly lower intake of arachidonic acid (see also here), which is found in particularly high levels in chicken and eggs. The genetic manipulation of chickens by the poultry industry may also have negative public mental health impacts. Chicken has been linked to a variety of neurological and psychiatric conditions. Toxoplasma brain parasites from meat have been linked to schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.

Dang, y'all.  Maybe us tree-hugging, barefooted, old hippies might be on to something?  If nothing else, I do feel better, even happier probably, than most women my age who are sadly dependent on their cholesterol reducing or blood pressure medications, etc.  I'm a whiner here for sure, but the simple fact that I'm still standing after all I've endured ought to count for something.

I think maybe to be happy, productive and successful in any way, one must concentrate on the 3D human - body, mind and spirit.  If we don't tend to all three aspects, somethings gonna give in a negative manner.  Isn't that just some kind of logic?  It is to me.

"I don't eat half the amount of meat I used to eat," folks will tell me which makes me happy since reducing the amount also effects heavily the entire carbon problem.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Soccer Tournament

Lily, Tabby, Nando and I blew out of here as the sun came up to get to Atlanta for Nando's soccer tournament, an all day event that was more fun than one might imagine when considering sitting in the blazing sun for hours.

He's playing on a wonderful team with a good group of kids, very involved parents, and it's on a higher level than he's been playing.  He's used to being one of the best soccer players on the field at rec, now he's playing with a ton of great soccer players.

Tabby'd never seen an ice cream truck before and wanted me to take her picture with it.  I told you we live isolated.
I splurged with the last $6 cash I had and bought each of them a snow cone, gag, chemicals over crushed ice, I'd rather eat dirt.

And it's just about all I can do to not jump in the van and spend a weekend in Pensacola to see Miriam and this cutie who plays in the dirt all the time, bringing Miriam handfuls of dirt as gifts.  Good thing she grew up with me, used to seeing folks who love dirt.

The sun sapped me, sitting is way more tiring than weeding and digging.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mind, Body, Soul

97 degrees, but with very little humidity, at least for Georgia in August, driving Tabby to horseback riding as she informed me, "I don't mind the heat, it feels good after freezing in school all day long with that cranked up AC."  Even Nando went out in a sweatshirt this morning to school, it's gonna be 95 degrees, this is ridiculous.

I agree with her, I'd had a great day working outside with CW, Allen, Martin and JoJo helping me out.  We'd limbed up some trees in the backyard to allow more sunlight and hauled wheelbarrow loads of wood chips.  Considering we've had precious little rainfall, my gardens still look pretty good, minus all the deers have eaten.

I'd spent an hour and a half with three of my dogs, Junebug, Cholo and Shadow, barefootin' through the woods, blown away by the peacefulness and the beauty surrounding me.  I'm so blessed to own this place of peace and solitude.

My elderly truck is in the repair shop with a guy I totally trust, having known him since he was a kid, the original radiator, 15 years old, replaced, plus a balance thing on a belt that squeals whenever I crank it.  "Guess you can't sneak out in your truck," I've been told.  Hey, I'll just take the van...

"Don't you think you finally deserve a new car?" a teenager asked me.  Nope.  I'd have to make payments and I don't have that kind of money.  I don't deserve to take on debt.  I'm also happy with my 1999 truck anyway.

"Later Loser!" Jojo hollered out the van window at me, as I was pumping gas.  He'd jumped in the driver's seat and had the keys that I generally leave in the van.  I reached in the window to unlock my own driver's side door, as he hollered loudly to everyone else there pumping gas, "Hey! Help me y'all!  This old lady is trying to jack my van!"

I was laughing too hard to seriously be considered a viable suspect.  But I'm telling you, this boy's a nutjob.  I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the Army National Guard gets a load of this guy.

I'm gonna miss him big time when he goes to Youth Challenge, but not the messes he makes.  His work boots are in the living room, his mandals (sandals) are in the kitchen next to his cereal bowl and the not put away box of cereal, his shorts are in the family room, there's always a trail of crap in his wake.

As I walked yesterday, I listened to Dr. Joy Browne psychologist podcasts.  Always interesting, always informative, a caller calling to express how much she feels she's gleaned from listening to Dr. Browne for many years.  I so agree.  There's so very much to learn for all of us regarding human behavior, motivation, and actions.

Books, or issues like Toxic Bosses or Sharks in Suits tell us how many troubled people we may indeed encounter in our lifetime.  Wolves in sheep's clothing, weirdos, or manipulative, conniving folks,  Then we'll have our own issues; be it jealousy, dissatisfaction, unmitigated anger, whatever - life takes a varied set of skills in order to navigate each day.  So what am I?  Paranoid?  Maybe.

CW's been informed that he doesn't necessarily have to major in Biology in order to someday get into Physician's Assistant programs, he's considering Psychology a little, but expressed to me after living with bipolar siblings, or those with schizoaffective disorders, amongst other diagnoses, he's not too interested in more exposure to such challenges.  "It seems pretty hopeless," he continued.

"What about the mind-body connection?  Are you interested in pursuing that?"  I probed.

"Hmm, Maybe," he answered.

Finally science is making the connection, something I've read a great deal about, learning of the many facets involved, be it folks just trying to garner attention, or seeking a way out from life's demands, literally making themselves sick, then depending o varied medications that never do the trick, living in a vicious circle of frustration.

Over the past 20 years, mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in such illnesses as heart disease, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. There is also evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease symptoms of disease.

I do know that acute and/or chronic stress has taken me out, I know I'm very susceptible to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and I've long comprehended what a crappy diet will do to one's health.  Duh, if you eat fast food every day, you're not gonna have much energy.

So me knowing all that, I attempt each day to work on minimizing my stress by gardening or working outside, plus eating well.  When SAD hits me, I'm out the door to absorb sunlight, even when it's cold, knowing I desperately need it.

Osteopathic medicine is exponentially blossoming - due to it's success.

You are more than just the sum of your body parts. That’s why doctors of osteopathic medicine (DOs) practice a “whole person” approach to health care. Instead of just treating your specific symptoms, osteopathic physicians concentrate on treating you as a whole.  

Osteopathic physicians understand how all the body’s systems are interconnected and how each one affects the others. They receive special training in the musculoskeletal system so that they better understand how that system influences the condition of all other body systems. In addition, DOs are trained to identify and correct structural problems, which can assist your body's natural tendency toward health and self-healing. 

DOs help patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just fight illness, but also help prevent disease.

And Moms, not just Trauma Mamas, but all mothers know they're so needed by their families, 24-7 for life, that they best take care of themselves.  Preventative care is especially vital.  Now I need to practice what I preach.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

May I Sell My Van Now?

Photo by Tony, of course, across the Sam's Club Parking lot, as he arduously pushed carts back to the building one evening recently.

"Mom, check your FB messages," Yolie texted me, as our neighbor had offered me free tickets to see the Braves farm team in Gwinnet in the CoolRay Stadium.

I've disabled many of my notifications in an attempt to calm down, to stem my PTSD that allows cortisol to flood my system unbidden at nearly every single sound.  Hyper vigilant and continually on edge, a phone call can send me into high alert, my heart immediately pounding, and I don't like it at all.

I need to spend my time doing chores and paperwork, tending to the kids, and getting us everywhere, and it's not so much the time factor involved, as it is my emotional overload.  Right now Facebook seems too stressful, for no real reason, other than my head is full of everything else at the moment.

There are times that I can't get enough of the social factor found there, and times where I just prefer to be alone with my thoughts - no outside influences.

Flipping channels, watching a weight loss show in which the woman blamed her bewildered mom, yet quit the opportunity she'd been given to participate in a proven program, thus illustrating it's not her mom, but her own inability to control herself, reminded me of me once beseeching Dr. Mandy, "Why do they blame everyone for their own issues?"

The answer basically involved it's so much easier to blame others than to take responsibility for one's own actions and negative consequences.  Therefore it's always mom's fault, the teacher's fault, or the mean policeman's fault.  Huh?  That's not the kind of logic I was raised to accept.

When my sister went away to college and joined a sorority she returned home thinking we were all a bunch of hicks who ate supper in our shorts at 5, versus dressing nicely for a dinner at 8 with a sophisticated glass of wine.

My mom told us all, "I gave all I had in raising y'all, if it wasn't enough, it was still just all I had," all of us knowing it was more'n enough, and that we all hoped to do the same eventually with our own kids.  Grandma's still giving of herself to this day.

Then I fell down the rabbit hole into a world in which I'd get blamed constantly, not just by my kids, but by many others, for that which happened many years before I'd ever even met my kids, leaving me gape-mouthed in shock at the level of illogical idiocy always involved.  What the crap?

Yet when someone like Allen's soccer footwork dazzled everyone at all the championship games he won, no one ever gave me credit for it.  Nor should they have, I'm all left foot.

I don't want the credit, nor the blame, I'm just the Mama.

I often tell my kids, "When I'm wrong, I say I'm wrong," as I'm quick to apologize and move on.  To me, it's just easier to accept responsibility for my own missteps than to do all the cover up work.  Duh.  Or when I have no answers, I simply state that fact, as I usually have no answers.

I wish I had answers, I wish I could educate you all regarding your traumatized children, but I can't because I don't know how.  I'm learning as I go.  Basically I'm learning that I have no answers.  I once heard a college professor tell my class that college teaches you just how much you really don't know.  Usually illustrated in society as 'ignorance is bliss', the college student then stressed with so much knowledge combined with the comprehension that there's so much more to learn in life.  Now there's a conundrum.

"I love college," CW announced at our 4:30 supper where he was gobbling burritos, knowing he had to leave at 5 for a class. His birth sister, a very smart one, hates, hates, hates high school, here with only 8 or so months to go before graduation.  I didn't enjoy high school either, but blossomed in college.

A grown kid called to complain about the aspects of her life that I'd warned her would be challenging when one is a Baby Mama.  Duh is just about all I can offer along with a listening ear.

I was balancing my pathetic checkbook last night, to the penny as all nerds do, yet finding several mistakes I'd made.  Should I blame the bank for my carelessness?  Nope.  I failed to enter several items in Quicken, totally my fault.

Clueless, after years of rec league soccer, to fully understand the high demands of academy soccer.  If anything, this scholarshipped mama feels snooty even using those words, so out of our element are we. A mother suggested I just whip out my charge card to pay for Nando's uniforms.  I don't even have a charge card, shutting them down after years of listening to Dave Ramsey, this is what emergency funds are for, right?

I've lately exhausted my emergency fund, what with so many hits, but I was able to cover the sky-high jersey fee thankfully, and his stuff arrived yesterday just in time for this weekend's tournament, way on the top side of the Atlanta perimeter, close to Daniel's house, but he'll be in Athens for the UGA-Clemson game, as will Scotty who'll be initially selling FCA game day brochures, later getting admission in to the game with some men from church.

I need to have Nando up there by 8:15 a.m. on Saturday - about an hour and a half from here, for an 9:15 game, and then a 2 p.m. game, returning Sunday afternoon for a third game.  Oh my.  Travel league, club team, soccer academy - whatever you wanna call it, Nando's playing at a higher level which can only be good for him I reckon.  With so few kids at home who depend on me for rides, I'm more freed up to help Nando achieve these goals.

Ages at home now are 20, 18, 18, 18, 17, 17, 16, 14, 12, and 11.  I've not had it this easy since the mid 1980s.  Within a year I hope to sell my 15 passenger van and get something smaller and, of course, used.

Tabby's adding up her own share of outside activities, all good, such as signing up for all the FCCLA activities and service projects, plus she's continuing her therapeutic horseback riding lessons each week, and is also involved in the Christmas Musical at church.

And sometimes I get all over myself, get a grip, pull up your big girl panties and go take a hike, shake it off, move on, get busy, do what needs to be done, and foremost, count your dadgum blessings here.  Isn't everyone healthy?  Most of 'em slooooowly moving forward?  Less demands nowadays?  No violence?  Why the whining?

Do I wanna snivel or repaint all the woodwork?  Do I think it's emotionally heathy to have a crying jag or to weed?  I have books to read, or solitaire games to play on the computer to calm myself, or deer to chase out of my garden, their mouths and bellies full, my vegan slant swayed to the hunter's side.  Stupid deer.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Barefooting and Pondering In Isolation

If you meet a loner, no matter what they tell you, it’s not because they enjoy solitude. It’s because they have tried to blend into the world before, and people continue to disappoint them.” 
― Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper

Marilyn messaged me the above photo via Facebook, which is what I've been avoiding most of this week.  Unlike teenagers, I don't post my negative feelings as a status update.  Sometimes seeing everyone's bliss on Facebook does make me happy for them, very much so, but also sometimes as I struggle here in my real life, I find Facebook to be a foreign, fake country.

And the movie quote?  I know it's a movie, I don't live under a rock, but I've not seen it.  Committing to sitting still for two long hours isn't my thing.

I do deeply enjoy solitude though, and yes, people have disappointed me a great deal - through no fault of their own.  But in these instances, where mental illnesses or emotional disabilities cause them so many intense, irreparable problems that handicap them for life, well it's these issues that make me wanna sob in a corner for them.

It can't be fixed, there's no remedy, using a phrase that echoes in my mind so often, no hay mas remedio, that I'd learned so very long ago studying the Spanish language.

I'm not depressed, even though this post may appear to seem so, I'm really not.

I weeded yesterday and hauled wood chips, cooked a big dinner, and got Nando to soccer practice.  My house was clean, bills were paid, we have the end of the month no spending rule as the money's gone, but will be replenished on the 31st, which is almost here.  We have groceries, all is well.

We're still a bell curve perfectly illustrated by our percentages - yet I'm so discouraged regarding some of the issues that I know won't get any better, leaving me to question so much, all along the lines of, "Why Lord, why?".

My BFF sent me a book title that I'd hunted on Amazon used books, discovering Goodwill also was listing their books there.  That's brilliant y'all, just brilliant, what with all the books donated across the nation there.

I hear from y'all, how you also deeply crave isolation.  I googled it this morning, wanting to understand it better, yet was alarmed at all the connection isolation seemingly had to both depression and social anxiety.  Well, that sucks.  Can't there be a category for trauma mamas where we search it out because we've been constantly pummeled by life?  Where being alone means being safe?  A place for inner healing?  Who doesn't crave peace?  Maybe peace, in our world, can only be found when one is alone?

Ya think, Cindy?

The world of non-trauma might even seem overwhelming to us?  I dunno.

Two different families at our high school each tragically lost a parent this week in two separate events.  I knew neither one, don't know the kids, nor any information.  In both events, the ones who died were younger than I, a 46 year old woman and a 59 year old man - but, pretty much, in the parenting of school kids world, everyone's younger than me.  Both deaths were sudden, unrelated and unexpected.

Where'm I going with this?  I dunno, can't reach for any parallels, but both sets of families weighed heavily on my mind all week.  I think I think too much, I can't shake things off very easily.  Thus I try and process it all here, even with no answers, having dumped it out on paper, so to speak, always helps me somehow.

Sarah told me of downloading a Taylor Swift song about shaking it off, something catchy along the lines of 'haters gonna hate, I'm gonna shake, shake, shake it off," she and Hazel dancing around to the song.

I'd spent the big bucks (for me) on Amazon, $6.60, for Mercy Me's newest CD that I've been blasting all week long, finding it consoling, uplifting, inspirational, and just beautiful.

One of my sons, that I'd been bragging about this month, up and quit his job which irked the crud outta me.

"I don't like it," he whined.

I don't care if you like it or not, I don't like the constant housework, but I do it.  Doing that what you don't like can be character building.  I'd spent all of my years between age 16-23 waiting on tables to support myself, as I went through life, before becoming a white collar professional, which is called paying one's dues.

I got nowhere with my son, leaving me overly frustrated.

This is not a son with any diagnoses, he's certainly traumatized, but not impaired in any way at all.

It's, um, disappointing at best.  I get so frustrated at being unable to establish a strong work ethic in my children, or any drive, determination or gutsiness.  Was that beat out of them in their traumatic early childhood back in Texas, where there was seemingly no hope at all?  No groceries?  No parental figure ever sober, non-violent, or employed?  Did the chaos and confusion permanently damage their psyches?

We've all seen the brain scans of trauma and/or abuse victims.  Is it insurmountable?  I dunno.

That my home now is the safe harbor, where they'd just as soon sit back and let Mama continue to provide the essentials, leads me to believe it may be so.  Yet how can I, in good faith, wanna push anyone out of the nest when they'd been deprived of a safe nest until eventually arriving here? I have to factor that concern into my equation.

So what to do?

I dunno, this calls for a long, barefoot walk through the woods this morning.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Our Constant Tightrope Walking

It was a top to bottom clean the house day yesterday, never any fun, if anything my blood pressure rises in response as I survey the crap.  Not so much the continued destruction that I once witnessed, as inner negative emotions boiled over, but senseless actions like tossing the trash in the vicinity of the trash can and being too lazy, or unmotivated, to either finish the job, nor empty one's own trashcan.

Part of it is very normal teenage rebellion, but my family members carry it a step farther into a level of alarming disarray that truly reflects their conflicting emotions and/or mental state.

I remind everyone that it takes me some ten seconds to clean my own room each morning.  Duh y'all.  Make the bed, pick up anything from the day before, and empty the trash.  Done.

I might as well bay at the moon.

Several other kids also use my bathroom each morning, while getting ready for school, and it still takes only a minute for me to clean up.

I'm taking Tabby early to school this morning for a FCCLA meeting and Lily to Art Club.  Grandma ended up helping out tremendously yesterday, as I sat in a therapist office to deal with the events of last week.  We'd had to wait for over an hour to be seen, which was rather frustrating to say the least, my time schedule too precise for such a delay.

And when a therapist tells you that pretty much, "Absolutely nothing you say or do is going to make any difference, but, at least if and when you disengage, the other one may or may not escalate," these are words that aren't particularly encouraging, but I know he is correct.

When one lies and manipulates constantly, upping the invisible ante, being mean, selfish, demanding and obsessed with self - it is what it is.

There is no cure for schizophrenia, bi-polar, or any host of mental disorders, some can't even be managed with medication, unless the medicated one is completely sedated, which isn't an option at all.

What's left?  Walking on eggshells, basically, doing everything possible to not upset the apple cart, don't show any weaknesses as they'll immediately be exploited, and just pray constantly for peace, healing, and for God's Will to be done - my own personal, constant prayer.

A defeatist attitude?  Or realistic? "There are some professionals who won't even work with those with this specific disorder," he told me yesterday, as he suggested we find someone else, not for this reason, but because he's accepted a hospital position an hour away and will no longer be in private practice.

Great, this'll be the fourth new therapist in two years.  And when each one had suggested the same diagnosis based on observable behaviors, one needs to commission a detailed psychological evaluation, which I've done, and we're waiting on its final completion, where it'll likely state the obvious that we already know.

And then there's Mr. Oppositional Defiant Disordered one who just dropped his trash in the garage and when I corrected him on it, he denied doing what I'd seen him do.  It isn't worth the hassle to press my case, the facts don't matter, in his mind, he didn't do it, plus he hates to be corrected.  On some level he can connect the dots and press his memory until the facts come together for him, and he might then state, "oops, sorry," totally unaware in the moment that he did drop it.

It's just the way it is.

How can a mother, a new one at that, usually halfway through someone's 18 year child time span, how can this mother change, fix, or, in any way, alter brain (mis)wiring?

See?  It just is.

I looked at the therapist yesterday, me being rather frustrated at the tough toenails diagnosis, "Then I suppose the parents need the therapy in order to live like this and not lose their own minds?"

"Yes," he stated thoughtfully," And it's important to not expect much more than what you see each day."

I'm from a generation, from a family of Let's Fix This mentality.  But, some things can't be fixed.  That's a hard pill for folks like me to swallow.  It's tough to not get mad at severely negative behaviors, but getting mad just worsens the situation, self-righteous anger has no place in the world of trauma, miswirings and other diagnoses.

You, the parents, must simply work on maintaining your own equilibrium, which I promise you is not only not easy, but is basically a full time endeavor.

And even in neurotypical families, untraumatized and normal, a parent must be very careful to not enable, to not constantly try and fix things, something I needed to learn along the way with my other kids.

My Sunday School teacher, a nurse who is truly a Miss Fix It, spoke of how we parents deny our grown children to chance to learn a lesson when we step in to fix it for them, and thus avoid the consequence we truly see coming.  Should we have let the proverbial train then hit them?  Yes, at times, or else they will never learn the skill of making better choices.

And sadly, some will never learn no matter what you do, no matter how many professionals and residential treatment centers are involved; nothing can, nor will, change.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Snaggle Tooth

Daniel corrected me late last night, reading my blog.  There are only 27 states and one territory with these Youth Challenge Academies, locations can be found here.

Scotty, Tabby and I worked all afternoon, after church, cleaning out our massive pantry.  Again it needs painting, but so does everything, as my very battered home bears the brunt of so much overuse.

A luxury of sorts, in that I got to attend Sunday School yesterday, it seems as if there've been so many other demands upon me lately.  A bonus was in getting to attend with Sarah.  We are planning on doing the upcoming Wednesday night Bible Study series, involving a Beth Moore book, Sacred Secrets.

Chuck and Yolie were substitute teaching the Sunday School class of Hazel and Mae yesterday.  I'd snapped a photo of a snaggle-toothed Hazel, chumming with her cousin, Mae.

Between the marauding deer and a complete lack of rainfall, my garden is suffering.  There's enough to feed me each day, but after a spell of freezing quart after quart of tomato sauce, the dearth of it now is depressing.  The deer have eaten all of my field peas and most of my pepper plants.  I replanted with store bought plants,, but so far I'm not impressed with the limited production.

I've been asked time and time again, what about so and so, as often I seemingly don't mention some kids for months, or years, at a time.  It's generally for a variety of reasons.  It's at their request, or my own desire to keep it quiet, or the fact that even though my posts can be yawningly lengthy, my life is very full, no way to cover everything.  A blog post is not even an overview of each day, instead it's hardly a glimpse.

Miriam sends me a lot of photos of her so cute son, Elias.  Talking with her last night, both of us missing each other, she's down in Pensacola, and I longingly dream of the day when I can just jump in my truck and go visit family members without worrying about school schedules here.

My daily schedule getting totally rearranged today, a truck repair job postponed, while I need to reschedule Nando's knee therapy for tomorrow and ask Grandma to get Tony to work after school, as a psychologist gave us an extra appointment to deal with an event of last week.

Grandma is always offering to help, but I try and do most of everything myself, knowing there'll be plenty of times that I truly do need her to be available, like today.

And it simply has taken me many, man years to completely comprehend that the acting out behaviors I observe, and negatively experience in a trauma world, are truly not behaviors that merely need correction and re-direction, but rather are deep seated and spurred by miswiring in the brain, more often than not.

Seriously Cindy?  Did you think these horribly negative behaviors were a choice?

Yes, probably I did wrongly think so at one naive period in my life, even nowadays I still struggle with my own frustration that my kids self-sabotage too often as if they can help it.

I am very grateful to all the therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors who have taught me otherwise.  Had I not learned all of this, then my concern, or my love, for the kids might've been sorely compromised.

And a bit of a soapbox here.  I have the news on as I type this morning, and the coverage of the VMAs is mightier than that of the Napa earthquake event of yesterday.  Scantily clad, provocative dancers/singers that's crappier than R-rated?  This is what our daughters wanna emulate?  And then we think we can convince them to study for their future rather than to debase themselves?  Our sons thinking this is how their women should act?  I don't think so.

Whatever happened to brain power?

Dang, girls!  Life's more'n a music video.  No wonder my budget discussions cause eye rolling, stifled yawn reactions around here.

I, too, receive wake-up calls when I get my head out of my own armpit.  I yah-yah-yah whine here about our issues, then I'm shocked silent as I learn what others are facing.  One of my main reasons for getting my butt to Sunday School was to get the name of a friend of mine's daughter-in-law on the prayer board.

This woman I'm speaking of might be facing a devastating diagnosis that we certainly want to pray against, rather to pray for healing, and not this diagnosis at all.  I'm also beseeching my prayer partners here to pray about this woman please.

As we shared prayer requests yesterday, I was also buffaloed by what a couple of other women I know are facing.  A longtime friend at church likely needing a liver transplant, and she's way younger than I, while another woman was visibly upset, yet not divulging anything.  Life is hard y'all for everyone at one time or another.

And then our teenage daughters wanna nasty dance rather than study algebra?  As if shaking their rear ends is the key to success versus studying for their SATs?


Miriam was not a behavior problem at school, not at all, nor was she an academic challenge either.  She played high school soccer and volleyball, but wasn't interested in college.  Now halfway through her 20s, the dead end minimum wage jobs unappealing, and there's nothing like having a kid of your own to teach you that Mama was right all along.