Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt & Ice Cream Social



Lisa'd asked me to bring the kids and help hide the Easter Eggs, a community church outreach that has a large attendance so CW, Martin, Jack, Nando, Tabby and I joined the families of Elizabeth, Jessica and others, and we all very quickly got the 5,000 eggs scattered.

JoJo'd joined Miss Barbie on another service project, me breathing a sigh of relief nowadays that our behaviors allow some giving back, as I believe we've been given a great deal from others over the years.

Later Elizabeth and I manned posts by the road, making sure little kids didn't dart out int heir excitement, all the teenagers also assigned places to help maintain law and order.

An Ice Cream Social afterwards capped off a delightful evening, I'd picked Allen and Scotty up from their after school activities, Tony was the church photographer yesterday, lovely photos of families and then, boom, our day was done.

In my own downsizing, several years ago I'd taken every single item out of our kitchen, stashing it on my large front porch, only bringing back in that which we used daily, therefore needed, hauling probably 50% of it away.  I've not missed anything that's gone, I only wish I'd have done it sooner.

Long before I had so many children, Sarah and I were bona fide minimalists, due to me being a poor single mom, plus the hippie vestiges of the non-materialistic 1960s still echoing in my head, as I read simple living books, then blogs, following link after link, what I'm discovering is that so many folks say they've always been this way, but didn't exactly have a label for it.  I wholeheartedly agree.

Yet I look around me and see stuff everywhere, the accumulated possessions of ten kids still living at home, I don't touch their stuff, everyone's gotta find their own way in life.  They'll eventually choose their own ways, their paths, and their own lifestyles.

One category I do keep well-stocked is our pantry, I've always done so because I've rarely lived conveniently located to stores or restaurants, preferring always to eat at home, knowing it's healthier and cheaper by far.

I've never watched QVC, I don't haunt Ebay, I rarely shop because I just have no interest in doing so, I hope I've modeled to my kids that happiness and life satisfaction isn't found in stuff, but sometimes I just hope that our tight budget doesn't make them rebel and long for riches.  I suppose that most people growing up are gonna chase the almighty dollar until they themselves find it futile,

But then again, maybe they'll do so and become philanthropists?  Knowing how they can indeed help others.

I'm watching that ferry disaster coverage on TV news, all those high school students missing, and my gut clenches in pain for all those families, making me grateful that all of my children are healthy and safe.  Again stuff loses its importance, but it - this news - makes me appreciative of so much, so many intangibles that we do possess as a family.

The mom of that performance artist who disrupted the end of the Boston Marathon with a fake bomb back pack, now stating she'd been trying to access mental health services for her sons, I so feel her pain, but my heart really breaks for the policeman father of the Calgary Canada death scene where five students lost their lives.  The son of a cop on a murderous rampage?

If nothing else, parenting these 39 darlings has humbled me in a billion ways I'm sure I must've needed to experience in order to comprehend more of life,  I certainly can relate to so much more, not much of it good, but, hopefully I've learned greater empathy.  Am I such a slow learner that's it has taken all this to teach me?  Yes, possibly it is so.

I can't even begin to state the billion ideas, lessons and information I've learned just from being their mom, and their Abuelita, which means Grandma, although it's been shortened to Bita.

Closing with yet another Tony photo, this of Mae and CJ.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Stubbornness on Parade in My Head


Miriam's photo has nothing to do with my post today, as is generally the case here.  Miriam was an easy kid to raise, she did well in school and behaved appropriately, even though she must've been roiling on the inside after so many placements and losses, arriving here at age 11 with her six siblings, but, at least, they were here all together.

I have some outstandingly successful children, now grown, and if they were the only ones I'd ever adopted, I'd have some kind of a puffed up, big head, thinking it was all due to my nurturing and parenting.

If I didn't have those particular kids, I'd be on the floor sucking my thumb in shock, wondering what's wrong with me.

Or if I'd only adopted the ten on the sad end of my normal bell curve, what then?  I reckon I'd now be hospitalized.

Just like in any classroom, the bell curve applies very well to my own family, yet as a young faculty member in the 1970s, I initially hated the bell curve, feeling it pre-labeled anyone's chances, wondering to myself, why can't everyone be an over-achiever?  So little did I know, God apparently looked at my stubborn, hard head and decided to teach me slowly some very visible lessons.

I was MAPP trained excellently, I read every book on social work in the UGA Library, yet some stubborn part of me still ignorantly believed that my love for my kids would overcome everything, and I'd end up with a bunch of grade-grubbing children.

Well, it was not to be, but I did put my extraordinary stubbornness to good use, it's what's kept me going through some scary, dark times.

I'd certainly advise all adoptive parents here to subscribe to this email list, this woman, Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, knows her stuff.

This week she'd written:

All adopted children experience attachment trauma, even those adopted at birth.  Whether you are fostering a child, adopting domestically, or adopting internationally, without question, your child experienced a significant amount of attachment trauma.  The research is clear that trauma impacts children- sometimes profoundly.  Simply getting on an airplane with people who don’t speak your language and flying to a new country- one that has big houses, water towers, and SUVs- is traumatic.

All children adopted from foster care, the US, or through international adoption have “special needs.”  Experiencing attachment trauma doesn’t mean you child will struggle or display the behaviors mentioned above – but he or she likely will.  Most do. Some of these children adjust to their new families with little difficulty.  Many do not.

And again, our bell curve is displayed.

In my defense, Reactive Attachment Disorder, was not a specific diagnosis in the 1980s, and attachment trauma didn't see the light of day until this century - but both diagnoses nail it perfectly in the adoption of older children.

I very blindly thought that stability, security, love, providing for their needs, education, and opportunities would erase their sad, tragic or any other early childhood losses.

What am I, stupid?

Nah, just so naive way back when, smiling like a happy goofball, so patently clueless as to what was up ahead.

I certainly had no idea that I, too, would be a walking, talking case of PTSD.

Diane Dimond wrote movingly, explaining what crap we're dumping nowadays in our supposedly enlightened times, onto our mentally ill, using sad, shocking statistics.

I never dreamed I'd be the parent of mentally ill people, in many ways, I'd read every single case study carefully, not totally (obviously) capable of reading between the lines, or even comprehending that children can be so severely emotionally sick.


But here is the most startling, heartwrenching statistic of them all. According to a Justice Department study, more than half of the prisoners in the U.S. suffer from a bona fide mental illness. Among female inmates, about three-quarters have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Why in the world are we locking up the mentally ill in the same place we house violent and predatory criminals? The answer is simple. Because there is nowhere else to put the “crazy people,” so we put them in jail after they act out. Many times, their families have spent years begging for mental health care for their disturbed loved one to no avail. And sometimes, the “crazy people” deliberately commit crimes knowing they will be housed, fed and minimally medicated in lockup.

Wow, well stated.

A social worker I'd been sitting with last month in court dared to state that she felt the incidences of mentally ill was even higher than suspected in the foster care population.  "No kidding?" I didn't holler back.

But why wouldn't it be so?  Where do we think their parents are?  Not studying in college, not starting businesses, not rising to the top in their career paths, but rather acting out, having breakdown episodes, in jail, or self-medicating - thus the children are very sadly victimized, neglected and abandoned by folks who simply can not take care of them.


There are simply not enough mental health beds to service everyone who needs help. Today, commitment is difficult and, sadly, we have to wait for the mentally ill to actually commit a crime before the state steps in. In the past few years, many of America’s mass murders were committed by untreated mentally ill people who should have been in a mental health care facility for their protection and for ours.

It's ironic, isn’t it? The very society that once agreed it was unjust to lock people up in mental hospitals now allows the mentally disturbed to be locked up in much more dangerous jails and prisons.

Moms, read the article, see if you don't see yourself shaking your head in agreement.

Keep documenting behaviors, school behavior report print-outs, your own list of resources you've accessed, and/or been turned down for, you will need all this paperwork to ever get any of the help you need.

I remember being flabbergasted that the world didn't jump to help when we were in danger, my caseworker explaining how slowly the wheels would revolve, if they ever turned at all.  I was shocked.

Since one of my kids does not have Medicaid, and my state employee retirement insurance has ridiculous co-pays and super high deductibles, we have to use a mental health clinic for services.  Either I pay $45 there, or shell out $250 each time for a private provider.

Fortunately, in this college town, we have a super good clinic, and I really do like this DBT option we've been given.  He's very generous with his time and knowledge. My kid is on board with this treatment plan as well, that certainly is important.

I sat for a very long time in the front waiting room, unable to not eavesdrop, as the receptionist was hardly ten feet away from me.  Her phone never stopped ringing, she never lost her cool, explaining to everyone the tedious steps they must follow.  Many of these clients have no access to a phone, or to transportation, or even any wherewithal at all to seek out help, much less to navigate the red tape.

I'm doggedly stubborn, hoop jumping is my aerobic exercise, and I will do what is needed to be done.

This is my job as a parent, yet, sometimes I still find myself surprised and baffled to be in my own shoes.

As I sat, a mom came in with one of the most impulsive, hyperactive children I've ever see, he'd taken apart the fire alarm protective cover within the first ten seconds they entered the room, flitting about, oblivious to her behavior redirection, making my own super impulsive son appear thoughtful in comparison.

Again, seeing other people's issues made me appreciate my own battles.  I'll keep mine, thank you.

This morning I have three long dentist appointments.  Oh boy, but it's got to get done.  Our record deep freeze has likely decimated that which I've already planted, I'm not happy 'bout that at all.

Two soccer practices last night, me suddenly realizing that I'm running four team schedules, three different soccer teams, plus a softball one, no wonder we're so busy.

And I was thinking over my sudden decision, almost ten years ago this summer, when I realized that would be my last sibling adoption.  I didn't know that some severely hard years were up ahead, but now, in looking back, I'm glad I made that call before I'd be so hurt and angry that it would've seemed reactionary.

I made that God-driven decision when I was on top of the mountain, not crushed beneath it.

It still stands, this decision of mine, so monumental that I remember it clearly that mid-July day in 2004.









Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Farming and Eating, Farming and Suicide?

Lily's photo is of our dogwood tree blooming last week,

I've spent countless hours over the years, sitting in boring waiting rooms flipping through mindless magazines, but my Twitter feed has changed all that.  Partial to weather, news, Braves, personal finance, and sustainability Tweets, I scroll through hundred of folks I follow, clicking over to fascinating articles I might otherwise have been unaware of each day.

One such link yesterday knocked my socks off.  Newsweek has a cover story about farmers and suicide that I read with rapt fascination.

One paragraph leaped out at me:


One factor disputed among agricultural and mental health professionals is the connection between pesticides and depression. A group of researchers published studies on the neurological effects of pesticide exposure in 2002 and 2008. Lorrann Stallones, one of those researchers and a psychology professor at Colorado State University, says she and her colleagues found that farmers who had significant contact with pesticides developed physical symptoms like fatigue, numbness, headaches and blurred vision, as well as psychological symptoms like anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating and depression. Those maladies are known to be caused by pesticides interfering with an enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter that affects mood and stress responses.

"A lot of farmers are very familiar with the pesticides, so they sort of take it for granted," Stallones says. "It's an invisible kind of thing, so if you can't actually feel it, taste it, touch it, you might not believe it's an issue."

Dang, y'all, that makes sense to me.  Literally, the truth of it coursed through my soul.

Ever since I've been reading up on farms, I've been sadly aware of the financial pressure in commercial farming, I've chosen to mainly learn about sustainable farms, knowing deep within my soul that chemicals are not the answer to better living - that's based solely upon the proven links between chemicals and cancer, this link to depression now being argued however makes total sense to me.

It had never occurred to me either.

But duh, Cindy.  Does this makes sense, or what?

I think an entire sea change is in order, I think it's clearly obvious that what we're doing as a society isn't working, just look at the lowered life expectancy that startled everyone, that it could go down in the next generations should've been reason enough alone to consider what in the heck we are all eating that is contributing to all the factors that increase premature death.  A declining life expectancy should be reason enough to examine everything.

I know that not everyone understands my bliss in working constantly outside, toiling in the dirt, but I also don't know anyone who has ever grown a tomato that didn't then feel a great sense of pride.  If everyone would just build a small vegetable patch, they'd be shocked at the amount of produce they could produce.  Or hey, join a CSA and know you're eating good,

I know Sarah and I are total food nerds, who spends each winter with a food book reading list?  That'd be us, and again I'm so grateful that she led me to give up dairy and go vegan.  I've also more quietly, because I wasn't sure I could do it, given up sugar, having read so much crap, so many proven links between refined sugar and bad health.  It was easier than I'd expected it to be, and I will indulge in sugar on certain occasions, although so far they've been few and far apart.

A sugar-laden diet may raise your risk of dying of heart disease even if you aren’t overweight. So says a major study published online this week in JAMA Internal Medicine.

I will not indulge ever in anything related to meat, as it's been a 40 year abstention from the nastiness of it.

I have some very firm opinions, often based on just my gut, and me not having a firearm around here was a super duh.  From this Newsweek article:


 A greater contributor to suicide in rural areas, she says, is the easy access to guns. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most suicides in America involve firearms, and more than half of all firearm deaths every year involve suicide. Harkavy-Friedman points to a 1998 study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry that showed the most common means of farmer suicide in England and Wales from 1981 to 1988 was guns. Following firearm legislation in 1989 that reduced access to guns, the total number of farmer suicides went down.

That's good news in Britain, but not much help in America, says agricultural consultant Leonard Freeborn. "I don't think you're ever gonna find a farm without a gun [here]."

This farm right here doesn't have a gun, nor have I ever needed one.

I look at these large problems with a simplistic viewpoint too often, but it's gotta start somewhere in order to lead to changes, right?


To read the headlines today in the Huffington Post is to invite great despair as it blared: More Than 900 Environmental Advocates Slain In A Decade As Concern For The Planet Grows.

Now that's discouraging.

Again, start where we live.  Just as in adoptions I couldn't save the world, but I could try and help these specific sibling groups that God called me to adopt.  Emphasis is on try.  It hasn't been easy, but what is easy?  Dang if I know.

I can recycle, I can grow food sustainably, with no chemical fertilizers nor pesticides, and I best not get all upset over all that I can't do. I have healthy soil which produces healthy plants that don't attract bugs 99 times out of 100.  My soil is not chemically dependent, it is loamy and rich due to leaves, compost, wood chips and manure.

Yesterday before the rains came I planted squash and cucumbers seeds, more loose leaf lettuces, and much of the Swiss Chard seeds I'd saved, I'll be very curious as to their viability.  Will they, or won't they germinate?  Will it be Fordhook or the Bright Lights variety?  I can't remember what I'd saved.

I'd recently seen organic Swiss Chard for sale at the grocery store.  I believe it was some $4.99 a pound and I eat tons of it.  I couldn't afford to do so if I didn't grow it my own self.

Tonight we're getting a late freeze, so I'll try and cover the garden bed of chocolate bell pepper plants I'd already gotten in to the ground, plus the tomatillos, and I should drag in all the plants in the unheated greenhouse, although I suspect they'd be OK.  I just can't take the chance on loosing some 700 plants I'd carefully been growing for months, and couldn't thus afford to purchase for replacement at a gardening center.  I'm not a gambler.

But first a therapy appointment in town.  Yesterday after filling my truck with gas the sucker wouldn't crank.  I texted CW who told me exactly how to fiddle with the battery connections and I got it going again.  Oh brother, this is gonna get old.

I could just coast nowadays, who gives a crap about anything, right?  I'm nearly 60, why not just enjoy life and quit fretting over everything?  Be ignorant?  Join a square dancing club and fart around?

Nah, I have too many children and grandchildren that I love, and I'm very concerned about their futures.  I already have grandchildren who know that sun-warmed organic strawberries out in Bita's Gardens are the best tasting in the world, a world in which the majority of children will never have such an opportunity, instead they think a Starburst candy fake-flavored strawberry is all there is in life.

Y'all that just aint' right to me.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Go Nando!

video

My kids have played rec league soccer forever, scholarshipped for most of the years, thankfully, and a few years ago a new and expensive league grew, gaining a foothold and funneling off some of the best players in the county, it's a travel league, and financially way out of my league - 8 times more expensive, plus the gas for traveling and the more costly jerseys.

However they've been scouting Nando all this time, offering scholarships, but I've held off, knowing the travel part would present a problem for our family, and Nando plays so aggressively that my fear he'd injure himself and I'd not be there, kept me from accepting the deal.

They called me at the last minute yesterday, wanting Nando to "team practice" with them, so I had CW take him to the fields after church.  CW immediately calling me, "Looks more like a game, they put a jersey on him and there are refs on the field."

Oh crap.  JoJo, Tabby, Martin, Scotty and I jumped in the van to meet CW down there and cheer Nando on.  This league uses refs and jerseys for team practices?  They really do take this seriously.

CW recorded Nando's penalty kick success, he really did play well, I preened, even though I ought to remember my stake in the ground, in that I don't claim to take blame, nor credit.

One of my favorite soccer dads was down there, first telling the other dads, "That can't be Nando on he field, I don't see Cindy anywhere," as I do have a reputation for always being down there with my kids.  Nando has shot up fast this past year, his voice deepened, and age 12 has produced a ton of changes in him

My clumsiness sure never inspired the soccer talents of my kids.  I'd even slipped on wet grass yesterday, landed on my butt, wrenching my knee somehow in the process.  Moving faster than my brain, often resulting in ridiculous landings on the ground.  I best watch out, I'm not getting any younger.

We've had a quiet, yet productive, Spring Break, back to school today for the kids, except for Scotty who has an 8:30 a.m. dentist appointment, heavy rains on the way which always makes me smile.

In my self-defense regarding fashion, this blogger recounts how unimportant fashion really is in the long  run, stating exactly how I feel in that no one cares what you're wearing anyway, which I think is oh so true.  Bottom line, we don't need overstuffed closets and the average family credit card balance of over $7000 per family.

The average US household credit card debt stands at $15,191, the result of a small number of deeply indebted households forcing up the numbers. Based on an analysis of Federal Reserve statistics and other government data, the average household owes $7,087 on their cards; looking only at indebted households, the average outstanding balance rises to $15,191. Here are statistics, trends, studies and methodology behind the average U.S. household debt.

Current as of April 2014, U.S. household consumer debt profile:

Average credit card debt: $15,191
Average mortgage debt: $154,365
Average student loan debt: $33,607

Well, what about when i was younger?  Same thing.  Even when I worked within the school system, I had a Monday-Friday wardrobe, there's nothing about clothes that tempts me to spend money - maybe that's the 1960s mentality in me.

Yes, I have GMA on the TV this morning and Robin Roberts looks gorgeous in a pretty dress, likely costing more than every stitch of clothing items I presently own all put together, but truly, it's her constant smile that is so attractive and her gumption, not the blue and brown dress that'll fall out of style likely before it's ever paid off.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Happy Birthday Marcela


Marcela, pictured with her husband and daughter yesterday is now 33 years old, I first met her in her dirt floor house in a gorgeous countryside, maybe an hour from Tegucigalpa in Honduras, up in the mountains, a very long time ago.

One of my sons told me that his girlfriend's mom thinks I don't like them, because I'm not very sociable.

Oh my.

Like I have any free time to socialize?  He's had more girlfriends than I've had kids.  Should I have taken the time to chummy up to all those moms?

Hello, my dear son, but I'm kinda busy.

That I even have to take the time to defend my stance?

I don't do lunch, I already have enough friends, and I also don't wanna be involved in teenage drama when they break up, which is inevitable.

I'm also a loner by nature, I crave alone time, so if I have any free time, I'd like to be alone to relish the silence, to regain my footing, and to normalize my life.

Even on the soccer field I'm focused on the game, on my kids who count on me to watch and to cheer, rather than in chatting with other moms.

Bottom line is that I kinda have nothing in common with anyone.  I'm a weirdo vegan with 39 kids, but speaking of acceptable weirdos, I'd watched a super fascinating documentary last night about the Earth Liberation Front, If a Tree Falls, radical to the bone, yet one who eventually faced arson charges based on his dedication to the earth, labeled an eco-terrorist, later married a woman who smoked cigarettes.

Dang, in my world that'd be a deal breaker.

I'd lost my own way for so many years raising kids, in that I was too busy to even read about the ELF, or recycle properly, it's was all I could do to get it all done every day.  The 1990s and the entire 2000s are just a blur for me.  I'm unaware of major news events, social changes, or pop culture for that 20 year blank.  I did, of course, keep up with the Atlanta Braves.  Duh.

My supremely weird life is from another planet where my focus 24-7, 365, is focused on my kids, and what I need to do next to make it all happen.

Tabby stood in front of the church to read from The Bible, I'm way too shy and self-conscious to get up on stage like that in front of hundreds of people, Hazel, Ray and Mae in the choir for Palm Sunday.  I'm proud today of my daughter and my grandbabies.  They did a great job.


This close to Good Friday, 82 degrees today, gonna plant a lot, even though it might get down to 39 degrees one night this week, in Georgia we also know we need to get stuff in the ground before it's a constant furnace blast of heat.

Soon as I'd typed those ominous words, I got a weather tweet indicating several models using the no no number of 32 degrees by Wednesday morning.  Oh crap, I best hold off planting the tomatoes and peppers, yet I've already gotten a coupla dozen peppers in the ground, plus tomatillos.

Cristy and Lily cooked an Indian dish, my house smelling like Pakistan this morning still, it was delicious, wish I could remember the name of the dish, wait, here it is Kata Aloo with quinoa, this version is Khatay Aloo.

File under "Only At Our Church" would Scotty come home from Sunday School with carpet burns on his knees, "we were playing  Gladiators," he lamely explained.

Whatever, I'm just glad that he truly likes church, a time demand made by me while kids are under my watch.  Y'all can grow up and choose to reject all I've tried to expose you to, but that's when you're in your own house someday.  In my house we're gonna go to church, recycle, get educated and compost.  I'll show you how to grow food too.





Saturday, April 12, 2014

One Bird


A beautiful day yesterday, apparently standing on our raggedy picnic table helped the bow and arrow target practice accuracy.

If we went to yard sales today, then I'd be burdened within about where to put more stuff that I'd also have to take care of, when the reality is that I want less stuff to have to pick up each day, several of my kids virtually unable, as they've proven over and over again, to keep up with their own possessions.

One of them left his usual trail throughout our house yesterday in the form of his comforter in front of the TV where he'd played video games, out the front door as he shed his outer clothes, realizing it was very warm outside, and even dropping granola bar wrappers in his wake.

"Oh no you don't!"  I stated, "Pick up that crap."

"What crap?" he honestly asked, completely unaware that he'd dropped the litter.

I know him, I know he isn't faking it, it's caused him a great deal of frustration from within, as he can barely get a piece of paper handed to him by a teacher into his book bag, much less all the way home for a required signature and then all the way back to school.

It just can't be done, Lord knows we've tried a thousand strategies.  I've looked deep into his eyes and seen how frustrated and baffled he is in regards to this one issue.  A thousand reminders, a million attempts, yet very little has changed in 14 years.

When he first arrived at age 3, he'd drop whatever was in his hands when he got distracted by something else, inside or outside the house, and it was so completely unself-conscious that he could never remember what he dropped, much less where he dropped it.

He'd tell me he didn't do that which I just saw him do.  In his mind, he had no memory of it, therefore it didn't occur, and mom was just picking on him.  As if I have nothing else to do?

I needed to finally understand that was his perception - nagging won't work, behavior redirection an impossibility

His teachers are frustrated and baffled each semester, pointing out this behavior as if they think I haven't observed it?  He's impulsive, sociable, and a disruption in every single classroom, yet not maliciously so at all.  He's right well-behaved considering.

Matter of fact, all ten kids living here at home basically do not get in trouble at school.  That's a new one for me, and I'm very grateful for this lull in the action.

We're on our second mowing of the season, hauling wood chips everywhere, weeding and planting - yet I still feel constantly behind the count.

"One bird at a time," Sarah advised me, in reference to a famous author I can't now recall who used that as her mantra, because her father had taught her the concept when she was behind in regards to a required report about birds.

Oh wait, I googled and found it here.

"Just concentrate on the garden bed at hand," Sarah' said, "Quit looking at all the other beds and fretting."

What a great idea, think I'll give it a try.

Friday, April 11, 2014

ManBoy Hard Work and Issues

video

I've spent 14 years doing a weird emotional dance with a certain kid of mine, he's extremely emotionally touchy, anxiety-ridden, and traumatized in ways he can't even acknowledge, as he was too young then to comprehend his losses, but they left an indelible mark upon his psyche.  He does properly participate in therapy and I'm proud of him for that, most guys wouldn't do so.

It's called push-pull, and it's not JoJo, the one pictured here on a video he'd sent me when I texted him about turning down the volume on something.

Pull me in, push me away.  His push behaviors involve anger out of nowhere and behaviors that offend others, usually me.

Like I'd explained to his older birth brother, "Dude, deal with your mama issues now, or you will drive every woman in your life away if you treat them like you treat me."

He never did so, and he's spent the ensuing years pushing away women by his needy/then cold behaviors.  Hot and cold, push and pull, entice and offend - this doesn't bode well for relationships.

The one who was angry with me the other day spent all day yesterday in my armpit, so extraordinarily helpful, that I'd asked him about his angle, complimented him effusively, then just told him that he'd helped enough hours later, as he'd been literally wrenching huge tree stumps out of the ground - which is an appropriate way of dealing with emotional issues, displacing anger through physical activity.  I have modeled that concept for years.

He'd literally used five raggedy tools - a shovel, a pick-axe, a regular axe (held together with duct tape), a spading fork, and a pruning saw.  Our pathetic tools are rusty, dull and crappy, bought used usually, often left out in the rain, because literally my kids forget to put them up.  I'll remind them later, "Honey, did you put up that saw?"

"What saw?" they'll always ask in bewilderment, they are not faking me out, they honestly have memory problems due to their early severely traumatized childhood years, and I really do completely understand that concept,  and cut them a great deal of slack.  It'd be patently unfair of me to expect more than they can deliver, when their brains have been so damaged by trauma.

And truthfully, I also stay so busy that I often forget to remind them about the saw.  And then there's also my own trauma to consider, it's a wonder we get anything done here at all.

But I gotta say, "Good golly, I'd never have been able to do a tenth of what he got done, even if I'd had the best tools on earth." He's amazingly strong and was super focused on the task at hand yesterday.

I feel as if oh so slowly I/we are taking back the land around here, that nearly underwent a scored earth undertaking, due to the severely crazy issues we've dealt with, or the demanding 5 different soccer teams at one time schedule, or all the housework and yard work in which I have had basically no help - that the house is still standing is amazing enough in and of itself.

I pulled the English Ivy and the wild entangled honeysuckle that had choked out every other possible weed, while my shirtless man boy chopped, sawed, dug and pulled, releasing his own anxiety, talking to me the whole time, me knowing that most of my best conversations always happened with my traumatized kids when no eye contact was demanded from them by me.  Conversations seemed to roll more naturally on their own terms.

It took me a long time to understand that concept.

Four of my boys went for 5 hours over to the church, helping them set up for the Outdoor Extravaganza that hosts hundreds of men each year with dinner and a main outdoors man speaker.  My sons came home carrying two boxes of pizza that were fixing to be pitched in the trash after everyone had eaten.  Scotty jumping in to the rescue of untouched food.  Hey, we don't waste the good stuff.  They were all proud of themselves for being indispensable, and I, too expressed my pride.

Jack was talking to a man at church about hunting, "Mom's vegan, she doesn't take us hunting."  Well, duh.

Martin told me later, "Well, you love the wild animals and all that, but you vegans are eating up all their food."  True, that.

Every son here, all 8 of them, are involved with some online clash clan game, Chuck and Preston (in Ray's account) equally as involved and hooked on it, everyone super excited about some scheduled battle at 5ish.  I found most of mine in the family room, looking at their phones, laughing and cutting up. Enthralled in this imaginary world, Clash of Clans, a free app everyone had downloaded, some on used phones with no service, but hey we have really good wi-fi.

My neighbor, now furious with Charter, the TV and Internet service we use, because they flat out lied to him, telling him they don't service way out here.  He'd argued that at least three families down our road have the cable strung all the way off the beaten path, but getting nowhere.  What's up with that?

I encouraged him to keep pushing it.  I sure do want him to have it, because every time we lose power down here, he's the first to pitch a fit and get it restored, well he and Preston both are on the job.

Our extended weather forecast goes into Good Friday with no frost, so I believe it's safe to plant a great deal of my warm weather crops, the weather is gorgeous, but the pollen count is in the 4,000+ range, fortunately I have no allergies other than to an imaginary one that would involve being stuck indoors.