Friday, October 24, 2014

More Than You Did Yesterday

What rambled through my mind the most yesterday, as I cleaned out the greenhouse, was Mark Bittman's latest brilliance.  Improving one's diet and one's health can be as simple as just taking two steps.  Stop eating junk food and eat more plants than you did yesterday.

A huge amount of women want to lose weight in order to be healthy, and I believe it's as simple as taking the above two steps.

I'd add ditching the soft drinks too, which is clearly a junk food, the more I read about the pitfalls of sugar in one's diet, the happier I become over my summertime decision to work on eliminating it completely from my diet.  I can't claim that I've instantly felt better, I doubt if I've felt any different at all.  What I refer to as my sweet tooth is still niggling me at times, but I'd wager that's part of a sugar addiction I was unaware of until I quit that sucker cold turkey.

Sugar also ages a person, something I didn't know until I'd read of it this week.

I'd read Sugar Blues many, many years ago.  I was then very impressed by the information, but I made no changes.  I certainly wish I'd done so, but I didn't.

Dr. Mercola wrote a fascinating post on depression, something that is seemingly rampant in today's world. The central argument Duffy makes in the book is that sugar is extremely health-harming and addictive, and that simply making one dietary change -- eliminating as much sugar as possible -- can have a profoundly beneficial impact on your mental health.

Mercola probes the role of exercise, a lack of Vitamin D, gut health, and sugar addiction in their relationship to depression.

Stop eating processed foods are loaded with sugar and other detrimental chemicals, switch to fruits and veggies that build our health.  Simple enough.

But not really, as the food industry, as laughable as it is, has permeated our subconscious level into accepting crap for food.  Now it seems as if everyone's fighting a weight problem or health issues as as a result.

Yolie'd sent me a great article on uncluttering, but what I really liked was this woman's take on her own personality.  By her own account, Marie Kondo was an unusual child, poring over lifestyle magazines to glean organizing techniques and then stealthily practicing them at home and school, confounding her family and bemusing her teachers.

Unusual?  Or a budding genius?  Why are young girls who wanna be a princess considered regular and this one deemed unusual?  I played in creeks, crawled through the culverts to see where they went there in the DC area, climbed trees, and played kick the can.  I was too uncoordinated to be a tomboy though, athleticism stumped me. I didn't dream of weddings, princesses, or fashion - did that make me odd?  I felt that way sometimes, but I'd wager everyone feels out of place rather often.

And Darin tagged me on Facebook with an article that's gonna take a great deal of pondering, regarding childhood trauma and ADD.

I'll get to that later, I have a super busy three days ahead of me.  I get to see JoJo tomorrow, and I wanna use an exclamation mark, but emotional restraint overrules.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

People Like ME?

"Well I've explained our payment process to people like you over and over again," a mean spirited woman snarked at me yesterday.  A local woman who knows the composition of our family.  We'd also not had this conversation before, she was confusing me with other poor people.

People like me?  She knows other single women with 39 kids, or is she lumping me in the poverty-stricken people with too many kids by different baby daddys, insolent and ignorant category?  I was shocked by her tone and her verbal treatment of me.

(Now I'm being judgmental too, but I don't call people and tell 'em that)

I was instantly affronted, wanted to crawl through the phone and scream my anger at her, yet I reached down very deep within me to remain civil, thanking her for her time, and ending the conversation before I lost it big time.

Then I childishly burst into tear, very frustrated over several things going on.  This was just the last straw.

Dave Ramsey receives all sorts of hate mail and criticism, and he simply hoots and laughs it all off.  I get my baby sized feelings hurt.  I wish I didn't.  I wish I could step back and comprehend that people's ugliness is all about them, and pretty much has nothing to do with me at all.

I can take it from my kids, somehow able to step back and know it isn't about me at all.  But to get crap from others kinda sets me off internally.

I sure wish I had thicker skin, instead I try my darndest to keep out of sight, and out of people's firing range.  Leave me alone.  Seriously, all ALONE.

As I waited for the temperatures to warm into the 50s I somehow got sucked into watching a documentary online about the first female serial killer, what with all my clicking through web pages.  I'm always fascinated by human behavior.  Always, having lived in a laboratory of sorts for the past 25 years, seeing all kinds of diagnoses acting out their issues right in front of me.

What stuck with me as I watched?  This woman had always been prone to untriggered rages.  Temper dysregulation.  Everyone claiming it appeared as if nothing ever triggered it at all.  She had a crappy childhood, yet her two siblings were OK, always leaving me pondering resiliency versus too many other severe diagnoses that basically no one can overcome.

Then I go all simple-minded on myself, always glad to be straight arrow squeaky clean as it seemingly pays off.  Criticized certainly in my growing up years for being uptight or a bookworm, but hey?  Not such bad adjectives, right?

Bottom line, I prefer to keep my uptight, bookwormish butt out here in solitude, away from others, where I can live out my golden years in complete obscurity, peacefully and without conflict.  I'm not up to competition with people, I can't keep up with the Joneses, I'm anti-confrontational, I enjoy my own interests and my gardens, and I'm very content with my own company.

If anything, the mean old world, plus the trauma endured here, has further pushed me into reclusiveness.

I thought about all sorts of equally mean things I could've said to that woman who kept insinuating maybe I was sub-par overall, but my overly hyperactive conscience keeps me in check, Bible verses too, so on the surface I remained polite, then had to deal with my ugly thoughts that weren't in line with a Biblical perspective.

Dave Ramsey is accused of earning money from the sale of his books.  Seriously?  Do we dog other famous authors for receiving money from the sale of books they've written?  Stephen King?  JK Rowling?  Of course not.  His detractors are uncomfortable with the precepts he espouses because they don't wanna be accountable for their own money problems, preferring to blame others.

He'll read some of it aloud on his show, laughing it off.  What a wonderful inner ability that is, I only wish I possessed it too.  Instead my stomach clenched up and I couldn't eat and my blood pressure surged skyward.  Why do I let it affect me? I wish I knew.

The father of yesterday's White House fence jumper stated his son has mental health problems and need an evaluation.  I don't disagree, but I wish more parents would be proactive in getting these psych evals done.  That won't necessarily prevent incidents and problems, but it does help to know the challenges involved in managing the behaviors.

Most parents don't even know about psych evals.  I had no clue until the adoption world explained it to me.  And then sometimes the psych eval just scares the pea turkey out of you, as you realize your kids is likely gonna have a spectacularly challenging existence since the world will cut them no slack.

The aforementioned serial killer was undiagnosed and unmedicated, wild on the streets for decades, not evaluated until they wanted to know if she was fit to be put to death.  The ironies and the insensitivity here are astonishing. Suppose she'd been properly medicated and counseled?  Maybe those 7 men would still be alive?  I do not know.

But to end on a better note, my Tony, saddled with several challenging physical and emotional diagnoses, born into a horrific situation, non-verbal until age 6, amongst other things he's fought against, has become a pretty amazing man.  He's worked hard on those carts at Sam's Club, a physically demanding feat in the sweltering summer - many men couldn't, or wouldn't, have done, and Tony has several physical limitations too.

He spent not a cent, built his bank account, fought complete and utter exhaustion, got a raise and was moved to the grocery section, bought a car, and then even purchased his $70 parking sticker at school his own self, the first of my 39 kids to ever do so while still in high school.  He'll soon be 19, his limitations have kept him in school a year longer, but he's always done well there.  I held him back in first grade to help him, due to his inability then to keep up with his peers and because of his very small stature.

He knows we've had severe money issues and he offered to pay his own $70.  On one hand, I feel bad because it should be my job to do so, on the other hand, I know how extraordinarily proud of himself that he is right now.  And he should be.  He's done all of this on his own.  He has made great choices, great decisions and has worked hard.  He told me last night that he wants to thank Dr Mandy when he sees her for all she's taught him about his issues.

I stood there for a minute, waiting and wondering if he thought I'd played a part, knowing I've busted my butt for all his life, but no affirmation came.  Good thing for me that I do get it from within me. knowing that I have worked my tail off for my kids.

Not related to him, but I've paid off the uber expensive psych hospitalization bill, that ER bill, and am paying off the other expenses involved in that incident many months ago.  If I owe it, I will pay it, even though it's been super hard to do so.

I really do not need compliments to know I've worked hard, because I know that I know that I know.  I really do.  But I also do not need people cutting me down, as that woman saw fit to do on the phone yesterday, depleting my gut instantly.  I'll put it all on me, I need to grow rawhide for a shell.  Grow up, Cindy, put on your big girl granny panties.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Grandparents Breakfast Time

Breakfast at my granddaughter's school, then I took a mostly grown son to the doctor's office to have a suspicious mole checked.  Reassured by the dermatologist to not worry, and then back home to do chore after chore.

Recently a woman, happily married with several children, both parents are professionals, confided in me about a terrible ordeal.  I hardly knew what to say.  My first inclination  was, "I thought this only happened with traumatized children," but fortunately, I just listened, pretty much stunned into silence.

I know that I get very wrapped up in our own issues, thinking it's only us, but it truly only takes a few minutes on Facebook to learn of many struggles and prayer requests.

On a positive note, a former colleague posted a photo of the custodian of our school back in the 1980s.  Now he's 93 years old and looks the same, still driving, still teaching Sunday School.  Back then Mr. Ed was allowed to take all the leftover food, scraped from school lunch tray into a bucket, home to feed his hogs.  A win-win in my mind yet dumb health department regulations eventually stopped that practice, the food then went into the trash only to later clog the landfill.

Jeepers.  Progress?  Nah.

Mr. Ed used to sing as he worked, always smiling, always uplifting, and it's paid off for him, now a very old man, but still a strong, happy man.

Some grown daughters called me recently, squabbling and cussing.  I get to excuse myself nowadays from meanness and bad words, I do not want to be invited, nor included, in such negativity.  "I'm fixing to hang up y'all," I warned, "I'm done.  I don't wanna hear all this, call me back when you're being more reasonable."

The one who'd called me told the other one, "Mom said to shut-up," which pissed me off.  I didn't say that.  I said, "Stop cussing," as I find it to be so offensive having to hear ugly words.

When things fall apart, it's often because no one listened to either logic nor any good advice, instead being oppositional and irresponsible, then wanting me to fix it.  Can't be done.  Nor should I enable anyone.  When heads have cooled, it's easier to explain all this, and it again becomes a two steps forward, one step back kind of progress.

JoJo's called, he's still doing well there at Youth Challenge Academy, I'm going Saturday to see him on Family Day.  I'm very excited to get to see him.

No appointments today, I'll put up some more Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, haul wood chips, put garden hoses away for the winter, the kind of piddling I truly enjoy doing.

As I marvel at the progress one of my heavily-saddled-with-issues son is making, against all odds, I thought back to a time period several years ago when I didn't think he and I could make another day together.  But, as I look back, his awful behavior was very likely due to his conflicted feelings about having a raging sister move out.

He's always been close to the sisters, even though he often got very caught up in their drama issues.  This one in particular was still stirring things up within him via Facebook, Twitter and texts.  This son can't just say, "I miss her.  I wish folks didn't have to grow up and chose to move out," because traumatized children don't often use logical thought processes.  Instead he re-created huge amounts of drama here, as if trying to re-live the crappy times when she stirred it all up.

It just doesn't make sense to us parents, we instead love the drama-free existence, but to children who've lived for so long in chaos, recreating that chaos is their comfort zone.  Peace makes them emotionally uneasy.

Just as no child who ever arrived here was able to simply state, "I'm sad.  I have huge losses to grieve."  They just couldn't reach within them and comprehend.  Instead the grief and loss issues are played out via very disruptive and destructive behaviors that demonstrate their inner turmoil.  Our children were so accustomed to stuffing down their feelings, never understanding any of the 'whys' that originally sent them to foster care, or explained why they moved amongst multiple caretakers, by the time I met them, they could barely make a coherent statement.

Then I expected them to function?  To do well in school?  I did lower my expectations on the advice of professionals, I did seek out help and resources, but overall, I don't think any of us stable, middle class adoptive parents have much of a clue regarding the severe inner turmoil of our children, plus the fact that most of them had some fairly severe emotional diagnoses.  That any of us are still standing is a testament to sticking it out.

As always, The Adoption Counselor, explains it in her 'trigger word' blog post today.  She nailed it.  Saying, "No," does give our children a legitimate to them excuse to explode.

But I'll continue to encourage y'all a bit.  Even those kids usually eventually come around and emotionally bond with you, but it takes a very long time.  One of my most disturbed ones called me four times yesterday while texting me in between. Another one has called me every day now that she's bought her own cell phone, but while living under my roof with my dumb safety rules?  Neither of us were very sure at all that our mother-daughter relationship would survive.

But it has.  Miss P checking with me constantly before making decisions, not always taking my advice, actually heeding it infrequently, but then calling again to tell me how that didn't work out for her, and that maybe she should've listened to me.  Better that the "I told you sos" comes from her mouth as she tells her own self that which I'd already suggested, than to have this stodgy old bat have to say it.

It's been hard for me to learn to just be quiet.  I felt as a parent that it was my job to teach them, as my parents had taught me.  But the parenting rules are super duper different when one is parenting severely traumatized children.

I need to be quieter.  To listen and to affirm, keeping the verbal lessons to a bare minimum.  They hear my tone more'n they hear my words.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

48 Years Is Long Enough

It's been decades since I've been this caught up on my Big Back Garden, as in never before.  Still so much to do, but whenever we get our last frost, I will already feel satisfied with my level of work.  Like I've stated, I've turned off distracting notifications on my phone in order to remain focused.

It wasn't until this morning that I saw I'd been tagged by two different people on two different important articles, and since this is (or was) an adoption blog, both articles deserve everyone's attention.

Yolie tagged me in this one, The Child I Didn't Adopt, an issue that haunts me to this day.  I live in a large house that will someday be empty, I feel guilty about that, but I also feel as if I have nothing left to give to anyone.  I'm gave out, emotionally exhausted, and do not feel that I have it within me to do what it would take to advocate positively for anymore children.  I'm out of gas.

But articles like this disturb me on every level.

I dig deep within me, to see if there's anyone home, but the answer remains the same.  Nope.  I also wanna be available for my grandchildren and not so tied down here at home, but my own conscience still nudges me every now and then.  I just don't have that burning fire within me anymore, not at all.  More importantly, I don't feel God nudging me to continue adopting.

I guess a Pittsburgh reporter can't properly pronounce 'Vidalia" and I cringed at the butchering of it, but the story itself made me smile.  Darin'd sent it from Ohio, about a detective who adopted two siblings, who, at first glance, appeared right issue free.

But I know better.

I know no one emerges unscathed, these boys will always grieve, on some level, the birth parents' departure from their lives.  They will act out in various manners, even if they don't do so in adolescence.  At some point, the emotional pain will be evident.

In order to heal, you gotta feel.   You can't go around the pain, avoidance doesn't work.  At some point you must face it, deal with it properly, release it if possible, and then move on.  Too many folks self-medicate, especially children like mine, or foster children who were never ever properly parented.

Drugs or alcohol temporarily eases the inner pain, but any educated person knows that's not the answer in the long run.

Many, many of my children have cried in my arms, smearing snot everywhere, deep wracking sobs that, as a mom, will nearly kill you.  You know you can't take away their pain, it hurts that you weren't there in their early childhood to protect them from everything they endured, you wanna make it all better for them, but it's just not that simple.

You will grieve with them, and for them.

I can't stress this enough - get therapy for them, thank you Medicaid, that pays for former foster children (usually) to receive all sorts of therapeutic services.  Some Moms tell me, "It's not helping," after months of intensive appointments, to which I respond,"You might not ever see improvement while they live with you, but you gotta know you're giving them tools with which to cope by getting them to therapy."

Therapy can't fix every issue, but therapy helps.  It'll help you most of all as a good therapist will explain so much to you regarding these outward destructive behaviors that basically have nothing to do with you anyway, even if you are the brunt of the rages.  Find a therapist experienced in trauma, attachment issues, FAE, FAS, or y'all's specific issues, and geared towards children and adolescents.

I flat out know I'm blessed to have Dr. Mandy and my longtime caseworker.  There's no way I could've done what I've done without them.  I'd be an idiot to think otherwise.

I've cried oceans of tears for my kids, and because of my kids.  I've been frightened out of my mind at times, deeply dismayed, and extraordinarily frustrated.  Imagine where I'd have been without therapeutic help?

But the trauma that I too have endured, both first hand, and secondarily, has scarred me massively, leaving me believing that I should only be the parent to my 39 kids, even though my heart breaks constantly for all the kids who won't ever find a family.

Maybe someday farther down the line I'll have recovered more, but I seriously doubt it, as I'm getting older by the minute.

In 6 1/2 years my brother Jim retires and my youngest child, Tabby, will be graduating from high school, 48 years after I birthed my first kid.  48 years of children living at home.  No wonder I'll not feel a sad empty nest syndrome.  I will likely feel guilty for not parenting more children.  I'm just built that way.

I'll go get therapy for that ridiculous level of inner guilt.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Story of Team Hoyt @ ESPY's 2013 - Jimmy V Perseverance Award (in 10...

What's wrong with this picture?  It presupposes I ever even get any social invitations.

As I waited on Jim and Grandma to return from their 920 mile round trip, I worked out back, maybe getting it mowed for the last time this season, stepping back to admire it all.  Nearly 22 years here and finally it's shaping up, but gimme a break, I've been rather busy every single minute of the last 22 years.

But as my eyes sweep over the panoramic aspect of it, it's a large area we'd fenced in many years ago, I feel a great sense of both peace and accomplishment, then I beat myself up because the front areas look awful.

Gina, Sarah and the kids joined us last night for supper, we sat yapping at the table, and I'm thinking, this is a perfect social life for me.

Today was stretching empty of obligations for me, until Allen reminded me he needed me to take him to a grocery store that was taking applications.  He's too broke to fix his Jeep tire, which suits me, lesson learned, I told you boys you needed to be stashing away money for just such events.  Cars break down y'all.  Especially the clunkers we drive.

Gotta go get Nando a Sports Physical as he's wanting to try out for the school's teams, and we need flu shots.

Someone had recently asked me a fairly simple adoption question, something I might once thought I'd known, but the truth is, everything has changed so much, policies and procedures, I've been out of the loop for 10 years, not updated a home study in nearly a dozen years.  I only know now about the issues within adoption via my children and what they've endured.

I used to read every word I could find about the adoption procedures, now I'm completely ignorant regarding first steps.  "Call this agency," is my only response, thinking I best suppress everything else I know about after the adoption proceedings, after the honeymoon phase.

As Sarah and Jim discussed several issues in which my knowledge was zero, I realized within me, that I had a lot of catching up to do in order to have a clue.

In many ways, I kinda feel like I'm emerging from a cave dweller existence, blinking in the sunlight, the world has greatly changed while I was so bogged down cooking, doing laundry, going to soccer games, therapy and tracking down more necessary resources.

I bought this house in 1993, at almost 39 years old, the time has flown by, now there's a old lady in my mirror who feels strong and healthy, emotionally whacked out maybe, but still raring to go.  I'm either still wearing that same outfit, or else the fact is all of my subsequent outfits were also black stretchy pants and T-shirts.

I know that I have seriously busted my butt for 24-7 around here, I do know that, yet this video of a father, with a son hugely afflicted with CP, made me feel like a complete slacker.  Pastor Tony showed this video at church and I could hear grown men sniffling, it's a motivational tear jerker.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Being Alone Splendidly

I'd put this photo up on Facebook yesterday of my elusive, reclusive brother, Jim, who is not on Facebook, nor any other social media.  A mailman who does his job and retreats to his sanctuary, a lovely home that butts up against acreage and a very large pond.  Like me, Jim's a reader and doesn't need others to entertain him.

Then I thought of my other brother Gary.  Same thing.  His home sits on a river, my land has several creeks. Water just might be our thing.

Yet when we ever do go out in public, we are all capable of having a splendid time, we just don't crave it at all.

So what, Cindy?

Well, here now at age 60, I feel kind of validated by it.  I felt self-conscious about it when I was younger, making excuses when I didn't wanna have to go somewhere, preferring to just be alone.

The old, "I gotta wash my hair tonight,' routine, but instead I hadda go weed some garden beds, alone with my thoughts; content and happy.

I find The Real World rather astonishing.  Kind of brutal and a dog eat dog mentality seemingly pervasive.  I don't like that, I'd rather read a farming book and mind my own business.  I like listening to silence or watching my garden grow.  Fun is not my middle name.

So sometime I also stay off of Facebook for a spell, and realign myself with my own thoughts and feelings.

If you don't share that same thought process, or social awkwardness, if you are gregarious, then that's fine too.  We should all be allowed to pursue who we are and what we do, freely and without criticism from others.

I don't think anyone ever really feels as if they fit in, or maybe even if they're good enough.  Good enough for what?  I don't know, but it seems to be an undercurrent I've been reading lately.  Can't we just be good enough for our own selves without having to strive and measure up to some unattainable standard that no one really cares about anyway?

Me farting around out here, piddling in the gardens, and getting chores done is good enough for me and my standards.

Much as we need the money, I'm super glad I never caved in and responded to any reality show inquiries about large families, producers who'd email me after scouring the internet, not knowing I'm flat out boring. Hey, y'all, wanna watch me sweep the hall, read a book, or haul wood chips?  I'm a blast, right?

I have some grown kids with problems I can't fix for them, not because they're not listening, but more so because they don't necessarily have the logical means of comprehension and following through on things.  What to do?  I dunno.

I have two sons here who are unemployed and I'm dogging them daily about it, so one of them went to Fabian's apartment so as not to have to listen to me, but he had to get a ride since he can't afford gas for his car.  Dude, if you'd get a job, you could afford to buy gas.

Several of my older kids, now paying their own bills, have recently stated, "Mom was right.  We didn't know how good we had it just sitting around playing Nintendo while she paid all the bills."


Chuck and Yolie had a bonfire/movie night up at their house last night, the only non family there was Chuy's girlfriend, and that's about as much socialization as I'm capable of, but I also made it properly and appropriately to church this morning, now cooking black bean chili for tonight when Grandma and Jim get back from West Virginia.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Sweetest Soccer Player

So now I'm getting weirded out as less and less of my kids need me.  No more nine p.m. runs to Sam's Club to pick up Tony as he bought a 1999 Honda Civic yesterday with his own money.  Born almost 19 years ago with so many diagnosed challenges including CP, this is an amazing amount of progress for him, and I'm bursting with pride.  He did this.  It's on him, it's all him, and he knows I'm super proud.

We left here at 8 this morning for a two hour trek way up to Dawsonville so Nando could play soccer which indeed his team did, winning 14-0.  At one point Nando collided with the goalie and the sickening loud crack as their two heads hit each other nearly made me lose my breakfast.  I jumped around on the sidelines trying not to holler and the ref used a penlight to check Nando's pupils after he got back up.

I was afraid he'd been knocked out cold, but he bounced up madder'n a wet hen and played hard.

My baby brother, Jim, and Mom are on that New River train all over West Virginia, in a glass domed car, enjoying the leaves that have turned, as they've not done so down here yet.

The other day Tabby needed $3 to go to her school's football game, Nando couldn't go due to soccer practice, and I dug through my pocketbook to come up with the money.  After the game she handed that same money back to me.

"Huh?" I asked her, bewildered.

"Nando gave me money," she told me.

I asked Nando later about it, knowing he doesn't have any money.

"Oh!" he squawked in his always happy tone of voice, "Michael gave me money on my birthday and I wanted to help you out."

Oh my goodness.  I appreciate his very sweet heart and helping nature, but the money stress is my job.  I refunded him the $3 that he argued about accepting from me.  "No Honey," I stressed, "You need soccer stuff, this should be spent on you, it's for you."  I'm gonna carry him over to Sports Academy and make him spend it on him, he loves that place.

He's simply the sweetest kid.