Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Because so many people have Iphones now, ITouch ipods are flooding the used electronics market, we've found a couple on Craigslist and Ebay that were quite cheap, I'm slowly trying to buy more for my teenagers, these things get wi-fi and there are free texting and game apps that keep them enthralled.
Tony and Lily'd been taking pictures, the ones I'm using today came from them. The silly Yorkie, Princess, overcome by heat, apparently hogging the remote while we all worked outside? I gotta send this photo to the sweet woman, Elizabeth, who'd blessed us with these adorable dogs. The other Yorkies follow everyone around outside usually.
Good thing our summer vacation is already out of the way. Oh my goodness, my calendar sucks already. Three different kids have weightlifting and conditioning nearly every day of the week at different times, yet at the same school. My little 13 year old truck's gonna get a workout running everyone every whichaway, three times a week counseling for Jonathan, plus our times with Dr, Mandy, and that's only the tip of the iceberg.
I'm trying to garden/farm, keep the house clean, laundry done, and kids with ginormous appetites fed each day, collapsing in a sweaty heap each night, sleeping hard enough to dent the bed, and jumping up in the morning to do it all again.
This morning I was outta here, registering for summer school and getting to a DJJ appointment, taking one to conditioning, now it's too hot to go out and work, I need to get out very early each morning as our temperatures are in the mid to upper 90s all week. We were squirting ourselves with the garden hose yesterday just to bring down our core body temperatures. Literally it's as hot as Hell.
I hardly came inside at all yesterday, very happy with all that I'd accomplished, and even the kids were helpful. Lily working on her gourd plantings, Nando concentrating on watermelons, Tabby redid the chicken coop to her own specifications, new hay and yapping constantly to the startled hens, who promptly, and not in response, immediately laid 9 eggs. Two boys mowed, three boys brought me wheelbarrow loads of wood chips, I couldn't have asked for a better day.
I hate to stop working just to eat, although I was truly famished, Grandma sent me a plate of squash, taters, peas and onions from her garden, grilled in olive oil and sea salt, I nearly licked the plate in joy.
My own squash isn't ready yet.
Nando somehow spotted a black snake, peeking out from the canna lilies, I'd likely just have weeded around it obliviously, I don't need to know everything, especially when snakes are involved. It wasn't real happy to see a group of us staring back at it either.
Later some kids cooled off at the big creek, I ate spinach, onion, mushroom and pepper jack cheese lightly fried up in tortillas, the kids preferring mega nachos. I don't care, I'm just relishing the peace, quiet and helpfulness. You can eat cereal for supper if you're gonna act right.
I even had enough free time late into the night to dive into yet another book, one I'd put aside last winter, a lot of mental digesting necessary in order for me to absorb its brilliance. It's not rocket science, yet it's fascinating and thought-provoking. I'm referring to Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence , which Sarah's impatiently waiting for me to finish so that she too can learn its principles which are kinda contrary to normal...yet so dang sensible.
I'm linking the review from the Simple Dollar. This book's nearly 20 years old, how I do wish I'd read it back then, yet I'm super grateful to have been exposed to Larry Burkett and Ron Blue in the early 80s which also transformed my budgetary principles. We're not taught this in school, I'm glad my parents taught me a bunch, but the theories and ideas I've gleaned from others have helped me beyond my ability to even portray to others. I can't say enough good things, although I do mention Dave Ramsey constantly.
And from NPR via Ms Carr, more evidence backing up my constant admonition to my children which is to drink water. Like I could even afford that which they rarely clamor for? I have used Gatorade as treats though, just not a steady diet of it.
How will my kids know which bus to ride home today after summer school? The Director of Transportation will be there, he who's coached my kids, and know they can dominate in soccer yet hardly find their way home from the school they attend every day just a mile away, told me, "Don't worry, I'll make sure they get on the right bus." Thank God for this small county and all the help I've receieved over the years.
Monday, May 30, 2011
I've often talked about my irritability at news stories that dump upon us crime reports, disasters and mayhem. Does knowing about an Atlanta apartment building fire increase my knowledge of current events? Best to just skim the items on the Internet, not have to watch the bystander's ignorant reaction shots, and read what I wanna read.
This 74 year old weightlifter, this beautiful 74 year old woman had me gaping in admiration and amazement. I feel like such a slacker in comparison.
Or how about Six Ways to Help Solve Poverty? Trent Hamm at The Simple Dollar always has a meaty personal finance post from which I learn, Mondays always bring real life minimalist stories, today it was about a minimalist teenager.
I wanna be inspired, not beaten in the head about today's ugliness. I certainly don't want CNN blaring in my background, if I'm gonna listen to problems, then give me some solutions. I'll admit to listening to Dr. Joy Browne podcasts, on the AM radio I like Dr. Laura or Clark Howard. Teach me something y'all. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I will never know, there's just not enough time.
After being acclimated to my church's AC, walking out into the bright sunshine at noon, the heat hit me upside my head yet I soldiered on, soaking wet with sweat, guzzling our sweet well water. Working all afternoon, nearly giving myself a heat stroke in the process, I did get a lot done, crawling inside exhausted, thinking if I did have an exercise regime, I'd get stronger, and at almost 57 years old, shouldn't that be my goal? Yeah I think so.
Best hunt me up some motivation.
We came back from the beach flat broke, no money coming in until the first of the month. "Charge it," Allen suggested, when I told him we needed to wait until the first to buy groceries.
"Nope, we have food in the pantry and in the freezers," I responded.
"But it's not what I like best," he wailed.
However Grandma went to Wal-Mart for her prescription, picking up gallons of milk and blocks of cheese, so technically we didn't scrounge as I'd hoped.
Our huge drama of last week has quieted down immensely, not without a ton of phone calls for a resolution, my daughter's health issue continues to improve each day, I listened in Sunday School to prayer requests, and all that the other women are working through, knowing I don't have any more pressing family issues than others do, if anything I feel blessed with good health and a decent month of May.
More than decent, I had one of my best months in a very long time.
Sarah'd passed on two books to me. One of grief, The Year of Magical Thinking, that also has helped me understand what grandma's enduring right now after losing her mate of nearly 60 years. The other book is Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder essays.
Why do I post what I read? Folks email me for book titles for one thing, the other thing is that what I read has greatly influenced who I am today. I love to see books mentioned on other blogs. For Pete's Sake, I was a media specialist for 25 years, books are truly a great love of mine.
Are we snake magnets? At the beach, in the tropical vegetation, Sabrina'd reached down to pick up a necklace she thought she'd found discarded in the sea oats, only to watch in shock as it quickly moved away from her.
If I can only teach them anything, might I not want it to be DNR regulations?
Sunday, May 29, 2011
It was an entire week at Edisto Beach, the first time in nine years since I'd spent a week at the beach. The last time was when I had 17 children under the age of 11 at Pawley's Island, a week in which I thought my eyes'd bug out in the pure stress of counting heads over and over and over again. 24-7 supervision, lifeguard and cook duties, no break at all.
I'd had my brother, Jimbo, with me then, as well as my parents, Chuck, Yolie and Sarah. Beach vacations have traditionally been multi-generational for Bodies. I hope my brothers and their families will join us next year now that my own family had calmed down so much.
Nowadays, with nine high schoolers, it's so much easier. Everyone is a strong swimmer, no children are new to our family, thus immediately then minimizing the rageful explosions, subsequently we had nearly perfect behavior. I only have two elementary kids and three middle schoolers...a piece of cake.
Sarah, Preston, Ray and Hazel also were with me, Yolie's family has a beach week with her husband's side of the family. My plan is always to take along the children still living here with me, and, as often as possible, Yolie and Sarah's families as they help me so incredibly much during the year.
I scouted out our next location for next year, and I'm already excited about it. A designated line item in my budgetary pay-as-you-go policy that eliminates bills arriving later after the fun is over. I do not use credit cards.
I haven't been to my church since Mother's Day, due to being away, this morning I'm happy to get dressed and go.
The police, not in my county where we have deputies, had picked up an injured grown kid of mine one night last week, 10-13ing them for their own safety. An answer to prayer, as suicidal ideations had been expressed, that one was MIA for several days, gut-wrenching fear coursing through my family until personal safety was assured.
I'm not using names so much anymore, maybe not even delineating the gender of the one I'm discussing, as it's the issues that we all have in common on our adoption journey, the children themselves are spectacularly unique however...even here within my own large family.
Again, I hate alcohol abuse. Hate it. What good comes from it? Yeah, nothing.
Dave Ramsey was stressing the need for college kids to work, not to rely on student loans, brought to my own mind my years spent waiting tables, driving a school bus and running a rooming house, all in order to take care of my own even back then very minimal living expenses, plus I had a child then as well. But, not having any free time had its plusses, no time for drinking and partying, no DUI in my history, again illustrating the thought that the Devil makes work for idle hands. As if control freaks like me would hand over inhibitions to liquid? Uh, Nope.
To now have grown kids who are chronically unemployed is such an irony, right? I have no sympathy nor empathy. The Bibles clearly states if you don't work, you don't eat. A duh moment brought to us by God. I was never too proud for a minimum wage job.
After driving the 260 miles back home yesterday, I physically collapsed. Maybe it was the previous cumulative decades of stress doing a number on me, but no part of me wanted to go outside and dig in the dirt in the late afternoon heat. I kinda just plopped my butt down feeling disoriented, kinda restlessly guilty for burning daylight so fruitlessly, but knowing I probably shouldn't be so hard on myself all the dadgum time.
I didn't even read a book, instead I blankly watched TV, so not me. My dogs were hysterically glad to see us all, indeeed Shatter came bounding up to my room this morning to get me up when I slept past the roosters crowing. Allen had voluntarily mowed our entire meadow all evening with a push mower, restless and wanting it trimmed, while Tony straightened up the kitchen for me. Who are these helpful kids and why was Mom being so slack?
Chuy killed a copperhead on our back deck, not even telling me until he'd skinned it. Oh. My. Goodness. Thank God he saw it before a grandchild had done so. It was fairly small, maybe a foot long, making me uneasy about snake siblings. Chuy's Wildlife Management class last semester had totally fascinated him, our shark dinner last week was mainly due to him, and he'd trapped a squirrel last month that had been pigging out on Grandma's garden lettuce.
I'm praying that I can guide him into some sort of linked facsinating field of study. He's a very bright teenager, still struggling a bit with his own deep anger issues, a bantam rooster too often, but deep down, a delightful son of mine, handsome and athletic.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
To have already been to a Braves game, Virginia, and the beach, and we're not even out of the month of May, fills me with joy. But where does one go from here?
Out to the gardens I suppose, planting, re-planting, weeding, mulching and harvesting.
The kids have summer school, football and cheerleading conditioning, church activities and free time up ahead.
I'm a gonna have PPS - post party syndrome - leaving all these fun times behind me, but I need to remember to be grateful that the kids have been right decent for the last month or so.
I'm incredibly grateful to God for a mid-week miracle, still praying for a resolution to another situation for a daughter of mine.
So antiquated, or simply behind the times, I'd repeated to Sarah a story told to me in Virginia by Elaine, about a book telling of the hotspots in Laura Ingalls Wilder's life, to which Sarah'd responded, "The Wilder Years? I have it on reserve at the library."
So NPR, listened to by Emily C, Sarah and Elaine, telling of books up ahead that I'd surely be interested in reading, has finally gotten to be an auditory destination of mine. I'd add some links, but the computer speed is dragging and I gotta get my rear end in gear this morning
Friday, May 27, 2011
With a great deal of respect for the Loggerhead Turtles, the town of Edisto Beach has decreed that there should be no outdoor lights from May until October, so as not to disorient the turtles who crawl up out of the ocean in order to lay their eggs in the sand. How cool is that?
Light pollution has long been an annoyance of mine, our body clocks so screwed up by electrical lights, sleep problems abounding, resulting in corresponding health issues, doesn't it make sense to go to bed when the sun sets and arise again with it? In summer I'm so dang tired from garden work that nightfall is a welcome respite, there at the beach even my children were wiped out from fishing and playing in the waves, easy to quiet 'em all down, the next mornings everyone popped up at first light.
The vegetation at Edisto pulled me in, the century plants, the palms and palmettos, it's farther south there in South Carolina than our latitude in northeast Georgia, and it shows in the tropical plants. I talked with a lady who'd potted up the century plants from her yard, I watched with fascination how they multiplied, as did the palms, I now have several of hers to take back home.
Chuy's first large fish had to be returned to the ocean, Mr. Jim reading aloud from the SC DNR publication the size and weight regulations, even pulling out a tape measure from his tackle box, but for my sons, who displayed a remarkable amount of patience, this was part of their process surprisingly resulting in very few complaints. I had to go out each day though, find my flip flops and get more groceries, more bait and fishing paraphernalia.
Sarah kept an eye on my younger children, supervising in order to allow me to take very long beach walks, never alone though as the older kids clamored to trail along, "Dang, you walk fast," every single one of them later complained, but I don't really have a lower gear. Once I'd had a coach at work time me, he'd challenged my 5 mph assertion, but I really do walk very fast, easily covering five miles in under an hour. I can't jog for squat though. My lungs don't hold out, I don't like the pounding.
Grandma came with us as well, her first beach vacation without Grandpa in 60 years. At 81, she'll put on her bathing suit and hit the ocean, but this year she's been quieter than usual, that's not her usual demeanor, she of mongo opinions.
There was no internet where we'd stayed, fortunately we could pick up sporadic wireless signals from other houses sometimes.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Ending up a delightful week at the beach, is there any other word for the beach, but delightful?
Edisto Beach, South Carolina - a barrier island with only houses, maybe a hole-in-the wall restaurant, but no hotels, shopping places, or nightclubs - certainly my kind of place.
How I've not ever been here before, I just don't know. I guarantee I'll be back.
I was told it's a very quiet island, and it surely is so. Well, maybe quiet before we got here. Volume control has always been an issue, an inability for my overly expressive family, me included, or maybe me the worst of all.
I'm crazy about Edisto. No crowds, no stress, no artificial entertainment. Dear Lord, please help me teach my children not to rely on amusement parks for fun, when one can fish, hike, camp, read...Honey, take yer pick.
My boys have been fishing nearly nonstop. A man here from Monck's Corner, South Carolina has truly been a super influence and a big help. Mr Jim has caught several small sharks, having much better fishing rigs than my sons are using, yesterday he caught another large one, gutted and filleted it right there on the beach with my wide-eyed children as an audience, handing a big ole chunk to Chuy to take up to the house to finish preparing it. Shark steaks fresh as fresh can possibly be.
Sarah cooked it and we all enjoyed it. I will eat seafood here at the beach, a locavore pescatarian, situational at best. I'd never tasted shark, we don't have any of our herbs and spices here, so salt and pepper being our only additives, still it was simply deliciously wonderful.
I'd packed massive boxes of groceries to bring here, knowing I'd be cooking, that we'd not be going out to eat at all and mainly what I forgot was my Fire Hot Pepper Sauce. I've missed it dearly. There's a tiny Piggly Wiggly Grocery Store on Edisto that I've also visited daily as I'm raising some big eaters.
Nothing I love more'n beach walking, and beach walking is what I've done., racking up the mileage, breathing out all of my stressed out bad air, sucking in the salt air, replacing tension with oxygen, kids chattering by my side, releasing their own highly unique brands of traumatized stress.
Chuck and Yolie've been taking care of the dogs and chickens while we were gone, CJ searching for eggs to take home and cook, my neighbors keeping an eye out on my home, as are deputies, gate locked, security alarms on. We've a busy summer ahead of us, I've thoroughly enjoyed this beach interlude. Summer school starts Tuesday.
The kids were terrible before we left home, all their apprehensive nerves flat shot as the mere thought of vacations stresses them out, away from the security of home, yet as soon as we arrived here, everyone straightened up and finally grudgingly allowed themselves to have a blast.
Before Memorial Day these rentals were half price, I'd booked it six months ago, at yet another deep discount, and had paid it off over the ensuing months, after me first making sure there were no hidden interest fees in paying this way. Obviously this is why I've not been able to save for my bedroom ceiling repair, but who cares?
My Mr. P has been phenomenal, super helpful, friendly, a totally different guy, indeed he's truly been improving steadily over the last two months, I pray this is maturity kicking in for him.
Our dear family friend, Audrey, lost her beloved Grandma this week and I regret not being able to be there for the funeral today, we had another near tragedy occur with a grown kid, many prayers were prayed, crisis averted, but only after several days in which I was afraid that my fear would make me throw up in the ocean, thank you Lord for working that out for us all and now I'm asking for unspecified prayer for another situation. A sweet grown daughter who needs a prayer covering right now.
Thank God for cell phones, I've talked to most of my grown children quite a few times, so much so as we dealt with something that was monstrously difficult, recharging my phone battery to keep on trying to resolve it. Eventually Jesse, up in NY, called me with a solution for something many miles from where he was standing, I fought back my tears knowing it gave us the answer we'd been praying for so diligently. A true answer to our prayers, as we all continue praying for another grown kid in a completely different scenario.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
I'd like to echo the thoughts of The Adoption Counselor. I, too, would've eased up on the self-recriminations years ago, if I knew then what I know now. I'd have trained myself to take things less personally, I'd also have taken better care of myself.
In the end, my sacrifices haven't mattered to anyone, but me, all the blame they now heap upon me, well not all of them do, it's the ones who wanna be victims of the recession, or of prejudice, or of bad luck, well all that blame was gonna come anyway, no matter what I did.
The first comment I'd read upon awakening woke me up more'n this pot of coffee. It nearly re-traumatized my own self, remembering those many rough nights, years and years of them, when my children's inner pain and turmoil would not let anyone have a moment's peace.
Us naive mamas all once met our beautiful new children happily, we were excitedly adding to our family in such a socially approved manner, we felt great about ourselves, me not having a clue at all into the depth of their emotional turmoil, their negative emotions in such stark opposition to ours. They were fighting very justified feelings of deep, crippling grief in the face of our parental joy at meeting them for the first time. They were neither happy, nor grateful for a chance at becoming a part of a family, they missed their own family immensely, and we clearly represented The Problem to them. I understand that now.
I simply could not ever face that again. I've gone through it for decades, it has changed me. The kids all improved, while I eventually became so damaged as to fear drooling, shuffling, and Depends for my future. It eventually felt pointless to even try and take care of myself.
I could so picture her crazy evening as she wrote the description. My thirty something year old self could've faced it, not my nearly 57 year old, worn out, burned out persona.
My darling niece also commented, wanting to return to our habit of Nags Head time again, in just a few more years when I'm more freed up by my family's many demands. Indeed it was in those years, in all those summers that I got to know my nieces so well.
Oh heck yeah Lauren, I'd love to do so, to be with you and Katie, Kelly and Caroline, as well as my siblings and favorite brother-in-law. Y'all know Grandma wants to also do so. So do many of my children and grandchildren.
I sit here now with children who are not new to our family, teenagers nonetheless, and their issues are still raging, but them? Not so much anymore. The passing years do eventually help ease their pain.
I've said this so many times, that I once thought I'd always and slowly continue adopting, that it'd be my life's work, but I know that I clearly heard from God eight years ago that this was enough, I didn't have it in me for any more adoptions. The toll it had taken was just too much. My season for new adoptions had ended, this from a woman who once would've accused herself of copping out. My surprise at the evident closure was immense, it took me another year to process it emotionally.
I live in my head an awful lot, right? It's loud in there too.
I'm still right naive overall, stunned that the world can be such an ugly place, as my own parents worked so hard to instill in us four children so many principles, morals and a sense of wanting to help others.
They'd taken us four kids, then all under age 6, ten miles in a jeep going south of Sandbridge, Virginia to a deserted shack for a week on the totally empty beach in 1960, long before housing developments gobbled up every space of beachfront. We'd packed in all our groceries and had a blast, isolated and adventurous. My abhorrence towards shopping born within me, let's have fun instead.
Another year we spent a month exploring Canada, my best year was when I turned 13 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, camping with my family. This is how I was raised, every summer brought a new month-long adventure of camping and exploring. It's one of the reasons why I'm still so close to my siblings, we also spent decades going together to the same house in Nags Head, North Carolina for two wek periods the minute school let out each year.
I once had dreams of this same camaraderie with my own children, it certainly has come through for some of them, for most of them actually, others...not so much.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
I quote Dave Ramsey all the time, I know this, but I've learned so much, once falsely thinking I already knew so much from all my years of reading finance books. The key word being misused is once. I always think I know it all, even though I'm constantly learning so much more via books, wondering how on earth I've managed to stagger through so ignorantly all along.
That's the main thing college teaches a person - how much they do not know. I'd look at all the other fields of study in awe, being swamped in my own field with a ton of work, unable to find free time to read about theirs. We had typewriters then, not personal computers. I started college in 1972.
A reader asked if she could email me for advice. Yeah, you can email me, but I'll probably say, "Honey, I just don't know what you should do." I've learned that so many folks answer their own questions simply by posing the problem to someone else. The act of writing, of formulating one's thoughts, also often leads one to the answer from within that they were searching for all along.
Again, that's why I blog. I'm a slow learning know-it-all, I suppose.
Dave Ramsey said he'd once went nearly a ten year span without vacationing as he struggled from the pits of bankruptcy. I spent several years away from any beach time also, as I struggled with my children's anti-social behavioral issues, plus taking a ton of kids anywhere involves seriously strategic planning.
Groceries must be packed or purchased later at higher prices, large skillets, pots pans and bowls, among other utensils must also accompany us, as rental beach houses only have the very basics. Most folks treat themselves to restaurant meals while on vacation, not even a remote possibility for families like ours.
I would still have to maintain serious vigilance, no napping or losing myself for hours on end, if anything the stress of supervision rises exponentially in a strange place, as the already traumatized children become unglued, wary and off-kilter. Vacation is a concept they do not understand, all that packing up makes them feel as if they are being moved once again, like it's a trick.
I've parented now for almost 40 years, so many years of being unable to nap during the day, or just do what I want. Instead I manage chores, garden work, and everything else while also keeping my eagle eye trained everywhere, its wearying at best, but such a second nature that I rarely notice until someone asks me about my lack of me time.
Honey, my me time is coming, it's just coming kinda slow.
First I'll have to learn how to heal from the misdirected resentment and anger I've suffered under, I'll need to steep my brain in long bouts of silence, I'll have to work on my own self-esteem that's been so battered and I'll have to do some serious repair work on my house. Dr. Mandy helps me in the meantime, reformulating what I see before me in a more comprehensible manner.
My reclusive nature will then work for, not against me, and for that I'm grateful. I'll be drawn towards those grown kids who've treated me oh so decently, I'll be grateful to them, will seek them out and enjoy being Abuelita.
In the meantime I feel a little ashamed for whining about drought conditions when folks are facing flooding and losing everything. My heart breaks for the folks in Joplin, Missouri as well. I need to adjust my perspective.
Monday, May 23, 2011
I'd once read in some adoption book years ago that the mother did not allow hand-me-downs for her adopted children, that they were not used children to be wearing used clothing. I take exception to that as I'd raised Sarah, my only birth child, in used clothing as well as myself.
Honey it becomes used the minute someone tries it on in a dressing room or handles it in any way, shape or manner, right? As a teenager, my friends and I swapped clothes, or I borrowed my sister's clothes, sometimes I wonder if it's an OCD compulsion that steers people away from the word used, or second-hand, as if that then denotes a lower quality of one's persona?
Should I teach entitlement instead? I don't think so.
Paying pennies on the dollars, and I generally make lowball offers, even at yard sales, thrift stores and also at Lowes, for example, on new appliances. Yep, I've done it and my offer was accepted, making me wish I'd gone lower in the first place.
There's simply no other way to keep my financial head above water, or to make allowances for vacations and other big ticket items.
I'm not too proud. Not at all. I'm debt free, that's what I wanna holler from the rooftops. I'm debt free because I rarely purchase a new item. If I want something, I wait. I check Craig's List, Ebay, classified ads, Georgia Farm and Market Bulletin, yard sales and thrift shops. If I can't find that particular item, I just tell myself I didn't need it anyway.
Brainwashing myself? Maybe, but it works for me and for my children. That Sarah is now nearly 38 years old and extremely good with money management is enough evidence for me. That most of my older children ask me to hunt for particular items for them at yard sales indicates good money management practices to me.
I prefer used as it's better for the environment anyway, not using more scant resources to create something already in the marketplace. Duh.
One might make an argument that I don't dress well, not owning very many outfits, but who on earth made those dumb rules that force women into debt and make them feel bad about themselves for not having what society considers is enough? Stupid women's magazines telling us we aren't fashionable, thin, or pretty enough? I'm good enough for me, and that's what counts.
Glossy magazines telling us how to dress to conceal our flaws such as big hips or whatever. How is that a flaw? Big hips makes sitting easier, right? Who makes those dumb rules that attempt to lower our own self-esteem.
Kiss my big butt, is my strong response. I will NOT be told, by money-grubbing, environmentally deficit, spiritually bankrupt ad account executives that I'm not good enough. Good enough for what? To be in deep debt for new stuff I didn't need and couldn't afford?
I don't think so.
Maybe at 56 I'm not a great example, but at Sarah's age, I gotta say she looks fabulous in her pennies on the dollars attire. She doesn't buy into the newest trend at all, she eschews it, as do most of my grown children and I'm proud of them, knowing this mindsets allows them to buy real estate which appreciates rather than the toxic plastic chemical smell of a new car that'll depreciate in the first second it goes off the lot, where one was suckered into payments of $478 for 84 months, according to one of my heroes, Dave Ramsey.
Am I on a roll this morning, or what? If I can influence anyone anywhere, maybe this is an area I'd like to carry some weight, at least with my children.
I've been patiently putting aside money since October for the ceiling repair in my bedroom, where the sheet rock tape is peeling off in chunks, several sheets threatening to crash to the floor. I've not reached my goal of paying cash and I'm simply not gonna do it until I can pay cash.
Dave Ramsey just spit out a statistic, a really high one, like in the 80% (I think) of folks who fall for the 'same as cash - 90 days no interest' - yet don't pay it off in time, interest accrues at an alarming rate, quickly suffocating the buyer, who also suffers buyer's remorse along with a big old dumb debt.
Personal finance is 100% personal behavior, not necessarily head knowledge, but choices. I give credit to Dave Ramsey once again for that thought, he credits my other heroes, Larry Burkett and Ron Blue, and I'm some kind of glad to have learned all these hundreds of years ago, to have been brought up by parents who had frugal grandparents.
I'd rather spend money on a beach vacation than on $600 Manolo high heeled shoes that'd just piss me off when I tripped over my own big feet and fell down like an idiot.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
A new reader, Melissa, has been reading way back into these archives, six drama-filled blurb years about some of what we've gone through. For several days she's been commenting on the posts back then, inadvertently drawing me back into those years that I do not go back and re-read. Honey, I'm still recovering from all that turmoil.
Politely asking about my marriage, an ignore this question if you want, but others have also asked. Well I'm just not one to talk about it, "My ex this or my ex that," I so immediately moved on, that I just don't even think about it.
Married twice, once to Sarah's father and much later to another guy who turned out to be not what I thought, my other relationships over the years lasted much longer than either marriage.
The second husband simply wasn't emotionally strong enough to survive the trauma involved in the adoption of older children.
The first email I read this morning was also from her, telling me that her sister was laughing at her for spending so much time reading the blog of someone old enough to be her mom. I cracked up, Honey, I'm just about older than dirt, but usually I'm a happy camper. I'm barely 19 years older than Sarah, pictured here with her own children. She'd postponed marriage and birthing children til into her 30s.
However Jonathan is struggling today, all weekend in fact, but that's the nature of bipolar, up and down. When he's down, literally his entire countenance turns dark and inward, it's a little frightening, but disengaginmg helps me to cope and keeps him calm, well calmer maybe.
JoJo can't stand to be yelled at, so I have to correct his behavior constantly with a soft voice, not easy for a big mouth like me, lemme tell ya. He was on a whale of a roll yesterday, irking me to no end, I thought I'd lose my ever loving mind, finally I snapped and raised my voice just a little bit, eventually we had a decent night when he went into clown mode. He can absolutely be the silliest kid on earth.
When yucca blooms, my botany inspired heart always feels the yearn to hit the beaches. I'd spent all my formative years, some 40 years I guess, headed to Nags Head along with the blossoming of the yuccas, it's genetically bred within me I suppose, the need to breathe in sea air and exhale the stuffiness of winter that so trapped my inner being, which is ridiculous as Georgia winters are so dern easy.
My tomato plants look so good, yet they'd also looked wonderful; the last two years before succombing to the early blight. I'm cautiously optimistic...
Saturday, May 21, 2011
On the last day of school, our wonderful bus driver drives his route backwards, not in reverse exactly, but the route itself. My kids were late coming home as I'd forgotten his way of celebrating, but they were giggling.
Jonathan nutted up terribly, reminding me of a status I'd seen on Facebook, "I feel like a mood ring on a bipolar person's finger." I absolutely fell out laughing.
Because I'd corrected him for lying about opening the new box of hair clippers, he started banging around in the pantry, throwing cereal boxes, kicking stuff, and darkly referring to me as a Bit*h. Dude, you think that's never been tossed at me? When I disengaged, not taking his bait, he slammed out of the house to run away.
Yolie was then with me in the kitchen, having witnessed this spectacle, me warning Jonathan quietly that he'd get a DJJ sanction, three sanctions and it's an automatic lock-up for 7 days in Juvie. "I don't care," he roared at me. "Send me away, anyplace is better than here."
I called DJJ to report this after, I dunno, three or so verbal warnings.
He eventually returned home, I generally don't fetch runaways, not wanting to feed into their chaotic drama, usually they return home, desperately seeking an audience and a reaction.
It's boringly predictable, I maintain a calm facade, although inwardly I get angry at the verbal abuse hurled towards me, maybe not angry but aggravated certainly, adoptive parents initially feel, "I didn't sign up for this, if he/she can't/won't respect me, then I don't think I should adopt them."
A common reaction or response, I'm sure I felt the same way back then, but I was committed. I know I often mention my caseworker, Emily, but truly I'd not have made it through without her encouragement, counsel and insight. She'd take my thousands of phone calls, straighten out my thoughts and fears, and send me on my merry way, literally translating these bizarre behaviors into words I could kinda sorta grasp.
I've often repeated back to her what she's told me over the years, buddy you best believe I had me a learning spirit going on.
Still do. I absorb everything told to me by therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. This is a heck of an upside down world in which I live and I need all the help that's available out there.
We have something like 80 days of summer break from school ahead of us, me battling dry conditions in my gardens, Sarah saw a coyote in broad daylight, Chuy and I saw a small fox, harmless snakes abound, but its the rabbits, deer, and squirrels doing the most damage to our crops.
Jonathan's nut-up ceased, he followed me around obsessing and fixating like he often does, a 160 pound shadow that mutters and snarls, but apparently inwardly abashed, he brought me a couple of buckets of wood chips as a present, much as a cat dumps dead mice on the doorstep, I thanked him, and we moved on towards the night of endless laundry duties for me.
I rewarded myself with a large plate of just picked Swiss Chard, just harvested onions and garlic, chopped and steamed, smothered with pepper jack cheese, balsamic vinegar, and Fire Hot Pepper Sauce.
Friday, May 20, 2011
First day of school last year at Yolie's house, last day pictured next. CJ was excited to start kindergarten, now in tears over losing his beautiful teacher, Miss Stacy.
Jack wants to move on to middle school.
Tabby and Nando move up to third and fourth grades.
Bittersweet for them all, but today is totally a play day at school, their attire indicates the casualness.
Looking into Jack's eyes, I notice the evidence of his grief over losing his BFF, Grandpa. The brightness has dimmed a bit, I gotta help him get it back.
Scotty and Jonathan's U14 team was undefeated throughout the entire season, easily winning the Championship Finals last night for their league. Was I proud, or what?
Their team decided to go to Dairy Queen to celebrate, but first I had to get the other kids home, set up babysitting, and scramble for some cash for some Blizzards, something I normally do not buy.
This is a small town and at nine o'clock last night I discovered apparently everyone goes out for fake ice cream, me rarely out after dark unless it is to the soccer field, I'd rather suck the spoon than eat any of DQ's stabilizers and emulsifiers that they dress up as ice cream, but sometimes it does feel a bit as if the world is passing me by.
I ended up having a great time schmoozing there.
Today is already the last day of school, nine months that flew by so fast that even my youngest children were astonished. "Seems like we just started the school year," Tabby exclaimed. I'm not seeing a lot of the melt-down behaviors that usually accompany transitions, nowadays with no new kids, this is all easing up for us.
"Honey, ten weeks from now, which'll fly by, you'll be right back at your desk with a new teacher," I reminded her, knowing summer goes particularly speedily.
Jack graduated from elementary school yesterday, my son-in-law, Chuck, surprised him by going in late to work so that he could first represent Grandpa at this event, knowing Jack was severely missing my dad.
I'll have nine in high school on August 10th, my time with children at home is rapidly diminishing.
A good blogger might respond to her comments and emails, please forgive my lapses in doing so, setting my schedule each day, I'm swamped with outdoor work, trying to beat the heat in the early morning hours, phone calls come in with incredible demands on my time, meetings and appointments, next thing I know it's past nightfall, and I didn't get half of my junk done.
I've not blogged about several issues I've dealt with recently, one that repeatedly occurs is that of self-sabotaging behaviors. I watch this over and over as my own children engage in self-defeating behaviors which are, of course, intertwined in low self-esteem issues.
Of all human psychology, self-defeating behavior is among the most puzzling and hard to change. After all, everyone assumes that people hanker after happiness and pleasure. Have you ever heard of a self-help book on being miserable?
I snickered as I read the article, this behavior is no more relegated to the adoption world than are those of raging, ODD or any other. We, as adoptive parents, notice it and question ourselves.
We usually have some noticeable influx of go-getter in our own DNA, we must have in order to endure the adoption arena, right? And maybe this one behavior might be the one that sends us over the edge too often?
In college, in my own personal finance, and variegated life plans, I've literally color-coded charts, mapped classes and goals, written out plans and objectives, nerded up worse than any dweeb, knowing I need to know where I'm going in order to get there, yet in explaining these thoughts to my children, I'm looked at as if I were an ape who could draw pictures with her toes.
Who'd wanna be like that?
Especially when the flip side could, or might, involve couch sitting and channel surfing? "Mom's a boring workaholic," they sneer about me.
I've watched Sarah do the same, I suppose I just expected everyone to be like that. I've since learned differently.
The real world is terrifying to those without a decent foundation, the inner trauma preventing them from trusting for too many years. I've tried to be understanding, not literally pushing folks out of the nest, but my patience gets sorely tried.
So deep breathing is in order, I think about conversations with a thousand therapists or my friend, Emily, with her immense knowledge in this world of upside down behaviors, her advanced education that set her upon this path of running her own adoption agency. Duh, I'm drawn to smart people.
My one advice for adoptive parent newbies is to seek out knowledge in the form of professionals, you'll so need it, even more than oxygen and water. You can not go it alone. I promise you that.
My brother's induction into the Sports Hall of Fame, Lauren's graduation from William & Mary, my second niece to do so, Katie Bay's at Notre Dame, indicating that we Bodies are driven, motivated, goal oriented and determined, these are behaviors that we know, self-sabotaging is a foreign behavior that baffles us to the core.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Only five available tickets for the big graduation at William & Mary Hall so Kevin, me, Grandma and Kevin's parents attended, Gary and his family drove up for the smaller ceremony later in Lauren's school of concentration. If this had been last year, no way could I have attended, drowning here in issues, and Katie Bay's Notre Dame graduation is in two years...road trip, kids?
Travis set me to thinking all afternoon with his comment about adopted children adopting, or not. While my teens were growing up, the Biggers at least, all spoke of later adopting, but once they had their own children and thought about it, that idea disintegrated.
I'd talk 'em out of it anyway if it came to that, not wanting my grandchildren to be treated either meanly or snottily.
That's a sad take on my choices isn't it?
Cody Lee tells me she'll continue on her adoption goals, as have others. I want you to do so, truly I do.
Jack's fifth grade graduation is today, he's moping because Grandpa won't be there, Lauren, my niece truly, deeply felt Grandpa's loss last weekend in Williamsburg. Grandpa'd been a force to be reckoned with, a glad-hander who loved social events, something neither Gary nor I inherited, preferring our solitary pursuits, he sailing and me gardening.
Jonathan's Pathways IFI Counseling Team is fantastic, we're very blessed with some stellar therapists. Pathways comes to our home and to his school, in his familiar milieu they can better see his true colors, he is participating properly, and I have some decent hopes that he can maintain himself.
A very interesting article on anti-depressants here, makes me want 'em badly and then makes me not want 'em, but what I really wanna do is make me this DIY solar cell charger.
No rain here at all, my gardens frying in the sun, I'm trying to water everything, gonna have to replant a bunch, I stand there frustrated, shaking my fist at the sky. Colorado Potato Beetles decimating my crop, I pick 'em off by the hundreds and toss 'em to my chickens who look at me like I'm crazy, they ignore the bugs. I stomp 'em - the bugs, not the hens.
Safer's Insecticidal Soap would be all I'd ever use, as it's not poisonous but rather a soapy goo that works right well. For now, I'm stomping.
Do I know how to have fun, or what?
For my Hampton friends here reading my blog, the photos below are of our old family home on Victoria Boulevard, repainted obviously. I dunno, maybe I liked the original paint job better? Maybe I just don't like change? Maybe the way life goes on without Ellen, Alan, or Grandpa still stuns me?
Someday life'll go on without me too, this I know, but I think May 21st is off base, the Bible's right clear about no one knowing the day.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
I’d intended to blog about a visit to Paloma yesterday, but a late night email set me to thinking.
I get a lot of emails from folks wanting to do what I’ve tried to do, tried to share what I have with children, me not having a clue as to the resentment level that would then spread across my previously idealistic life, both from them, and subsequently from me after all the emotional battering I would later endure, leaving me shattered at times, trying to remember how to breathe.
Should I warn these ladies? Haven’t I done so here already? Should I discourage them? I’d have been supremely irritated at anyone who’d have considered wet blanketing my own dreams some 30 years ago, so I hold back. Or do I?
I want them to help children, I want children to be helped, yet I grieve in advance for what I know they’ll encounter in their simple and heartfelt desire to altruistically help out.
I stand firm, however, in discouraging those with birth children, I absolutely scream in fear if they have younger birth children, your birth children will become targets for the misdirected crazy anger. Please do not take a chance with younger birth children, I’ve heard too many heart-breaking stories from you all.
Sarah vacillates, because she was many grade levels ahead of any more children, she was somewhat shielded, in that she was grown before I had adopted many other children. She hated seeing the way I was treated though, it didn’t exactly warm her up towards others.
I’ve often wished I’d have waited until she was in college, yet she reminds me that she’s emotionally closest to those children with whom she actually lived with in my home.
And these young ladies now contacting me? Especially those who’ve read every word I’ve written over the last six years? I gotta think they’re prepared. They’ve been MAPP or PATH trained, their eyes are wide open to the immense and shocking dangers, hopefully they’ve read other books like An Unlit Path or Dandelion on my Pillow, Butcher Life Underneath My Bed. Should I suggest they also take courses in criminal justice or an internship in the mental health profession?
Maybe it was my quick trip back to Virginia where I remembered a younger me? One who felt invincible, goal-directed and driven? Now I felt like drooling on Gary’s dock. None of us could remember seeing me somewhere childless in decades. Decades.
And, overall, right now I’m in a pretty happy place emotionally.
I would’ve been very angry with anyone who tried to quell my own very deep desire to adopt back then, I’d have cut ‘em off, ignored their warnings, thinking I knew my own capabilities…and I did know.
However I didn’t know how strong I’d truly have to be, how incredible my endurance would prove to be, handling everything that’s been thrown my way, whether through tears, fears or gut-wrenching fright, I have made it through so far, and if I’d been given a list of what would be up ahead back then, I might have doubted my own ability to survive it at all.
So I will not later give these ladies an, “I told you so,” but rather I’ll pray for them just as you all have done for me. I’ll pray for wisdom, strength and protection, knowing they’ll surely need all that and way more.
The adoption world has certainly changed since I started and not necessarily for the better. The workers are inundated with paperwork demands and regulations, the agencies are strapped by financial issues and ridiculous demands by the state to comply with that for which there is no money.
Mental health resources are dwindling, your own safety will certainly be in jeopardy, your stress level will skyrocket, your endurance will be in question every single dadgum day. You will cry buckets and buckets by the gallons of tears, you will sling snot all over yourself and then there’ll be days in which you are so happy with your children that you think your heart will explode with pride.
I know I couldn’t face what I’ve gone through again, I’m older now, burned, jaded, crushed, damaged, and reeling from the shock of it all, yet it made me into who I am now, a slightly bitter isolationist, ready to soar into a peaceful old age working in my gardens, wanting to be guided by my grandchildren’s schedules of soccer games.
Find you a strong community of like-minded support folks, those who’ll listen to you caterwaul and scream out your frustrations, find therapeutic resources and, for me, a church family is invaluable. Be ready to be treated like sh*t from a lot of people who’ll accuse you of all sorts of blather. It’ll hurt, it’s immensely painful, and isolationism becomes oh so desirable. It seems to be one’s only last option for peace.
It, this decision, will cost you some friends, maybe spouses, your health, relationships with others, your own self esteem at times, and your emotions will be raw for months at a time, maybe even for years.
Really? This is what you want? Then go for it, honestly there will be some children who will be glad that you, at least, tried. There are some children out there praying for you to get to them. They’ll end up being some of your best friends for life. I know, I have some. Thank you, Lord.
Understand that you’ll someday emerge from this cocoon of a frustrating existence with a very, very different outlook on life…
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
One broken window is the only casualty. Not even really broken, just done in enough to need replacing, a mere victim of horseplay, not violence.
Scotty and Jonathan won their game, advancing in the U14 soccer tournament, one more game to the championship.
I’m still on my pride high regarding my niece Lauren and my brother Gary’s accomplishments. I knew there’s be a price to pay at home, but it’s been minimal. A few wanted to growl at me, mad that I’d abandoned them, Allen used that very word, not hugging me after school, but rather flouncing down the hall, “You abandoned me!”
An immediate squabble in the kitchen with Jonathan that quickly resolved itself, and now it’s as if I never left, back into the busy swing of things, an awful lot to do in a short amount of time each day.
“Hurry up and finish that book so you can leave it here,” Gary’d told me, a common refrain in our childhood, the nerdy reminder making me snicker. Grandma’s going back up there in a couple of weeks and can take him the now-finished tome, The Indian Creek Chronicles, that I finally finished on the airplane ride home.
Like mine, Gary’s house is also a few fries short of a Happy Meal serving, both of us preferring no monthly payments on anything, nothing fancy, everything durable and not at sticker price.
Both of us seemingly decorate with too many books, my house overflows with plants, while his has boat stuff everywhere. He’s very much like me, in that we’ve never spent the big bucks to fancy our places up, preferring comfort and sensibility.
But how weird in that we both have the same toothbrush model, same brands of items, and same minimalistic tendencies, not wanting to spend our lives maintaining stuff, but preferring life itself over material possessions. A life of just enough, no excesses.
I felt much as my children must feel, explaining later to Yolie, that though this is where I came from, I belong where I am now, down South with my predominately Mexican family.
I only lived in Hampton, Virginia for nine years of my life, 1968-1977, but those were formative years certainly, and left a major positive impression upon me that’d last for the rest of my life. I sure do miss the water though there in the Tidewater area.
“There’s a house for sale on my street, right over there,” Gary pointed as we stood on his dock for the precious few unscheduled minutes we then had as I bemoaned the fact of my severely limited free time.
“You kidding me?” I retorted, “I’ll take Katie’s bedroom and flop there when my kids are grown.”
Like I’d leave my acreage here? Yep, momentarily I’d do so in a heartbeat. I do lust after travel freedom someday.
I still have a bunch of very dear longtime friends in Hampton that I’d so loved to have been able to spend time with, but family priorities prevailed, just like at home, and I did totally enjoy every single minute spent there with my four nieces. I also had both Kevin’s family and my sister-in-law’s family.
Kevin’s one of eight children, Mary’s one of ten, so truly I felt comfortable in both large family groups.
However Kevin’s lost two brothers and his father is battling the same disease that took Grandpa. I’ve lost the sister that had married Kevin, plus Grandpa wasn’t there, and the loss of the four of them felt powerful during Lauren’s happy graduation experience.
Kevin had ordered a made-from-scratch cake from The Carrot Tree there in Williamsburg that was to die for, my brother’s shindig the next night was spectacularly catered, and y’all just don’t know the weirdness involved for me being served, not having to referee, not having to fetch, nor break up a fight. I hardly knew how to act.
40 hours of no laundry, no dishes, no chores. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated, but terribly behind on my chores here at home, our laundry room is a disaster zone.
Ipods make chores go better. Seriously Gary had a CD, a rather obscure one that I’d been hunting fruitlessly for at yard sales, should’ve just gone to him first, I downloaded it and am one happy camper now, gonna bebop as I work today after first attending another major meeting.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Forty Hours on the ground, landing at the Newport News airport, renting a car, going to Hampton only to discover it's totally changed. No Buckroe Amusement Park? No Fuller's (Eat Dirt Cheap), no S & H Green Stamps Store? No Armistead Circle? a totally different city than when I'd spent my junior and high school years there.
Barely had time to change clothes and get to Lauren's graduation dinner in Williamsburg with my favorite brother-in-law's family, a super wonderful time, no phone calls from emergency rooms or the deputies. Yolie and Sarah had my kids behaving perfectly back home in Georgia.
Early Sunday to the big graduation at William & Mary with Joseph Plumeri as the guest speaker, a fascinating guy, on to the smaller graduations, Lauen's in Hispanic Studies, blasting back to Hampton for my brother's induction into the Hall of Fame.
I knew it'd be a big deal but I was totally blown away. The Pittsburgh Steelers SuperBowl-winning coach, Mike Tomlin, was there as was Aaron Brooks, both of them were Newport News graduates, one from Denbigh High School, the other from Ferguson, while Gary and I were Hampton High Schoolers a hundred years ago. Folks were scurrying around getting autographs from all the six inductees.
Such an honor, I dadgum cried with pride, just as I'd done with Lauren earlier. Kevin'd been telling me about a Santana song, along the lines of not crying when one is sad, it's the happy times that get ya, and I have to agree.
I'm right stoic through all the crapola involved in raising 39 kids, many of whom are/were severely troubled. My kids were perfect for Yolie, Chuck, Sarah and Preston while I was gone. Sometimes they're that good for me also.
A tournament game tonight, a busy schedule tomorrow, I'm trying to acclimate myself back into my real life here at home, sho' was fun to be in Vriginia, but I wish I could've had time to catch up with all my old friends.
And this ole hillbilly, me, standing here with the Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin? Priceless.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
A little weird, disconcerting to sit at a football scrimmage in May, the announcer mentioning a good defensive move by Ellis Bodie, folks in the stand wondering who the heck was Ellis, a name I'd given Chuy, whose real name was Jesus, always mispronounced by Anglo teachers during roll call.
I'd texted the announcer's booth, well a man I'd thought was up there, no answer, Chuy later told me it was another man I also knew. I sighed and advised Chuy, "Honey, get the roster changed, no one knows who Ellis is but me."
Ellis is the last name of my favorite brother-in-law, I've been glad to have bestowed such an honor upon my gifted son.
My gardens are shaping up better than in any of the 19 springs in which I've resided on this property, I'm super excited to think about the upcoming seasons, as my free time expands with each day the kids grow older.
Chuck, Yolie's husband, has been working so hard on our pool, getting it ready for this season. I'd have been sunk without him, I'd have put pool maintenance way low on my list of priorities, choosing garden work first.
Jack follows Chuck around, glued on like a shadow, full of a thousand questions, absorbing knowledge. The other night with a pump problem, I was more than happy to pass the phone to Jack as Chuck explained to him what needed to be done. Due to the look on Chuck's face, I'd have to surmise it had been a billion questions that day.
Yolie and Chuck have been married for 8 years, together through much of high school and college, even Daniel, now almost 25, doesn't remember them not being together, how much more so for all my younger children, now mosly teenagers.
Sarah, sitting upon my throne, there's a point, a reason that I'll get to later as my narrative unfolds, rarely blogging stuff that I've not yet thought through, my garden books behind her. A cool book I can barely put down right now, written in 1994, is Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness by Pete Fromm
This man spent 7 months alone in a tent in the Idaho wilderness. I kept thinking of my friend, Merilee, with a family as large as mine, frozen pipes, living in such foreign cold. The seclusion appeals to me, the temperatures and constant snow not so much.
I could easily seclude myself where I live, behind a locked gate with woods, meadows and creeks, bopping along, gardening and reading, yet this man had few books, no TV of course, nor Internet, just his dog and winter with a capital W.