Saturday, May 31, 2008

Welbilt


My uncluttered post struck a nerve with all y'all - truth be told, I only need a spading fork, a hand rake, and dirt to make me happy. We own way too much.

The Simple Dollar had a great review of a book - You're 50, Now What? and I was super-conscientious about buying anything at yard sales today but when one finds Sarah a bread machine for $2.50 by Welbilt, one's gotta go for it. CW got a bed-in-a-bag UGA set for $10 and I spent $5 on three new lamps for us to replace those that have been casualties of rages and killed in action.

Daniel is on his way over to go swimming with us, Monica's taking my teen girls to her house for a Girl's Afternoon Out and my house looks better than it did yesterday.

Sarah wrote a great post even if she skewered me good making me bust out laughing with her assessment of my choices over the years. Nailed me good.

I spent a quarter for a hardback book for me - Common Sense Leadership and ran into a ton of folks I know such as Tina who was literally holding the hand of her most recent runaway teen. I'd heard a racket up the hill and feared my kids were acting up, glad to find out it was her kids playing on the nearby playground.

Uncluttering - Round Ten Thousand Or So


I wash 90% of the dishes around here, all the pots, pans and serving bowls because I want them done right, but yesterday I had a fit. We had a meeting about all this, I told everyone which rooms would be their new room, and I made a son do the dishes that were piled precariously in our very large, deep kitchen sinks.

We hauled out a truckload of trash and worn stained clothes while I had yet another hissy fit. "Why do you stuff dirty cloths everywhere?" I rhetorically asked half a dozen kids. "Absolutely no one will have computer privileges if I find another sheet off of a bed," I loudly promised. "What's with all these food wrappers?" I screamed in utter frustration.

We don't eat down the hall. We eat in the kitchen allegedly. We don't take food into bedrooms. I had a cow. After all these many long years of me repeating the few, same simple rules, they still get violated regularly as if I were merely barking at the moon to hear myself growl.

I read The Unclutter's Blog. Check out this guy's room. I don't want this. I despise knickknacks. I only prefer books and plants to decorate a house. Why do we have broken stuff displayed on dressers, unidentifiable masses on the floors, and torn papers vomiting themselves out of book bags that also should have been retired?

I found 1000 dirty socks, 44 cups and three dogs where they shouldn't be.

Can we all spell m-i-n-i-m-a-l-i-s-m? Let's try again, shall we?

I tossed two beds into my truck to haul off. We have way less children living at home than our original 39. Why do I feel the need to keep the empty, peed on beds?

My stack of laundry grew in direct oppositionalism to the amount of clothes we own. But no one had a meltdown over chores for once in the last two decades. We didn't even stop for supper, but rather kept plowing through everything, snacking in the kitchen like normal folks, and pressing forward until ten last night.

"Doesn't it feel good to toss the crap?" Sarah asked me in total support during a phone call break.

Oh heck yeah it does. If we don't use it, why do we have it? If we don't wear it, why are we keeping it? It weighs us all down. Organization is not a key personality trait in my children, nor is any realm of tidiness.

I recycled a dumpster full of papers and the kitchen debris from our parties of last week. That feels good. They, my darling children, are hounding me to go to yard sales this morning and I will do so, but I will not buy that which we don't need even if it is only a nickel on the dollar. I have a mental list of what certain kids do need. Need is the word of the day.

Next week we will start painting some rooms.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Daniel & Alyssa


I can't even begin to catch my breath lately, blasting up out of bed early this morning to get Tony to Summer School, I hit a few yard sales with my niece Lauren, got Mayra to two pre-op appointments, said goodbye to Kevin and Lauren and then went grocery shopping. It's two in the afternoon and I haven't yet had breakfast, a list a mile long still to do while everyone's asking me. "What's for supper?"

Thank God Monica is here to babysit those who didn't run errands with me. Yesterday Kevin and I went to the movies to see Indiana Jones and the Search for something I already forgot. It was nice to get out to go somewhere, but Kevin remarked also that as one gets older, the movies seem more like a waste of time. I have to agree. This movie held my attention even though it was so improbable, what with dodging machine gun bullets from one foot away. Get real, Hollywood.

Yolie, Joe, Daniel, Monica and Marcela were all here to babysit while I was gone for two hours, Jack had a crying fit that I was even going out at all. We ended up the evening with fireworks, Kevin and I later sitting at the table stuffing ourselves with Grandma's homemade strawberry shortcake - made with pound cake from scratch.

No one is acting out, everyone is even keeled, allowing me to get a lot done. Miriam's getting an apartment this weekend so we'll shuffle rooms and sleeping arrangements around to better accommodate everyone.

Saray turns thirty years old today. Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Simple Dollar


Jennifer writes, "I realized I
was turning to your site for comfort and encouragement and it makes me
chuckle in a sarcastic, ironic, sad way."

I hear this a lot. I realize that my experiences are so common amongst many of us, that's why I write and that's why I read other blogs.

I've been deep into reading The Simple Dollar, this guy is a genius.

Gifts From the Heart


For a bunch of skinny folks, we sure do love our food. Cristy'd made this creme brulee last week or so and had brought enough for us to share. Yesterday she'd brought me 15 pounds of old, used coffee grounds from Starbucks for my compost heap, now these are exactly the kinds of presents that bring me pure joy. The mall has nothing that I want.

I briefly talked to my son-in-law, Jose, last night. He's safe in San Salvador but oh so unhappy. A devoted family man, living there for now without either his wife nor his five children, I was asked by a New Orleans reader if a letter writing campaign would help. I don't know yet as we have a couple of alternative options available, first of which involves a local congressman here. Thank you for the offer which I'll certainly think about as we review our strategy for his legal return.

Mayra's recurrent dental problem have popped back as we go into her pre-surgery days here. One issue after another but I slept really well last night from pure t exhaustion, I feel able to face it all today.

Very able and that feels good. Yesterday I felt as if I blindly staggered through the day, now I'm energized.

Sarah, Yolie, Grandma and Monica all came over to babysit and tend to my children while I helped Carolina in Atlanta with Jose's departure. Grandpa went to the grocery store for us all and did a great job. The man is 78 and has never food shopped but Grandma must have sent him a detailed list and cell phone instructions because he sure came through for us.

My kids are trying to be strong for Carolina's kids but this physical loss of Jose affects everyone in a very negative manner. We all knew it was coming but true to my head-in-the-sand denial of unpleasant events, I'd forced it to the back of my mind until it became a clear reality.

My niece, Lauren, here now with us distracted Blanca until late last night. Lauren's dad Kevin has made such a wonderful effort to get Lauren down here with us, several times a year from 600 miles away and that alone speaks volumes to my edgy children. Lauren's friend Natalie isn't here this time but my silly Tabby got to talk to her yesterday on the phone. Every single such instance of compassion so helps my children to heal emotionally, yet it takes years and years and years of repetition and stability to provide the balm they need. Jose not being here tears at their very core. His return will mean so much to everyone, but the not knowing how long it will take pushes my children into teetering fragile glass yoyos.

Firming up the summer school schedule, bus route and times, Tony starts tomorrow and the other three early next week. Lauren and Natalie were both here the summer that several deputies had to remove Fabian from our home, the afternoon Joey offered to take a knife in the gut that Fabian meant for me, now seeing a very happy, friendly Fabian is almost culture shock. Natalie had written him a letter he'd treasured and both girls had prayed so specifically for him for years. Fabian bear-hugged Lauren yesterday so happy to see her, so relatively free from his many years of unbridled anger - visible emotional progress that so enables me to get up and continue this full-time, hands-on, often soul shattering parenting.

I just went back and read those July 06 entries, something I very rarely do. Even the re-reading is painful to me, re-living it would be unbearable. Looking back now though with Fabian now being so wonderful is rewarding though and gives me hope for a couple of my other children.

I know Fabian will have setbacks and upheavals, down times, and will disappoint me, but overall I see progress, a visble acknowledgement of his love and gratitude by his positive actions that I am very, very pleased with him overall. Pictured below with his eldest birth sister who he totally and blindly adores, his baby brother goofy with fake plastic teeth in the background, Fabian is slowly coming to terms with all he's been through.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jose's Estrella


Yep that was me crying in the Atlanta Airport as my son-in-law flew back to El Salvador.

Five hours later I'm smiling as my brother-in-law and niece have arrived for a visit.

Up and Down, Down and Up - such is our life.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dreading Tomorrow


Livin with JoJo has it's moments. What a nutbird.

I can't go outside until I get a little more coffee in me, not moving so fast this morning, not sure if I can express any lucid thoughts, maybe I don't even own any?

My IQ has piddled out over the years, squashed by so much turmoil, my brain always lunging forward, ticking off what I need to deal with, thinking of the next meal all the time, and how I can best deal with situations as they arise. I always want to not simply react, but to thoughtfully work through our many meltdowns.

Steeling myself for tomorrow, for our goodbe to Jose while wading through several outbursts yesterday as my children grapple with this impending loss, unable to begin to help Carolina's children through it, so unglued are they in just thinking about it.

Now I'm heading out back for a spell.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Change In My Schedule


Pretty Mayra with her black eyes fading from her broken nose mishap during soccer was referred to a specialist who actually worked on Memorial Day. She'll need surgery next Monday, the first day of summer school for her. We're all still flying high from that tournament win, my kids are champions in more than just soccer.

Edgar and Laura came to swim with us today, nothing makes JoJo, Allen and Fabian happier than to have Edgar hang with them. Nothing with a capital N.

Ms. Carr, now retired from the school system, came and drank a soy latte with me out in the garden which was fragrant and peaceful. Scotty was happy to see her, fighting his tendency to grieve everyday losses hard, knowing Ms. Carr is still in his life gives him confidence. Lily bopped off to her best friend's house for the day and the rest of us swam without mishap.

I'm going to revert back to yet another of my old ways. I think I'll take my coffee outside early each morning, and work in the garden before it gets too hot, I'll blog later when I'm cooling off, see if that works for me now that the kids are older... as am I.

Grown Kids


Daniel, Edgar and his girlfriend Laura.

Sarah's Recipe Index


Grandma, 78, still keeps a huge garden, pictured here with Jack, but the purpose of this post is to point out that Sarah has now indexed her recipes on her sidebar.

To Jesse


I promised Jesse I'd post a picture of a very slimmed down Big Joe.

A Goodbye & Happy Birthdays Party




I am emotionally exhausted from the past several years of incredibly devastating blows, balanced out by many grandchildren births, estrangements by angry grown children over nothing plus my day to day existence of dealing 24-7 with traumatized children that I truly adore. Getting up some mornings requires a mental crane to hoist me up into the spectacular challenges I face constantly.

My Big Back Garden looks better than it has looked since any grandchildren were born, but the rest of my many gardens are in varying stages of disrepair. My house was cleaned from top to bottom for this last big shindig yesterday, but today starts a tough week in which I remind myself that each outburst so isn't the issue.

In less than 48 hours Big Jose will leave, affecting every single one of us. He's been my son-in-law longer than 20 something children of mine have been my offspring. I've been his mother figure nearly as long as his own El Salvadoran mother was available to him. He hasn't seen her in nearly 20 years, returning this week to his country facing all sorts of turmoil for him yet he managed to throw a very wonderful party for two of his daughters, Estrella who turned one and baby Yolie who hit 13.

Daniel was the key to his success this month, pulling our very large pool out of its winter doldrums, a place he told us alligators would bypass on their way to a more suitable swamp. He was totally right and he magically, through three weeks of hard work, turned it sparkly blue, literally leaving us all gaping in gratitude and astonisment as his abilities.

We had a beautiful afternoon even though Jesse is at out for more training (but we all yapped on the phone to him) and Yolie and Chuck were gone with his parents to Hilton Head. Our house was stuffed to the gills with people, the party starting after church at 2 and lasting until late last night.

Jose was hollow-eyed with exhaustion, stress, sadness and trepidation - all emotions I'm used to in my children, not in my sons-in-law.

I simply can't wait for the party we'll have when he returns to the United States with his legal immigration papers. His attorney has prepared us for a long ordeal, we're believing that through prayer it will not be the year that has been projected to us. Either way, his five children and his wife who are on pins and needles, are very stressed out and dreading Wednesday morning.

Highlights yesterday included the massive amount of food prepared by Carolina, Big Joe tossing a fully dressed and overly made up Vanessa into the pool, Ray's delight at another pool season, our usual hilarious Pinata time, and absolutely zero meltdowns by anyone over anything at all. Jonathan and Paloma even sharing candy, without being asked, with the babies. Dewayne's mom joined us as did several of Carolina and Jose's friends and their families. A picture perfect afternoon and evening.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Playing Me


I just came inside, sweating like a pig, after making some more garden beds (Permaculture of course) for my watermelons. Chuck's on vacation at Hilton Head yet we still had to call him about machinery advice, he's infinitely patient with all of us, got us on the right track and we got the work done. He's coined a new phrase 'BodieProof' when he tries to build something durable, as we're known to destroy everything rapidly.

The kids were hopping around talking that Hollywood ought to make a movie about us. Either Wanda Sykes, Joy on My Name is Earl or Larry the Cable Guy could play Big Mama.

OK, kids. What about Sinbad?

Sarah blogged and I'm wanting what she baked.

I Ain't No Nurse


I absolutey mis-predicted the end-of-the-school meltdowns. Jack cried so hard, "I'm gonna miss my teacher, I want to have her again next year," that he totally missed the last day of school. In contrast, Tabby was dry-eyed and brave, Miss Donna seemed way more likely to cry as she hugged Tabby good-bye but sure enough, by bedtime Tabby was in a puddling mess over something very inconsequential with a tattoo translation on her forehead defining the moment as an 'No More Miss Donna and Miss Terry' screaming fit. A undefinable loss in her mind.

Lily cried because she'd been in such a good elementary school for six
solid years while Paloma, hard and angry, never has understood how nice she's had it.

Daniel has been working hard on our pool, each year stressing to me that we really do need to buy a pool cover to make the job easier in re-opening and cleaning it out. He is so right. Grandpa and I both trying to find words to express our gratitude to Daniel, he replied in his quiet manner, "you deserve the help Mom," so staggering me as that's never the case around here.

I'll tell you what. This grown man has been a two decades long blessing in my life. He was there with us cheering when Fabian's team won their championship, Fabian's shy, sweet smile was splitting his face with pride and pure joy when Daniel went and put his arm around him, congratulating him. A 'good job' moment all children need to experience.

My one requirement here, "Make Mama proud," not necessarily through a college graduation, or any other pie in the sky goal, simple pride is enough and easy to attain as I'm always effusively complimentary over every single positive endeavor such as Cristy recently just getting a new job immediately upon her college graduation.

Our clock is ticking, the proverbial sands of time moment as it is winding down to such a sad good-bye with Big Jose returning to El Salvador after nearly 20 years in the U.S. He's nervous and edgy, working hard to leave money with Carolina and the children. Their five children are now reminding me of my own children with their fear and dread over this upcoming event.

It is time for mine to step up to the plate and emotionally support their nieces and nephews here through all this. When Jose returns, he will build them a house up on the first dirt road, something to look forward to, but first there's this very difficult immigration hurdle to work through legally.

Paloma has already been hateful to folks before seven in the morning, she'll be awful to Blanca through Jose's departure, she's winding up for a full blown attack on other's emotions and weak spots. Such a joy to live with...not.

I haven't been to any yard sales this spring due to soccer every Saturday. The Park Dept told me there were 913 county kids playing soccer this season with only one broken finger until Mayra added to the statistics.

I'd been taught clearly by Daniel and Joe to never ever step onto the field if they were injured. Don't embarrass them, don't treat them like babies in public, and I never did. That's why I was so surprised when Mayra's soccer coach hollered for me to come, I'm terrible in medical emergencies, I can' stand to see my children hurt as I feel so helpless to make it right for them. When I saw Mayra's very bloody face and blood all over the grass I recoiled and felt faint, yelling for Fabian to help me out here, but he too fell back in shock when he saw Mayra. At that moment I didn't know if it was her mouth, her teeth or what. The EMT sprinted across the field. "Am I GLAD to see you!" I shouted in relief, wondering how the heck he'd gotten across the county in 30 seconds.

He later told me he'd been at a gathering across the street and had come to watch the championship U18 moment. Well thank God he did so, I sure am glad God didn't call me to be a nurse. Lemme be the field hand I so prefer being. Keep my hands in dirt where they belong.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Good News - Bad News

Good news is our U18 soccer team remained undefeated, winning the entire championship tournament. Four of my children who SO needed this huge ego boost - Javy, Mayra, Martin and Fabian. A very tough game with overtime and penalty kick shoot-outs twice until they finally won.

Bad News - Mayra broke her nose in the game. Small price to pay and fortunately an EMT was on the scene faster than I could get to her. There was a copious amount of blood, her coach screamed in alarm, "where's THE MOM?" forgetting my name in his horror.

I called Preston's dear sister, George, an RN, for advice. We now have an appointment with an Ear, Nose & Throat doctor, early next week when the swelling subsides, but it appears she'll also have two black eyes.

She cried this morning when I wanted to keep her home from school, last day, so I let her go. A very beautiful girl, not afraid to be seen so banged up - county soccer champions - I'd go too if I were her.

All sorts of Cindy's Family jokes on the ball field last night. "Well statistically we ought to see you more than we do," cracked the EMT who'd attended to several of us over the years. "Isn't this the same one who broke her thumb in flag football?" asked the park manager.

Mayra'd even gone back in the game for the penalty kicks, dried blood on her, ice pack held to her nose. Jeepers what a tough kid.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

My Relief Is so Great That I Can't Think Of A Title

I cried from the impending stress, from being so traumatized over everything, from learning so much fear that I never felt before. Fear that I'll be continuously blamed for my children's problems, abject terror at being unable to keep us all safe from Pepe's violent rages, and I sweated until I stunk. That's what fear smells like, Fabian crinkled his nose at me.

Prayers worked.

The meeting was a success. The head guy for state mental health who has helped me immeasurably over the years with Pepe and my daughter, his associate from Augusta was there, the head of our local county mental health, DJJ and CPS all attended. A great relief to me to see folks that all are awesome. They get it, they understand. The huge problem is the state party line, "bringing the children home," which doesn't take into consideration the SAFETY of families who have severely mentally ill children.

My friend Pat, a social worker, echoed me in that she teaches her families to document ALL attempts at finding help. I document almost all incidents of violence as well plus I have letters from other professionals expressing their concerns and I have every psych eval ever done, incident reports from schools, and any other item that might bolster my case in getting him the help that he so desperately needs.

Now I can turn my attention to tonight's championship soccer game for Fabian, Mayra, Martin and Javy. A bang-up game last night, 6-0, great time for all of us, tonight should be spectacular.

Tomorrow is the last day of school, the overall stress level here is high, Nando was just stuttering, something he doesn't do, worrying about tomorrow so I reassured him that nothing would change here, we'd swim all summer and he'd return to the same hall in the same school in August. A school ranked #4 out of nearly 1200 elementary schools in the state. A school that works hard with my children. Tony's teacher just called and wanted him to stay after and help her move her classroom into the brand new hall, something he dearly loves to do.

Miss Ellen already called from the middle school, we already decided which teachers would get which three sixth graders next year, hoping to find good matches, good fits...not that I've ever had a bad fit with this school system. My children have no idea how fortunate they are to be schooled here.

Needing Prayer Again and Again For Miraculous Interventions

Even I, old and experienced, didn't anticipate this level of end-of-the-school-year meltdowns. Sky high anxiety portrayed through rage and tears over anything, everything and nothing. Striking randomly like lightening, hitting everyone in its path, collateral damage everywhere and I stand there with an inefficient garden hose figuratively attempting to douse wildfires that are raging out of control.

Even calm, mellow Lily went down in tears this morning over an outfit Monica had selected for her last night. "Why didn't you say you didn't like it yesterday?" I literally screeched, trying to get everyone fed and out the door this morning.

"I didn't want to hurt Monica's feelings," she inaccurately responded.

Chuy couldn't find a pencil, Fabian was struggling to complete an assignment that was due a month ago, Tabby was crying about brushing her hair, and Paloma was doing her level best to provoke everyone else to tears with her dead-on hatefulness.

I deeply miss being happy, but not being happy doesn't indicate that I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I walk by faith not by feelings.

I have a meeting with everyone involved this afternoon about Pepe that I am dreading so much that my stomach is clenching and roiling. Knowing that everyone there doesn't live with the level of evil danger, with the continuous potential explosions that usually result in someone getting hurt. This kid is the school shooter waiting to happen and when the explosion in society occurs everyone will point fingers and scream at me, "Why didn't YOU DO SOMETHING!

I've documented everything I've tried to do, everyone who has turned me down for help, and every time I've verbally strongly stressed the danger. I am beyond stressed out over this, knowing Pepe, if allowed back into our house, will make me pay. I have too many potential victims to allow that to happen so I'll have to make a stink and make a fool of myself in my attempts to get him the help he needs as well as the protection we all deserve.

I know from experience that he will attack someone younger to force me to stop him which will then jusitfy him hurting me. I know how his mind works, what he fixates on, and how I simply cannot prevent his violence from occurring.

Please pray for us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Not Likely

I'd wanted to blog about Cristy's delicious creme brulee that she'd organically made from scratch and brought over yesterday for Carolina, Sarah, Monica and I or about the soccer game last night when tornado weather blew up on us. Rural Southerners are notoriously spooked by bad weather, everyone has a tornado story to tell such as the time someone's hog was blown across the barnyard and slammed into the ground so hard that his snout was buried while his butt waved in the wind.

Fortunately I've only experienced the tornadoes caused by traumatized emotions and today is no exception. Paloma is raging because I informed her that stealing a pretty blue Ipod from another fourth grader, who should have known better than to put it anywhere within reach of Paloma, is construed in normal society as wrong.

Wrong is not within her understanding.

Tabby is melting down over transitional issues and I'm up to my neck in children with unmanageable behaviors. I'm typing so as not to scream in frustration at anyone, better if I gather my emotions, step back and remember that it's not about me nor is it about any of the surface issues.

Three kids have a dentist appointment this morning and two others need to get to school but it isn't looking likely.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soothing, Inspriring Music To Live By


Sarah used to work for the management company that handled the Drive By Truckers, indeed she is thanked in the liner notes on a album a couple of years ago. The band lives in the funky college town near us that has also produced REM and the B-52s. I'm so old that I've not ever listened to any of those albums, CDs or whatever, preferring the strength and encouragement I derive from foot stomping gospel music. The former manager of the DBTs, afriend of Sarah's is now managing the Blind Boys of Alabama, and he'd sent her this CD which she's given to me.

Instanty hooked on the very first note of the first song, I've played this CD over and over and over again. Like Mighty Clouds of Joy this groups has been together for many decades, different guys coming and going, and this latest CD has knocked my socks off. Music that demands to be cranked up. Music that makes me smile during all our turmoil.

We had a hellish morning already with a fistfight that Javy pulled apart. Tony and JoJo, facing the end of their coddled elementary school years, stressed out over the change involved in going to middle school, fearful and apprehensive while also nervous and hurtfully feeling those old painful pangs of rejection that reach deep into their uneasy psyches, took it out on each other this morning. Fabian also is edgy and unhappy, the school year ending puts so much pressure into their deepest feelings, they are incapable of handling this change even though they all want summer vacation.

Thank God, right now for soccer tournaments.

Allen, Chuy, Sabrina and Tony lost in overtime last night, playing so hard that Sabrina was crying while running with a hurt ankle, yet she never gave up, carrying her team, exerting so much effort that all the parents could see her winning abilities. Daniel was there with us as was Carolina's entire family plus Monica, Dewayne and Alana. I hated to see them lose but I was effusive in my compliments to them over their massive efforts. Second guessing the coach, I gotta say, he under-utilized Allen, they'd have won if he'd given Allen free reign, not holding him back as he did.

When Daniel played all his many school and rec sports, I NEVER once either criticized him nor pointed out anything negative. NEVER. He always had a winning attitude even when provoked, ignored, or disrespected by another team -win or lose - he was always on top of the game; professional, able, talented and supremely even-tempered. Always. Chuck and Yolie were also at all his games and while Yolie and I'd come unglued at times over potential injuries or game time events, Daniel was always calm and focused.

Not so CW. At Saturday's game he was so lackadaisical that I'd hollered at him across the field, "Get in the game Dubs!" later fussing at him for his surprising laziness. A 'who cares?' attitude in a tournament game irked the cwap outta me. I demand winning attitudes from my children. I don't care of one loses if one has played their heart and soul out. If you're not gonna play, then don't sign up.

Stung by my disapproval, listening to me explain to him how hard Daniel had played all those years, a pumped up CW played his brains out last night as did Paloma and JoJo in their second tournament game, winning 6-0. Daniel, standing there with his arms crossed, whistling his approval at some pretty amazing plays, meant way more to CW than simply Mama's cheering opinion. The third game is tonight, as is Fabian, Javy, Mayra and Martin's U18 game. I simply can't wait.

Wonderful comments yesterday, commiseration and encouragement from y'all that is greatly appreciated by me.

Wendy's " I need to tell you about what I consider to be a miracle drug. Last summer, during her 3rd psychiatric hospitalization in less than 2 months, her new psychiatrist started her on catapres tts. It is a patch she wears for a week at a time. The active ingredient is clonodine, a blood pressure medication. It is an adrenal antagonist, and slows the flow of adrenaline that pours out into the system of people with PTSD. She can tell when it is time for it to be changed, because she is much more irritable. The improvement in her is unbelievable. She is learning to manage her anger, and will now walk away when she feels herself beginning to get mad. She's quickly back and ready to deal with the issues. It's worth checking out. "

I will certainly look into this as it may be exactly what Jonathan and Paloma need in order to function sanely in a normal world. Jonathan dared me, by his actions, to say one word of disapproval as he wore too-baggy pants to school. I knew if I said anything, he'd use it as an excuse to rage, doing his very best to provoke me, I let it slide, putting him off course by being unpredictable this morning. He looks ridiculous, but he's at school. Sometimes that's the best I can hope for during such trying times of transition.

Three more school mornings to endure...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Finding Help Again and Again and Again and Again, ETC


Not smiling on purpose, my oldest grandbaby is now a teenager. Jeepers. She's a happy child, someone in whom I take great joy. But that's not what this entry will detail today.

From the Dallas newspaper: "... That fewer of the homeless will cycle through the jail and psychiatric wards. That they will get more help.

The center, called The Bridge, is designed to provide mental health and addiction treatment and place people in homes as quickly as possible. The center will focus on the homeless people who can be the most difficult to help – those who are very ill and have been on the streets a long time."

Not a news flash to those of y'all, like Theresa and I, who are living with the offspring of the above people detailed in this article. We are expected to 'manage the behaviors' of the very violently unmanageable and we are looked at askance, as if it were due to our parenting, that these same people's behaviors, our children, are so out of the realm of normal logic.

We lose our perspective as so many "professionals" are unable to help our children, they call it a lateral move when they put a kid in a step-down facility because "she seems to be stuck on her behaviors. Maybe a change will help."

A change? Yep, that's the ticket, NOT.

I used to be among those who felt that love, guidance and opportunities could/would help anyone and everyone.

I've changed my tune.

We were unable to get to church yesterday, after I had everyone but JoJo and Jonathan ready. Those two refused to take showers. Simply refused and would not budge. No threat of consequences mattered one iota. They liked having 'control' of our family, keeping us all hostage, preventing me especially from getting the relief and strength that I derive from church. A screw you moment.

I'd risen early, decided not to turn on my computer but to spend my pre-dawn hour reading from a John Bevere book, knowing I was sinking into my own mini-depression as I fight uphill battles ALL THE TIME, trying to find help for seriously disturbed children. Good thing too as I was then emotionally strengthened for what was about to come. I cried most of the morning in pure frustration, knowing that no amount of behavior modification, positive reinforcement, sticker charts, or logic will ever make any difference to Jonathan.

JoJo has hope, he is not disturbed, he just has anger issues as does/did his older brother Fabian. Jonathan is seriously emotionally disturbed as is his older brother Pepe. His two other older brothers, Chuy and Javy, were absolutely disgusted with the refusal of Jonathan to budge. He wasn't mad about anything, he can just snap in an instance over nothing. This morning he refused to go to school, still hasn't had a shower, and is glaring in an ugly threatening manner at me as if sunrise is my fault.

I'm really not sure I can continue to parent him. He needs help and a mother's love will not be his cure. After all these yeas and all my experience I do feel qualified to make educated guesses based on diagnoses and psych evals that we've had done. I know what normal is/was/can be. This isn't normal, this isn't simply raging, nor is his prognosis encouraging to me at all.

Worse case scenario...eight years of Hell from him, then I'm free but he will join the ranks of the chronically jailed and homeless. I believe that he was put with me so that I can work to find whatever help is available, just as I am constantly fighting for his brother, who is way more dangerous, to receive help and services.

Will any amount of help actually help? Could these folks, described in the article, have been helped at one time? I don't know, I'm not really sure if it is not hard-wired into their psyches to end up like this. I'm not sure if there is any amount of help as I look back at the vast amount of services I fought for one daughter who is now living in an abandoned building in Atlanta because she is over 18 and out of the reach of my supervision that was always designed for her protection. I have a son, in and out of jail, homeless like his birth parents, unwilling to either work or mind law enforcement. Both of these children had over five years each in residential psychiatric facilities and another 5-10 years of therapy. Apparently that wasn't enough.

Then, if that's the case, how can society expect mothers, fathers, and families to live with this much devastation, destruction and rage when full-time psychiatric staffs who have medications at their disposal and psychiatric degrees on the wall, still can't mange these chronically unwell behaviors? They aren't then blamed as parents are.

My comments over the weekend left me with many blog topics to address, problems to bring to folk's attention, Cindy A's, "What are we going to do about it?" but I am deep up to my eyeballs in severe mental health issues for three of my children from one birth family with murder in their case histories. What am I going to do about it?

I'd called Texas, wanting to disrupt after six years, for my family's safety, with the blessing of the two older boys in this sib group, so obvious is the deep and profound level of emotional disturbance. Texas told me, "Heck, no!" Do I need a lawyer to sue and keep our family safe? I don't know, and I'm also battling with myself regarding the fact that with my own volunteer adoption work I'm matching potentially dangerous children into families. That worries me and I balance it with an equal number of wonderfully deserving children who will greatly benefit from family life.

In the meantime, I have eight difficult years ahead of me.

Best case scenario - out-of-home mental health placements and no disruption. Is that possible? I pray that it is so and I'll bust my butt trying to make it happen for their benefit, knowing that a lifetime of chronically homeless, jailed, unemployed and miserable is an option we certainly don't want.

This so isn't how I imagined my life would be...

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Adopting Everyone?


I have very mixed feelings while reading this article. Yes, I'm supremely glad that quite likely these children will find families but mixed with stories of folks eagerly lining up adopting puppies from puppy mills, which also needs to happen, I feel conflicted regarding the plight of American foster children who are legally free for adoption.

How do we get those children into families? Children with severe emotional trauma and deep behavioral problems, children who can potentially destroy families and lives? Children who can grow up successfully and phenomenally when given opportunities? Children who will hate and hurt you? Children who will walk through fire for you?

Children who need a chance????

Country Cousin


Yolie'd mentioned if these pictures of Mae didn't make me smile, then maybe I really do need meds. You bet I'm grinning like a banshee.

The dichotomy of my life is that when I royally spew out all my profound frustrations here about my complicated children and the life we lead, y'all all understand and support me in your comments and emails. That usually surprises me as it seems everything is constantly such an uphill battle. To get encouragement in the midst of war is rather like finding fragrant flowers in my septic tank; it's beautiful, but startling. Which then makes me think I'm now the abused and traumatized child as I suspiciously fear trusting positive encounters, I flinch when the phone rings, and I twitch sporadically the rest of the time.

I'd started this blog gaily three years ago before some of our most intense skirmishes were waged. I'd stopped adopting at that point, I'd been retired from the school system, and had initially felt on top of the world until life hit me like a tsunami reminding me if I didn't truly love my children so intensely, a lot of this would not have mattered so deeply nor tortured me so painfully.

Watching them make terrible choices after all my very dedicated years of parenting, educating and taking them to church has been heart wrenching to the point I confided in someone yesterday that I was terribly afraid I would make my ownself physically, terminally sick from the fallout.

Whoa, girl. Once again time to get a grip. God didn't give me such a spirit of fear but rather that of a conqueror and I need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with my own self and remember who I am in His eyes.

I'd had a hissy fit when all the kids came home from school, facing a summer which for us starts this coming Friday, with such laziness and disrespect which is not acceptable to me at all. I'd made everyone help me clean before supper which turned out to be subsequently a rather late supper of Potato Bar...20 pounds of potatoes evaporated into stomachs, not a bite leftover, sending everyone scrambling for cereal before bed as if the long, dark night would be forty hours long and they might not make it successfully through without fortification.

It just has lately seemed as if everything is a conflict, dispute or a struggle. EVERYTHING. It has wearied me beyond measure. I am sick to death of very young social workers, the constant turnover of mental health workers and the entire system that is broken. I am tired of there being no answers to serious issues, and I fret deeply over all the children in foster care that may likely not find a family as families are so mistreated by the system. I am very, very close to getting an attorney to sue for services that several of my children desperately need. I'm just not certain I have the level of emotional strength for either a battle or a backlash as I need super human strength here at home to deal with the daily trials.

On the upside however, three kids are qualifying for summer school, there's a deeply discounted ($) soccer camp, I'll scrabble together the money for Lily's art camps, I need to help Fabian find a job, my Big Back Garden looks very good but the other garden beds have suffered from my own lack of time, Dr. Mandy is planning a summer of intense therapy for several of my children, soccer playoffs begin today and this crazy little psycho terrier puppy Lucky-He-Ain't-Been-Stepped-ON has amused the tar outta me. Smarter than all of us put together, entertaining and single-minded about his own agenda, seemingly a bright spot in some sad days lately.

My grandchildren, of course, have been very loving, often in severely stark, obvious contrast to my kids. Sarah'd taken these pictures, such as the one below, that I've been using and Yolie must have been on her mind as she labeled them Ray and Hazel May rather than Bay. Hazel Bay has come into her own distinct personality lately, as alarmingly silly as her Abuelita.

We have a huge, very bleak goodbye looming ahead of us in ten days as Big Jose returns to El Salvador to fight legally for his citizenship. We don't know how long it might take, his attorney is telling him possibly a year. As God would have it, a lawyer's wife introduced me just this week to a congressman's wife. I'd been calling his office for help, she asked me if I'd gotten what I needed yet. While Jose is in El Salvador, I'll be begging both she and her husband for help.

I'd stopped at Starbucks, now a habit for me if I'm in town, not for a latte but for the free Grinds for Gardens when I'd run into these ladies. They were both well-dressed and beautiful while I looked like someone's country cousin. Oh well. My own mother used to make me wear shoes when I went with her to the grocery store, a stupid rule I once resented, but have since learned to follow.

Friday, May 16, 2008

End Of School Year Rejections


I stood in the pouring rain, under Jose's large umbrella, and watched a soccer game at eight o'clock last night. Driving sheets of rain, soaking me from the waist down, but that was nothing compared to the dousing Fabian, Mayra, Javy and Martin received on the field, a game they won leaving them still undefeated.

Thinking to myself, 'wouldn't it be nice if these gestures of committed parenting were noticed ever by my children?' knowing that'll never be the case. If that is so, and I accept and understand their motivation behind their steadfast non-belief...acknowledging what Mom does for them would be to recognize what their birth parents chose not to do...what makes me get up and continue each morning?

Well this lifestyle was never chosen for glory, only for the guts that it takes, inner God-given stamina, and the ability to face myself each day and pat my ownself on the back. That's enough for me...usually. I've had some shared downer times certainly, but overall I'm hanging in there.

If I only blogged good stuff and never detailed our trials this'd be a lying work of fiction. Preferring reality based words over meaningless fluff, I choose to share what I can, and withhold that which we are still dealing with, as I muddle through each day, second guessing myself and seeking counsel from others when necessary.

Nando burst into tears this morning about a kid in his class who's punching him. Nando is fearless and will go up against all his older brothers in any street game of soccer so for this to make him cry makes me take notice. I'd emailed his teacher, asking her to look into it. Nando is not a complainer.

Tabby is falling apart, here at the end of the school year, acting out and crying over Miss Donna. In her mind, another sad goodbye of which she's had way too many in just five years. "I don't want to go to kindergarten," she's been wailing. Translation: Miss Donna and Miss terry are rejecting me. Again, thank God for Dr. Mandy to help her cope with such transitions as one always has a lifetime of such.

Who Needs Toys?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

My Old Royal Typewriter


The books I read in the 1960s such as Silent Spring and those by Adele Davis , the Nearings and Ruth Stout not only shaped my life, but continue to influence it in so many ways. I also read all the anarchy books of our times, questioned The Establishment, as I still do, and fortunately I found God before I was totally lost in depressing unbelief that would have been devastating to me later as I've continually tried to make sense of this seemingly difficult life I've chosen, or been called to, with my traumatized children.

I recently found a 411 page book I'd written sometime in the early 1980s. Fiction set in the 1970s, before I became Born Again, I started re-reading these pages that I'd pounded out back then on a Royal Typewriter and there was nothing better to do than shred the Godless pages which do not reflect my life, nor my feelings, at all anymore.

"Mom, I wished you hadn't, I'd have loved to read it," Yolie bemoaned my drastic measures.

And answer Daniel's recent questions about the 1960s? I don't think so. Look y'all, after much soul searching, tons of reading, questioning, examining and discovering...after all these years I've so totally found my way, know what I'm doing and where I'm going. I don't have all the answers, I don't even have many of the answers that I now need in this uncharted morass of raising trouble children. Love ISN'T enough, but they must at least know they are loved.

Taking them to church, instilling morals and values, teaching and educating them all - some will reject everything as Cristy once did, but will hopefully return and embrace their lives as valued members of a chosen family. Cristy will move into her newly purchased, very nice house at the end of June, as will Yolie (while we pray hard for her first house to sell ASAP) yet others, darling children of mine, will continue to spew their anger and grief out upon those who love them.

Last night all my teenagers, ages 12 and up, spent the entire hour and a half youth group time in music and worship. Don't tell me that this will return void, I have God's promises deep in my heart that the opposite will be true. That's what gets me through the many nights of despair.

This song, I smile, makes me smile, cheers me up and pulls me through the tough times, of which there are MANY.

As Daniel worked on the pool again yesterday, I pulled weeds up there within the fence, telling him that not adopting anymore children had freed me up to catch up and to re-evaluate my life here at half-time. Family remains my priority while I also try and teach my children some solid, wholesome ways of life. Honestly I can't even find the words to express how much I deeply appreciate Daniel right now. He finished up another UGA semester and is leaving for Army time next month yet still is giving our family a ton of work. I sometimes feel helpless and challenged by the pool or the computer work he does for me, my time is so limited and the garden is one place I can go to for success.

Eos asked what we eat - beans and rice, rice and beans, everything the garden grows, etc. Today I've had granola for breakfast and a bowl of strawberries from the garden. I have enough salad (lettuces, spinach, radishes and onions) from the garden for lunch and tonight we're having black-eyed peas and brown rice in a garlic tomato sauce, there's some leftover whole wheat pasta that a few of my kids will ask for and they'll grate cheese on it and add jalapenos. I also have collards and swiss chard from the greenhouse that I need to steam for a side dish.

Emily in Maine asked me about King Corn which I want to see but have not yet, while Samara pointed out the MSG in "natural flavor," reminding me the more I read, the more I only want to eat foods I've grown.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chumped


"For the first time, it appears that more than half of all insured Americans are taking prescription medicines regularly for chronic health problems, a study shows.

The most widely used drugs are those to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol - problems often linked to heart disease, obesity and diabetes," a new article says.

Dadgum y'all, these are all related to one's diet. DUH.

Don't eat meat, nor drink sodas, lay off the refined white bread puffy crap and eat more plants. Simple and delicious.

Sarah and I just realized that 'natural flavor added' doesn't really mean natural but chemicals. Jeepers.

How long was I so chumped?

Mega Nachos


My brother, Gary, remarked when Daniel went off to college, "This house is gonna fall down without him here fixing everything." True, that.

With his girlfriend in London for the next six weeks and Carolina cooking for him, Daniel's been here this week getting our pool ready for summer, no easy task as it is a very large, cumbersome ordeal and he also worked on the computers for the kids, getting the broken ones fixed and putting heavy duty security on them all. There's simply no way for me to express my deep gratitude to him. This kind of help would cost me thousands of dollars. Just having Daniel over here makes me happy.

He'd gone to CW, JoJo and Paloma's soccer game the other night and Sabrina had taken this picture of him. Sitting between Mayra and Memaw, he was struck by how long it had been since he'd listened to such inane middle school patter. Fabian also suggested that Daniel was now 'old and slow' and his high school records in football, gym and baseball were old-timey.

CW was happy and proud to show off his skills before the uncle brother he most looks up to as Daniel was ten when Dubs was born, Daniel has always been there for him.

Lee'd asked me yesterday about "seeing someone" regarding the emotions I must process while undergoing this parenting marathon. I do see Dr. Mandy but also the only folks I ever do have time to talk to are basically only those who are helpful to us such as clergy, lay professionals and social workers who understand. Remember also Yolie has her Master's Degree in Social Work as does her best friend, Audry, who is now a supervisor of foster care. Both women know our family and the issues very well as does my best friend who outranks them both in degrees and longevity concerning us. Lee, you are right, I could not continue under these pressures without folks who get it and understand, who offer suggestions, theories and help.

Lisa's comments as well rang in my pea brain, "it's never enough", echoing how I feel as I truly pour myself out 24-7 in the role of mama. Yes, my kids criticize, blame and point out how other people have tvs in their bedrooms and access to their parent's credit cards, but never understanding that these are also the people who DON'T adopt troubled sibling groups from foster care. My children will likely never truly comprehend these concepts so it behooves me to be the one who gets a grip and moves on forward in spite of the constant blows.

I received several emails about the 'food wrapper thing' as this seems to be so common from children who undergone severe lack in their lives. Lisa shared hers'.

Last night at soccer Chuy was incensed over everything, arguing with officials, always seemed to be slinging up his arms to loudly express himself, running his mouth, sweating and furious until a referee threatened to yellow card him. I don't think this was really about soccer for Chuy. Duh, Cindy, ya think?

Because I'm prone to melodramatic behavior my ownself, I'd worked on supper alone, sighing and slinging plates, perturbed that no one was offering to help, but group PMS reigns supreme this week. I'm sick of reminding witchy folks to do chores, I'm totally bored with the eye rolling, idiotic behavior. Mega nachos with beans, sour creme, olives and hot sauce takes me awhile to grate several blocks of cheese and arrange it on twenty something plates. Does everyone need some Midol?

End-of-the-school-year transitioning behaviors. Duh, get a grip Big Mama.

If any one of the eight sibling groups I'd adopted had been my only group, my perspective would be much different than it is now. That said, since I've now had years and years of this, I feel differently about everything, knowing it'll all come out in the wash.

Despierta America on the TV, a soy latte in my hand, this morning will be garden time in an area I'm totally behind on, frustrating me somewhat, but last night my mother had sent over a large salad of radishes, lettuces, spinach and onions she'd grown to share with my family but I ate the whole thing alone, dousing it with balsamic vinegar, happy as a clam. Heck, the kids were full of mega nachos that they'd not helped me fix.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Proof That McDonalds Has Reached Africa



Thank you Pastor Terry for the much needed laugh today.

More Troubled


"Another surprising conclusion that the Minnesota study produced was the fact that children adopted from within the U.S. are more prone to behavioral disorders..."

YA THINK?

I had hoped that spending the last 48 hours working my butt off to expend my very painful negative energy would have helped temper this blog post, but I feel that will not be the case this morning as I am still simmering.

My children are apparently mistaking my constant willingness to forgive with a license to be haters.

I had a big Screw You Mothers Day that is especially unique to idiots who think they can make a difference in the lives of troubled children. Is that too harsh of me? Tough toenails, I'm the idiot.

A warm, beautiful day in which I held Sarah's lovely crinoline-clad adorable baby who will grow up to love me as will Yolie's darling two children who came by later. Sarah'd prayed for rain and my garden was drenched. I had to snicker as she, Hazel's other grandmother (Edith) and I all were dressed in black there at church.

Carolina and Monica also are raising very attached and normal children. Alyssa sat between Big Joe and I in church, smiling and looking as gorgeous as she had the day before on the soccer field with her silly laugh and her husky voice that always makes me refer to her nickname Joe-lyssa.

Even my laptop thief had enough sense to leave a message for me, a nice one at that, as did Gina, Cristy, Jesse and Daniel, but then the real fun began.

One who makes it a policy to not-speak-to-me-ever-on-Mother's-Day continued his transparently ugly behavior, another older one lied to me at church about church, while the rest amped up their sheer hatefulness in spades. One who'd recently informed me that he had his own life now, translation: I'm mad that you wouldn't allow me to be an unemployed drunk at your house, continued his coldness.

I mowed the grass all day, the roar of the motor drowning out the issues that were exploding all around me out front of the house like warped cartoons gone wrong. I picked up trash I didn't throw down from food I didn't steal (when permission would have been granted anyway), I washed clothes I didn't dirty, dishes from plates I didn't eat off of, and I cleaned a house I didn't punch the walls in. Am I bitter? Ya think?

I wouldn't even later tell Yolie why I was so irked, I'm tired of unloading on her when she's been so supportive of me. This is not her issue and I want her focused on her wonderful family, not on my haters.

I ended my delightful Mother's Day sitting in my truck crying in the jail parking lot, trying to get a grip so I could stop at a store and buy milk for kids who resent everything I do for them.

I sugar coated all this. The stark version would be more than most normal folks could handle.

And yes I do forgive, yes I will continue forward. Here's why.

I know and I recognize that I too have become severely traumatized over the past 20 years. Thank God for Dr. Mandy and her abilities. Thank God for my God-given inner fortitude, my drive and my determination and my simple belief that I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thank God for My Mom


My beautiful Sabrina who we all call Memaw, now 13 and an absolutely delightful child in spite of the killing blows she's received in her short lifetime. A very sunny, optimistic and resilient teen who has long taken care of her three younger siblings, now a cheerleader and a overly sociable soccer player...someone who simply and only longed for a stable home and a solid, low maintenance mama like me. Now, three years into her adoption, she's a right content, bright and darling daughter to me. I'm blessed by being her mother and this morning I've been invited to her and Mayra's Sunday School class for a mother-daughter tea. Memaw's just glad she has a mama. Mayra, of course, takes me for granted and that's how it should be.

Children should have that luxury and millions don't.

A tough day looming ahead for many folks today. I'd read this article about the dark side of Mother's Day and found myself bobbing my head in agreement as I read, thinking about how hard today is for my niece, Lauren, or another woman I know who dearly longs to be a mother, or two kids in my church who are facing their first Mother's Day without their dear mother who passed away last fall. My own children are all so conflicted, today pulls off their barely healing emotional scabs as they try and push through their original and unfathomable pain involving their own birth moms.

Many of my children, now moms themselves, have pushed on past this once damaged section of their minds, and I want them to focus on being moms today and being honored for that by their husbands. I truly lack the sensitivity chip that most Moms have, where they feel they deserve a day of rest or whatever. Just let me go to the garden and I'm a happy camper.

I understand my children's inner pain and I feel no compunction about claiming my rightful place as number one Mama. Who gives a big cahoot? I cannot imagine being in their shoes and dealing with the profound overall sadness involved regarding their grief filled pasts. My own mom, living here with me, is equally as unmotivated to capture the significance of today. She knows I love her, she doesn't desire trinkets or geehaws today, like me she just wishes The Tree Man would get around to dumping more wood chips for us to use in our gardens.

I'd stopped at Starbucks yesterday, wanting to get Grounds for the Garden to give to her but they were out. Many other gardeners beating us there, but my mother knows I'll go again for her. She's simply awesome, she raised four great children and truly all she'd wish for today would be a phone call she won't get from Lauren's mom Ellen, my sister, who's gone on ahead of us to Heaven.

That's what I'd like also, time again yapping with Ellen, but it's not going to happen and I'm dealing with it 12 years later, still feeling the grief. If that is so, and I'm fairly advanced in my years and my experiences, how could I ever expect my severely traumatized children to cope with their own pained emotions today?

Thank God I get it (usually), thank God I won't push it with my kids, thank God I have a mom who raised me like this with such strength and an ability to endure. Thank God I have a mom, nearly 54 years with her constantly there for me. Thank God she's led the way for me to know how to parent.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Hazel Bay's Mom Posted Again


Sarah finally posted again. This is Tabby and Ray on the soccer field.

Needing Rain


"I don’t go into a store without knowing what I’m intending to buy, and I view it as a deep personal failure to leave with anything else." This from The Simple Dollar, a blog that Sarah and I often discuss as different lines ring with such personal acuity. It's been a delightfully quiet week for me, at least in terms of our usual uproar, that we've had a beautiful excess of garden time. Hazel on a blanket on the ground wanting to dig in the dirt while Sarah constantly takes sticks, grass and other detritus from her chubby fingers before it reaches her mouth.

Yolie's son, CJ, is talking up a storm and it still strikes me as particularly interesting, after all these years and all our babies, that our toddlers are so attuned to our family, calling each kid by name, knowing each child's idiosyncrasies, even innately knowing who best to avoid, who's most likely to push nicely at the swing set, and who to run to for particular treats. Life should be this good.

Thunder woke me up at 4:30 this morning, so immediately thrilled for rain I couldn't go back to sleep, and it rained for all of one minute. Oh well, a 70% chance tomorrow which would really be a great Mother's Day for me.

Watching The Garden Grow is something that Sarah and I have literally done together for almost 35 years. A quiet activity, relaxing for a minute and absorbing the beauty of plants and what they give to us. My banana shrubs are all blooming and the fragrance from them knocks me over with pure bliss and joy.

Six soccer games again this morning, coordinating my schedule with Monica, Sarah, Grandma and Grandpa, Carolina and the kids, knowing we'd be on several different fields. With the end-of-the school year just two weeks away, there's something to do every single night, somewhere I need to be, and many events to attend - one of which won't be Vanessa's graduation from high school as she shunned my admonitions (a polite word for my nagging insistence) regarding school and the fact that I'd paid for her to make up classes on-line. Money down the drain along with my hopes for Vanessa's education. But it needs to be Vanessa's hopes and dreams, not Big Mama's aspirations.

I've been in these sad sack shoes before, a college educated, former school employee mom of drop-outs. I'm not nearly as dismayed as I once would have been, knowing that it takes a very long time for a traumatized child to get, and stay, on track. Heck I've had so many more deeper humiliations lately to compare it with that I'm now so much more internally numbed to the pain.

I'm not a Mother's day Martyr. My kids give to me every day in so many ways - sometimes even in positive manners. It's the little things that mean so much to me like Yolie picking Tabby up from Pre-K yesterday or running Motrin over to the school for Sabrina so that I could stay in the garden planting. Sarah tended, or agreed to attend, to an Edgar matter yesterday as we were futilely trying, along with his girlfriend, to keep him on the straight and narrow, yet he habitually circumvented our best efforts.

He'd lost his wallet, needed his birth certificate from me, and I'd simply wanted him to make a copy given his penchant for misplacing everything. Making a copy though would have gone against his inner grain in which he needed Mama to tend to his paperwork. I know, I get it.

His long-suffering girlfriend, a delightful UGA college student leaves in June for 6 weeks in South Africa. While happy for her, I dread the emotional baggage of his that I'll then have to face. Daniel's darling girlfriend, Lauren, also a UGA student, leaves Monday for London yet Daniel will be fine. He's so strong within and without, then he'll also leave for Officer Training in the state of Washington in June and I'll then be the one restlessly pacing the floor as I just feel better knowing he's usually only one county away.

Carolina lost 25 pounds in the last six months from living with us. She attributes that to running up and down the stairs constantly as her other home was one story. I think I found her 25 pounds and slapped it on me as I'm sure enjoying her cooking. She's also lessened her soda habit, watching me gag each time can't add to any enjoyment of the chemical drink now can it?

Mayra made the Competitive Cheerleading Squad. Oh Boy. I withheld both my opinion and my sarcasm, instead congratulating her and making room in our budget for the funds she'll need. Heck this is a positive thing and while I always prefer a team sport, this is her heart's desire and I massively support what she wants in this case. It isn't the Academic Decathlon but it's what she wants. And her U18 soccer team remains in first place. It's my job to help everyone find their way in life, not my way but theirs.

Scotty - turning 10 this weekend - leaves me with just three kids now in the single digit age, a virtual milestone.

JoJo still in his transitional phase here, deeply dreading the move up to middle school, is as clingy as a spider monkey, fussing and fretting, distracted somewhat yesterday by the bike Miss Judy had brought to us, a nicer one than we've ever owned. He later jumped in our pool as we've been trying to clean it out. Having summer looming ahead of us when he can eat, sleep and play to his heart's content always helps in the healing process. Family time, cuddling and having a less demanding schedule always soothes.

Friday, May 09, 2008

There's Hope For Them All


Even though I slung Cristy through the dicemaster to demonstrate patient progress and hope to other moms in similar shoes doesn't mean I'm all that encouraged about some of my own children.

Joey was arrested again for criminal trespass, once again going where he was not allowed to go. However the phrase 'not allowed' means nothing to him nor is jail any kind of deterrent. Did any of my parenting mean anything to him? On the surface it appears to not be so, yet I've listened to this challenged and inarticulate guy tell me he really appreciated what I went through for him. This may not translate into much emotional intelligence, but it is progress and it is absolutely in inverse proportion to the amount of energy I emitted during his childhood for him. Honey, I sweated bullets over this boy.

Hospitalized for five years in a state psychiatric hospital, jailed many times since age 17, a high school dropout with very marginal abilities, his future is somewhat frightening to contemplate. Would I do it again, knowing how it was all going to turn out?

To think about such an exercise in futility makes even me despondent, to consider facing such turmoil, destruction, disruption and violence once again would seem insurmountable, but to look back upon it now, I'm glad I did it and equally glad it is over.

"You're not what I expected," a post by an adoption counselor is well worth reading as is this one. This is it y'all, this is what we live with, this is what we chose.

JoJo is still a marshmallow mess of emotions. Unable to put his own shoes on this morning, making everyone late, I had to leave him with Carolina while I drove everyone else only to come back home and find him wearing Jonathan's shoes. Before I could point this out he stated, "well I'm more worried about what the heck Jonathan has worn to school," as he was holding one of his other shoes in his hands.

Did Jonathan limp to school wearing one of Jojo's shoes? I think not as I keep the
spare pairs in Jonathan's closet for just such emergencies as this.

Here comes Mother's Day weekend, always a trying time for us. "I'd buy you jewelry if I had a dollar," Allen lovingly told me.

"Honey, I ain't worth a dollar. What I really want is wood chips for my garden. Just haul me a bucket on Sunday."

"I'll haul you a million buckets!" he promised.

Yeah, by Sunday he's liable to be in full throttle hissy fit, screeching and crying mode over all the implications involved when one emotionally allows oneself to think that his Big Mama loves him unconditionally.

I still love Joey, don't I? That must be what 'unconditionally' means - something I've struggled with for years as at times it's been hard to love those that would want to murder me. Glad Fabian got over it. Now he's one of my sweetest, most devoted sons, there's hope for them all.

Someone remind me of that on Mother's Day.

Fabian is now as clingy as Edgar once was, yet not quite as emotionally demanding. I once greatly feared the anger that was wrapped around Fabian, that exploded unexpectedly and was physically directed at me. I once refused to live with him for our family's safty and it took several years of out-of-home placements, punitive environments and therapeutic settings for him to get any sort of healing.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Transitioning



Jack, with Mae's pinata, has lived here every minute of his life; stable, secure, and emotionally strong, demonstrating to me every day how hard my other children must have found their lives to be. How challenging each day before foster care when they were abused and neglected resulting in the emotionally broken children I am now parenting and trying to help heal, knowing it takes at the very least a life time.

Asked if we had 'transitioning problems' at the end of each school year, I gotta respond with a big ole, "Heck yeah, we do."

Tabby's winding up to have the hardest time. In my commenter's case, "In his black/ white thinking this means NEVER SEE FRIENDS EVER EVER AGAIN." In our case, friends aren't the issue as their best friends live here with them. A side benefit to a large family but because we have such awesome teachers in our county, my children lose it over them. Ms. Carr is retiring. "What? We'll never see her again?" That may have been the case in the past, in their chaotic childhoods moving constantly from pillar to post, but I guarantee Ms. Carr will remain in their lives.

Tabby's leaving Pre-K to come over to the big school (elementary) where her siblings will be, but in her mind she'll never see Miss Donna again. Yes you will darling, I'll say over and over. This is a small county and duh, you see her at church. Doesn't matter, facts are useless when dealing with traumatized emotions.

My most emotional child, JoJo, leaving fifth grade to go to middle school is likely to be difficult all summer. Tony and Lily also are moving up but Lily is super secure and Tony has a million other issues to focus on.

The day he turned six, I showed up in El Paso to adopt Daniel, Joe and Yolie. Daniel was crying on his foster mom's lap, didn't want me, a stranger, to crap up his life. He'd finally gotten somewhere stable and all he could see was that he was losing what he loved. Joe was happy to see me, showed me around his foster home proudly and was raring to go, only to later give me a very hard time in his teen years. Yolie was shut down, sad and angry, afraid to allow herself to comprehend that this would mean permanency for herself and her two beloved brothers that she'd then parented for 11 years.

Now Daniel remembers nothing of his life in Texas. Yolie and I returned to El Paso for another adoption six years ago and looked up her foster mom. This wonderful woman took us on a tour of everything Yolie'd spent 15 years telling me about, validating it all to her. Yolie'd also called up her retired worker and updated her on their progress which was impressive. Thankfully Yolie'd made that call as a couple of years later we were told of her passing away. It then hit us both hard, a very positive memory for Yolie, the fact that Maureen had cared enough to make sure Yolie was adopted with her brothers.

On that return trip, I'd invited Joe and Daniel to come along but even after all these years and they were grown, they both adamantly declined.

JoJo remembers nothing of his former life, he's been here for almost eight years and feels free enough to act out every single negative emotion as opposed to either Miriam or Edgar, his parentified siblings, who were just glad for the help I provided. JoJo finally finished his very overdue CHAMPS project, turning in a pisspoor rendition of homework after many tears, rages and hissy fits. Middle school doesn't look like much fun looming ahead for him.

He got up early with me, "I love you Mama," sitting on the sofa waiting out the few minutes in which I read the Bible before starting my day. I didn't reply as I was deep in my Romans 12 when he mimicked me, "Then act like it son!" Giggling like the monkey he is, bouncing on the sofa, snickering and acting like he was picking fleas outta my hair, he snuggled like the toddler he truly is in reality.

Warning, warning Will Robinson! Or better yet Miss Judy, Miss Ellen, Miss Kimberly and the other MBMS teachers...here comes a handful in the body of a silly little boy.

(PS - Millie, email me please, my email to you keeps returning.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Working through Frustration After Frustration: A Thousand Congratulations to Cristy


My frustration level is sky high and reading Theresa's post didn't help. Or did it?

I can look at other families more objectively of course since I'm not emotionally involved. Her daughter may not back down from this decision, who knows? But my experiences have taught me that, believe it or not, contrary to all present information, we as mothers, we've made a tremendous difference even though we are now severely traumatized, blatantly suffering from PTSD, bruised and battered...but still standing.

While Hazel was eating her first strawberry in the garden and Sarah was taking her 35th year of garden tours in which we both take a second to watch the garden grow, Cristy called to tell me she'd finished all her UGA coursework. Now she has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology.

Sarah and I congratulated her and then Sarah congratulated me. "I know how hard you worked for this moment Mom."

Amen and amen.

Thank God my caseworker didn't let me disrupt way back when I was a neophyte adoption parent. Thank God this woman knew how to speak to me in such a way that made way too much sense. "She's not a pound puppy, Cindy. You can't just send her back." Ice water in the face, just what I then needed to hear, yet this same child of mine ran away permanently at age 17, put us all through a long decade of torment, and terrorized some other well-meaning folks as well.

This same caseworker did allow me to disrupt later for our family's safety - twice in fact, although Joey later rejoined us.

Much of the success of our family goes to Emily who has guided me through some very harrowing times, listening when necessary, straightening me out at intervals and uncannily empathetic always.

What if I'd have ignored her gut feeling and her vast social work experiences and simply quit on Cristy at age 13? I'd likely have jeopardized Monica, Sergi and Gina's chances of ever having a successful placement as they'd already suffered through an earlier disruption, plus I'd never have had the pure joy of raising Lily, CW and Jack. I'd not have been able to later claim credit for Gina and Cristy's college degrees that they both worked on diligently nor would Monica now be married to Dewayne, and subsequently Alana would not have been born.

I likely would have stopped adopting then and not had the indescribable joys of parenting Yolie and Daniel (next) and the many that followed. I wouldn't now be Jesse's mom and he wouldn't have married Lena. Alyssa wouldn't be my grandchild nor would I have happened upon Carolina. (I could go on and on here about all my other children and grandchildren...)

Disruption is the only answer sometimes, but it would have been wrong for me to have done so back then on Cristy's sib group. Thank you Emily for your foresight at the time when I had zero. I'll also say that I hadn't then heard from God to disrupt and Lord knows, I try and try to stay in the will of God. Yes, this free will thing stresses me out. I want emails from God with specifics.

Has it been hard? DUH.

But Cristy and I decided to give it a rest some time ago, quit revisiting it all even though we could use it to help others, dwelling on it stresses us both out. Suffice it to say, if I'd been blogging back then, I likely would have discouraged even me from continuing on this journey. So what if it took Cristy until age 31? So what? Doesn't that then speak to others who are struggling with their children? I'm a certified teacher and Cristy dropped out of high school. How do you think I felt then? Like a stinking, loser failure with a scarlet F branded on my humiliated backside.

When I agreed to parent Cristy's children I emphasized, "You need to go make them proud somehow," and she has absolutely done so. She's succeeded in so many other ways such as marrying a really nice man (Chris) and now buying a house. She has stayed in the kid's lives, there are no secrets here, and I remain glad that I stuck it out. Once diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Cristy took a minus and made it a plus.

An old gospel song I've always liked went something like 'take this stumbling block and turn it into a stepping stone.'

JoJo has been given several other chances to complete his CHAMPS project which has resulted in screaming, crying meltdown fits, suicidal threats (I'm not kidding) and absolute Pure-T frustration. It is still not done. He threatened to run away to a far off land where there are no stupid schools and mean mothers like me who expect them to do their homework on time.

I despair at this point. The entire family has tried to help him get this done but unless we literally do it, it isn't gonna happen. This is a very intelligent child with less than zero frustration tolerance. The public school system is not designed to help kids like him. How could they be expected to do so? I dunno. And JoJo has 100% parental backing. What about the legions of children whose parents are unable, incapable or don't give a rip?

If any teacher could have watched JoJo's four hour meltdown yesterday they'd have been abysmally stymied. This child worries about everything yet seems, on the surface, to be utterly nonchalant about life. He is super sensitive, cries at the drop of a hat, yet puts on a tough front until he's home where he feels safe enough to explode and cry over someone looking askance at him. Terrible grades, yet he reads constantly.

Homeschooling appears to be his only avenue to any sort of success unless maturity swoops down and bats him upside of his hard head.

Daniel, pictured here, polar opposite of either Cristy or JoJo, very much like Yolie. Deeply devoted to his family, ready to serve his country after an extended stay at UGA, has been super easy and constantly rewarding to raise. I kid you not, I have 39 exquisitely unique individuals and balancing their needs, their futures, their pasts and their possibilities keeps me teetering on my ten tore-up, twinkly toes...one foot firmly planted on the rock and the other on a banana peel.

Thank you God for trusting me this much...I think.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

What Is This Deep Need For Chaos All About?


Three very sweet children. Breaths of fresh air and sunshine, reasons why I keep on keeping on.

I'm an Eisenhower baby. Born to sheltered, countrified parents in 1954 when Atlanta was a small town, I lived a lot before 1982 when I started slowing down my own roaring years. Coming of age in the 1960s was indescribable, the world was so different that I rarely speak of it to my children now. Daniel'd seen a documentary with Jimi Hendrix in it and was wondering aloud about me back then. That's not who I am now. Those years shaped me surely, raised my own level of eco-consciousness and an acute opinion of society's problems not being solved by pie-in-the-sky programs. In 1982 when given the opportunity, I gladly returned to the church.

The funny thing is, kids like me back then thought that in the year 2000 we'd be so modernized and futuristic that we'd be vacationing on the moon. Instead I live on an odd planet, but have chosen to grow my own food and live fairly isolated. The Internet has become my 'meeting place' as I feel like I'm drinking coffee with moms like me and the commiseration it allows certainly soothes my once very restless soul.

I just filled my van up, a little less than 28 gallons - an even $100. That's shocking. That's what my rent used to be for a large farmhouse.

But if high gas prices makes folks think twice before jumping in their cars to pollute the world with carbon excesses, then I'll gladly pay the higher costs. What if everyone, at least, took that opportunity to plant one tomato plant? How much gas would then be saved? How much less carbon emissions? How much more so would the desire for fresh, untainted produce then spur folks on to plant peppers and cucumbers? A reader yesterday told me of her 'modest' balcony garden in Houston. Modest? I think that's awesome. I'd do the same if I were in her shoes, a busy law school student, I find her efforts to be most impressive.

Cindy A, my North Carolina friend, had mentioned back that she'd like to ask God about free will as in, "What were you thinking, Lord?" I'm still giggling over her remark. Although I may not respond to every remark due to time constraints, I'm sure mulling over them.

Yesterday Rachel said, "What a gift you have for claiming the good, true, sweet things in life while the ugly, exhausting and stoopid things are trying their durndest to claim YOU." Hmmm. It's my constant source of exercise as I truly don't want to become a bitter ole bat. It's tough though.

This morning everyone, as a group on a mission, acted mean and malicious. It felt as if I had an entire herd of oppositionally violent, hateful and destructive children. My blood pressure soared in response and I did my derndest to not be sucked into their unrelenting cycles of negativity. Their control issues forced several of them to sabotage our morning schedule - the last thing they really want is instability yet their inner burning need for comfortable chaos, as that's all they ever knew in their early childhoods - drives them to cause problems. They want me to lash out physically, as others have done to them, but I steadfastly refuse to participate in their inner wrong need for confusion. I have to attempt to replace those behaviors.

I drive this train.

We will eat sitting down, we will throw trash in the trashcan, dirty clothes in the laundry room and we will change sheets that have been peed on. These are their issues that they fight me on each and every morning. Jonathan, Paloma and JoJo put on dirty clothes and blatantly dare me to make them change. They will then have huge meltdowns. Forcing my hand, knowing their behavior is unacceptable, but in their tormented minds, it is my fault because I made them angry. They'll tell me so in hysterically distorted voices as if they are possessed.

"It's YOUR fault," they'll scream at me because I wouldn't let them go out the door in torn blue jeans. I swear I think they keep dirty clothes in the van to change furtively into while I drive them to school as I see them come home sometimes in vastly different clothes than what I'd checked that morning.

Every day is a battle. Paloma is 11 years old and has fought tooth and nail for every raggedy outfit she has also subsequently destroyed. She wants to raise Hell. It is her deep desire, she is comfortable there...I have to change that in her or her adult life will be unimaginable.