Monday, February 28, 2011
Every Spring, ever single child of mine recalls the fragrance, the promise of warm weather, the way a single Hyacinth can perfume even our large kitchen full of boys. We'd picked the first one yesterday, Gina and Yolie swooning in response, this year Yolie will be 31, and Gina will be 33, which truly does not seem possible to me at all.
Tia Memaw, AKA Sabrina, toting Mae Mae, the teenagers back from The Mix, no one bringing me their dirty clothes, I suppose thinking they should first fester them in their hot over stuffed book bags. So exhausted they could barely walk, CW went down in a face first heap between his bed and Martin's that were pushed together, his butt waving in the air, so hard asleep he didn't even hear me laughing. It was four in the afternoon, I took a picture, but he'd have a cow if I posted it here.
I usually buy my strawberry roots at Starks, but I'd seen some in Wal-Mart, this after learning in The Resilient Gardener how low quality the big box el cheapo seeds and plants are, in reality, swept off the seed company floor generally.
I recognized the Allstar ones, brought them home and planted them, surprised at the strong root system, thinking they were nearly as equitable as my usual mail order ones. Good review of that book linked above in Library Journal, still a favorite publication of mine.
Tabby was helping me, chattering about her love for fresh strawberries when I set to planting the other variety Quinault which absolutely sucked with desiccated root systems and no discernible crown. Maybe, however, in my rich soil, with my unbridled optimism, they'll perform?
In the lower right hand corner of Gina and Yolie's photo, one can see the quack grass proudly waving its undefeated self, I'm almost at the end of that particular garden bed, yanking out the black raspberry plants that perform poorly in our sweltering summers. Strawberries give me more bang for my buck, but I'm keeping the red raspberries.
We should have severe thunderstorms by 6 tonight, right on time for Nando's soccer evals down on the field, but the threat of a storm, no to me its the promise of a storm, sends me skittering like a colt, wanting my compost pile just so, in order for the rain to do its work.
I need to dump some wheelbarrow loads of wood chips where I'd painstakingly weeded, smother any newly disturbed (in their favor) germinating weed seeds, prevent topsoil erosion, and slam down some more seeds, at least get the sugar snap snow peas in the ground, knowing the rain is the supreme reward for me, nothing short of the end result which is the produce.
Producing rather than consuming was the theme of The Simple Dollar post, spurring me on, encouraging me in my joint intentionality with Sarah.
Gotta drive CW to school early for math extra help, take Mayra to Dr. Mandy's office in the early afternoon, to be squeezed in so that Dr. Mandy can best help her deal with the loss of her friend Matt C several weeks ago, to help her help Dillan pull through it all.
Dillan and his older brother just signed up for the church softball team, giving me yet another reason to be down on the fields. I LOVE church softball leagues. Jesse, Joe and Edgar used to play for our church and I had a blast watching them.
It's greening up so beautifully outside, the weather didn't hit 80 yesterday, but the warm 75 degrees made me so dang happy I could hardly see straight. My winter Daphne is blooming and perfuming the front acreage, the bulbs are performing everywhere else, as they always do.
Cleaning my house will have to wait.
Daniel's in Utah on Army business for the week, followed up by another week in Savannah. I know he'll check my blog. Son, read this one about yet another Bobby Cox ejection, this one, as of yet, unheralded.
Some funny stuff from Cox. He didn’t attend the Braves’ spring opener in Port St. Lucie Saturday, But he went to the shopping mall with his wife and made frequent trips out to the parking lot to listen to the game on satellite radio. Clearly, this isn’t an easy transition.
As you know, Cox won the Golden Thumb award in his career with 159 ejections. This morning, he admitted he also was once thrown out of a spring training game
Sunday, February 27, 2011
"You've got to separate each clove, just snap it apart," I told my future garlic farmers, Tabby and Nando, both who've always taken an intense interest in the astonishing aspect of getting dirt to produce edibles, what's not to love about that?
This is now their seventh season in my gardens which is how we measure time. Both were just toddlers back then, loving all the berries they could pig out upon, having the good sense to be adopted in very early spring so as to have taken full advantage of our long growing season.
"Plant it flat side down," I advised, marveling at Nando's innate ability to space his plantings, he's a natural.
I did get my horseradish planted, listening to y'all's advice to curtail its tendency to spread its invasive roots, planting it in a back corner where I'll watch it carefully, and be ruthless about monitoring its growth. I'm not even sure I'll like it, I just love growing new things and learning.
It's gonna be close to 80 degrees today, at least close to the high 70s. March can bring us some yucky weather, snow even at times, but this has been a wonderful interlude in which to get all my early crops planted. I only got a third of the potatoes planted, but also put in more lettuces and radishes, plus 150 more onion sets yesterday afternoon.
Yolie was teaching her Path class for the adoption agency, and Chuck had CJ, Mae and Alyssa, who all love to run and jump over here. He'd barely mentioned firing up his tractor, wanting to do some work for Grandma, which attracts Jack like a magnet.
Tractors? Too cool. Chuck's been there for him since Jack's birth, and Jack is still reeling from losing Grandpa. A tractor distraction always helps.
The reason Nando was planting in his sock feet was when the kids get off the trampoline, they forget to put their shoes on, or they leave their shirts hanging in a nearby tree. My continuity shots are off base, certainly not showing the true progression of yesterday. I always bebop between planting, weeding, mulching or other chores, my phone in my pocket. Too muddy initially to answer a call from Alex, I sent Tabby in to get my high tech garden protector cover.
JoJo called me twice from The Mix, I didn't hear a word from the rest of my teenagers who'll crawl back home this afternoon after church, sleepless and exhausted, which hopefully will allow me enough time to finish planting the taters. Rain's coming in by Monday night which always spurs me on to get it done.
My inner happiness borders on euphoria this time of year, knowing I have some 8 or 9 great months ahead of me to work outside where I belong.
We all, Lily, Tabby, Nando, and Jack, had our showers by 8 p.m. last night. My constant leaning over while planting gives me a tired lower back, and I was more 'n ready to crash, but happily so, knowing I'd gotten a ton of work done, but looking around me, shocked at all I still need to do. Awed at the load, but not overwhelmed at all, as it's so much literal fun for a dirt grubber like me.
And this last sideways photo? Honestly I saved it right side up three times, but every time I loaded it here, it came up like this. Maybe it's just me and my uncoordination. CJ planting potatoes with me yesterday. I'm gonna call Ray Ray to help me with the rest, let's do a home school lesson. Kids get as excited as me when they plant something.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Call me childish or child-like, I had a blast at Ray's party. I love inflatables, I can't get hurt acting up. I played as hard as some of the kids, I don't care if I look foolish, I had fun.
The man whose baby I'm holding is a guy I've known for 25 years. He'd grown up in youth group with Sarah, his wife as well, now one of Sarah's longtime best friends. He's older now than I was then. When I was his age, 37, Sarah was starting college. No kidding. I've been a mom all my life.
I was attempting to convince this dad that the next 25 years of his life would be even speedier that the previous. Someone my age knows that for a fact.
If I only had four children, like I do this weekend, Tabby, Nando, Jack and Lily, I'd have little to write about each morning. So blissfully uneventful.
The temperatures dipped into the upper 30s last night, and as a precautionary measure, I'd brought in the seed flats that aren't under grow lights in my kitchen. Our 7 day forecast looks great, so I'll drag 'em all back out today. My greenhouse is unheated.
With only four children at home, I plan to dig in the dirt from sunup to sundown, I have more onion sets to plant, 15 pounds of seed potatoes to get into the ground, as well as greens, radishes, and peas.
No incidents last night, of course, after Ray's 7th birthday party, we stopped to get groceries, and I later ran upstairs delightedly with a box of non high fructose corn syrup fruit bars and slurped in bed, no rambunctiousness coming from the Bubbas room, Mewmaw and Mayra not squabbling, no Mr.P, no JoJo - just four well-behaved kids who chattered and then easily fell asleep.
Wow. Folks really live like this? Peacefully? Few demands? I might could get used to it all in my rapidly approaching upcoming future...
Someday to have an Abuelita Braggie Blog, just pictures of my darling grandbabies, but then again, I think of the trials and tribulations ahead for some of my teenagers who seem to be so unteachable at the moment. I'm wondering how Pastor Chris is this morning after dealing with Jonathan and JoJo all last night, however often, out in public, my kids are surprisingly well behaved. Go figure.
My sweet, handsome, darling son, Martin, turned 17 today. We already celebrated it, knowing he'd been gone all weekend. I asked him to borrow Dillan's phone and call me today, but honestly I know he'll be swept away by all the fun he's having and not even think about me.
I am, however, thinking about him. He's been a joy to parent. He came here looking like a scared toothless rabbit when he was 3, almost 4 years old. His front teeth had been knocked out, he had speech problems, still in diapers, developmentally delayed, and he was shaking, withdrawn, and frightened to bits.
I put him in Pre-K, ending up requesting the school to retain him in first grade to allow some very necessary catching up. He's CW's very best friend brother, they're inseparable, never ever ever mad at each other, just two excellent children who are now teenagers in high school.
His other three birth siblings have let him down terribly, he's the second youngest in the original group of four from South Texas.
Friday, February 25, 2011
Waking up to a drenching rain, knowing it'll pull out of here just past daybreak, allowing me to plant 100 more onion sets, makes me happy, happy, happy. Having ten teenagers head out this evening to The Mix for two days also greatly lessens my emotional load.
This retreat couldn't have come at a better time. Last weekend would've been disasterous, this weekend it's exactly what they need. Pastor Chris is who they need, this time will rejuvenate them all. Our high school guidance counselor is the man who'll be with my high school boys in the evenings, tell me that's not a stroke of brilliance in room assignments? He's very, very awesome, briefly seen in this episode of Made.
I, too, could use two nights of relative peacefulness, no teenage boys rough housing, it's hard for them to settle down each night thus usually keeping me up. Since Grandpa died, both JoJo and Allen have been dragging a futon to Martin, CW and Chuy's room, all five of them sleeping in the very large room each night with Amelia, their irrascible three footed terrier, right under my room.
JoJo's medications make him fall asleep first every night and Amelia inexplicably guards him warily. If anyone even looks at JoJo, much less punches his arm like Allen constantly does, Amelia bares her teeth, growls, snaps and attacks, which just spurs Allen on for about ten minutes every single cotton-picking night. So I have to listen to Amelia's histrionics on top of everything else. Indeed, I know she'll fret tonight without JoJo. She barks and runs around hunting his whereabouts constantly. Go figure.
This is JoJo and Allen's abandoned room where they just store their stuff. The only reason the newly installed hardwood floor is clean is because I did it. The room above is Jack and Nando's and they keep it right clean, much to my joy.
Ten less folks around, just to give me a 36 hour breather, is a heady taste of freedom and is just enough time for me. A sensee of what my life will be like in a couple of years, the last four children are pretty easy. Honestly, by Sunday at noon I'll be missing 'em.
It's simply a short breather for me, rejuvenation, time to allow me to get ten pounds of seed potatoes planted in the ground, this morning I'm gonna bake some potatoes I'd stored since last season, add garlic scapes that've greened up beautifully outside, plus FHPS - loving my 100 foot diet possibilities, extremely determined to make this my life's goal from here on out. Anais Dervaes explains it best here.
It's what I once had set out to do, light years ago, becoming derailed by the cantakerous demands of the 38 new, quite needy (and rightly so) children, alongside the one very reasonable one I already had birthed.
Sarah deeply shares my love of food production and has far surpassed me in her backstory information on food. Her cooking abilities passed me by many years ago, and left my raggedy butt sitting in the dust from which I farm.
I watch myself slowly and very happily returning to the self-sufficient one that my mama had originally raised up, just like her mama, Eloise, had done, just as my Granny Miller had raised up Eloise. That's as far back as I can remember, a buncha Southern women coaxing their food up outta the earth.
I've gotten her, Anais Dervaes, permission before to use her photos and some of the logos on my sidebar, giving her the credit, of course. It's all from her family's blog.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Son of a biscuit bum! Exclamation mark and all.
The kids had MTV on in the living room, a no no, as I, a conservative church lady, prudishly disapprove of much of its content. Some of those videos are pornographic, debased women, and misogynistic men. Really? This is where feminism took women? We wanted way more than that, starting with respect.
However this show, Made, was taped at my kids high school last fall. CW is clearly seen standing behind a rap star, Killer Mike. CW is wearing a cross necklace and leaning on a brick column. Chuy's standing on a cafeteria table, and I saw a quick glimpse of Martin and Mayra.
In a cafeteria scene however, there was also a long look at the back of Dillan's best friend, Matt, walking toward their lunch table.
I had to sit with Dr. Mandy today, as stunned as anyone by last week's death of that young man, Matt, needing her input on how best to deal with grieving teenagers.
"Well of course you are upset," Dr. Mandy soothed me, "This was the death of a child." Yep, even taking away the devastating impact of his suicide, the death of such a young, young guy took me out at the knees, me again struggling with the finality.
I rewound that scene several times, watching Matt walk towards Dillan, Dillan grinning at Matt, no one knowing how few months were left in their 12 year long friendship, me thinking how tragic it all had been.
Where are the do-overs?
A layman would think that living here in this spacious home including acreage and a large swimming pool, with all the necessities of life, a personal maid and laundress (me) who cooks meals every night from scratch, who attends all soccer games, plays, and events, takes everyone to church twice a week, is affectionate, nurturing and loving, even in the face of rejection and hatefulness...wouldn't one think there'd be at least a payback of even a very slight and indifferent consideration?
Running in to the room to show me small bruises on both arms, Paloma proudly crowed, "They had to restrain me," as if these were earned badges, knowing already I'd not be outraged on her behalf. No, "You injured MY kid," moment from me, threatening a lawsuit. Not me, darling, I know she needed the restraints provided by the psychiatric staff.
The therapist told me it had taken three undeniably large women to hold her while she raged, Paloma had surrendered rather quickly this time, she's been known to carry these explosions out for hours, and the alleged trigger was only her refusal to leave a classroom there when told to do so.
My only outrage involves any expectation that I, at nearly 57 years old, or even if I were 27 or 37, that I'd be expected to ever have to tangle with an enraged adolescent who often needs a PRN medication injected in her during a rage. It is not even mildly possible for me.
I've spent the last nine years attempting to manage these behaviors and for the last 9 months, I've not had to physically do it. The calcium is returning to my bones and all my fasting blood lab test results have shown marked improvement. Honey, stress kills. I have six potential victims of hers here that I want to protect. They, too, have breathed major sighs of relief to not have their lives threatened anymore. Smiling these past nine months after nine years of a danger cloud.
Paloma's therapist there had spoken with a regional mental health supervisor, who suggested I may have to terminate my parental rights in order to get Paloma the residential help she needs.
I find that to be an extreme measure, and obviously detrimental to Paloma if I do have to pursue this route. I want help for her, not another rejection, but I will take every step necessary to protect the ones she's attacked on many other occasions.
We've had documented victims here, where folks have served time as a result. Then I get investigated for negligence?
Why does it take a termination to protect us?
Because she'd exploded, she bought herself another 30 day stay, so I can breathe just a bit. But that also increases my resolve to keep us all safe. My ego is not so massive that I think I can cure mental illness. Duh.
I took back roads to Macon, as I like to do, no traffic, blasting my music, dancing in my seat, playing piano on the steering wheel. I took five years of lessons as a child, it's the only part I know. I can't sing for squat, good thing I was alone, howling out each song so far off key as to be clownish.
Mr. P has already caused a major problem this morning, infuriating JoJo, refusing to do as told, telling me he wouldn't participate in his scheduled psychological evaluation. Dude, I've been down this road before, fighting authority will get you nowhere. This I already know, but my own heart is pounding in distress, having to deal with his obstinacy and scathingly hateful attitude to everyone, a parting shot to Scotty, where I'd immediately had to work on calming him down. A kid who'd just proudly shown me a stellar progress report, thereby marking him as a target for Mr P.
His teachers have complained about these same behaviors, duly noting in his 504 Plan that this will continue to cause him problems, an understatement certainly, isolated seating arrangement, but, in reality, all the other students automatically scatter, he has no friends due to this, self-imposed isolation is becoming the norm, here at home, school and everywhere else.
His wiring is so skewed that he's unable to comprehend any of this subsequent cause and effect.
I have three appointments today, and Mr. Emotional, the one who holds folks emotionally hostage, an emotional bully, got bus left on purpose, controlling me and my time once again.
A consequence will cause a deputy-inducing rage, threats against himself and others. BTDT, this I know, he sees a psychiatrist and a psychologist, but isn't responding appropriately to any of the above.
A rather tough morning to say the least. I have a houseguest, almost 18, who is behaving beautifully, trotting on off to the bus stop this morning with the rest of my irritable bunch.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Still taking the stairs two at a time, trying to continue creating my 90 minute hour each day, realizing I know nothing about art, this picture given to me by my parents, a Barclay Sheaks, always reminds me of spending my formative years on the water, mainly in the Tidewater area of Virginia.
Even when I'm old and doddering around, I don't particularly want to own a place at the beach, I'd rather spend my time going to as many different beaches as is possible.
This spring Cristy will be 34 years old, I can't remember how old she was when she'd painted the yellow picture here, mid 20s I think, but its depiction of peppers always makes me grin goofily as well.
I'd taken the garden picture from the balcony off my tree house bedroom, looking down into the side part of The Big Back Garden, having to have turned on the sprinkler for the plantings of carrots, chard, lettuces, and other cole crops, again we're in need of rain, yet again I had a beautiful. happy day outside.Not so today, as I'm booked for six solid hours, then best get myself down to the Rec Dept to register the kids for soccer, as tomorrow's the last day to do so.
I checked four different web page forecasts, they were evenly divided, saying our lows would be between 38-41, obviously above freezing, but my greenhouse is unheated and I debated royally about bringing all the seed trays inside, deciding not to, only to wake up after a nightmare in which is plummeted to 28.
There I was at 4 in the morning, checking my cell phone for the temperature, noting with great satisfaction it was in the mid-40s. I sure don't wanna lose an entire flat of tender, yet well grown, eggplant plants.
Sabrina gave blood at school yesterday, her first time doing so, loving the black T-shirt they'd given her. She, who is as unfashionable as me on any given day, preferring jeans and a T over anything else.
Martin, 17 in four days, is way more stylish than both of us put together.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I have the dubious distinction of three kids in ISS is the last three days. Sorry 'bout that Coach P. Tony, JoJo and Jonathan, now there's a handful. All three for threatening, fighting, disorderly, or disruptive. Welcome to the adoption of older children 101, don't think your experiences will be much different from any of that.
Yolie put on her social worker hat/role and came to sit and talk seriously with my 11 teenagers about suicide, suicide prevention and the resulting devastating aftermath. Spouting off what she'd learned years ago in her Master's level classes, easing their minds, and answering their questions.
Truly, it is Dillan carrying the major load here, I know Chuck was gonna touch base with him, let him know how much we all care about him, and that this big ole contrary, uber-prickly family is there if needed.
I talked at length to a school guidance counselor who goes to church with us, there's no one that I'd rather have overseeing my high schoolers each day. His compassion and his insight combine in a wonderfully soothing manner.
We also got word that our new principal is leaving at the end of the year. There've been two tragic student deaths this year, a former grad, a friend of Miriam's also died, the paper quotes five fathers have passed away, the principal himself was ticketed for parking his Jag in a handcipapped place, but most of all, a former very beloved principal had been dismissed unfairly. Nobody could've followed his footsteps and been successful.
The new guy coming in....drum roll here please....is superb. He'd once taught many of the Bubbas, has been a middle school administrator in the meantime, he's so wonderful, and Facebook was abuzz last night in a very positive manner. I'm excited as I'll have nine kids in the high school this upcoming year.
I had five, uninterrupted glorious hours in the warm sunshine yesterday, I didn't bother with lunch until the kids came home from school. I know this wonderful weather won't last, but I've put many trays of seedlings out to bask in the greenhouse anyway, knowing it's an easy feat to drag 'em back in if needed.
I'd grabbed three eggs from the henhouse, scrambled them for me, and made a sandwich with pepper jack cheese and FHPS. We had so many eggs that I fried or scrambled, according to each individual request, for supper. CW ate 8 fried eggs on four pieces of toast, most kids just asked for 3 or 4 eggs. Seriously, the feeding of teenagers is a massive undertaking each evening. My industrial size skillet gets a workout.
The photo here is of Chocolate Bell Peppers, Miriam'd been texting me her delight in the Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, as she'd cooked last night for her friends. I so want to supply as many grown kids, as is possible, especially those who crave these peppers.
This Chocolate Bell is a gorgeous brownish/deep purple hued very blocky specimen, always putting this song in my head when I say the two words Deep Purple. Instant trip back into the late 60's, which is what Facebook sometimes feels like to me, as so many of my surviving friends are now on there, folks I've not seen in 40 years. The peppers are intoxicating, so to speak.
Another grown kid was texting me that another grown kid was calling her, collect from jail, but we could neither figure out who'd been arrested, nor how they had her cell number. We never did get to the bottom of that issue, no Bodie was in the arrest report.
I'm running to a 504 Meeting first thing this about Tony, who also was conveniently bus-left...like I just fell off the turnip truck? Honey, I wish, then back outside to cavort happily in the sun. Nothing appeals more to me than gardening, and I know the rest of my week is booking up fast. Gotta do what I can, when I can.
My last phone call of the night went to my darling son, Jesse, way up in New York state, who was happily celebrating the second birthday of Isaiah. Happy Birthday to handsome Isaiah! Not wanting to get my hopes up, but excited that Jesse's at least considering visiting in the next couple of months. I sure do miss him, Lena and Isaiah.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Honestly this is a still shot of a rousing game of Duck Duck Goose, in which both CJ and Mae excelled, so little though, that they can't hardly be seen here.
I'm glad again that we don't live in a neighborhood, where my kids would be more self-conscious over their maturity level, or the evident lack of it.
"Rules?" Nando incredulously is yelling, "What rules?"
Uh-oh, we may have a case of pink eye here. "Wah, wah, wah," Tabby wailed, "I can't get my eye open."
She's wallowing on the couch waiting for medicine to take effect, but it's looking like a pediatric visit this morning. Scotty just went down in tears over a sore throat, he never complains. Jonathan was in a fairly dark mood as he grumbled out the door.
I'm sending the high-schoolers back to class also, still reeling from this weekend's tragic death of a friend. That life now just seems to go back to normal just seems the weirdest of all for them, it's as if it didn't happen, or wasn't acknowledged, or they dreamed it.
I'm still most worried about Dillan. Our youth pastor and his wife took he and Mayra out after church yesterday for lunch and to talk. I'm positive their words were way more helpful than my own would've been. I pray that Dillan doesn't fall into the guilty recrimination black hole, indeed he was texting and calling this young man, his friend since age 6, who was MIA for a day before being found dead.
My own daily routines seem insignificant, all this striving, and for what? To what end? What's really important, and how do I keep my own teenager's collective heads above water?
I feel helpless.
Planting onions should clear my head this morning.
Grandma's two week non-driving is up today, to her own wildly independent relief. Mainly she just goes to play Bridge at the Senior Center three times a week, to a beautiful new building that could easily be mistaken for a country club, and she attends a Methodist church where she has a large set of friends and acquaintances.
I need to shake off my own minor shards and remnants of the blues, the discombobulation I feel after this jarring weekend, watching my children grieve over something that should've never happened has sapped me greatly. It was three non acting-out kids, three who felt taken out at the knees by this occurrence, three that are sensitive and fairly grounded emotionally.
I cannot imagine how this young man's parents feel this morning, it's intensely staggering. Or his teachers, his girlfriend, his sister, or his very close friends. I'm just a once-removed bystander, how intense this must be for those who were so close to him.
I need to go get busy this morning, diving into activity helps me cope, or bury my head, or burn off the smothering feelings of anxiety, depression, sadness or confusion. Working is what I do best, seeing tangible results, the concreteness of it always and simply aids a forward progression.
Lord knows I certainly have enough to go do. They're all getting dressed in their rooms for school as I type, wandering out to ask me about the weather or the usual, "What's for supper tonight?"
Daniel came by on his way to and from Atlanta, eating flautas Chuy'd concocted yesterday afternoon, experimenting with ingredients and using my beloved cast iron skillet. His solid presence, his stoic stance always lends a calming hand, his approval over Chuy's cooking meant the world to the one who'd never openly deign to acknowledge it.
I'm a little subdued this morning, thinking over some personal battles of others, areas in which I can only pray for comfort, resolutions or blessings, maybe all three might be my best prayer.
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Within 36 hours of learning of the death of his best friend, the funeral was already over. I sat there stunned by the surprisingly swift resolution, no, there's no closure here for the kids who were left behind. Dillan's shattered, Mayra's in shock, while CW and Martin didn't say a word.
The casket was open, I'd not prepared the kids for that, totally expecting it to be closed in light of the circumstances. The service lasted 16 minutes.
Not just because I'm a Preacher's Kid, but also due to the fact that I'm 56 years old, I've attended a decent amount of funerals. I spoke to the mom afterward, told her how nice this young man, a senior, had been to my 9th and 10th grade sons, knowing she sure must've needed to hear something positive, and this fact was more than true.
I simply felt so helpless and despairing over such a tragic ending to a handsome, promising young man.
Miriam, now almost 22 years old, and Fabian, 19, had taken JoJo and Allen for the day, leaving Grandma with just a few kids to play RummiKubes with, while the rest of us went to the funeral home, returning home in a down mood.
Miriam later brought her dear friend, Mary, by the house, and we ended up laughing into the evening, which the kids and I sure needed.
My hundreds of unplanted onion sets sit untouched, our weather's remained in the 70s for a few days, I'd even taken some very healthy seedlings out to the greenhouse for them to absorb the sun's rays versus the grow lights, knowing I'd still need to be bringing them in at night by the end of the week, but it's not much trouble to do so. I was butt-dragging, desultorily picking up around the house, and over-thinking everything.
By the end of the upcoming week, ten of my teenagers are headed off on a church youth group retreat, which they clearly need to do. I know it'll help them deal with all this, while the other four kids and I'll enjoy an easy weekend with so many less demands upon us.
I always hear the head-shaking refrain I don't know how you do it Cindy, I suppose referring to my energy level or stamina, and again and again I gotta say that being plugged in to The Source (God) is obviously how, eating real food, and listening to hand-clapping, foot-stomping, rowdy Southern Gospel music, thus feeding my faith, all combine together to jack me up each day, and keep me going. Hey, I was eccentric at 16, how much more so nowadays? It works for me.
I was browning up flatbread on my cast iron black skillet, dumping in beans and rice, pepper jack cheese, feeding Miriam and them late into the evening, Miriam also taking home a quart of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, "I hope my roommates don't hog it all," she'd mentioned, giving me yet another idea to gnaw on in my mind.
Truly I hope to extend my sphere of influence further into their often faltering adult years, providing from my garden to my grown children, still feeling purpose, without which I'd surely flounder, wondering what to get up for each day, right?
Because I'd gotten up so early this morning, I have time to curl up and read before church The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe.
She uses the word resiliency, as she'd tended to a bedridden mother for ten years, who eventually died at home, her gardening time was limited, some years it was her only source of solace, other years she'd lose entire crops due to her time constraints.
I think I can relate is today's understatement.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Lemme take a deep breath first, before I even attempt to digest yesterday's challenging tragedy.
That there are smiling photos on my blog today might seemingly undermine the solemnity of yesterday, but, in reality, this is how our life goes as we struggle day to day. Events of pure T shock, and I see no need to photograph the grieving moments of yesterday, followed by spurts of happiness, as we try and cope.
Chuy'd needed me to carry him to the doctor's office to get his knee checked out, nagging him from last season, they'd put him in a knee brace and referred us to an orthopedist, and as I'd dropped him off at the high school, a counselor'd come up to my truck to tell me of a death.
Mayra's been with her boyfriend, Dillan, for over a year now. A super nice guy that we all adore. Dillan's 18 and had just received a call at school telling him of his best friend's suicide that morning. He, Mayra, and quite a few others were bereft.
They knew this young man, just 17, had been depressed, to which I'd counter, "How many teenagers have told you that lately? Maybe half the school?"
I drew the figurative straw of having to go break this news to Dillan's mom, the school secretary had the presence of mind to call in our youth pastor, and the school had already rallied all the guidance counselors in the county.
There'd then been a choking incident simultaneously, an ambulance had been called to the school, everyone's head was literally spinning, and an entire school was burdened with complete shock. "Hey Cindy," the long-time paramedic said, entering the school, probably figuring this was a Bodie incident, which it was not. But what painfully flew through my mind at that exact moment, was the memory of his own daughter dying at age 16, back when Sarah was in high school.
Another hour passed before Dillan remembered to tell me to check on CW, what with him only being a freshman, I'd very wrongly figured he'd be a bit removed from all this, but Dillan told me that CW always ate lunch with them.
Oh My Goodness.
"Do you want me to call all the Bodies to the office?" I was asked by the school nurse, knowing I best check on the emotional health of everyone, but I didn't want to unnecessarily upset them all, so I figured we'd just start with CW, who burst into tears when he saw me standing there in the school's front hallway. Martin, too, had had a class with this young man, but my other three high-schoolers were OK.
A deputy's daughter was hugging CW, shaking me up a bit, as I knew her father had just been involved in a very difficult situation the night before, a shooting in our county, the first in 18 years where a deputy'd had to use his weapon. "Honey, please let him know we're praying for him," I'd told her as she released CW from her grip, and immediately a guy threw himself crying into CW's arms. This was a tragedy beyond the scope of our comprehension.
I stood there silently with our youth pastor, at a total loss for words, waiting on CW, knowing he needed to share his grief with others right then. This is the second senior death in just a few months.
I signed them out of school, later wanting a little distance from the grieving mass there, needing to process everything. CW and Martin are extremely close to each other, both really good teenage sons. Yolie reminded me that CW was still emotionally raw from Grandpa's death.
Dillan was an absolute wreck, he left with his mom, Mayra and his older brother.
I'd spoken with them all, hoping to help mitigate the guilt everyone naturally and normally feels after a suicide. Suicide frequently leaves a stinging legacy of guilt.
From Guilt and Regret, No matter how peripherally they were involved with the person who died, almost all survivors report feelings of guilt.
It is far worse for those who were close. Guilt is often an overriding emotion. Many survivors feel in some way responsible for doing or saying something that may have caused the death ... or for not doing something that would have prevented the death. Some survivors grapple with these feelings for a long time. Feeling like failures, they become obsessed with the “if onlys” and the “what ifs.” They replay various scenarios that might have prevented the suicide and second guess their actions.
Martin's 17th birthday will be next week, we decided then and there on the spot to do the shopping and eating out in advance, I knew they deeply needed to be distracted, we called Daniel to meet us in town.
I'd been promising both boys a trip to a grass-fed beef trendy little restaurant on the edge of downtown and the campus of UGA, so that's where we went, bopping across the street later for The Grit's incredible homemade cake slices.
CW's tears streamed, he's almost 15, and he was inconsolable on the drive there.
I did not personally know the young man who died. He'd been Dillan's best friend since first grade.
It's all so shockingly sudden and immensely difficult to comprehend. There's a visitation today 2-4, with a service at 4. I'll likely take Mayra, Martin and CW. CW, was just there last week, dealing with the passing of his birth great-grandmother.
I have no easy words of comfort, I struggle as much as anyone with the mere concept, the finality of death. I have no wise woman persona, just an inner gumption, determined to help my kids, and Dillan, stumble through this somehow.
I did not get the onions planted yesterday, I did get Martin's birthday done, knowing they needed the distraction, and he sweetly used some of his money buying shirts for CW. "He's sad, Mom," Martin just as sadly told me, "I want to share with him," something they've long done for, and with, each other, two very close brothers, who have no memory of not living together here with me.
Daniel, too, has lost some people along the way, talking with the boys, lending his quiet strength, before he left to drive past Atlanta, heading towards Alabama, to help his girlfriend through her father's difficult back surgery recovery.
That we got smiles from the boys, that CW is trying to pull himself together, that they know of the supportive strength here within our family also aided them.
Cristy'd bought CW a guitar, Preston was working with CW last night, and Chuck, Sarah and Yolie also had offered words of comfort to a visibly shaken CW.
Mayra came home before her curfew and cried for an hour up in my room, cried herself to sleep, grieving over this unimaginable loss, a kid who could've been someone, all these now forever lost opportunities, the finality burdening everyone emotionally.
Guilt is a common reaction and it can last for a long time, but it is unwarranted. Even expert and highly trained mental health professionals may have trouble recognizing periods of risk. Hopefully, survivors eventually conclude they were not negligent. They offered the best help they could with the information they had at the time.
Friday, February 18, 2011
Going out to lunch again with some very old friends that I've not seen, until lately, for more than 20 years, is so much fun for me. Reconnecting with some women I'd worked with in the early 1980s, for seven years, right at the beginnings of my adoption journey.
I'd then very reluctantly changed jobs in order to work in a school closer to home after I adopted three young girls from Honduras, Deysi, Saray and Marcela, now 33, 31, and almost 30 years old, and I'd lost all contact with my previous colleagues.
Facebook has brought us all back together, and I'm absolutely reveling in it, with my big ole loopy grin plastered on my face, it's like no one's changed at all, it's like we didn't not see each other for the 23 intervening years. They all look better than ever. The years have been very kind to them and we've all collectively gone to varying shades of blond.
We're setting up a get-together every couple of months.
I don't talk about my kids.
There'd just be too much to catch up on, mentioning a few maybe, but it's kinda nice to just slip back happily into the old me, if only for a two hour break, while they're all in school.
Leaving the restaurant reluctantly, gearing back up in my head for all the potential strife, but realizing overall how much easier it is nowadays, what with the past 25 years of combat experience, combined with no new adoptions, and the maturity level of many of my kids nowadays. It's nearly a piece of cake compared to other rough and tumble years.
Three of my teenagers went to a game at the high school last night, I spent the entire afternoon picking up kids from the various tutoring sessions, with which we've been mightily blessed, still managed to get a corn, pasta, barley meal cooked, served and cleaned up, resulting in a peaceful, relatively quiet house by 9 o'clock last night. Warm days, decent nights equaling the ability to sleep with my windows open.
Phone calls from Pepe and Paloma, texts from Saray and Fabian, trying to keep caught up on Daniel's girlfriend's father very serious back surgery yesterday in Atlanta, which made me realize how much I value good health, combined with non-squabbling children, chores done, and a supremely delightful time spent yesterday with Pat, NeeNee, Laura, Becky and Margaret...I really could become normal again, right?
They knew me when...
Today there's a DJJ appointment for Jonathan, and I'll spend a sunny time planting several hundred onion sets, knowing I never plant enough to account either for bad weather or exuberant appetites.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Again with my theme of often using unrelated to the story pictures, I'm mightily tempted to only use grandbaby photos anymore. Marcela and Marissa, Yolie and Mae ate lunch here with me yesterday, and I took no photos while we hung around.
Awakened at 11 last night, in response to a texted cry for help, I had a tough time getting back to sleep. More on that in a minute, but first I'd floated all day on the very good news from my osteopath physician, who I wished I'd have started seeing five years earlier than when I actually got off my duff in the first place.
Responding to the pharmaceutical grade calcium supplementation, plus large Vitamin D doses, my bone scan revealed a significant improvement. Likely the greater lack of stress nowadays in my life played a bigger part in my health.
Not having a seriously mentally ill young lady living here, having her safe from herself nowadays in a psychiatric facility, has helped us all learn to sleep better, fear less, and not immediately respond to loud stimuli as if we were Afghanistan bombing refugees.
However last night, after church, when one might assume things should be relatively peaceful, Mr P did what he does best, and thoroughly, tremendously pissed off Chuy, a hothead anyway, but one who's usually smart enough to consider the source first.
I physically separated them, sending Mr. P to his room who squalled and lied and blamed Chuy - however it's not Chuy who's home on a school suspension for just such behavior as this - but Mr. P continued taunting the one who was larger, stronger, smarter and way more emotionally balanced, until that one absolutely lost it and punched a hole in a bedroom door in his confounded rage.
That irked me. "That's like you're hitting me," I tried to explain to the one who was so blindly angry that steam was shooting out of his ears. "Who do you think it falls on to get it replaced?"
Not a great time for reasoning with someone who was so furious, and rightly so. Mr P, Mr. Provocateur, can be startlingly invasive, can impressively push buttons that should've never been approached for any reason, never hesitating about stooping low enough to really hurt someone emotionally, snidely hissing about past failures or implied coming ones, or using the given name of a former birth parent/abuser/girlfriend/boyfriend who dumped you...or whatever. He scurries around, muttering under his breath about it, until someone blows up into a white-hot fury.
"I'm positive he'll be diagnosed with a conduct disorder," a social worker with a master's degree mentioned, "That with his CP delays making for an infuriating mishmash in his mind."
I'd read, "Unfortunately, behavioral problems and cerebral palsy are usually correlating, depending on the degree of mental retardation in the patient. The child may have behavioral problems or emotional issues that, in turn, may affect psychological development and their ability to interact socially. This may require special intervention or treatment, including behavior modification programs or individual and family counseling"
No spit, Sherlock. Duh and deep, deep sighs,
Thank God for Dr. Mandy today. Professional help within a family like mine is a must, coming right after the need for oxygen and water.
It is shocking how ugly he can verbally be to anyone. I'm an adult with the capability of walking away from his spewed hateful taunts. Sticks and stones. I shudder to think of the element he'll associate with when he's grown, their lack of restraint might prove deadly. I can not get this one theory across to him, and I've tried to do so for over a dozen years.
Only one kid, out of their original sibling group of four, is anywhere near normal. One older one is in prison, getting all sorts of disciplinary write-ups, the other is grown and estranged from all of us. The level of household disruptions, never ending larcenies, extensive lies and deceptions, as well as police calls has left me sadly viewing their absence now with nothing, but relief. Human beings can not live like that and not suffer emotionally, physically, spiritually and materially.
Neither of the older two can ever come back home to our property for family gatherings due to their significantly destructive and dangerous behaviors. Ultimately, it is simply very, very sad. I can not imagine that the quality of their life could possibly be very decent.
I can only sit here and wish they'd have been able to respond positively to what I had to offer, to all the therapies, programs and resources. I can only hope and pray that something did sink in, that at some point they can turn their ship around, and enjoy better lifestyles.
In the meantime, I'm working with the baby of that family, now 15, and teetering on the verge of alternative school. He's very resistant to any understanding that it is his own challenging behaviors preventing him from having any friends or successes in life. I have a school meeting about him next week, a 504 meeting, he does have strengths, and we need to capitalize upon them as often as is possible.
I'd missed a text message earlier from not having the alerts turned on, sometimes the stress of the beeping and vibrating is more than I can bear, my own PTSD so intensive that I need to just remember to breathe. There goes all my calcium gain, leaking out of my bones.
A phone call at 11 from the relatively new youth pastor who'd also been texted, but hadn't seen it either, having turned off his own phone in order to lead the youth group service.
"Should I call Cindy this late," he'd asked another pastor who knows me very well, getting a Heck yeah response.
Fortunately I'd already handled this situation, it had already been resolved, the waters calmed, ruffled feather returned to normal, reassurance given, and us all moving on in a forward manner, me later noticing the original text when I'd plugged my phone up for the night. Oops.
We'd sat up in my room talking until her tears ceased, the source of them being deep in her past, leaving me still very stunned at assessing the damage that's been done to my early childhood trauma survivors, who all somehow managed to live on the edge back in Texas, falling through cracks, getting services, bouncing between foster homes, relatives and emergency shelters, separated from their siblings, frightened beyond belief, and just simply very stunned survivors who eventually arrived here, shell-shocked and silent, fearing to trust or to relax, their issues springing forth for the rest of their lives in varying degrees. Hopefully eventually ebbing away to merely a dull and distant ache.
I remain baffled, or maybe impressed, just that they can even make a complete sentence after everything they've endured. She was spiritually moved, convicted in her soul, it had been a superb youth group meeting, wanting to discuss the 'why' questions that I have no answers for, emotionally struggling like a normal teen, but with an unfathomable load within her soul.
Dear Lord, help me to help them all.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Smooth sailing until four o'clock yesterday when the teenagers returned home from school. The suspended Mr. P immediately provoked the most short-fused one he could find, resulting in a computer monitor being knocked off the table, and he being sent to his room where he snarled threateningly at hapless passerbys like a troll under a bridge.
Downloading an app for a level on my Blackberry, yep, last person on earth to get it done, I revamped a stone walk axis in The Big Back Garden, in my unending attempts to ever finally eradicate the hidden underworld existence of any lurking rhizome of crab grass. I'd say I'm now 90% effective, here on my 19th year of gardening, here on this particular plot of land. No chemicals of course, hand-pulled efforts that keep me from needing a gym membership.
Our very warm weather all week is doing its usual bang-up job of bringing a smile to my face, a determined dirt grubber, happy as a pig in a poke when I get to wallow outside for hours. I'm nearly giddy, fighting my impulse towards italics, while remaining free of exclamation marks and still conveying deep, deep, unbridled joy.
Minimalistic tendencies being played out has more than amped up my ability to single-handedly keep the house clean. Or maybe it's simply my final understanding that it just totally falls on me to get it done....if I want a half-baked attempt at all.
My usually good-natured Sabrina fell short of her 15 second chore last night, irking me to pieces, but I just walked off, keeping my ill-tempered thoughts to myself. It's not worth the hassle. Being a kid with a conscience, she felt my immediate iciness that showed itself quickly when she'd sassed.
I know that I tend to shut down emotionally as a coping mechanism. It's part and parcel of those with a deep down, rather reclusive inner nature. As wordy as I am here, I could happily go days and days with complete seclusion if also allowed the chance to work outside.
Taking yet another thought from Joan Dye Gussow, she pointed out the unseen obvious that children nowadays suffer from a media overload versus time outside in the natural world, even Mr. P has acknowledged sleeping better after having spent time doing rewarding physical work.
It was he that downloaded the leveler app, he who made the stones level, my impatience with such a project has led to uneven steps for years. I gave him the fun job, as I labored over the weeds, even though it's not laborious to me at all. I love it.
The media world? Facebook, Play Station, Nintendo, X-Box, and TVs, just to mention a few that'd bore me in the first five seconds of a sunny day. I'm thankful that my kids do get off their butts without complaining for soccer, kickball and other impromptu games out in the meadow, but to be fully evolved, according to the Gospel of Big Mama, ya gotta love, love, love the outdoors, and its limitless opportunities for blissful joy.
Gussow spoke of a book entitled Dominion by Niles Eldridge, who tells us that before man appeared, all species survived by depending on the plants and animals in their immediate vicinity, and that all species other than their own still live that way.
That's fascinating to me...and personally challenging.
The Simple Dollar told of not being preachy. Ooops. Nailed me. But I'm The Mama, that's what we do, and if, or more likely, when it spills over into my blog, as it does very day, well it's just the way I am.
I could work on changing it, I suppose, but I don't wanna. I call it enthusiastic about issues. Garrulously over excited at times, but it's who I am.
A know-it-all? Sure, sometimes I'm also over-bearing as well, but I'll also be the first to admit often that I do not have the answers. I just don't.
I do not know how to help my grown kids who keep getting arrested, or who make bad choices and end up with daunting consequences. I don't know how to convince them to not steal, or to get a job, or to make amends with others when they just don't want to do so. I'm left buffaloed way too often.
What I don't know is extraordinarily immense, but what I do know, I'm a living comic strip about, there's usually little doubt as to my opinion on an issue.
I'd love to slip away here and see this, reinforcing what I'm already passionate about, like I need any more ammo. I just watched the trailer for it, getting all warm and fuzzy 'bout it. Many of my farming/foodie heroes are in it, and I love the work they're doing.
I don't care about sticking around for any artsy-fartsy discussions, just lemme see the movie puh-leeze, and dart back home to do the work.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Hats brought back from Texas signified Chuck's return home after a week's job away during our brief snowstorm of last week. True to form, Georgia's ridiculous weather highs and lows found Daniel and I sitting out in the garden eating chocolates in the very warm sun.
I never want my children to feel as if they have the pressure of buying me stuff. I truly don't. I absolutely have all I need and they know it. It was a heartfelt card however that made me cry yesterday, turning away while Daniel was trying to take my picture, "Wah-wah-wah, don't show me crying like this," I wailed.
He'd brought rose plants to Grandma and I. I'm telling you, his very lovely girlfriend, Megan, has no clue how blessed she is to have found this one in a billion kind of low-key, yet profoundly thoughtful, man.
He's, of course, offered, being Daniel, to do some projects on Mother's Day for me. I thought of his offer yesterday, opening the dilapidated screen door from my bedroom out onto the second floor deck. Yep, this is what I need, one that still has the screening material attached, it being a casualty of our over-enthusiasm for living.
Mr. P, serving his suspension time, gladly helped me out as well, hauling wood chips and hanging around with Daniel and I, enjoying a wonderfully gorgeous February day that allowed for the attic fan to replace all of our stuffy used indoor air that stifles the tarnation out of me.
Red Beans, corn and rice for dinner, we'd had a red velvet cake to send me over the edge with sweetness, and I curled back up with Joan Dye Gussow's book. She who lives and gardens on the Hudson River, trading her ability to not be flooded regularly with the spectacular views she enjoys each day, pointing out to us that travel is infinitely damaging to ecosystems, the Co2 sequestration not there at all, let's make our homes and gardens more livable and conducive to the desire to stay home.
"Honey, I'm in," I yelled aloud...to a book.
She writes, If the planet is to remain inhabitable, we can't give up on the homes and communities we live in, but must turn them into places where our hearts rejoice. I think it was the western writer, Wallace Stegner, who said that every second home is a testament to the failure of the first.
And heck yeah, I love to travel too, it's the fossil fuel resulting impact of traveling that is doing us all in. She, too, had noticed that this recession has slowed down excess growth that taps and continues to drain out our dwindling resources. She, too, fears, yet fears cautiously, that this may turn out to be a new way of living in the long run, in that our economy can't possibly return to complete recovery since we were then living on borrowed time, coasting on imaginary money.
There's no way to environmentally support massive growth responsibly. The crushing debt alone has crapped up the economy immensely, which brings me to a blog I like. Today it was about how budgeting actually frees one up, to which I whole-heartedly agree.
Gussow makes my head spin. Check out her gardening break below.
If she'd have been one of my influential professors in the 70s, how different my life would've been. I was then already teetering on the cusp of nutrition issues, questioning the crap we Americans were eating. I then just didn't want a Home Ec outlook, in the face of the burgeoning women's movement that also influenced how I ended up here with 39 children. Go figure. I'm a study in contrasts...or contradictions, I suppose.
Now a conservative, environmentally minded, God-fearing, wild woman who believes now more than ever that we're killing ourselves with non home-grown food, while mired in tending to children (women's work), but doing it alone, with a lot of inner strength and convictions.
Time for my oatmeal.
Monday, February 14, 2011
With copious amounts of food such as manure, compost and shredded leaves, my plants have thrived under my care. I once thought it'd be the same with my children. All I had to do was to nurture, love and provide for them and they'd then thrive under my tutelage.
Not so girlfriend, the rebellion, the trauma, the anger, the issues and the emotional illnesses of some have all worked hard against that one simplistic theory.
I remain baffled and frustrated, not comprehending why they'd work so hard seemingly uphill against the grain.
I find the world to be getting odder and weirder with each passing moment. The news headlines seem carefully planned and designed to shock and awe folks, celebrities apparently on the same course, fame at any price, and, honestly, I find myself stupefied each morning simply by looking at the screaming headlines, me with some outdated sense of a need to be up on current events.
What the heck for?
How does that help my emotional well-being?
Wouldn't I just be better off not knowing all this garbage?
I went to bed irked last night, some horseplay broke out a window pane in JoJo's room. I suppose I should be glad enough that it wasn't a real fight, but, seriously, as fast as I clean one area, another falls into ruin.
"Can't Chuck just fix it?" Martin asked, as if Chuck has nothing better to do than follow around the boys like a maintenance guy.
Gina came by wanting to cut and force some forsythia blooms, she kept me company in The Big Back Garden while I battled an area that badly needed restoration. It was a very warm sunny afternoon and we'd all been to church without any incident reports needing to be filed. Gina was on a mission to revive a pitcher plant, taking Lily with her later to get the correct ingredients for the exact soil she wanted.
CW'd gone off with his friends, as had Mayra, while Sabrina downloaded a prank app just to get me. "I can make you jealous Mom," she started.
"I doubt it," I replied, barely looking up, trying to pull an interminable wild blackberry up out of the bed in which it didn't belong. I'm not really the jealous type, there's little that anyone has I could possibly want, other than peace and quiet.
"Well looky here," she prompted, "I have a text from Bobby Cox."
Startled, I did indeed look up, falling into her trap. But hey, today is the long awaited day in which pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. I'd told Daniel I was prepared to support the new Braves manager, even though he wasn't Bobby Cox.
What's not to like about the upcoming months? Warm weather, Braves baseball, intense gardening, Daylight Savings Time, and long nights of soccer up at the fields.
Today, oh heck, all week, it'll be warm enough to open windows and replace our stuffy indoor air full of stinky boy feet smells with the emerging scents of springtime.
Sabrina later chumped Mayra with a fake text from Mayra's boyfriend stating he thought Mayra was fat. Eventually Sabrina ran out of potential suckers.
When Gina, now 32, was first adopted by me more'n 20 years ago, she then tagged after me in the gardens, peppering me with a thousand questions a day. I then knew very little, nearly nothing, about the effects of early childhood trauma upon people's emotional stability. I had no clue as to the amount of trauma I'd also have to endure.
She's been a great kid. Playing in the high school marching band, graduating from UGA with a science degree, and years of gainful employment. Like anyone else on earth, she's had her own share of personal struggles, and has survived. She's been a blessing to me as a daughter.
I only briefly saw Yolie, Marcela or Sarah yesterday at church, barreling outside immediately afterwards, knowing I had a beautiful sunny afternoon ahead of me, I did stop momentarily to hug a woman who's been very valiantly fighting cancer.
I'm silently reminded each day about the struggle others face, trying not to allow myself to get so wrapped up around here, selfishly consumed only by that which I see around me.
Sunday, February 13, 2011
What beautiful Sabrina truly wanted in a first generation Itouch was merely the ability to Facebook message at will. I, of course, would prefer to see my teens unplug themselves more often, but she's 16 now, and I do want them to learn personal freedom from me, to learn to use their time wisely, not saving it up for one explosive rebellion moment.
She's a great kid with good grades, a cheerleader who's an untrained, yet gifted, athletic gymnast, a resilient happy young lady, which amazes me with the amount of trauma in her background. I could learn something from her.
It took me 14 trays of seedlings, some of them with 72 cells each, planting seven varieties of Heirloom tomatoes, four trays of non-hybrid peppers and three of eggplants, all indoors under grow lights, soon to vacation each day in the unheated greenhouse, returning home to roost each night, a lot of work, but well worth the effort.
There's about a 100' of old barb-wired fence, entangled in brush and honeysuckle vines and roots, that Chuy's taking down for his school ag project. It serves two purposes for him, a class grade, and a release for his anger and aggression. It separates what used to be the old goose yard when I had six ornery geese for the first ten years of living here, from The Big Back Garden and the Upper Fruit Orchard.
I'm wanting a big ole expanse out there, unfettered and unbound, in which I can throw myself into producing even more food, my one acre patchwork of permaculture beds.
I'd made the very best eggplant casserole, using tomatoes from last year's garden that I'd put up, my FHPS as usual, marveling that even after the blight that had wiped me out, I still had had the opportunity to preserve as much as I had.
Preston changed my world for me yesterday, hanging two large beveled mirrors I'd bought at yard sales last year, in my windowless, yet open to the kitchen, dining room, allowing sunlight to bounce off beautifully. He'd also hung a big picture of Grandpa up in Grandma's room and fixed her back door.
I plodded through my chores, not asking anyone for help, being surprised when even JoJo stepped up to volunteer his aid. The suspended Mr. P did nothing, chose to provoke others instead. Martin cleaned the very large kitchen picture window for me, CW worked on downloading an app for Sabrina, I didn't have the patience to sit still long enough to do it for her. I've gotten to where I blog and then walk away from the computer until the next day.
"I wanna punch him in the face, over and over again," a frustrated teenager told me, in response to the ugliness spewed by Mr. P, who picks a flaw one has and mutters hateful remarks about it, until that person has nearly lost their mind with white-hot anger.
"Don't do it," I warned, "Figure, at least, that you're learning self-restraint. Believe you me, there's gonna be a thousand more like him that you'll encounter out in the real world. Learn to deal with it here." The angry kid looked at me like I was nuts. "I'd rather sock him in the nose," but fortunately didn't do so, angrily stomping off to toss a football in the meadow.
Mr. P has often made me this angry also. I, however, have adult coping skills and self-restraint out the wazoo. It's very sad that we've not been able to turn this behavior around, as it will significantly affect his ability to function as an adult, if not soon transformed.
I can't say enough good things about Joan Dye Gussow's newest book that I'm savoring slowly, her thoughts percolating in my mind, me wondering how on earth she finds the time to accomplish all that she gets done. The fact that she's so happy at 81, knowing the state of our world, the catastrophic environmental destruction, that the masses are seemingly asses, my phrase not hers, as they gobble up chemically artificially flavored chips in the supermarket, washed down by poisonous soda, clueless as to the Big Culinary Picture. Her background is in nutritional ecology, a fascinating area of study, the book's a page turner, yet I have so little time to sit and read it.
The five day forecast has us in the 60s all week, a wonderful opportunity to plant more lettuces and spinach, carrots and onions, to trim up my antique roses, weed the Bermuda grass that consistently outperforms everything else, and to feel the warm sun on me.
Like my mother, I choose wrinkled skin over sunscreen. Slathering that goop can't be good for you, sometimes I will use a very little bit so as not to burn, but folks, we need Vitamin D, and most Americans suffer without it.
At nearly 81 herself, my mom is chomping at the bit to get outside and shake off her winter doldrums, and get her gardens planted. Her surgery, performed just 6 days ago, has left her a bit tired, but glad overall that she'd done it. She still can't drive for one more week, but I'll get her to her Bridge Groups next week, as she's way more sociable than I.
I could endlessly stay here, weeding, reading, and working, not knowing there's an entire world out there, not really caring either. That I'm this happy, burdened as I am by so many demands, is weird enough for me.
But today, early on this Sunday morning, I need to put on my monkey suit and go to church.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
I cannot begin to tell folks how nice it is to live in a home with as few issues as we are now experiencing, now that I, too, have learned to back off even more on my own expectations, that I'm taking everything a single day at a time, and that usually decency prevails daily.
Mr. P seriously threatened someone in school, this was not his first incident, he'd even been suspended back in kindergarten for hitting a teacher. Now, at age 15, he comprehends he's a step away from alternative school. He came home very subdued, so much so that he was willing to listen to what I had to say without raring back, muttering, undercutting, and being snidely ugly to people which always sends my blood pressure soaring, and, Honey, I sure did have something to say about all this malarkey.
"This is exactly what I've been telling you would happen," I began none too quietly. "You can learn all this now from me, or you can keep on rebelling and learn this the hard way with police officers and adult jail when you're grown up. I will NOT bail you out then, don't even call me."
"I wanna learn from you," he sniveled, but sadly, I'm not all that encouraged, knowing many of my kids do not immediately learn, either from experience, nor from natural consequences. I've been kinda burned before. I'm also sadly aware that with FAE, FAS, or many of the myriad other labels, that they may not ever be able to function properly, the neurological processing misfiring, thus handicapping them from birth. In these cases I remain distraught and unable to know what to do exactly.
He has three days of school suspension and two days of in-school suspension. Deep, deep sigh. Being home with me means Big Mama Boot Camp, helping with chores, rather than lallygagging in front of daytime TV. Not gonna happen, Buddy.
I found Sabrina exactly what she'd wanted for her birthday yesterday. Anyone who wants to fault me for a used gift, go right ahead, the newer version would've been several hundred dollars, and she desperately wanted one, used or not.
I truly believe I should demonstrate to her how to do this honestly and with great joy and excitement at meeting this particular challenge. I believe it's the millionaire's mindset, it's certainly allowed me to provide for this many people by myself. Would it have been better for me to model a debt mindset? By going the used route, she happily got what she desired.
Even when I only had one child, we lived like that, all her early childhood books and toys came from yard sales, as did all of our household furnishings. How on earth does one think I can do all this otherwise? Sarah was enrolled in private Montessori Schools on my paltry salary, something had to give back then in order to make that happen for her.
JoJo asked me what I thought about men with pierced earrings. I responded with a politically incorrect reply. I'm so weary of girlish men, I blame the estrogen in cattle food and the way they must've been babied by circumstances. What we need are some real men, men who support their families, and men who are masculine like they're supposed to be.
What I told JoJo was, "Do you see Daniel, Chuck, or Jesse wearing earrings? Let them be your role models."
While Grandma was in the hospital, I'd seen a daytime show where men got their chest waxed. Men are supposed to be hairy, jeepers. Puh-leeze, don't even get me started when I see guys with plucked eyebrows or artfully streaked hair dos. Hey, this is my blog, I can barf out my own opinions here. Grow up men, be workers, not beauty contestants. Women also.
I want to raise my sons to be less concerned with their appearance, my daughters also, and more focused on careers, education, their families, and their faith, among other things. Call me old-fashioned, I don't care.
This beauty myth has sucked in men and women, making everyone feel as if they just don't measure up.
"Dadgum mom," JoJo bounced back from my bellowing, "all I asked about was earrings."
Friday, February 11, 2011
I don't remember when I'd first read the book, The Millionaire Next Door, but I do recall being tremendously impressed, even more so with these explanations yesterday . Essentially, as Dave Ramsey also teaches, it's behavior, NOT Income that determines our financial security.
Gail Vaz-Oxlade backed it up in her post as well, and I find the theories endlessly fascinating.
To me it seems easy to not spend money, if one doesn't go anywhere, if one doesn't go to shopping malls for recreation, if one leads a simpler life, it just becomes second nature, and then the unspent money is then available for better uses.
Sarah took this picture of Hazel, melting down at the entrance to Kroger, just like I always wanna do when forced to shop. "Just give her a picket sign," Hazel's dad, Preston, had advised Sarah, as this is not a rare occurrence.
I feel trapped sometimes, within my own family monetary constraints, the line item in our budget for destruction repairs is ridiculously stupid, but a fact of life. Wasting food makes me crazy, that the kids would leave their cereal bowls still full of milk indicates they have no clue as to what it costs me.
I try. I try endlessly, explaining budgets and thrift, savings versus spending, personal finance goals and rules, and all the other aspects of a stable financial life, but my complete and utter lack of bling turns some of them off. Who wants to live like Mom? No jewelry, no manicures, few items of wardrobe, self-denial and self-discipline, rarely eating out, although I took Sabrina to Locos yesterday for her birthday lunch. All of a sudden, she's 16 years old, and she's clearly gonna be the next child of mine to go to college.
Why can't they just see that overall I'm very happy about it all. Who wouldn't be so without the financial chest-crushing pressure of debt? So what that I'm bottom-of-the-line in many material areas?
But those grown children of mine who've resisted impulse shopping have become home owners. Nice comfortable homes within a well planned budget, while I fret over other children who can never pay their cell phone bills, and thereby trash their own personal credit so irresponsibly.
I wish I could get them to read more money books, to obsess over budgetary thoughts and processes, to at least, add and subtract. Here's the income and here are the bills, do the math, don't overspend, don't spend what you don't have. This is not nuclear fusion abstract logarithms, this is simple.
Dropping Mayra off last night at a Sunday School dinner get together, I took a bunch of kids over to Yolie's house as well, leaving only a couple of teenage boys at home with Grandma, while I took CW, Lily and Jack to the funeral home for yet another good-bye. It was their great grandmother on their birth father's side, I felt it was important for them to pay their respects, even though Jack was balking a bit, and understandably so, having really struggled for months now about his loss of Grandpa.
Lily remarked that she felt a little odd not being surrounded by Mexicans, her comfort zone, her family in which she resides, "A buncha white folks hugging me,"she described later, to which I remarked, "Well all those white folks were very glad to see you."
I'm just glad that we've maintained very cordial and warm relationships with the other side of their birth family. CW's nearly as tall as his birth father, and they chattered together the entire time, surprising me quite a bit. All three children are fairly shy, a quiet bunch of siblings now 10, 13 and 14, reserved might be a better word, and oddly, at the death of their 90 year old great-grandmother, it was a social get-together, as is customary in the South, not a somber event at all, but a cheerful send-off for this woman who clearly was now with Jesus.
CW's laugh is uncannily exactly like Wesley's laugh. It was unnerving to me, but in a good way. All three children also look like Cristy, her beauty is evident in each child and, thankfully, Wesley gave them a height gene.
And as I flit from topic to topic here, I thought about Claudia's devotion to Mac, as I'd bought a refurbished one yesterday from one of Daniel's high school friends, hadn't seen the guy in years, yet we recognized each other. A super good deal that I'd called in Sarah's advice on, both budgetary and geek-wise. "Jump on it," she'd advised. I now own a used Mac book.
Today I have two Craiglist follow-ups for Sabrina, who'd wanted an older generation Ipod Touch, a more affordable version for her birthday, that would allow her some online abilities. Martin's birthday's also coming up, yet he's wanting me to go to a particular store in town with him for specific clothes for his birthday.
Pepe called me happily last night from his new placement, Vanessa needs to call me, I have no way of reaching her, and am at mercy of her friend's abilities to maintain cell phone contracts.
I'm babysitting Mae this morning and I wanna take her over to Sarah's house, both so that she and Hazel can scamper around and cute us all to pieces, but also so that Sarah can help me transfer stuff from a PC to a Mac, before my PC loses its last bit of steam. The keyboard is dead, we have another one connected and am holding on to this laptop until its last gasp.
Opening Hazel's playhouse this morning clearly shows her devotion to books.