Thursday, November 30, 2006
A couple of very positive notes: Larry Stewart and Dr. Bob Paeglow have made some enormous, selfless contributions to the world, not to get attention, but to make their life count for something. I so admire this and am always inspired by others
Tom Peters calls it a 'blinding flash of the obvious.' My children, talking amongst themselves have realized this week how very fortunate they are not to have been abused worse than they had been. It's difficult to assign degrees of abuse, who had it the worst, to trade battle scars, or even to measure this type of pain in any dimension. There's a beautiful 27 year old woman, the daughter of the family staying here with us, who was once a normal little girl, but was slammed by her birth father into a wall until her brain was irreparably damaged.
Yolie, who lived through all sorts of abuse and neglect, and who has worked as an adoption worker, was particularly stunned by this. She's a reader, she's known about similar situations, but to sit here and look at the results of what malicious humans can do to innocent humans is eye-opening.
Big Joe pointed all this out to Vanessa last night, it has gotten to all my children.
The other mom here, Judy, was telling me this morning though that her children are also seeing the love from my children to them, that is has helped her Treavor who was initially balking at having an armless baby in their family. He felt that people stared at them enough as it is, yet to see all my kids hovering around, and carrying, little Jonah, has helped him to accept his new little brother.
I will, at least, run to Verizon today and get my cell phone fixed. I’m blogging in Microsoft Word on my coffee buzz right now, cable still down, to publish later.
Our company is still here, another dozen children and their devoted mom and dad. Several of the kids, all adopted at birth, play violins and cello, they travel a good bit, home school, are Mennonite, and absolutely fascinating to my kids. Their kids are very well-behaved and are just as curious about our family as we are about theirs. Curious and comforted at the same time, my kids, often initially shy, have jumped right in and intermingled constantly with theirs.
Sarah’s Ray is intrigued by the wheelchairs, I’m learning a great deal about medical care kids, something I’ve been totally ignorant about. I read the descriptions of the kids I am trying to match through AAN, but seeing the trachs and g-tubes, vents and the astonishing level of dedication and knowledge involved makes my work with 39 kids seem like a day at the beach in comparison.
Overall my own children have put on a great show of normal behavior. Edgar and I have had a huge fight over him not calling in to work while he was down in his back, but this uber-polite fight has involved hisses and silence since we have company instead of our usual hot-headed, door-slamming, very vocal, overly opinionated and highly emotional discussions. He’s glad we have company, very, very glad because he knows I still have a lot to say to him.
He’s a grown man with so much more to learn, hard to teach it all in the 6 years I’ve been his mother. He’d come up to my room, kissed me goodbye, which woke me up at 5, but it translates from him to me, “Thank God, you didn’t reject me over this,” his constant and biggest fear. He still struggles with the fact that behavior correction, no matter how loud, does not equal rejection, this means love and concern son.
Big Joe also was here last night with Alyssa and he’d had a quick few big brother words with Edgar over his attitude.
Miss Lisa got my kids involved in the Christmas Musical at church here at the last minute. Soccer had so consumed our time that we never made it to practices until last night when she made the entire Nativity scene Mexican, 9 of my kids front and center, cute as buttons, two shows this Sunday morning, dress rehearsal on Saturday.
When our guest family leaves I already know that there will be some fallout from my children, a necessary part of learning about adoption, blessings, sharing and families. This brings up many of their own internal fears and memories, it reminds them also how fortunate they are to be physically healthy, and like I have, they’ve felt a kinship to this family as in they are so much like us, built from different birth families, but so solidified together as a family unit through adoption. Sarah has been visibly moved by their special need babies, having personally suffered so many baby losses this year. Yolie cried during their music practice yesterday. Yolie knows, she experienced life without a loving parent, and this also rips off her old emotional scabs, but these other children have progressed so much from their earliest medical prognoses.
I am caught up in the old, familiar thrill of adoption. This level of excitement and the opening up of so much potential for a child when they are first adopted. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world and I’m getting to experience it firsthand along with this family. It is comforting to me to know however, that no part of me wants to personally experience it again. Just as, at one time, God spurred me on to adopt against a great many odds, now I feel that He is not encouraging me in any way to adopt again, but rather to pour my unbearably exuberant energies into my family and AAN.
I have been so blessed by this visit, by getting to hold some children I’ve matched, by watching Judy and her husband tend to their family with the incredible medical demands. They’ve shared their feelings, their certainty that this is what they’ve truly been called to do and they’ve obviously been well-equipped spiritually to do so. Just as my narrow focus has been solely on Hispanic sibling groups, theirs has been only on the particular kids that God has put on their hearts and they’ve done a spectacular job of parenting, leaving this ole big mouth mama speechless in amazement. I thank God for this opportunity that my family as had this week to experience all this.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
This has been an awesome time as I have matched three children into this family, that is staying with us, over the past three years, all very special needs infants. When I began at AAN I thought I'd only be involved with sibling groups, this change of events has been intriguing to say the least. Their third new child is awaiting ICPC in Texas, the family is now here waiting on ICPC from Georgia. The baby is here at my house but he cannot cross state lines without ICPC approval. He is a beautiful AA/Hispanic six month old baby with no arms. My children have all fallen in love with him and are thrilled that he now has a family.
So I've gotten to see and hold these other two children, it spurs me on in a huge way to keep working on matching children, especially when I see this family here with us, seeing what wonders and huge progress they've made with their children.
The amount of work involved in their children is tremendous, makes my job with the other 39 seem overly simple. My kids dress and feed themselves while this family's children have feeding tubes, medical needs and absolutely darling children. I'm nearly gawking at the amount of work.
My own kids love seeing other large families, makes us look less different. Last night I barely got anyone to bed so overwhelmed were they, this morning they hated to leave the house for school.
Right now I have a family of 14 staying with us as we wait on ICPC to clear and they can return to Pennsylvania with their new baby.
I'll blog ASAP as this has been a humbling experience for me. Their children are very special needs and I'm just watching, and trying to help, the parents with complete awe.
I've never BTDT, this is an amazing experience for my family.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Grandma and Grandpa took Ray, Tabby and Nando to The Dollar Store today where a lady came up and said to Tabby, "I recognize you from your mother's blog." Tabby doesn't know what a blog is and doesn't care, she had her mind set on a Little Mermaid stamp set.
Grandpa, kinda surprised at this, was fixing to introduce himself, when the lady asked him how he was doing after his heart attack.
They got to talking and she told him her name and that she had 16 kids herself.
Dad, bewildered at all this, comes home to ask if I knew her. Duh, yeah...hey Miss Vicki!
Texas used to designate children by their level of care, LOC, and give them a number between one and six, now they use more politically correct terms such as mild or moderate. Jose was a 3, Joey was a 6, and Alex escalated to a six after adoption. Fabian is now likely off the charts.
Alex's therapist and I emailed each other several times yesterday over her increasingly bizarre Thanksgiving holiday descriptions. We'll have a phone therapy session today to confront Alex although I question the effectiveness of it. Alex is simply unable to reason appropriately but I do not have a better suggestion nor an alternative intervention.
Jose came here four years ago raging and out-of-control. He was on three different psychotropic medications in dosages four times daily, which alone is a staggering indicator of emotional difficulties. Somehow he has pulled himself out of most of those rages. Dr. G has worked with him, a fairly uphill task as Jose is not very verbal, nor interested in introspection as it cuts into his bug collecting adventures.
Having 50 acres here has been a blessing. Jose does not like to be cooped up, he prefers to wander but he also craves and needs his physical boundaries.
I've had him tested out the wazoo over the years, I have a need to know exactly what I'm working with, and we've discovered him to be mathematically gifted, yet quite challenged in reading. He had a tough time leaving the elementary school and starting middle school, yet he is now settling down in sixth grade.
I expected that blip on his radar as he is finely tuned to the nuances of family life, his emotional radar is hyper sensitive, and he holds me accountable for every single word I say. With my big mouth and jesting manner, I have to constantly watch myself or learn to explain my silly punch lines to a very literal minded boy.
Jose is interesting to me, I shudder to think of how his life would have been if he'd waited much longer to be adopted. He is totally bonded to his three brothers and one sister, yet there were then rumblings over separating him from the sibling group so that he wouldn't jeopardize their eventual adoptive placement.
This placement would not have succeeded without him, the other four children would have grieved for life, wondering and worrying about Jose. Siblings who've learned to live without a parent figure are ever so much more bonded to each other in order to compensate for that loss. They need each other all the more, they depend on each other, and indeed seem to have their own language, communication idiosyncrasies, and their complex emotional needs are met in their own ways.
Years later, in our large family, I can still see these emotional bonds, maybe even more visible to the naked eye due to the white hot intensity born from abject fear back in their uncertain, rocky childhoods before adoption.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I was just listenting to a parenting expert state that 80% of being a great parent is just showing up and being there.
I look at Sarah's Ray, or Yolie's CJ, or any of Carolina's four children and see that theory illustrated daily.
Now that I'm retired I see the difference in my own parenting as well. I was 24-7 on my kids when I worked, fortunately we had the same school holidays and summers off, but now that my attention is not diluted by me being gone 10 hours a day, I am much more there for my kids.
And that's basically all they want. The rest is easy, it's gravy, it's what they crave, time and atention from me, knowing I care, not caring what I know...just that I care.
I'm going to shake off the Christmas stress, the medical stuff we've gone through, the holiday acting out, and just keep on with enjoying being their mama.
I have no explanation of this photo other than it was on my camera and this is Chuy of the Talented and Gifted Program.
At 3:40 this morning Tony woke me up gasping for air, he'd had a coughing fit and truly couldn't get his breath, so I threw him in a hot shower and the steam loosened him up enough to calm down and open his airways. Kind of tough to go back to sleep after that so I got on up, Tony is on the other sofa next to me so I can listen to him breathing.
Edgar had already asked me to wake him up at 4:30 since he was afraid his pain medications would make him sleep through his alarm. He is planning on going to work today with only the anti-inflammation medication, when he crawls home tonight he'll finish his pain meds.
I'd put everyone to bed early last night, by 8 p.m. our house was quiet after a quick skirmish between Jose and Javy, nerves on edge because Thanksgiving is over, fears already that this won't continue, that they won't be here next year. They always seem to surprise themselves each time. Tabby's been wide-eyed with concern, questioning us all about next year, I've dispensed my usual constant reassurances, nearly rote by now.
I thought we'd had a great six days with Alex, total family time, we didn't hardly leave the property whatsoever, yet the RTC had called me with a report by Alex to a peer that she'd been drinking and smoking at out house...like someone here wouldn't have ratted her out? Like I wouldn't have noticed? Like there's a 7-11 nearby, down our dirt road, to pick to the stuff she doesn't have money for anyway? Say what? These kind of lies and false reports make me think twice about these visits. It blindsided me as she'd been perfectly well-behaved here. I know that was just big talking, but it does not help her in her quest for reality.
I'd received, and read, one of my very smart son's psychological evaluation and while it held no surprises, what I see is what I get, one aspect did stick out. He truly doesn't remember the traumatic events that led up to foster care, lacks little understanding of why he was constantly moved, homeless, and on the streets only to eventually land here with us. It was recommended that I have a sit-down with him, preferably with the therapist to help me explain it all. I can see where this would be beneficial to him as he visibly longs for logic and security. He's such a great kid with a huge amount of potential.
I have several children that have broken out of the pre-set molds of their lives, have hugely risen above what could have been their once-doomed futures, and have excelled in so many ways, spurring me on in my home mission here. I have to remind myself constantly that even those that struggle hard, like Fabian and Joey right now, are no less deserving of this chance at family life, they just take way more work, and duh Cindy that's what you signed up for.
No one promised me a rose garden...I had to grow my own.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Jesse and Lena have made it here from Virginia, not that I've seen them yet, coming in very late last night, they are still asleep, and I'm simply happy as a clam to have them here even if only for a day before Jesse has to report to his new duty station. He's going to be stationed in Texas on the same base as a childhood friend, Miss Charlene's son, who grew up here way down our dirt road. What are the chances of that happening?
I'm glad Jesse is here in time to spend time with Alex, his birth baby sister. I'll need to get her back to Atlanta by this evening, try and get Edgar back to a standing position as he's bound and determined to make it to work tomorrow, and prepare my children to return to school. After five days at home I expect some initial balking, they get used to this cocoon right fast.
Once a month, my parents load up all the kids who'd had birthdays that month and take them to an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant. Yesterday they took my brother Jimbo and I also. I feel like someone who's had gastric bypass surgery must feel, I just can't overeat what with this missing foot of intestines. I didn't overeat at all yet I came home with stomach pains, maybe it was the oil they used in everything? Maybe I'm just not used to rich foods, usually I eat so low on the food chain, maybe it was just God's way of reminding me not to get used to fancy foods? Who knows, but it worked. I'm happy eating here at home.
Good thing, right?
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Some big talker yesterday, who worked outside all day long, sure did pay for it later on her heating pad all night chucking down aspirins. But that won't stop her from once again overdoing it on yet another beautiful warm day. This humongous pile of wood chips isn't going to move and spread itself over all my gardens.
Cristy flew in to Houston last night to meet a long lost birth sister, Ludivinia, one who'd been given up at birth, who didn't live through the foster care ordeals that the other four kids went through, and grew up right unscathed until she predictably tried to reconnect with the birth mom, something we'd already been through more than a decade ago.
This sister found us recently even though Cristy had tried for years. Cristy called me last night, right before their reunion, crying and very emotional, just to let me know that she finally realized all the sacrifices I'd made to keep the four of them, and all our other sib groups, together.
Well maybe so, but this was something I wanted to do. I didn't pray, "Dear Lord sacrifice my calm life for these kids," I simply wanted to be their mom. But I appreciated some gratitude there.
Another older child, whose issues reappear at holidays and who acts uglier the more wrong she is, had snottily texted me. For once a little maturity kicked in and I didn't respond via a bad temper, I listened to my next message, her birth sister who was way more charming.
I just let the annoying hatefulness blow over, although I'm human enough to be aggravated about it. I get soooo bored with unnecessary drama.
Vanessa, in an attempt to build me back up, consoled me with the fact, "Mama, you can't even hardly see that surgical scar, it blends in great with your stretch marks."
Well, I sure feel better now.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I haven't been working in the garden in nearly two months so I over did it all day long and I couldn't be happier nor more satisfied with the way things are looking. Roses still blooming so I gave them a new foot of wood chips, trimmed the cannas back, and weeded the front beds.
Life is good.
Woke up to the sound of Sabrina barfing, hope it's because she pigged out, and not due to a virus or something that's gonna spread through the kids and mutate into all sorts of weird bodily explosions.
I never allow myself to fret about Christmas until after the Thanksgiving weekend is over, I wouldn't go shopping today if my life depended on it. I have just a few more non-Christmas days left, that is the one holiday that stresses me to the max with all its commercial pressure.
My brother, Jimbo, is still here and now that I don't have the pressure of a Thanksgiving dinner, I can have more fun. Alex is pictured above with Monica, she's doing fantastically well, it's good to have her here when she's so happy, lucid and fun to be with, sharing Teresa's room, the two of them have been helpful and normal. That's reason alone to give thanks around here.
How odd though, I still have 25 young'uns clamoring for food, but that's not the same as when they double or triple around here, plus yesterday Grandma, Sarah, Yolie and Vanessa all helped cook; Gina brought a wonderful spinach artichoke dip that I think I'll have for breakfast.
Gotta get Joey out the door for work, Edgar's still splayed out on the sofa where I left him last night, these meds are doing a number on him, but he needs to get the inflammation in his back down before he can stand, drive or work on Monday, he is not a happy camper.
It's going to be a beautiful day, almost in the 70s, and today is my sixth week since surgery, I'm as good as new, surprised that the long scar is so razor thin, I attribute that to the Vitamin E. A nurse at the hospital had showed me her thick, ropey looking scar from nearly the same operation she'd had last spring, and she was 20 years younger than I, maybe old skin heals faster and with less trauma to it? Maybe I had a better surgeon? Who knows, I'm just happy that the ordeal is over. I don't like feeling so incapacitated nor limited.
Pictured below is Monica and her husband, Dwayne.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Sergi came tearing up the stairs, "Mom, Edgar's hurt, you gotta go to the hospital with him."
Edgar had been lifting weights, something he's done for years. He knew what he was doing, but for some reason he didn't bend his legs properly during a military press, and was subsequently sobbing with pain. I've never seen him cry before from physical pain, emotional yes, but I could tell he needed medical attention. Duh Cindy, quick thinking.
We futilely tried to get him to the car, Sergi and Joey practically carrying him, me grabbing insurance cards, shoes, and barking orders to Miriam and Vanessa. But Edgar physically could not get into the car, we couldn't bend his back, and by then I was afraid we'd further damage whatever was wrong, like his spine or something, so I called for an ambulance, telling him this was going to take awhile as we live way out from town. He was sobbing hard by then and I was deeply concerned.
Our country's First Responders got there pretty quickly, as did the ambulance, and within three hours the hospital had x-rayed him, no spinal damage thank God, several shots for pain and inflammation, a prescription for muscle relaxers, and I now have one stiff, in-pain young man who mumbled,"Man, I thought this kind of stuff wouldn't hit me until my forties."
I'm again sleepless, still need to finish cooking, and I had a grown sibling group decide to display their issues here at a holiday, but how unexpected could that have been for me?
Some never truly realize that it is so not my fault that they were unable to live with their birth parents, some continue to blame me for a very long time, knowing I'll forgive them for their hatefulness.
However, that said, I also tend to physically remove myself from their toxic attitudes as that does no one any good, neither the shooter nor the beneficiary of the poisonous attitudinal barbs. It gets kind of old actually and I am just not in the mood.
And Jesse and Lena can't come, Jesse on duty on his Naval ship in Virginia, it would have been great to have them here.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Being 52 with a mind full of stuff, kid's issues and problems, all the challenges constantly looming ahead for us, well, sometimes I just can't sleep. I got up and went downstairs to try and catch someone being bad, but everyone was in bed sleeping like they were supposed to do.
I snapped on the TV in the middle of the night and this medical doctor was being interviewed and I was transfixed. Stayed up until nearly 3 a.m., just to doze off in time to hear Edgar leaving for work. Heck, I might as well get up what with all I have on my list today to accomplish. I'll sleep when they are grown seems to be my refrain.
I'd received an email from my friend, Linda B, asking what vitamins I take, and I've listed them at the bottom of this post. I am always fascinated by the mind-body connection, with nutrition, and longevity. This Dr. Colbert blew me away with his explanations. I'll get on ebay asap for his books.
In my 33 years of parenting I've never had a kid on the wrestling team until now. I spent most of my professional life employed at a high school, yet never attended a wrestling match until last night. My kids have wrestled all over this house, but using a rules are for fools mentality. Like tossing your mama over the sofa doesn't disqualify anyone, extra points are included then.
Edgar and I took Alex to watch her birth brother, Gito. Miriam went early to call me when Gito's match was coming up as I still had to cook for everyone. His first match was against a girl. I was astonished, he won, and I was on a tear about I'd never let any daughter of mine wrestle some nasty, sweaty boy...ever. I don't care how old-fashioned that makes me seem.
Hours later he was to have another match and they somehow mixed up the weight classes so he didn't get the second match. It was interesting and baffling for me to watch all this as I knew zero rules. I knew nothing about wrestling, still didn't figure a lot of it out, guess Gito can explain it to me all weekend.
I sat with JoJo's teacher, getting to know her better. A neato lady, she knew Miriam, who'd managed the wrestling team last year, but she hadn't put it together that Miriam was JoJo's birth sister. As usual a charming, smiling Edgar held out his hand to her when he was introduced as Jojo's oldest birth brother. Edgar, a cross between a GAP model and a UGA frat boy fashion ad, doesn't exactly resemble JoJo much, JoJo being one of the silliest kids I've ever seen.
His teacher told me that JoJo is constantly reading at school, something I'd noticed in him lately around here after years of not focusing, sitting around in his underwear, refusing to run errands with me for fear it was a trick, determined to stake his physical territorial claim here in our house, but now finally confident that this is permanent, that mama is forever committed to him.
Edgar is JoJo's everything, his father figure, his role model, a sports hero (track), you name it while Allen is JoJo's near-twin in emotional connections. JoJo is extremely attached and dependant on both of them, as well as to Mayra, Vanessa and Miriam. At this point both boys, Edgar and the three girls have all expressed huge fears and concerns here regarding Fabian's out of control anger issues. I still maintain, no I double-dawg guarantee that if this emotionally intertwined sibling group had been split up, not a one of them would have survived without the others. They'd been devastatingly split up several times in foster care, something that still haunts them all, especially Edgar.
These seven children came to me over six years ago, then ages 3-13, described as "great kids" from south Georgia, not bearing the HSSEGHS from Texas that usually detail issues and diagnoses, and these 7 have given me a run for my money, a full-time exercise in parenting; emotionally needy, extremely demanding, complex and intriguing, all of them. Miriam left the match early last night, leaning over to kiss my cheek good-bye since she wouldn't see me for another hour or so, a gesture she'd learned from watching my affectionate older kids.
Miriam had called me from McDonalds earlier in the week, speaking to me only in Spanish, knowing her co-workers knew I was Anglo, as if to claim me as her own, just as overly-possessive as her brothers have been to me. She and Vanessa both have also been clingy lately to Sarah, now that Sarah had proved herself by stepping into Big Mama's shoes last month when I was hospitalized. Trusting the birth child is always tricky and dangerous, Sarah's been through this enough to know that it takes a long time, yet is eventually rewarding and permanent.
Today Tabby turns 4, Sabrina is more excited than anyone, knowing now that she and Tabby and their two brothers will never have to move, that Tabby and Nando will never remember living any where else but here. Why Sabrina has instantaneously trusted me where many other kids took years to do so, I just don't know.
But in every case, the oldest child in a sib group is the leader, the emotional barometer, the parental figure, and, nearly always, my ally in the battle to secure emotions.
Vanessa, usually our resident cake baker, knows today to step aside and allow Sabrina (Memaw) to do this for Tabby, Sabrina has already demanded to do so.
Here on the day before Thanksgiving, I'm obligated to move three sofas and a daybed here from Lisa and Tracy, to cook for 70 or so folks, celebrate Alex's belated birthday from last week when she turned 17, and later Tabby's birthday...quite likely Sarah's as well since she went down hard yesterday with strep throat, receiving two shots of antibiotics there in the doctor's office for her 33rd birthday present. Do we know how to celebrate or what?
After drinking an entire pot of strong, black coffee, eating a bowl of oats, flax seeds, sesame seeds and fresh cranberries, I'll take 1000 mg of C ( and again at night), 25,000 I.U. of beta-carotene, 400 of E, 150 mgs of B-Complex, 400 mcg of chromium, 400 mg of magnesium, 100 mg of potassium, 200 mcg selenium, 100 mg of zinc, 1200 mg of Lecithin, 100 of K, 2 mg of copper, 300 of Co-Q-10, 500 of organic spirulina, 3.5 of what grass, fish oil capsules, and 1200 mg of calcium later in the day.
My internal energy engine even idles on high, I need high-octane foods and vitamins to maintain the pace that I'm internally driven by. I drink green tea each day and as much water as possible, whole grains, high fiber...I love it all.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
The Match meeting went as well as could be expected. Everyone present agreed that Fabian's violence needs out-of-home treatment for the safety of the family, yet all agencies, mental health and the Department of Juvenile Justice, have huge in-home treatment policies in place. There's a conundrum for us.
The school social worker, who knows Fabian's now endangered birth siblings, even suggested that I disrupt the adoption so that it would force the state to find appropriate treatment. I considered it for a minute there, balancing the safety of the 23 other kids in the house versus the devastating effects of a disruption. Nah, can't do it...even Edgar would be emotionally destroyed by that process, no one here would ever trust me again. I truly believe, against all odds, that God put Fabian with me so that I could find help and resources.
The county DFACS worker, Miss Dawn, made several interesting phone calls that further limited my options, but also forced me to continue to do the right thing. I'd never met her yet I liked her instantly, realizing she was astute and grasped the situation.
The DJJ worker, Miss Kim, also told me that I'd misunderstood several things when the police were at our house last week. Number one was that I should have insisted that the police file charges, she'd tried several times that night over the phone to get the officer to do so that night, yet he refused. Mr. Brian, in the meeting, said I should talk to the sheriff about the deputy's failure to protect us that night, but I'm reluctant to complain as every single other time they've been great to us. I sure don't want to antagonize anyone.
Best of all however, was a mental health worker, Miss Sarah, who must have spent the rest of the day working on this while I drove to Atlanta to get Alex. A flurry of emails later and I'm beginning to see a little glimmer of progress, getting help is a long, slow process.
Driving back from Atlanta, Alex was as articulate as I've ever seen her, explaining her therapist's discussion of misplaced anger. Alex understands, in theory now, many of her issues, and is slowly comprehending that she's had a tough life, that it isn't her fault what had happened to her, and how much she has truly needed help in order to begin to function normally. She's getting it, she's accepting the therapeutic help.
She's loving this facility, she's having a great time there, and, Praise God, the emotional breakthroughs are happening. She's as happy as I've ever seen her.
She wants Jesse and Lena here for Thanksgiving though. Hint, hint.
Watch me now...
Today Sarah turns 33 years old which always staggers me as it is a benchmark for how long I've been parenting...all my life. But I owe it all to her, because I had so much fun being her mom, I always wanted more kids.
It's still too much fun being her mom, and she's been a leader for the other kids, even helping to crack Vanessa's hard shell.
Happy Birthday Sarah!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Any, and every nutritional study that has been undertaken just reinforces what I already believe; that red meat, pork and the additives/hormones/inhumane way they are raised-chickens just isn't good for you at all.
I cook 1) Cuban black beans and brown rice, 2)red beans, corn and brown rice, 3)veggie spaghetti, 4)three cheese lasagna, 5) pasta bar or potato bar, 6) barley, rice and alphabet pasta, 7) fish chowder (rarely), 8)lentils, 9) a black eyed pea dish, 10) different vegetable casseroles, 11) upside down night (French toast), 12) cheese enchilladas, 13) spinach or broccoli quiche, 14) a soybean loaf, or our favorite 12 pounds of pinto beans that I then mash into refries and serve as tacos, nachos, or burritos. I know a couple of other dishes but not that many really.
Not necessarily imaginative, but nutritious, wholesome and filling...not very expensive either. Comfort foods to my kids.
There's so much else to eat in the world that I don't have room in my belly for meat. If I were still hungry after all that, I'd rather have cheesecake anyway. Duh.
When all my kids are grown, I probably will never bother to cook again, sandwiches and salads are my favorite foods anyway.
My Big Joe here spent Saturday, working with Sergi and Joey, while both older boys lit into Joey for acting so stoopid constantly. Joey came home, knowing he'd finally pushed me into taking action to ridding our family of felonious influence, and he contritely, for the millionth time, hauled several loads of woodchips, apologized and behaved the rest of the weekend. BTDT...means nothing anymore.
Too little, too late...
I'd already typed, and emailed, an angry missive to his probation officer basically QUITTING.
She called me this morning, after another big-city P.O. had told me to just put his butt OUT.
Joey's P.O. gave me permission, in the next outburst, to drive him to the next county's Salvation Army Homeless Shelter. I'll be more than happy to do so. Living here with us, after age 18, requires a great deal of behaving. If one doesn't want to behave, then one may leave. It's simple. Go pay your own rent somewhere and do as you please. But here, in my home, it's my way. I pay all the bills here.
I informed Joey this morning, 48 hours later when I'd cooled off enough to not shoot spit when talking, that he may remain here as long as he does his chores appropriately, behaves totally with no anger, no rages, no destruction, no cussing, no stealing, no disrespect, no disobedience...no outbursts. He's grown, I don't have to live like this anymore, end of discussion.
I can't wipe the smile off my face.
I have forced him to save over $800 which I'll give to him, if and when, he leaves here.
And he cannot ever come back, I will not enable him to not accept the negative consequences of his misbehavior. I've provided a home for him, taken care of his needs, tried to school him, found him several jobs, driven him to and from these jobs, taken him to church, provided counseling for him, and, most importantly, given him the opportunity to live with, and grow up with, his three birth sibs.
I've taken him back into our family after his 49 month stint in a state mental hospital, I've dealt with numerous policemen over the years, treatment centers, his false allegations against our family, mental health facilities, his court charges, judges, I've visited him in jail, forgiven him and given him a billion second chances but now it's time to grow up.
This worst year of his life, me getting a tumor...a connection? I doubt it, but how can I possibly heal properly while fighting him? Don't tell me that this constant negativity is not harming all of us emotionally and physically; this has truly become unbearable.
I've done absolutely all that I can do for him, now it is up to him. Period. Have I made myself clear? He can print this out and keep it in his pocket. An official notice, a warning, and a promise.
Just two days of school this week, Allen got up and promptly puked, punched his ticket to stay home, and Tony went down in a rage over cereal choices. In a picture here of CW, one can see Tony where he's dramatically thrown himself on the floor to howl over nothing. He did make it to school though. I apologize, in advance, to the fourth grade teachers.
Someone yesterday, in an attempt to understand Fabian's horrific anger, asked me what usually tended to provoke it. Like we ever see it coming?
Well there's the million dollar question, if we knew that answer...
I'm not even being sarcastic, just perplexed. When years of torment flood my children's mind, the slightest dumb trigger can send them spiraling into rages, where all their accumulated, pent-up anger floods their souls and a great deal of destruction results.
But, for the minute, we don't have a single hole in our walls, thanks to a day long marathon by my darling son-in-law, Jose, on his day off. He spent all of Saturday, voluntarily, followed by many Bubbas and his own son, Tommy, who smeared sheetrock mud everywhere in Jose's truck, resulting in a bath here at Abuelita's house.
Edgar helped me pick out Jose's birthday sweater yesterday while Mayra, aided by Sabrina, wore me out emotionally in the crappy teen section while I screeched, "not on my watch!" I never saw so many hussy, hootchy mama clothes, "oh, no you ain't."
Still in my church clothes, struggling to maintain my Christian witness, thinking I outta have a Mama Rage right there in that department store, my pent up irritation at slutty clothes for young teens, but Edgar would have been so embarrassed had I done so.
By the time Tabby reaches pre-teen years, I doubt I'll have any remaining tread on my emotional tires, no brakes on my whopper mouth...no telling how I'll act in public.
At church however, our new building addition is finished, and I was so totally impressed. It must have increased the square footage ten times over, an incredible youth group room down a long red hall, the middle school area equally as cool, JoJo hooting, "I wanna be a teenager now!" Edgar helping his teacher out in the College and Career Class, and the rest of my kids happy in the new Children's Church facilities. It's right easy for me to maintain my attitude of gratitude, look how blessed we are.
We'd only had one service yesterday and I was thinking about Ray Ray, both his grandmothers, Edith and I, in church with him; this child has so many aunts, uncles, cousins and both grandparents, kin to half the congregation, there with him, in the church since birth, such a contrast in stability when I compare him to Tabby and Nando's many, many placements for the first few years of their lives.
And Miriam put it an 11 hour shift at McDonalds which always impresses me, proud of herself last night when we picked her up, basking in both Edgar and I complimenting her. She's so pretty and has a billion dollar smile, she's probably personally increased the profit margin there at that joint, she also has an evening shift again tonight.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Well look at me (I'm Sandra Dee...for us aged folks) but I now only have 8 kids with single digit ages...and no one in diapers except for my nighttime bed wetters.
No wonder I've healed so quickly, well that and the mega vitamins that I take, got my weight up a solid seven pounds in five weeks, that's pretty good since I'm adjusting to less intestines; no pain meds, I'm right active, and I have some very ambitious plans for strengthening myself up as soon as I can lift weights again.
Slowly, besides cooking vegetarian all my life, I've incorporated sesame, and other beneficial seeds in their meals, whole wheat pasta and brown rice, olive oil, onions, peppers and garlic...it's up to me to teach them all a healthy way to eat for energy and longevity.
The 25 kids who live with me have never seen me drink a soda nor eat meat. Nearly all my grown kids rebel when they grow up by eating junk food and so far, all of them have fairly quickly noticed the detrimental effects of it on their bodies, even Big Joe swore off pork and red meat as he's worried about his heart at age 23.
Cristy, a very healthy eater, took CW, Lily and Jack out to eat last night at Qdoba. Those three children have lived with me since birth and have excellent eating habits, they crave whole foods, and each one came home delightedly telling me about the spicy delicious foods they'd eaten.
They are birth siblings, and they'd set up a camp site in my room last night with soft, fold-up futons, I listened to them talk while I filed papers, they woke me up early this morning with gassy proof of their bean laden meal last night.
Chuy chose the video Cars for his birthday and it has played nonstop ever since. Jack is obsessed with it.
Today Mayra turns 13, she's pictured in the middle here with Sabrina and Tony on one of Ms Carr's wonderful family field trips she has provided for my children. She sent these pictures yesterday and I'm loving the green background along with the beauty of my babies.
Mayra already had the screechy pre-teen-girl, bounce around the house, and worry about outfits attitude. I'd snapped at her last night that we'd wait and celebrate her birthday on Monday if she didn't get a grip. I needed to buy another day of pre-teen rather than continued life with a teenager, heck I survived the Biggers, this is nothing. Big Joe says he's going to take her to Agua Linda for lunch today after church, Vanessa as well, let them figure out how to cook what he likes to eat there.
Big Jose turns 33 today as well. With a family this big someone seems to have a birthday rather often. Again a Big Duh, share the obvious.
I was asked yesterday about paperwork as in how do I handle it all. It is overwhelming, certainly, I have those plastic crates and I file everything that is not kept on my clipboard for immediate use. Even if I over-file, at some point I can correct that, like yesterday when I wore out the shredder, but I can't begin to tell you how many times I've needed a particular piece of paper and have been able to find it since I file everything. I have a basket on my upstairs desk where I toss what needs to be filed, and I file weekly probably, then shred every year or so all the excess.
I have seven different desks, three in my large bedroom, three downstairs in the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room...there's a great deal of organization needed with this many kids, and I'm still tweaking my process.
By not doing anymore homestudies, I can probably save a dozen trees alone.
I'm not a pack rat either, I believe I'm ruthless in tossing and shredding; paring down to the essentials. The only things we're drowning in are houseplants, but that's a good thing.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Yolie told me she'd read a study that when people get angry, all sorts of body failure occurs; people are more likely then at that point to have a stroke or a heart attack.
I can clearly see where this is a possibility. Living with Joey daily shows me the physical deterioration involved in my own abilities. He simply does not want to be helped in any way, he wants to be lazy, and he defies anyone to try and stop him.
I've been shaking with anger at his ugliness to everyone today, usually I get over it, but it's been so bad lately, that it's just a matter of minutes between flare-ups.
Even my parents, usually my children's cheerleaders, are so fed up. Edgar told me this morning that Joey had been up late last night bothering JoJo and Allen until Edgar'd gotten up roaring mad at Joey, sending him to bed like a baby. Jeepers, Edgar was exhausted having worked all week like a normal guy.
Big Jose has spent the entire afternoon patching holes in my walls and fixing the ceiling sheetrock from when Joey kept running water (that I'd turned off at the source), that spilled from the second floor down into the hall below, ruining the sheetrock. Another man that I've hired is coming to fix our back door frame that Joey busted out in anger. Joey is going to pay that bill, I've had it. He's pulled down the entire light fixtures from the ceiling in two upstairs bedrooms which I'm not even going to bother to get fixed at this point.
A beautiful afternoon and I want to haul woodchips, but my gut and it's incison won't let me, so the kids have helped me haul around all our crates of paperwork and I've filed, sorted and shredded all afternoon. Not my idea of fun but it needs to be done.
Cristy came over first to distract me, then Big Joe, but I'm still shredding...
He's right, I can't leave him here unsupervised so I typed a long email to his probation officer detailing why I'd like to now go get a 'prohibited entry order' to keep his craziness off our property.
He's had a million second chances, he's not complying with his probation rules, he's thinks he is untouchable by the police, and that I can not control him. He's right, I can't control him, nor do I want to do so.
I want him to go out in the world and face all the repercussions from his behavior, it should not involve me anymore, for any reason. He wants to be grown, then do so...elsewhere.
This is my house where I pay all the bills, provide all the food, and even have to drive him to the jobs he can't keep.
My Bubbas need my attention and my time, Joey demands it constantly with his hatefulness, rages, and negative behavior that is soon going to give me a heart attack myownself, we cannot live this way. We seem to just be reinforcing these horrible behaviors in him since there are no legal consequences. He has zero privileges here, everyone avoids him, he's alienated all his co-workers at McDonalds, and the manager is nearly apoplectic over the Joey's constant defiance. I'd even had to call the police from my hospital room when he raged at Yolie's house and threatened to "raise Hell" at my house.
He's had continuous, multitudinous warnings...this is what will happen if these awful behaviors continue...he smirks at me, doesn't care, and dares me to do anything about it.
All he wants to do is lie around and watch TV, which if he keeps getting put out of McDonalds, he thinks he's earned the right to not work. He wants to sleep all day and I won't have it so I'm spending all my time trying to get him out of bed...he's legal adult age, I should be set free now.
Interestingly enough, Big Joe used my cell to call Sonny last night, and Sonny, thinking it was me, actually answered it to crow that he had a new job. This I'm glad about, him getting a job, but I'm fairly bummed about Sonny's inability to keep a job.
Chuck's new business is doing so well that he's using Sergi, Joey, and Carlos today with Joe proudly telling me he's the project manager. He'd been checking to see if Sonny also wanted to work with them.
Sonny will work hard, he may be one of my hardest workers, but his defiant attitude trips him up sometimes, usually after any length of time spent on the job; poor choices, sticky fingers, or thinking he can do what he wants to do have all contributed to getting him the boot too many times. Not learning from these terminations is astounding. It's not like I don't address it with him, or the other kids, either.
Joey is a bit cowed by his second suspension from McDonalds. My older boys and sons-in-law like Big Jose, have been very vocal in their disapproval, and even disbelief, regarding Joey struggling to hold down such a menial job. Joey'd swept the kitchen without me asking and had hauled in the two tons of groceries we need for the weekend knowing I was vibrating with fury at all this.
More adoptive mamas outta make sure that they think about the fact that we sure aren't set free at age 18 from our children's demands, sometimes that's when the real problems begin, this time when they are still incapable of living on their own, yet somehow blindly think they are grown. I've spent more wasted breath on some of this hard-headed stinking thinking than I ever imagined I'd do. The reassurance, the lectures, the discussions, keeping them on track and even the nagging continues for oh so long.
It's starting to dawn on me that I only have one son married...but at least, two others are living independently, three more are semi-grown...it's a long slow process involving that rubber wall that they seem to hit which bounces them back into my lap way too often.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Grandma just pointed out that all three of us adults went down hard within just one month's time. Me with major surgery, Grandma's heart attack and hospitalization, and now Grandpa's hernia sugery this past week. All between Oct 13th and Nov 15th, that's a lot of healing to pack in such a short time, a lot of kids to get scared when all three adults seem to crash and burn. Three usually strong, energetic and active adults laid low, sitting stunned on the sofa, missing their real lives.
Edgar remarked yesterday that he sure was glad to see me up and running hard again, tending to everything, no sign of what had sugically happened to me...if a 19 year old needs strong reassurance, how much more so for the little kids?
Nurse Faye called me today to let me know that Vanessa's hand was stepped on in a basketball game in P.E., apparently not broken but she sure is as bruised.
I was at Wal-Mart getting fabric for Lily's school project, more groceries, and Chuy's birthday gifts, he's 11 now, when Faye called my cell. Faye mentioned that Vanessa would probably be embarrassed that she'd called me but I beg to differ. Vanessa loves knowing that Faye cares also, that Faye took the time to call me about this, yet another level of security for Vanessa.
Sarah and I accomplished about half of our errands today, over scheduling as usual, trying to cram it all in within the few short hours the kids are in school. Mayra turns 13 on Sunday and Big Jose is 33 that same day.
Sonny's darling girlfriend, Erica, was out in the yard, hopefully fussing Sonny out, when I left today. My words coming out of her mouth obviously means more to him than my yapping. I was just glad to see her there. She and I are so on the same page when it comes to Sonny, constantly double-teaming him, equally as frustrated though.
I expected to really have it out with Joey today but I laid down the law, he now has a baby bedtime...if he wants to act as young as a toddler, he can go to bed between 9 and 10, he owes me a boatload of work, and fortunately ever-forgiving Chuck will hire him all day Saturday. Gito has farmwork also for Mr. T, and I make them both deposit every penny into their respective savings accounts.
Trying to remain optimistic in spite of my kid's sabotaging themselves, thinking about turning messes into masterpieces someday; I gotta keep making positive changes in, around, and for them all.
Fortunately Big Joe passed me about a hundred Alyssa pictures as our camera is again on the fritz. And truly, who wants to see a photo of an 18 year old toddler?
I woke up in the middle of the night, uneasy and restless, so I went downstairs where I caught Joey on the computer...he'd somehow gotten the password, and I was then so angry I hardly slept the rest of the night. He's again been suspended from McDonalds for yet another week for not minding the manager. I'd also taken him to an adult education center where he'd tested out at a third grade level overall, and I am just about out of patience and options. I have an 18 year old toddler incapable of flipping burgers, on felony probation, and it's not even like I can assign chores to him...if so I have to be by his side monitoring every single minute.
Sonny, as well, fired from probably his tenth job in a year for arguing. I suppose that now they are "grown" they think they don't have to listen to anyone yet neither of them are capable of understanding the negative consequences of their actions. Sonny owes money to several people and is in danger of having his driver's license suspended for not paying a speeding ticket from last summer. When I tried to make him discuss, and understand his predicament, he'd stormed out of the house in angry tears.
Both boys would greatly benefit from the armed forces yet neither can satisfactorily pass the ASVAB test, further limiting their few options.
And my elementary kids know there's a costume parade of book characters this morning at school and are all stressing me out about it, like I have princess outfits or whatever. I finally said after the sixth kid's meltdown, let's just go to school late as the parade is at 8, thus resulting in an ensuing chorus of, "nos!"
"OK, guys, this parade is optional, not important in the grand scheme of things...let's get a grip."
CW and Allen have creative book reports due, I've made them work on it all week and at least it's done, and ready to be turned in today, but it's taken empty cereal boxes, a gallon of glue, and more tears and sweat than what's normally involved in a minor rage or two.
Sarah's birthday is next week, Chuy's is tomorrow, but we're going to tend to business today, knowing full well, at least with Sarah The Birth Child, that events always conspire against her on that day, let's outsmart fate and do it today.
Dr. G is coming this morning to work on Gito's anger issues that have exploded all over the place lately. I'd emailed his wrestling coach, letting him know that Gito's next consequence would be no sports, something I'd truly hate to do, knowing how positive the sports environment is for kids. But I've learned, over the years, and my then caseworker, Emily, had pointed out that if I draw a line in the sand, the kid will cross it as if on a dare.
I agree with her, having seen this happen time and time again, but with counseling, an outside influence along with a coach versus mean ole mom...sometimes we've then been known to achieve positive results.
Last night again, on Larry King Live, yet another panel of positive thinkers, spurring me on. Click the link to read a transcript of last night's show. I'd only seen the last 20 minutes due to the fact that Edgar and I'd been running errands until 9:30 last night including me begging the McDonalds manager to not punish me by suspending Joey but to no avail. Edgar charming, gentlemanly, and fun to be with in very sharp contrast to an obstreperous, hateful Joey.
Miriam told me a man, an employee at a pizza place, had approached her in McDonalds and informed her, "I know your mama, Cindy Brown."
Miriam, not knowing my first married name, two name changes ago, not even putting that Brown name with Sarah's former last name, just stared at this guy, shaken up a bit, said, "that's not my mom's name", telling me later, and I figured out who it was. A harmless comment, yet I had some explaining to do, I never talk about my life back then, it has no bearing on now. Some kids don't know I've ever even been married...jeepers I'm just trying to get through each day which brings me back to my usual sunny outlook.
I was thinking about that last night, in light of the very negative children that I live with. I understand their world view has been dimmed by circumstances beyond their control but once again, I need to change their stinking thinking and replace it with possibility thinking.
Logically this can't be done...what I'm doing...a single mom with 39 kids. BUT I strongly believe that this is possible, I throw everything I have into doing it, I don't quit or back down (yes I have down moments sometimes) but I build my faith, read inspirational books and pay attention to what goes into my mind, needing always to replenish what the world dishes out at me. Don't tell me I can't do what I'm obviously doing.
I need to always be an example to my children and even to those reading this blog. I hear from others who pep talk themselves along the line of, "if Cindy can do this with 39 kids, I can do it with my own 10, 20, 30"...how ever many they have. I even have people say that whenever they feeled overwhelmed by life, they think about me...if Cindy can get through her crap, then so can I. Hmmmm...OK if that's my role in life, then I'll take it.
I wish there was a channel featuring my favorite authors, speakers, and motivational coaches...a 24 hour cable channel...there's an idea, if I weren't already so busy...but that's how great things are done...listening to what bops around in one's mind, great ideas that need momentum and encouragement; no limitations by naysayers and dream stealers.
Sarah just suggested that I download podcasts. Bingo.
One man last night, on TV, suggested that negative thoughts even have a negative affect on the biochemistry of one's body and this I believe wholeheartedly. Life is so short...let's be happy...if I can still smile, while living with Joey, then let others use that thought to encourage them to get through today. I know, deep within, that all these kid's negative outlooks are just a challenge, if this was easy, then everyone would do it.
I'd even gone in the front office at school with my line of tardy kids. This has never happened, we are never tardy, Jonathan is still home in mid-rage.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
My brother-in-law, Kevin sent me this interesting link and no, Kevin, I'm not too busy for this, this kind of stuff spurs me on and fascinates me.
And Wendy sent me this video link.
This may be my fourth post of the day, but truly, it's taken all of 20 minutes to do it all. An avoidance of the laundry room possibly...
Nando, not pictured here, this is CJ, is still on the Pre-K waiting list, the list has not budged, and it's really likely that he won't get into Pre-K this year.
I don't sweat it, Pre-K is optional, and I still think that four is too young to be in school all day, what's up with that? What about a half day at best? Why lunch and a nap at school? Institutional food and a mat? I'm not impressed at all.
Socialization isn't an issue for us either what with all our family members. What's the use of me being a stay at home mom if there are no kids with me? Tabby and Nando have been carted around more in their first two years of life than normal people ever experience. They need my physical presence and my undivided attention.
There's time enough for a full schedule of school, it doesn't have to start yet. They need to not be rushed off in the morning, they need cuddle time, Mama fixing their food, reassuring them constantly that this is their forever home, we'll never move and I'm your real mama.
Heck fire, I'm a certified elementary school teacher, I can teach them the rudimentary basics, more importantly, I can them them to be emotionally strong, safe and secure, I can have garden time with them, something that'll carry over into their adult life and I can take them to church and other fun activities.
I don't want to drop them off at school for someone else to take care of them, I want to take care of them.
Sarah and I'd tried yesterday to explain to Miss Becky why we preferred used stuff over having to go shop for new items, and I just don't think we clarified it correctly. It dawned on me late last night however as I stepped barefoot on to a bathmat we'd received, that it could very well be that we can't afford squat. I'd not had a bathmat in front of my sink until yesterday, my only bathmat was in front of the shower, now I have two.
Lord have mercy! It was thick and luxurious and I wiggled my toes in delight, wishing that it had occurred to me before I was 52, that this is a slice of Heaven. This is why I use DUH so much, everyone else on earth has figured out the obvious way before it ever hit me upside my hard head.
Miss Becky gave us beautiful towels of a quality I could never have afforded, the thickness of which I've never felt before...it doesn't even occur to me that this quality exists until I receive some, and then I'm as amazed as if one of my hens spoke Spanish to me one afternoon.
Besides having towels now that actually absorb water, we've had a spate of good grades and stellar behavior lately...even by Joey and Teresa. Adele and Nancy...please continue this prayer covering, it's awesome.
Today I need to jet to town and meet about Fabian, see a doctor afterwards, and at 3:30 get my slow butt back to the high school as Teresa is receiving an award, plus get Miriam and Joey to work on time. Not a tough day at all.
Being humbled, shot down, and laid out by my recent surgery certainly was an eye-opener, learning the hard way that we sometimes do need doctors. A big Duh.
I'd been my usual testy self a couple of years ago with a brand new OB-GYN doctor, Dr. Rachel, yet I ran to her when I found that lump in my belly, she'd immediately sent me to the best surgeon around.
She'd also been the one there with us the night that Sarah's baby, Bailey, didn't make it. I cried like the world was ending, couldn't stop cryng, just stood there, and sobbed hard. Dr. Rachel was sensitive to our heartbreak, allowing Sarah, Preston, Preston's Mom and I time with the baby.
Dr. Rachel came by my hospital room the morning after my surgery and she called me last night to check on me, to let me know that she too had received the pathology report and that it was definitely non-malignant. She'd asked how Sarah was doing as well, knowing Sarah's had the roughest year of her life.
It's this kind of concern that makes me feel stupid for my previous attitude, makes me realize that my wellness program should include doctors like her. I want to live a long life because I'm still hyper-active, excited by life and what it holds, my kids need me, and then there's the grandkids.
I know that abdominal masses usually spell trouble, I comprehend that I certainly dodged that bullet, and I see vividly that I'm not physically the Superwoman that I once innocently thought I was.
I've learned, by being temporarily disabled, a wheelbarrow load. I'll remember these lessons, that I learned the hard way, down the road. I'll be a bit quicker about getting medical help and I appreciate a non I-Told-You-So like Dr. Rachel.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I'm actually reading volume 5, that I paid a nickel for at a yard sale. I stack these motivational books up until I get a chance to glance, grabbing one when headed to a marathon dentist visit, or out the door for other appointments.
In volume five, I'd read a story about a local lady, Gloria Wright, PhD, and I'd come away with some of her interesting thoughts. I often claim to be an optimist, unless I'm in a screaming mad fit where I've conveniently forgotten all my inspirational quotes, and sometimes I think that I simply put a good spin on a bad situation in order to make it more palatable.
This lady puts it better. She calls it reframing the event, reframing it in a positive way and learning lessons from one's experiences; to purposefully view it as a positive experience. Also that optimistic people, she used the term peak performers, tend to surround themselves with cheerleaders and believers; dream makers not dream breakers. "Surround yourself with people who inspire and enthuse you and believe in you." I want to be that kind of mama to children that crave commitment and authenticity.
She talks about focusing on the essence of one's life, being internally motivated by meaningfulness, loving life and loving what ones does with their life.
I often, daily, if not minute by minute, have to re-direct conversations, to remind my kids not to dwell on their anger, nor continuously whine about circumstances. OK, y'all, here's what we have, let's work with it.
Winners, do, losers excuse. Readers are leaders. If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all...I'm constantly spouting off lines that I want them to remember.
I need to refresh myself every day as well. I need to keep looking at the big picture and not let the little details, like police visits, rages, and broken windows bring me down.
This is why I read these inspiring words by others.
Sharon has been struggling in trying to find help for her mentally ill daughter just as I am also trying to secure therapeutic, versus punitive, help fpr Fabian.
There comes a time when it is unsafe for some children to remain in family settings, either unsafe for them or for others. There truly is very little help available as these behaviors are often so bizarre as to leave everyone at a loss. To be blunt, sadly, usually our children, that were adopted from the foster care system, came from marginal birth parents who often suffered from their own diagnoses.
Amy has undergone many trials and years later, like most of us, has learned how to continue to seek help that, at one time, we may have either been too polite, or even too timid to ask for...often unrealistically feeling like we ought to be able to handle this or that. Yeah, right.
Amy's email read:
"Every adoptive mom needs a course on posturing. In governmental offices, medicaid, SSI, hospitals, etc, you need to burn this phrase into your brain: "Let me talk to your supervisor." That one phrase has helped me sooo much over the years. And if that supervisor doesn't help, keep going up the ladder until you get to the CEO. Then you get help.
Know your rights. Yesterday Jeremy's bus was very late, (He rides a special bus for kids with behavior problems) and I needed the car so I had to take DH to work. So Jeremy and I started off on the 45 minute trek to his school. When we get there and sign in at the main office, the principal says Well our special bus driver is sick, you'll have to pick him up later.
Sooo...knowing the kid's rights, I said, "So you're saying that since I can't pick him up that he can't come to school today." She counters with "No, I'm saying you'll have to pick him up." I reiterate I cannot do that as I have to be home for the other kids. She says, have someone else pick him up.
So I pull out the big gun. I said, "Well let's go have a look at his IEP. I'm pretty sure it says he needs transportation for his special needs." She looks at me and realizes I know this boy's rights. She says, "Just a minute." And she calls the bus garage and arranges for another bus to be dispatched and bring him home.
I could have taken another hour and a half out of my day, making it 3 hours I spent in the car going to and from that school. But just a little posturing got me what I wanted.
When Ethan was a baby and needed heart surgery desperately and I was having trouble getting medicaid, I went up the supervisor levels there but still wasn't getting anywhere. So I called Senator Bob Graham's office and told them the story. Now that probably wouldn't have gotten me anywhere, but I told the aide "Tell Senator Graham that his help to save the life of a little boy with DS would make a GREAT newspaper piece." BLAM...I had the medicaid that day. The article in the paper was out in a week.
Posturing. Supervisors, state level administrators, and especially attorneys. In 37 years of doing this, that's what has made my life easier. I know my rights and how to enforce them. And now with the legal plan in effect, I have some power behind my posturing with CPS as well. I love the idea of when CPS shows up, being able to go call my attorney and then hand the phone out the door to the "angels of torture." So many problems over the years could have been prevented by having this legal plan in effect at that time.
If there is one thing that should be taught in a homestudy, and isn't, this would be it."
One of my many, necessary rules is that everyone needs to stay within eyesight of the windows unless they've asked permission to go to the creek or somewhere. This picture kinda illustrates how I often look out the window and see a bunch of kids getting up a game in the meadow.
Yesterday, sweet Sonny, driving to town, came across a truck that was trimming trees and got them to come over and dump the woods chips on our property. It's a huge load, but I have extensive gardens, so this'll be about an eighth of an inch overall. I try and use a foot a year of mulch, as our scalding Georgia sun burns it all down to an inch or so eventually, as I also slop horse manure everywhere to speed up the decomposition process. I have rewardingly rich soil now from once sloggy red clay.
I ran outside when the truck got here, along with about 20 over-excited kids, I must have looked really desperate for news from the outside world or something, but the startled truck driver promised to bring me more loads soon.
I'm gonna shame Sarah into blogging the most wonderful lunch that she brought me yesterday...no pressure darling, but get busy...why would I ever miss restaurant food when I have a world class chef in the family, and I'm never suspicious of the ingredients she's used as she's pickier than I am, very conscientious about quality, and super nutritious food.
Yesterday apparently was my Mental Health Connections Day, as I spent many phone calls, and one appointment, with the various mental health professionals involved with our family. Alex is coming home Tuesday for nearly a week, she's been in several physical altercations lately at the psychiatric RTC, but I'd told the therapist I still wanted her to come spend Thanksgiving with us. Generally Alex is just so glad to be here that she maintains pretty well for several days.
We have a meeting scheduled that same Tuesday morning at DJJ regarding Fabian...I don't know what's going to happen, I'm greatly concerned about his future. His blind, violent rages are robbing him of a decent childhood.
Teresa's IFI therapist and I had a great time yesterday as it was all so positive. Duh, I'm not going to think she's "cured", I'm simply going to enjoy the progress that I see being made right now. I know, from experience, that Teresa will make me pay for all my kind words as she internally denies that she deserves them, but that's just a step in the process, I expect it, will deal with it, and keep looking forward to see better choices from her.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
When Sergi'd first heard that I needed an operation, he went pale and scared. I spent an evening reassuring this Navy war veteran that all would be fine, I thought he was OK.
But Joe told me that Sergi had run over to his apartment, "Dude, I don't know what would happen to me if something happened to Mom!"
Joe hollered back, "You're a grown ass man! What about Tabby? That's who oughta be worried."
Sergi just stared blankly back at him.
And as a child, that's exactly how Sergi was, and still is.
A mom of a large family, Kerri, asked me to blog about some organizational details...which would assume that I'm more organized than others, which is bull.
First of all, heck with organization, it's humor that gets us through. I can crack a joke in a heartbeat and it's contagious. Big Joe gave me this picture of him from Halloween. "Check it out, Mama, I'm a white boy now."
He told me a funnier story, as well, that I'll relate later when I figure out how to replace a perfectly acceptable cuss word that he used
But daily...I fight an uphill, losing battle that frustrates me enormously.
My children are PIGS. I totally understand their need to recreate chaos, as that's all they knew. I get it that they never learned to take care of things, and I comprehend the destructiveness born out of their deep frustration over negative life events.
BUT I have broken windows and it is cold outside. Finally a handyman is coming today to replace windows but, duh, I'll need him over and over again.
Kerri wants to know how I get 20 something kids out the door each morning looking presentable. Honey, it ain't easy...
I insist on collared shirts for my sons, they don't even think about doing otherwise, now after years of my bellowing and nagging, it's a non-issue, they get up and get dressed. I work the kitchen, making sure everyone eats something appropriate, I'm usually signing agenda books, guzzling coffee, and reminding different kids of schedules and obligations.
Chores suck for us, it seems as if we no sooner get the house straightened up, then it is trashed again, 20 pairs of shoes strowed everywhere, stinky socks hanging from the ceiling fan, a pile of dirty laundry close to the machine if I'm lucky, smelly bathrooms constantly, trash making a perfect circle around the trash can rather than in the trash can, holes in the walls for artwork along with psychotic crayon drawings, and a couple of long thin lines of as yet undetected poop smears. I'm always dumb enough to smell it first so I can then make the culprit clean it up.
We have several bathrooms and several hot water heaters, I supervise baths of the 15 younger kids, middle school and up like mornings showers. I do all the laundry until a kid gets to the age that they'd rather do their own due to the fact that I don't sort by color, or get all hot and bothered if stuff isn't perfect.
I cook, but right now I need older kids to lift the heavy pots for me. Everyone washes their own dishes, we have two dishwashers and one seems to always be running. No one just helps themselves to whatever they feel like eating as I cook real sit down meals, that may seem like a huge undertaking, but truthfully I believe it is easier than the chaos that would ensue with a couple of dozen people rummaging and helping themselves to whatever.
Everyone is supposed to keep their own rooms clean, and I think they do a terrible job at it, I nag and withhold computer time until it is done, and it usually stays clean for 90 or so seconds. I'm not joking.
It's getting somewhat easier now that the kids are getting older and due to the fact that we haven't had any new arrivals in nearly two years.
I get up early, I'm old and can't sleep, I enjoy my coffee, it takes me all of five minute to pound out a blog post or two, in many ways it is beneficial and quite therapeutic for me, but now I have 6 dentist appointments to get to, my high school kids and older, the phone keeps ringing, and I gotta get more groceries...