The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round.. All around our Airbnb!

     You have got to be kidding… Our AIRBNB sits LITERALLY within the confines of the bus loop at an elementary school.  An actively used bus loop! Come Monday morning, 500 kids under the age 10 will be outside the window of this AIRBNB.

THIS IS RIDICULOUS! 

… AND IT IS HILARIOUS! 

… And you can’t make this [bleep] up!  My husband has booked my son and I an AIRBNB reservation at a home in a very BIZARRE location.  (Me: LAUGHING A LOT.  My 18-yr-old son: not so much laughing)

Life is really, really, really hard – at my house.  It has been that way for several years.  So I use a little crazy as my coping skill.  I find humor in my surroundings.  Honestly, it is there but sometimes it’s hard to see when you face insurmountable challenges daily.  We adopted two kids who have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).  They push loving people away because the love from their original family hurt them as infants.

So my advice when life is insanelier HARDER than you could have ever imagined:

LAUGH!  If you can’t find something funny, then be funny!  Wear an Iron Man mask in the Starbucks drive-thru and if the guy named Jeff handing you a coffee doesn’t laugh but you and your daughter do, then maybe you will make it through another day!  Woot!  Woot!

But – oh there is so much more to the story about the time my son and I stayed in the BUS LOOP at an AIRBNB  on the campus of an elementary SCHOOL!

TJ and I were off for another soccer tournament a couple hours from home.  He has played competitive soccer since the age of 7.  He plays at the highest level in the state.  We often need overnight accommodations so we have turned to AIRBNB for help.  We have found this usually gives us more space, cooler places and it’s loads cheaper!  So Dad took on  the job of concierage and booked our lodgings.

To be fair, the description of this AIRBNB was not accurate.  Seriously people!  If you have a home that sits next to 500 small children learning reading and math,  then you should say so.  No where did the write-up of the hotel alternative mention swings, slides, cafeterias or raccoons… or rats!  Upon arrival, my son and I thought “this can not be right” as we knocked on the only building we could find with the given Google Maps directions.  A man and woman looking ready to run a marathon answered the door.  They were actually ready to run a marathon.  And we were the ‘lucky’ family who had booked their soon to be empty home.  They chatted us up a bit when we really just wanted to lay down on a comfy bed.  We exchanged pleasantries about our lives.  They told us they both were police officers.  AND THAT IS WHY THEY LIVE ON THE CAMPUS OF AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.  They have an incredibly low rent and the school gets 24-hour security.  Kinda makes a bit more sense, kinda right?

They head out the door and my son and I scratch our heads.  As we look around, we see a lot of ODD THINGS:

  1.  There is the largest, furry, brown beanbag-like monstrosity the size of a baby elephant in the place of a chair to sit on in the living area.  It has a 5″ x  12″ rectangular manufacturer label that says “LOVE SAC”.  I decided to not  ever sit on someone else’s large furry “Love Sac”.  Nope, not gonna sit there.
  2. There is a glass shelving unit outside the bathroom with its’ own set of oddities.  One shelf is devoted to 5 different Wonder Woman trinkets:  a Wonder Woman Pez candy dispenser,  a Wonder Woman mug and a couple other things that I could look back on my phone and see but it is not really crucial information.
  3. There is a hand-crafted sun-catcher – likely from a neice or younger person- that reads NAMASTE.  When I read it aloud to my son, he yelled back cleverly:  “Namaste?[It is important to note the correct pronounciation /naw-maw-stay/]… Naw Maw NOT WANT TO STAY!  I died laughing.  Pretty funny guy huh?
  4. The top shelf has a 18 inch Teddy bear dressed in a police woman’s uniform and a lacy collar.  Do you remember these from the 80’s?  Just.  Gross.
  5. The kitchen reveals a pantry in which 100% of every edible item is housed in a Rubbermaid container and a small circular note adorns one of them at eye-level.  It reads:  DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RACCOONS!  I am not kidding.  Who leaves a note that says DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE RACCOONS on the containers in a pantry in which they have booked guests?  Well, that’s easy.  The same people who tell their guests that they are new to South Florida and have not had any rodent issues –except– rats— once—- a year ago.  THEY ACTUALLY SAID THAT.  I don’t think I would mention that folks.
  6. The comforter, window coverings and pillows are an awful primary blue fish or planet design.  I can’t quite recollect but remember them being hideous.  Not the type of  adult room decor normally in a guest bedroom.  More of an 8-year-old boy kinda vibe.  But the home owners don’t have a child.  They said they did not have kids.  Oh, okay.   Possibly, the linens could have been from a clearance rack.  They kinda had that look.  Like they would have set on a shelf for a while until the store clerks got the go-ahead to move these atrocious comforter sets out the door by marking them way down.  Cheap.
  7.  Outside we had to be very specific on where we parked.  Ya know – if a giant yellow school bus needed to use their designated bus loop.  We were to park under the tarp held up by metal piping stuck in plastic 5 gallon buckets filled with cement.  Fancy!  Kinda like a portico but in a third world country.

The adventure did not end there with the accommodations.  The home owners did follow ONE traditional AIRBNB protocol.  They had a notebook on the bedside table to give insider tips about the best places to visit in the area.   One look at the restaurant recommendations and I knew where we HAD TO GO for dinner:  MUNCHIES 420.   When you stay at a place where you are pretty sure the people living there smoke pot and arrest people for smoking pot, then you gotta go try the suggested MUNCHIES 420.  I don’t smoke weed.  (While vacuuming my couch cushions. I found a pill bottle with what looked like dried grass- to me.  I did not understand why the kid from my husband’s soccer team who lived with us because his parents didn’t parent him had a pill bottle with grass in it.  I called my husband.  I literally said, “I found a pill bottle of (insert soccer players name)’S and it has what looks like dried grass or weeds in it.  What do you think it is?”  “Weed” said my hubbie.  I was confused and said, “No, it looks like weeds or something.  What could it be?”  Again,  “Weed” said my hubbie.  Took me a while but I finally understood.  Oh!  I was holding weed, like marajuana.  That was a first for me.)   But, I highly recommend Munchies 420.   I ordered the “Dankalicious Chicken Nugs” and TJ got a “Fat Mamma”.  (No, not me.  I struggle with weight gain because of anxiety.  Really.  Every word of this post is true.  I do struggle with not eating enough because of have a nervous stomach. But I didn’t struggle ordering when the dessert menu listed Fried Apple Pie Bites.  I could have ordered the Fried Twinkie.  I was tempted. )  Back to TJ’s dinner.  A Fat Mamma is a pizza philly with chicken fingers, mozzerella stix and spuds.  Or maybe he ate a Fat Daddy.  I can’t remember… so there could be one thing that is not true.  I don’t know which one he had.  But I do know the food was ON POINT!  Great food.  Two hysterically drunk guys about 40 behind us.  Good laughs!

In the end,  I don’t know if my son’s soccer team won or lost that weekend.  I can not remember these games.   He has had hundreds of games but I will never forget –   

The Wheels On the Bus go Around our Airbnb,

around the Airbnb,

around the Airbnb.

The Wheels On the Bus Go Around our Airbnb-  THAT MY HUSBAND BOOKED!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Therapist Called It … “Protective Factors”

What stops an adoptive mom who has lived,  no, – existed, year after year, day after day, and moment by moment in fear, exhaustion, depression, desperation…

  • from just pressing her foot to the floorboard firmly and driving off the nearest bridge,
  • from taking more – way more, perhaps all – of the prescription pills she takes for her PTSD… she developed loving on her adopted kids,
  • from just sitting alone in the car, hiding out from the nightmare that lies behind the closed-door to the house and the closed garage door to the unknowing world, escaping to the places the radio takes her with the car running…

Our therapist called them – those reasons that keep some hurting mommas from committing suicide – “PROTECTIVE FACTORS”.  I nodded and asked her again, “protective factors huh?  That term makes a lot of sense.”  Those two words rolled around the places in my head.

I thought my own recovery.  I thought about my personal PROTECTIVE FACTORS.  I have joked with my husband about how wonderful death seemed compared to the insanely tough adoption journey we are on.  We can joke about suicide because we each have a lot of protective factors.  I have dealt with depression.  I currently take prescription medication for this beast.  Year after year of tooting a horn on December 31st thinking, “this year can’t possibly be as horrific as this last year has been!”, and it being worse than horrific makes for one weary soul.  I specifically remember having this thought in 2015 going into 2016.  I thought the same way on Dec. 31, 2016.  On January 1st, 2018,  I had learned to NOT think in the same manner…  because my circumstances might not get better this year.  Hoping in a good year,  a good day etc.  has set me up for failure on many occasions.  Now I just roll with it and hope only in God.  If I have a good day or week.. BONUS.  But if I don’t have a good day… well, I have been camped out there for quite some time, so I know I am going to be okay.  Funny what repetitive CRAP will do for you!

So what are my personal protective factors?

#1  I have ZERO PROBLEMS ASKING FOR HELP AND SUPPORT.  The moment we took a hard left turn on BIPOLAR DRIVE, I called our adoption support specialist.  She put me in contact with a foster mom mentor.  And if my support system suggested something, I did it.  It certainly couldn’t hurt and might actually help.  As my symptoms related to mental illness worsened,  I went to a doctor for medication and a counselor for therapy.  My husband looked at me and said “You need to see a doctor!”  My response was, “Yeah,  I probably do.”

#2  I have MAINTAINED CONNECTIONS TO SUPPORT SYSTEMS.  I have gone to adoptive parenting classes to learn about how to handle my kids with RAD – Reactive Attachment Disorder.  I have stayed in contact with some of those friends on Facebook.  I have made amazing sisterhood relationships with moms of RAD kids.  That is a population of moms who understand each others bizarre life circumstances.  When you are attacked as a “nurturing enemy” because your child’s biological mom completely SUCKED at mommy-ing, you need to hear you aren’t crazy or alone.  RAD adoptive kids push away from really awesome adoptive moms because that kind of relationship had gone horribly wrong at birth.  No one answered their cries.  No one feed them.  The mom who was supposed to be there wasn’t.  So a child with RAD will fight like a Tasmanian devil before she ever lets you get emotionally close to her.  Sabotage,  manipulation, lying and deceit are hallmarks of a RAD kid.  [GET INTO A SUPPORT GROUP IN YOUR AREA OR FIND A GROUP ON FACEBOOK!  SUPPORT GROUPS ARE INVALUABLE.]

I also have support from my family, a few close friends, my church and God.  I know God well.  And He is my most important PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  He says I am loved, I am worthy,  I am special,  and I am safe in His arms.  Thank God! Literally!

My daughters, Kylee and Haylee, are helpful.  And by that, I mean that they are MEAN.  Like, if you don’t understand what happens to a developing young lady around the age of 15, fair warning folks, it gets ugly.  I have been told my chewing on a carrot makes my daughter want to die.  Also eating cereal is a justifiable reason for screaming death threats at me.  Don’t eat cereal in front of my  16-year-old daughter.  It is a bad idea.  My 19-year-old is at college and is quite blunt.  When she calls home,  she does NOT want to talk about how I am doing.  So when she asks, “So, how’s it going, Mom?”,  she doesn’t really care at the moment (because she isn’t here and can’t help –  she says) what my actual state of “how’s it going” is, she wants to exchange pleasantries and talk about her life.  But their meanness has been a protective factor.  They don’t let me fall to pieces and hold me.  Most of the time.  They tell me to suck it up.  Most of the time.  [Side note: You can not ‘suck up’ PTSD.  It is an injury that needs healing and often needs help.]  So their meanness pushes me to exercise great emotional fortitude and strength and use my coping skills.

My husband’s love, grace, acceptance, and time are the bandages to my brain injury.  Just like Jesus,  Kyle extends to me gifts that I don’t deserve.  He gives them freely and unconditionally.  Some “Christians” struggle to give what has been freely given to them.  Some Christians have loved me conditionally.  Some friends – who are Christians – have abandoned me when the crap hit the fan… (it is definitely shit that hits the fan but I don’t want to offend those judgmental ‘Christians’ previously mentioned.)  This has been true of my family members too.  Some people just can’t handle the messiness of my life.  And I totally get it.  Because I can not handle the messiness of my life.  But if you have a messy life,  I know how you hurt.  And I offer you love, grace, acceptance, time and my heart that I hope you can hear and feel as you read my blog.  Just like my hubbie.  He is awesome.

My 19-year-old son’s steadiness helps.  My son is like a golden retriever.  He is reliable.  He is protective.  He is available.  He is present.  He always has my back.  But this personality type isn’t without flaws.  He has extended himself as the strong, unbreakable man who is exhausted from always being the strong, I GOT THIS guy.  He struggles with stress but he doesn’t show that much.

Celebrate Recovery – a 12-step Christian support program – similar to AA but not just for addicts – has changed my life.  Celebrate Recovery is for anyone with hurts, habits, or hang-ups.  I got hurts.  So I am in like Flynn.  (Who’s Flynn?)  I do not have addictive behaviors.  Doesn’t make me better – just isn’t my struggle.  For me, alcohol costs a lot of fricking money.  So I don’t buy it.  Therefore, I have not developed an addition to alcohol.  But I 100% understand why people get addicted to drugs, alcohol, bad relationships, do risky things, etc.  THEY HURT.  IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.  I have been hurt so deeply that I have come to identify with all sorts – the other hurting people, the crazy, the angry, the alcoholic, the anything to avoid this pain person.  When someone talks about the crazy lady at Wal-Mart walking around the store singing, my thoughts are:  “Hey don’t bash her.  That could SO EASILY BE ME!”

If you haven’t noticed the name of this blog – it is CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  I use fun and finding humor to get through life.  I will wear a llama costume to my son’s soccer practice to make him laugh.  And others.  And me!  It is a win-win in my book.  So don’t be surprised if I rewire my riding lawn mower’s whole electrical system by watching a 14-year-old do it on YouTube (because rewiring a riding lawn mower will distract me from the stealing of everything my 13-year-old can get his hands on if not watched on a baby monitor).   And if I am going to rewire the whole thing,  I should pimp this metal ride out.  And paint the riding lawn mower camo green with bright pink polka dots.  And name her Patricia (AKA Patty – actually my 16-year-old looked at the mower and said HER name was Patricia).  Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast.  And to make the maiden voyage of Patricia the Polka Dotted Beast insanelier bizarre (and funnier in a twisted way),  she killed a rabbit.  I know INSANELIER is not a word but I am using it here.  The acre of grass around my home had grown while I rewired the mower.  And bunnies had been born.  The bunnies in my neighborhood,  known as Jupiter Farms,  are delivered in a tall clump of grass.  That described my whole yard when I started mowing.  I had actually already rescued another tiny bunny from the chicken wire under the shed that I tried to escape through.  As I gently tried to get him out of his predicament (he couldn’t get through the opening in the chicken wire),  he made a squeal like a pig.  Who knew a rabbit could squeal like that?  I feared a giant momma rabbit bounding up behind me and exercising motherly protection of her helpless babe by ferociously attacking me.  I am not making any of this story up.  This totally just happened.  Me and Patty were just cruising along when a small bunny exited the lawn mower’s blade deck stage right.  It wasn’t her fault.  She is a BEAST.  It wasn’t my fault.  I couldn’t see it and wouldn’t kill a bunny.  But life in the Farms has taught me the circle of life.  We have had chickens killed by predators and who knows whate else so often that the innocent death of said bunny did bother me enough to make some one else pick him up but also make me laugh at the irony of this convoluted story.  Yep  CRAZY IS MY COPING SKILL.  LAUGH OR DIE.  Also a protective factor because I choose to laugh.

I run or exercise really hard when I am triggered.  PROTECTIVE FACTOR.  It completes the cycle of the FIGHT – FLIGHT – OR FREEZE MODE.   The chemicals dumped into my brain during a triggered response are there to protect me.  The survival mode kicks in and involves cortisol and adrenaline.  Until the chemicals are exercised out and I feel safe again,  I will be stuck struggling with PTSD symptoms:

  • countless intrusive thoughts
  • blood pressure elevated
  • sweating or feeling hot and flushed
  • manic thinking and talking
  • escape plan making
  • desiring to hide, run, fight…
  • shaking feeling all over – esp. teeth and hands
  • feeling like a bomb is strapped to my lower back
  • or feeling like a gun is pressed to the back of the base of my head.

I listen to the Bible on an app that reads the word of God to me.  The app is called Daily Audio Bible and it is free.  Lord knows I can’t read His word when scared to death.  I listen to my Spotify called Encouragement in Sadmess.  That was totally an accident in typing and M instead of an N but I think sadmess fits better than sadness in my situation.

I write also.  I scribble more often in a journal or notebook than on this blog.  I write sloppy and furious to record the things my brain does these days.  It is partly humorous.  It is partly sad.  But I want to record what I am going through.  I think that if I can tell one person that they are not alone, it will be worth the effort.

We adopted hoping to help.  I now write hoping to help.  And as another side note:  We are doing everything we can to help our adopted and biological kids.  It has meant that some of our kids do not live at home sometimes.  We all deserve to feel safe.  When that safety is destroyed,  I have learned to put up HEALTHY BOUNDARIES.   Our adopted kids will always be a part of our family if they choose.  But we may choose to have them live elsewhere to protect our safety foremost – and sanity secondly.

-Which is a losing battle I fear.  [sarcasm mixed with truth]  Sanity straddles a fine line between crazy and coping.  I blur the line sometimes!

SO I LIVE BY GETTING HELP AND SUPPORT, STAYING CONNECTED TO SUPPORT, KEEPING AN AGENDA, TEACHING KIDS IN CHINA ONLINE, BEING SILLY AND COPING”

1 day at a time-

WITH  2 years in recovery from hurts-

and 3 years of ‘every-flippin’ day” HELL-

and 7 years of our adoption journey-

and 13 years of trouble-free parenthood-

and 25 years of marriage-

and 30 years of BELONGING to Him.. Committed our lives to Jesus-

and 46 years of HIS BEST in my life!

 

[and our family therapist Crystal’s guidance…court ordered when our daughter went into state custody so she could get the help she needs and we could be safe from her out of control behaviors. She has given us many very helpful tools like EVEN THOUGH… THINKING while TAPPING,  HULA HOOPING,  BOX BREATHING,  and GUIDED MEDITATION.  Thanks Crystal.  We weren’t excited to have court ordered counseling by a highly dysfunctional Department of Children and Families.  We do love you and your therapy!  Flow!]