Let’s Talk About Crazy.

I want to take a minute to say a few words about a word that I have come to despise.

Crazy.

Oh sure, we use it all the time:Β  My little sister drives me crazy. I swear, I think my boss must be crazy! If the kids don’t stop arguing I’m going to go crazy! What’s wrong with you? Are you crazy?
You get the idea.

Truth is, I never gave it much thought. It’s just one of those words – a catch all kind of word.

And then one day something happened that changed everything. My beautiful girl was having an incredibly hard time with the depression. She’d passed the point of crying and moved into the point of nothingness. The place where nothing seems to matter. It’s a place where at one time she would have resorted to self harming just to feel something – to convince herself that she still could.

The PTSD symptoms were strong and she felt like she was beyond hope or help. She looked at me with eyes that had given up and she said, “Mom, just face it. I’m crazy. I know it. Everyone knows it. You need to admit it.”

She was scared. She did, after all, hear voices in her head. She did, after all, harm herself. She did, after all, live in that dark void where feeling melted away and was replaced with emptiness. She did, after all, think that she would be better off dead.

She feared that if she were honest about all her symptoms and all the things that were going on inside of her head that she would be deemed “crazy.” She was sure of it.

She was terrified the doctor would have her locked up, away from me, key thrown away because there was nothing that could be done to “fix” her. She had decided that others who had often told her, among other harmful things, that there was something “wrong” with her, that she was mental, she was crazy, she was schizophrenic, she was insane – that they were right.

First, I assured her that sharing her symptoms would never cause her to be taken away and put in a hospital for life. She would never be rid of me, and I most definitely was not giving up on her, or abandoning her.

Then I explained to her that there are all kinds of mental illnesses in the world. She already knew this. She is a smart girl. But why is it so hard to know things, yet believe, when it comes to yourself, something different?

Depression is a mental illness. Would she EVER tell someone who had depression that they were crazy? Of course not. Anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, Self Harm, Panic Disorder – all mental or mood disorders.
A person might have a diagnosis of a mental illness, maybe even more than one – but that wasn’t crazy. Why? Because there was no such thing! There is such a thing as having an illness but not such a thing as just being given the catch all diagnosis of crazy.

This has become a dirty word in my book. A word that carries such negative connotations. Think about movies you have seen where insane asylums are used to invoke fear in the movie watcher. We see someone with behaviors we don’t understand and we whisper about them behind their back; that they’re crazy.

What does that even mean? What are we saying about them? We aren’t using the term in any productive fashion.

Crazy. The word perpetuates stigma. It separates those with mental illnesses from the rest of society. It singles people out. It creates the thought that these people are less, that they are somehow broken beyond repair, and that the world has given up on them.

I for one, refuse to be a part of that.
Maybe I’m being hypersensitive about the subject. That’s possible.

But I hate to see a girl with so much to give to the world, with so much potential, with so many hopes and dreams, assuming that she can’t reach her dreams because she is less. Because she isn’t normal. Having depression doesn’t make her crazy. Being suicidal doesn’t make her crazy. Living with PTSD doesn’t make her crazy.

Because Crazy doesn’t exist. Crazy is a label. I don’t like labels.

Labels are words like “Crazy” “Dumb” “Lazy” “Worthless” “Weird” “Freak”
They are vastly different from words that give a diagnosis like “ADHD” “Depression” “Anxiety” “Bipolar Disorder” “Schizophrenia”
Labels are about hate and being misunderstood. Diagnoses are about understanding, treating, and helping.

Let’s all be helpers.

Two A.M. Post Christmas Ramblings

So, it’s two in the morning as I start to write this. Christmas Day is a memory now along with Christmas Eve.

All in all, we can mark this holiday as a success, and that’s a pretty good feeling to have right now. I was just a little worried about how it all would go.

We celebrate Christmas Eve with my family. With just my mother, my siblings, their children and their children, there were about thirty of us present. Cram that many people into the small room where my mom puts up her Christmas tree, and you can very well have a recipe for disaster for my teen with ADHD and PTSD. The noise and overflow of people could have a definite negative impact causing an episode of epic proportions to occur.

I talked to A beforehand, told her that if she started to get overwhelmed to go take a break. Walk outside, get out of the noise and the crowd.

She said she would, but I wasn’t so sure how quickly she could become overwhelmed, or how fast an episode could catch her unaware. She spent the entire day before we went to my mom’s fretting over what would happen if she had a bad episode in front of people. I was afraid the increased anxiety over the “what if” would cause it to happen. So I watched her like some creepy stalker, looking for tell tale signs that she was in distress.

I have to say she handled the evening probably better than I did. The noise level was extremely overwhelming.

She hung in there to the end though, and as I stayed behind to tidy up my mom’s kitchen as the last person finally left, A is standing there when she drops to the floor, curls herself into a ball and declares that she is glad it’s all over. She said it was awesome to see cousins she hadn’t seen in a long time and she was happy she got to play with the younger ones and catch up with the older ones, but she was at the end of her tolerance level for the night. She made it through though, she could be proud of that.

I knew Christmas Day would run the risk of being heavy with episodes, and although my sister kindly asked us to Christmas dinner at her home, I declined, thinking A would be better off staying home and quiet today.

It’s a decision that I believe paid off.

We got up this morning and opened gifts, then A- took a nap. When she got up we curled on the couch and started watching Christmas movies. You know, those cheesy, awful, wonderful movies about holiday romances, scrooges, non believers, and the joy of the season. It was her idea to spend the day watching them and watch we did. I think we got through six before she called it quits to go to bed at one this morning. Or was it seven? I lost count.

I do know that sitting quietly, even while we rotted our brain with television, ate Christmas cookies and homemade cheeseburger soup, was one of the best Christmases we have ever spent. There were no episodes today, and while I know things are never quiet inside my child’s head, she was content.

Tomorrow we will do more of the same. We will spend a quiet day at home watching more movies if she wants, reading, or drawing. I am hoping that two days of quiet and rest following the overstimulating party that was Christmas Eve will be enough to help her transition.

She has a week off from school before going back, and I do hope she can enjoy her break.

She wouldn’t tell me anything she wanted for Christmas this year but I think I did pretty well in choosing some things she would like. I was happy to see her enjoying herself as she unwrapped her gifts. I think I get more excited than she does.

And what did she do?

She went with me last week when I got my hair cut. She was talking to our stylist about how I never took time for myself. I was sitting in the chair listening to my daughter telling me that I needed to do nice things for myself sometimes, and how I needed to take time to do things that made me feel nice, and I wondered where in the world I was going to find time for those things. I spend my time caring for her, and while I know the importance of self care, sometimes the reality is different than the fantasy.

So this morning my daughter had some gifts for me. There were a few different types of face masks, some lovely, absolutely amazing scented nourishing soaps, lotions, lip balm, a beautiful new journal in purple along with a pen, and a bottle of my favorite perfume that I haven’t had in years because I certainly would never buy it for myself. She also bought me a gorgeous glass Turkish decorative bowl that I had admired in a store while we were doing some Christmas shopping. When I tried to complain telling her I didn’t want her spending money on me, she just shook her head at me. She did tell me that well, when she bought the bath and body items her aunt helped her, and when she called her grandmother to ask her to take her to the store to get the perfume there was “no way” her Grandmother was going to let her pay for that by herself, but the bowl? Well, it was on CLEARANCE, so I couldn’t be mad about her spending her money on THAT, now could I? I know, I know, she wanted to do those things and I know how blessed I am, but my Mom guilt has no bounds, she should save her money for other things. Still, it made her happy, so it made me happy too.

Point taken kiddo. I will do my best.

So as we wrap up another Christmas and move into a new year, I’m grateful at how well the holiday went. I’m looking forward to spending another quiet day at home with my girl before I go back to work on Wednesday, as well as back to work on a couple articles I have due.

Sometimes, the holidays can be magical after all.

It’s now the day after Christmas and I let A- sleep in pretty late. When she got up she wanted to put in another Christmas movie, so that we did. She’s having a bit harder time today but I kind of expected she might.

Things have been a bit louder in her head and she is having a harder time coping. A nightmare right before she woke up this morning and some flashbacks have dampened her spirits. There has been no major episode and hopefully there won’t be, but we handle them as they come.

She went in her room to listen to music, and says she wants to watch another movie in a bit.

Even with the hard times, it has been a beautiful holiday and I am so very grateful for all that I have. Above all, I am grateful that A- chooses not to give up, that she chooses to fight for her happiness every single day. That’s no easy task.

I look forward to the coming year. I look forward to another chance to do things better than the year before, to learn from my mistakes and live with gratefulness.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

 

 

 

How do you Care for your Mentally ill Child? Love them.

I was asked a question the other day that I wasn’t quite sure how to answer. The person asked how I dealt with my daughter’s needs. “How do you do it?” They asked.

The short answer is quite simple.

I love her.

I love her through the pain. I love her through the bad days. Love. It’s all I have.

When the depression strikes and she doesn’t want to move off the sofa I sit with her. I hold her when she needs me to and I sit quietly when she doesn’t. When the nightmares come and she won’t sleep for fear of them – I sit in her room so that she feels safe enough to try to sleep. When she has a panic attack I try to help her focus on her breathing. When she has flashbacks, I rub her back. When the anxiety is too much for her I try to help her find a distraction. When she harms, I smile and tell her it’s all right. I tell her how much I love her. I tell her how brave and beautiful she is.

When my heart is breaking for her I go into my room, close the door, and shed the tears that need to be shed. I emerge dry eyed to help her through. I help her find the good and the beauty in every day. I direct her as best I can to find coping strategies to move her into adulthood.

I wrap her in warm blankets and let her cry. I watch television with her when I have “better” things to do because she needs me to. I color with her and let the dishes sit in the sink. I take her for drives to calm her down no matter the gas prices or the miles on the car.

It’s as simple as love. That’s all it is. I have no special abilities. I don’t have all the answers. I listen. I encourage. I do it again. It’s all I can do. Do I wish I could do more? Of course I do. All parents have that same wish. I rely on her counselor. I rely on her doctor. I do the easiest thing of all – love her.

Depression. Anxiety. Self Harm. PTSD. ADHD. Panic Disorder. Those are terms we are very familiar with at our house. We are also very familiar with laughter, gratefulness, respect, kindness, and love.

I want to teach her to be proud of who she is. I want to teach her to accept herself for who and what she is. I want to teach her that her mental illness does not define her. I want to teach her to shine her light brightly. I want to teach her to embrace the good days, feel the joy that is inside of her, and accept the magic that is found in the world and in her own humanity.

She is a survivor. And the only thing I have done – is love her.

 

 

 

Learning to let go of my Special Needs Child. (Just a Little)

I lied when I said I was okay.

I sit here outside the bookstore watching the sunset and I realize that at this very moment you are sitting on a bench somewhere by the water watching the same colors roll down the sky.

But it isn’t the same for you.

You are at the cusp of a new relationship. He probably has his arm around you right now. Maybe you are talking and laughing quietly, but maybe you are silent, watching the sky, your heart beating just a bit faster as you wonder what will happen next.

And I am not ready for this. I’m not ready to share you with this new boy in your life.

You have been through so much and we’ve managed it all together – we’ve barely begun to live a life free from the demons that haunted you for so long. I’m used to being the arm wrapped around you. I’m used to being your confidante and your place to run. I’m used to being the one that chases the bad dreams away, who kisses your tears and holds your hand. I’m not used to sharing your smile or your infectious laughter.

But I told you to go. I told you that you could go on this date. A date with a boy that packed you a picnic; a picnic at the beach to watch the sunset.

The orange sky is mocking me. It knows I lied. It knows I’m not ready. It knows that while you experience the first excitement of a budding relationship that I’m holding back the tears.

This means you are growing up. This means that soon you won’t depend on me as much, you won’t need me as much. You’ll need me. Sure. But things are changing. we will always be close but you are just one more step closer to womanhood. One more step away from me. It’s selfish, I’m aware, but I fear for you.

Will he understand your ADHD? Will he understand your Anxiety and Depression? Will he look beyond the self inflicted scars and see how amazing you are? Will he respect you and will he hold you when you are afraid? Will he chase away the ghosts that rear their ugly heads sometimes? Do you even want him to?

Will you remember all I have taught you? Will you remember that you are priceless and worthy of respect not just from others but from yourself?

I am no longer the first person you tell your secrets to. You have girlfriends now that you share things with. And there’s him. Oh, I know you are just starting to get to know one another, but he won’t be the last. This is just the beginning. For you. While I feel as if something precious is ending.

Is it because of all that we’ve been through that I feel this way, or do all mothers feel this same sadness and disquiet when their daughters reach a certain age? It’s been just the two of us for so very long. I’m not really sure what to do with myself, honestly.

I know we have much ahead of us and many memories left to make, but tonight I am forced to admit the reality that you are a sophomore. In less than three years you will be college bound. You have a life ahead of you that will not always include me. You will not always need me the way you have needed me up until now.

Do you guess how difficult this really is?

I don’t begrudge you this time or your friends or the life you are finally starting to live. I’ve pushed and pulled to get you to this point for this very thing. So that you may live. The rest is going to be up to you now.

No, you aren’t grown and you will still need my guidance, but let’s face it. As far as your values or the kind of person you are; it’s all set. My sphere of influence is waning – I’ve tried to teach you all I can. It’s going to be up to you to make wise choices.

I will no longer be with you every moment of every day and the hardest thing I will ever do is to entrust you to strangers – to smile and wave as you go off with friends, or dates, hoping that you will stay true to yourself and hoping they are worthy of you.

The sky is growing dark and you will be home soon. I will feel better then, but this is only the first of many nights where I will sit just waiting for you.

I love seeing you happy. I love seeing you enjoy friends. I love that you have confidence and want to do things when not too long ago you had to be forced to even leave the house. Not long ago you had no one to socialize with – no one to understand you or to dare to look past the face of mental illness and see who you really were. They had no idea what a truly amazing individual you were – but they do now. They know it because you no longer try to hide your light.

Friends abound and dates will too, I suppose. And I will be here through it all. I will always be here. I will do my best to smile when you come home. I will do my best to get used to the idea that this is a typical teenager’s life. A life you deserve.

Forgive me if I struggle. You’ve had too much pain already. You have had too much torment and grief. I never wish for you to return to the terrified, sad girl you have been. I will do my best to protect you from all I can. But I also have to let you go.

And trust your wings.

Back to School and Routine for ADHD Brains.

I always kind of dread back to school time, because I am selfishly having just so much darned fun with A- over the summer. Summers are GREAT – they really are. But they are awfully short too.

A loves high school, though, and after a couple weeks break she was pretty ready to go back to school. She said she honestly has started missing the routine that she used to balk against. I suppose as she gets older she sees the value in having a routine to help tame the ADHD symptoms. Personally, I think she was just missing seeing her friends every day. πŸ™‚

Regardless of how ready (or not) we were, school was back in session today. If I am completely honest I’d have to say I understand what she meant about the routines. While I love having so much extra time to spend with my favorite girl, routines are good. I’ve gotten next to no work done this summer because I just get in the habit of, oh I’ll do it later. Sounds much better to veg out on the couch with A and watch a movie or play a game or draw when we don’t have to worry about homework and bedtimes.

But along with not getting much work done, not much else gets done either. Once the routines start slipping it trickles right down into everything. Clutter creeps in and rooms aren’t kept as neat as they were. Chores get pushed back “until tomorrow,” and everything starts to pile up.

So, maybe I’m happy to get back into the routine too. This morning I did some yard work after I dropped her off at school. Tonight while she worked on homework I tackled a writing project that has a deadline looming. Yeah, routines are good.

Getting back into the swing of things will feel pretty good. I need to get moving on the rewrite of my manuscript. I need to figure out what I want to do with Finding Home, the release of which I put off because I’m just ultimately not happy with the novel. I still have my freelance articles come due every month, and I really would like to finish up the short stories and put them together in a collection.

And then there’s all the other fun stuff that being an adult entails. The laundry. The cleaning. The driving your kid all over creation for this that or the other.

And I’m still launching that newsletter in October. Pretty cool!

We’ve been adventuring into the land of sustainability and greener living. Actually that is one reason why I haven’t gotten much work done. I’ve always been interested, always wanted to learn more, but in the past couple months it has been the source of my ADHD hyperfocus.

We’ve upped our recycling efforts, are working on our precycling and elimination of waste. I’ve begun making bottle bricks, which is actually oddly satisfying. Don’t ask me why.

I’ve made home made deodorant and household cleaner. I’ve begun composting. The amount of waste and needless consuming of even our household of two just really caught up with me. No more. I have a long way to go in my efforts, but I’m excited to be making lasting changes to our lifestyle and habits.

So bring on the school year and the routines. We’re ready!!

End of the Line for our Crazy ADHD Road Trip!

We’ve finally come to that point – the last day of our zig-zagging, wandering, hilarious, serious, fun, amazing, wonderful, jam-packed road trip.

I let A sleep in since we really only had one place we really wanted to go. The knowledge of this place is what first put A onto the idea of visiting some of Alabama’s most unusual spots.

Located in Seale, Al on the side of the road (Highway 169, specifically,) you will find the Museum of Wonder drive through museum.

This collection of oddities and artwork is surely something to see. Peeking inside — and let’s face it, you just can’t get a good look from the car, you have to get out — you will see a collection of things removed from children’s throats at the St. Francis hospital in Columbus, Georgia, the world’s largest gallstone removed from a woman in 1972, a two headed chick, and a great many other odd and assorted items, including the very unique artwork of Mr. Butch Anthony, the man behind the Museum of Wonder.

Now when I first read of this drive through museum I showed it to A and she immediately was fascinated by Mr. Anthony and not only his unconventional museum, but his artwork. His style is his own, and as far as we read, he is a self taught artist and carpenter. Seems he can make anything with any materials at all.

Okay, now this is where events get a little well, anxiety filled. We’d looked at the website for the Museum of Wonder and saw the drive through museum, but it also showed photos of an indoor museum, saying it held art, artifacts, and antiques. There was a map that came down from the top of the webpage, and also, when you scrolled over the area that said come visit the museum, a pop up said to just drive up and honk your horn. It gave a separate address than the one given for the drive through museum.

Hmmm. Now I had thought about using the contact page on the website to ask about visiting, but I wasn’t sure what day we would get to Seale, or if we even would. A reminded me that the website said to drive up and honk, so she figured no advance notice of arrival was necessary. And there is no phone number listed on the site.

There was a map of the compound to show you where to go, and believe me folks, this place is way, way off the beaten path. So that morning, I gathered my courage and figured after we saw the drive through museum I would see if I could actually get through my anxiety and do this. The thought of “just driving up” basically to someone’s home and workshop made me just a tad nauseous.

Still, I knew A wanted to see this unusual collection.

I was wishing though, that I had not trusted that “drive up and honk” pop up on the website and had emailed Mr. Anthony in advance. I started wondering if I’d misunderstood. What if I should have emailed and requested an appointment and THEN he meant for a person to just drive up. Besides, WHO in their right mind drives down some long driveway into the woods with nothing to go on but a name painted in white on an old mailbox?

I hastily pulled out my phone to see if I could call up the website – and I did – but it looked all different on my phone. There was no map. There was no “just drive up” message. There was nothing but a bit of information on the drive through museum. Did I dream the rest? Did I dream there were photos of different objects in a room somewhere? Now what if I really WAS intruding?

A is usually the more adventurous one, but turning in at said mailbox, while the gate was open, it was plastered with a huge No Trespassing sign. Furthermore, the sign warned that shotguns go bang and something about anyone stealing would meet said shotgun.

Well, I wasn’t out to steal anything, but…

We slowly drove in and got to a place where you could keep going straight or turn off to the right. The turn off to the right looked fairly overgrown, not overgrown exactly, but you just couldn’t see very far through the trees and brush. The drive before us kept going straight, but I didn’t see anything in that direction either.

I was having serious doubts and A looked at me and she said, “Why don’t we skip this part?” She said she’d seen the drive through museum, she was happy.

People, I turned my little rental car around and got out of there. Now I have read that Mr. Anthony is a super nice fellow, and I’m sure he is, but my anxiety about not finding the information I had previously seen on the website and my even worse anxiety about showing up on a stranger’s doorstep got the best of me.

What if it was a bad time? What if there was nothing to see? What if no one was home? What if I had misinterpreted the website altogether? What if what I had read several months back was no longer valid?

I would like to say that about an hour down the road I seriously regretted my chicken-ness, but I really didn’t. Maybe next time we get a wild hair we will try for another visit – this time emailing to ask questions beforehand.

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Still, by far the oddest thing we found on our road trip!

We decided here that there was really only one way to end this road trip. We desperately needed ice cream and surely we could find ONE MORE odd thing in Alabama.

Oh yes. How about a monument built to honor a destructive little bug?

On to Enterprise, AL where you can see a statue dedicated to the Boll Weevil.

Yes, you heard me. Alabama grew a lot of cotton once upon a time and once upon a time an infestation of the malicious boll weevil destroyed crops. The area was devastated, but forced to diversify agriculturally. So what happened? Farmers planted peanuts. Peanuts were the byproduct of the nasty critters ruining all the cotton. Enterprise decided to honor the weevil for forcing diversity.

Smack in the center of an intersection right in downtown, there stands a statue of a lady (actually she stands in a fountain) and her two hands are raised above her head holding a boll weevil.

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All hail the mighty boll weevil!!

The boll weevil monument was a worthy (yet somehow strangely creepy) way to end this road trip. It just seemed fitting somehow.

But what else? Just a couple doors down from this little piece of Alabama history is a place called Milky Moos. Homemade ice cream, folks.

We rolled back to the car under the haze of an ice cream high – the result of a caramel sundae and a banana split — and no, we are not sorry one little bit — and declared ourselves exhausted and ready to get back home to our own beds and our sweet cats.

All I can say is — What a trip!!

A had a hard time deciding just what her favorite stops had been, but she finally settled on the Berman Museum and Old Cahaba. Me? I was just impressed that a girl her age appreciated the crazy trip we’d just taken, and felt proud that not only was one of her favorite places one of the more historical spots, but proud that she is happy to spend time with her mother. That gives me happiness. πŸ™‚

This is a trip we won’t soon forget – or recover from, for that matter!!

 

More ADHD Road Trip

Do you want to know one of the reasons I love talking about this road trip?

The last day, A and I are headed home and we’re listening to music, talking and laughing and she says, “I love how we can spend an entire week together, 24/7 and not be tired of each other. I love how we don’t argue or get on each other’s nerves.” And that is the best thing of all we did. The fact that we could get away, run all over the state almost, laughing and talking the whole way. No teen-aged eye rolls. No arguments. Enjoying one another’s company, having nonsensical conversations and serious conversations both. It’s an amazing feeling to be a mother to such a special human being. I’m blessed indeed.

So what did we do next, you ask? Day six of our trip found us at Moundville Archaeological Park. I found this spot very intriguing. I loved it.

Moundville is a large settlement of Mississippian culture on the Black Warrior River. It was occupied from around A.D. 1000 to A.D. 1450. At the height of the settlement, the community was a three hundred acre village built on a bluff overlooking the river. The town was roughly square, and protected on three sides by a bastioned wooden palisade.Β  There was a central plaza, with twenty six earthen mounds surrounding it. The tallest mound mound rises 58 feet. Steps lead you to the top where you have an amazing view of the surrounding area.

Also located here is the Jones Archaeological Museum. This University of Alabama Museum is simply beautiful. Inside you will find artifacts that have been found at the site, as well as life size figures displaying clothes and jewelry of Mississippian culture, hand sewn and made by Native American artists. They also have a lovely gift shop.

This was well worth the stop. It was hot, yes, but we enjoyed the time we spent here very much.

We left there and went to nearby Greensboro AL for two things. Magnolia Grove and pie.

Magnolia Grove is a wonderful example of Greek Revival architecture that was so popular in the South. The house dates to 1840 and still has one of the two slave cabins as well as the cook house and cook’s quarters.

We were allowed to just roam the rooms by ourselves – the ladies were lovely and informative if we had questions, and readily gave the history of the home and its occupants.

Heavy rains had very recently done quite a bit of damage which was sad to see.

At one point we went to the outer buildings where we were shown the kitchen and cook’s quarters. Some of the furniture from inside the home had been moved into the space because of the rain and leaking roofs, but you could still get a good idea. Also the slave cabin, a one room tiny space that would have housed up to seven people, was also serving as a temporary spot for some of the furnishings.

Interestingly, in the cabin there was a copy of the census of the house. A record of the births as well as purchases of slaves. While the woman was telling us about this, the air around us came to life with a man’s voice yelling, calling, vocalizing in a strange rhythm. We all startled – myself, the woman showing us the cabin, as well as two young ladies who were present. Wide eyed we turned to one another quizzically while my daughter, standing there, looking quite confused, and yet somehow guilty was red faced and looking like she wanted to sink through the floor.

There was a white box beside her with several black buttons. Apparently she had leaned and pressed one of said buttons with her elbow. The ensuing sound was an example of a foreman calling slaves to the field. (or from) The woman tried to talk over the call, but it went on and on and on. Forever it seemed. Rising, falling, changing…on and on. The two young ladies started to giggle quietly. A looked more and more panicked. The lady finally waved a dismissive hand and said, “Oh, it’ll stop in a minute.” Seeing A’s face she had to laugh and tell her she didn’t do anything “wrong.” A whispered, “I didn’t mean to, I promise.” Thankfully the call finally died out and we slunk away from the house before we could do any more damage.

Upon leaving we were each given a copy of a little cookbook, the collected recipes of the lady of the house – who, ironically, had probably never cooked anything in her life.

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And yes, you heard me correctly – the other wonderful thing you will find in the town of Greensboro is pie. If you are ever in the area run, don’t walk to a place called Pie Lab. You won’t be sorry.

We were late in the day and they close at four so our choices were limited, but we considered ourselves lucky that they had anything left! A got a piece of lemon ice box and I got the very last piece of key lime coconut chess.

Oh my. The pie was worth the trip. Absolutely. The space is fabulous too with original ceilings and plaster removed from the walls to reveal the the original brick. Very nice. The vibe here is a wonderful community oriented institution where people just seemed happy to be there and glowing when they left. But who isn’t happy after eating pie??!!

Our adventure continued on day seven with Old Cahaba Archaeological Park.

This was the original capital of Alabama and once you got past the swarms of man eating mosquitos it was a purely magical place. Some ruins are left, and while nature has reclaimed much of the old streets, you can see how it all was laid out and the park is being preserved and the sites are made easily accessible.

What really strikes you here is the the utter quiet and tranquility of the place.

The Cahaba River provides a beautiful backdrop and with the draping Spanish moss you can almost hear the old walls and columns speak.

We spent the better part of the morning there, wandering the ruins and the old cemeteries.

We left Old Cahaba (Or Cahawba originally) and ended up in Wetumpka where we stopped at Jasmine Hill Gardens.

This place is magnificent, people.

The family loved Greek architecture and set out, in the 1930’s, to reproduce a feeling of Greece at their hillside home. They made around twenty trips to Greece to study and plan and the resulting gardens and sculpture shows their meticulous attention to detail.

I’d been there before many years ago, and today we made it most of the way through before the humidity of the day finally caught up with A and her asthma.

We had to call it a day pretty quickly and find a place to stay for the night where she could get cooled off and rest. The next day we would have one last hurrah before heading back home and to the kitties we’d been missing like crazy!!

We did get quite a few great photos before A’s asthma attack, but one little gem stood out above all the rest. A loves taking photos. She usually does all the honors, allowing me the privilege of taking a stray photo here and there. When we got home and I was scrolling through the hundreds she (we) had taken, I found the one that I knew she had snuck in, imagining my face when I saw it.

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This is what happens when you trust your fifteen year old with the camera, unsupervised.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are a few of the more (less??) um, scenic shots from the day.

I think I’m going to save the last day for one last post to wrap up or ADHD vacation.

til next time…

Crazy ADHD Road Trip – Part 7??!!

Guess you thought I’d abandoned my post and was going to leave you in the dark about the REST of our trip! No such luck!

After a day of rest, some car trouble, and time spent working on articles with looming deadlines, I’m back! (Bet you missed me. You can admit it.)

Now where were we? Ahhh… I remember. The sketchy motel. (let me clarify… motel really was okay, it was just some sketchy PEOPLE who happened to be staying there. Not even together in the same party, just ewwww, several people with questionable characters.)

Okay, this day DID start out in a rather hilarious kind of way.

We got ready to go and went down to check out, and A figured we should have some breakfast first. This little girl, just turned five, hopped up on the stool beside A to start a conversation. She was wearing blue unicorn pants and what she called a “flowy shirt” which she appeared to hold in much disdain. She told A that she needed her black shirts because black was best. Went even further to say that what she really needed was her ACDC shirt with her unicorn pants. She asked A if she thought the shirt would go with the unicorn pants, to which A replied that she was absolutely certain she could pull off that look, no problem. The child grinned and said, and I quote, “Good! Because metal music is my LIFE!!” This was punctuated with some silent head banging, blonde hair flying, hands curled in a rock and roll sign. After a couple of minutes, the girl’s grandmother called her over. The girl did not want to leave her current post but her grandmother told her she needed to take her medicine. The child hopped down, flashed A a look and said, “Don’t worry. My medicine just helps me to sloooowwww dowwwnnnn.” She bent her little knees and made a wave motion with her arms before trotting away.

I just love how our tribe always manages to find each other without even trying.

Of course, A went straight back to the room before we could check out, took off her own “flowy” shirt that she had chosen for the day, replacing it with an Iron Maiden T-shirt. (black of course.) She grinned all the while, saying that encounter had just set the mood for a great day. πŸ™‚

Our first stop on Friday morning was not an odd place, or a hidden place or a little known place. It was a tourist place, an unplanned stop, but when A asked if we could go I figured that’s what road trips were all about – changing your mind and having a good time. So off to Birmingham Zoo we went. (I’m on the fence about zoos, but that’s another story and not the point of this post.)

So we did the zoo in a couple hours. It was hot. It was sweaty. Okay, most everything we did was hot and sweaty on this trip, but maybe I just wasn’t in the zoo mood. Nothing really exciting happened while we were there anyway. Oh – but this was kind of funny. Upon entering, we headed to the African area – elephants, lions, tigers, ect. So we are walking along and this zoo employee smiles and wishes us good morning. He tells us that they are about to start giraffe feedings if we want to see that. We thanked him and then he says, “Oh, but they should be feeding the lions and hyenas soon too. If you are in this area and start hearing the hyenas go wild, they’re being fed, so if you’re close by, go watch.” Okay, thanks. So we are strolling along looking and A actually is a fan of hyenas but we made the circle and never saw any. We never heard a ruckus. So she asks someone where the hyenas were located. The lady looks at her very strangely for a minute and says, “Honey, we don’t have hyenas in this zoo.”

Not real sure what that man is hearing every morning, but maybe he’s imagining things. πŸ™‚

Zoo out of her system, it was time to see the Vulcan.

A had never seen it, and hey, if you’ve never seen an iron man’s tush it’s a must. I realize you may not be familiar with the Vulcan in Birmingham Alabama. So, here’s a bit of history for you.

As you may know, Vulcan is the Roman God of fire and forge. Birmingham wanted to advertise it’s industrial abilities for the St. Louis World’s fair in 1904. City leaders commissioned the giant iron statue. He stands 56 feet tall, and now sits on a 124 foot pedestal and weighs 101,200 pounds. He sits at Red Mountain and is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States.

Vulcan has a pretty interesting history from his debut at the World’s Fair, to the the thirty years he spent at the Alabama State Fairgrounds, put back together wrong, where he did time advertising products such as pickles, ice cream, and at one point he even wore a gigantic pair of overalls. But he eventually was brought to Red Mountain where he sat regally on his hilltop overlooking the city, only coming down in 1999 when he needed repairs. Repairs completed, he was brought back to his original glory, put atop his brand new pedestal with a new observation deck,Β  and there was the addition of a rather nice museum and lovely grounds

Now – there was a rainstorm coming and it was thundering when we arrived at Vulcan park. I bought our tickets and the man in the gift shop said to just keep watch. They weren’t letting anyone up just then, but depending on the weather it shouldn’t be long. A saw some people going up, so we went over to take our turn going to the observation deck. Okay, this place has changed entirely since I was there as a kid. Used to, you could climb the stairsΒ  located inside his pedestal and then there was an enclosed observation area at the top. Now, you can still climb the stairs if you want, or there is a handy elevator and the observation deck? No longer enclosed.

I am okay with admitting this, but as we gave the lady our tickets, and she looked at the sky and said, “Just watch the weather and if there is any thunder or you see lightning come down,” I looked up at the tower, looked at that deck, and I chickened out. The NEW observation deck goes all the way around the tower, just below the Vulcan’s naked derriere. But this deck is steel grate. Grate? As in see through??!! And wide open??!! This girl wasn’t having it, so I smiled sweetly, waved, and pushed A to the elevator.

I watched from way below as she haltingly made her way out of the elevator. Clinging for dear life at the handrails. She gingerly worked her way around and I don’t think she stopped to even see the view, much less enjoy it – before rushing back inside that elevator and getting to the ground.

“It creaks and groans when you walk on it!” She yelled when she got close to me. “It moves! There were like five people standing in one spot and I swear that grate bent!”

Nah, didn’t bend, I told her. “Well you go up there and find out!” No thanks, I’ll stay on the ground and enjoy the museum. Little museum there was nice and informational. She told the man in the gift shop that she just didn’t think that thing was safe. He laughed and told her that the week before the entire Alabama football team was up there at one time. She insisted it wasn’t safe. πŸ™‚

We watched the rain come, and planned our next move.

When I was a kid whenever my mom and I went anywhere, I begged to go to caverns if we could. I loved them. Since we’d visited Rickwood the other day, and since A enjoys the caverns too, we went to DeSoto. I haven’t been there in years, but I remembered how pretty it was. It was vastly different than when I was a kid.

Now, DeSoto Caverns has this one big cave room that is absolutely breathtaking with all the formations. It’s worth seeing for sure – BUT – they charge $25 per person for about an hour tour that only consists of this one room. We went in, and they sat us down, and there was a laser light show. Okay, that’s cool, but really? Then we pretty much wandered to several areas of this one space where they used props to tell the history of the cave. I remembered getting to actually tour the caverns and see more than this one space. Yes, the space is the most impressive area for sure, but I definitely felt cheated here. It was NOT worth the $50 we spent. Honestly, when she gave me the current price I started to say never mind, but I was the one who had driven out there without first checking prices. (We’d paid $17 each for Rickwood and spent an hour walking through the cavern and enjoying it much more.) Anyway…

So, this concludes this segment – good news – there should only be one more installment left in our adventure!

 

 

More Crazy ADHD Road Trip!

Yesterday I believe I promised you the scoop on Hitler’s tea service.

Our first stop in Anniston, after driving from Mt. Cheaha with air conditioning and metal music blaring, was the Berman Museum of Natural History. This little gem is located in Lagarde Park in Anniston Alabama next to the Anniston Museum of Natural History. As I said, we put this place on our must visit list because of Hitler’s tea service, yes, but also because it promised a collection of cool spy gadgets, such as a flute that had been modified to shoot a .22 caliber bullet when a certain note was played. What can I say, A thinks anything that shoots is cool. No, we do not own any guns. πŸ˜‰

I live in Alabama and I never would have heard of this museum had I not seen it on the Roadtrip America website when we were looking for unusual sites to see.

It was listed as an odd place because of the tea service. I have to admit this was intriguing. Hitler’s tea service in Alabama? Really? What? But let me tell you, the place was much more than we imagined. And yes, although it did contain the advertised tea service, which, for some reason was highly amusing to see in Anniston, but the museum contained a collection of art and artifacts collected by Colonel Farely Berman and his wife, Germaine. And quite the collection it is!

Colonel Berman was stationed in North Africa during WWII, and it was there that he met his wife, Germaine. She was a French National and a member of French Intelligence. They were married and returned to Anniston to live for the remainder of their lives.

The Berman’s shared a passion for collecting things. They spent four decades traveling the world together. He stated that he collected rare weapons and she collected works of fine art. Although the Berman’s shared their collection with those that were interested, in 1992, they bequeathed their collection to their hometown. The Berman Museum opened in 1996 in Lagarde Park with a portion of the Berman’s collection, and in 1999, Colonel Berman passed away, leaving the remaining objects to the foundation.

All right, there’s the history lesson portion taken from various things I read about the Berman’s and their collection.

We arrived at the museum and bought the combo ticket for both the Berman and the museum of natural history next door – we believed we had plenty of time, as I’d read you could spend an hour at the Berman Museum. We ended up spending a little over two hours at the Berman, and then having to run through the museum of natural history just to see it before it closed. And I had to practically drag A away from it.

This collection is AMAZING to say the least.

Mostly weapons, yes, but the military history in this building is informative and interesting. Every type of gun imaginable, plus military artifacts. A particularly touching piece, to me, was the handwritten diary of a soldier, along with the Nazi banner that he had captured. There is spy gear too – a pen that shot vials of poisonous gas, the altered flute I mentioned earlier, and guns disguised in belt buckles, throat lozenge tins, and match boxes.

Aside from Hitler’s tea service, there is a vanity set that belonged to Napoleon. There are dinner napkins from Mussolini’s palace, along with photos of his parents. There is a jewel encrusted Royal Persian scimitar as well as the coronation set of Czech kings – the crown was made in 1346. And those aren’t the only jewel encrusted items in this museum! There is also quite a collection of Remington bronze sculptures.

Lucky for us the Berman’s chose to leave their collection to Anniston, rather than donate to one of the bigger museums that definitely wanted it.

Photos you ask? I happen to have some!

We just loved this museum. Hopefully we will get to visit again some day.

We had just enough time to tour the Museum of Natural History. It was actually a very nice museum. To me, though, when you’ve seen one small town natural history museum you’ve kind of seen them all – and if you’ve been fortunate enough to visit the Smithsonian, well, what’s left? Okay, I’ll admit it – as much as I love museums and history and learning new things, natural history museums aren’t my favorite. I said it. There.

They did have a lovely garden outside.

natural history museum
Pretty huh?

And if you are in Anniston Alabama there is just one more site you have to take in. Or at least there was for us. Looking for the odd and unusual? You don’t have to look any further than Noble Street where you will find the world’s largest chair, per the 1982 Guinness Book of World Records.

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There it is, folks. The second reason Anniston was on our list of places to visit. Who can resist giant sized furniture??

I’m just not sure how one can top a a gigantic chair, but onward we traveled to Cullman, Alabama where more sites awaited.

to be continued…

Our Crazy ADHD Road Trip – Part Two!

Day Three – More coasters

Day Three of our Road Trip was the final day of theme park madness. I have to say I reached my limit for this kind of fun fairly early in the day. Being a Tuesday though, there really weren’t any lines so A started the day with the biggest coaster in the park (that she hadn’t gotten to ride the day before) and she rode it five times without getting off. After the fifth go round she got off, got me, and I rode it with her for number six. We went one more time to make her total on the Goliath seven times. We pretty much continued like that for most of the morning. There weren’t any lines, so A was able to ride multiple times every time. A summer thunderstorm shut us down for a while, and after that, and a few more rides, I was beyond grateful when around 5:00 A said she’d had enough. The heat, humidity, stench of B.O., crying children, and grumpy parents were all finally enough. Thank goodness. The park closed at nine that night and I don’t think I could have held on that long. Did I mention it was hot??

We went to eat that night and witnessed something that had A in tears as we tried to put it in perspective and see the good in it.

Sitting right by us was a very elderly couple. They didn’t talk much as they ate, and when he reached over to put butter on her bread she yelled at him. He cursed under his breath and went back to his dinner. We kind of smiled at this, thinking nothing more of it than they had probably been together many years and were picking at one another. However, when they went to leave, he, who was very unsteady himself, was trying to help her up and get her situated on her walker. I knew he was telling her something, but his voice was low. As he talked she started getting louder, insisting she had won a prize and they told her she could take it with her. He was in front of her, trying to explain to her that it was not a prize, no one told her to take it, and if she did she would be stealing. His voice was quiet and calm, and we saw that what she was clinging to was the restaurant’s dessert menu.

She became increasingly agitated, her voice growing very loud as he continued to try to reason with her. A was trying not to cry as she realized what was truly happening. Then the lady screamed at the top of her lungs at the man, and told him they told her to take it – and she slapped him. Hard. He was silent a moment before he said, “Please, honey, you just can’t take things.” She insisted they told her it was hers. He sighed and tried to help her to her feet and they shuffled off, her clinging desperately to her prize. He’d left his cane, so A ran after them. When she got back she sat down, looked at her food and said she thought she was done.

I told her to think of it this way – true love was seeing your spouse through the worst of times and loving her even though she wasn’t really her anymore – and being gentle even when she was violent. Maybe they’d had a lot of good years and a whole lifetime of memories – but this was part of it too. This was life.

She thought a moment and said she doubted she would ever find that kind of love; someone who would love her like that. I told her to strive instead to BE that kind of love.

Watching her later that night playing in the pool at the motel with some kids, I already know what kind of person she is. I already know she IS that kind of love. No doubt.

I’m going to end this one right here. Tomorrow I will write about our adventures in the Talladega National Forest, as well as a pretty cool museum full of weapons and spy gear. And a few interesting surprises.Β  The really great stories are coming up – so stay tuned!