Don’t judge a family by a picture

I have a friend down the road who is a photographer. She’s very good. For as many years as she’s been posting her pictures I have wanted her to take our family pictures. Alas, we’ve always found a higher emergency for our money. However, this year, I am a working mom, Yo. I make a few pennies a month and thought I’d rub them together to get our pictures done…FINALLY! The date was solid and the pressure was on to SELL some TEA. Then three of my tea parties cancelled.

“Dude, I’m not waiting any longer!” I said to myself. The Reverend HATES pictures and so it’s like ripping off a band-aid. You just have to go for it or regret it every second you slowly pull. Ok, so not a clever word picture but whatever. I forget what I was trying to say.

The pressure was on, not only to sell some tea, but to also find some clothes to put our family into that didn’t clash horribly.

Have I said already how incredibly painful it is for our family to have our picture taken? NO? Well, then listen to this story because it’s only a snippet of what our lives are like when we try to get all of us smiling at the same time. I knew that if anyone could make us look happy it would be Kristen.

When I had booked our appointment, with the pretty photographer, we hoped for good weather. Then it was the coldest day ever in September, so we postponed for a later date. We could not have asked for more beautiful weather. In fact, I had bought a sweater for myself, on the coldest day, in anticipation that it could be cool on our evening adventure. But it wasn’t. Of course. It was HOT. H-O-T, hot. I nixed the sweater and hoped for the best. My shirt was the only thing that wasn’t matchy matchy with the rest of them. Sigh.

The other part of moving the date was that both of our daughters had dance starting that very night. What I had hoped would be a lot of prep time to get everyone looking spiffy turned out to be a scream into the finish line. My oldest daughter had 2 dance classes that night because they were trying her out to see in which she would fit. This one or the other? Can we say sweaty hair?

I got our outfits all ready and clean. Big fat pat on the back for not scrambling last-minute to scrub a stain off of a shirt. Oh wait. I did that. I coiffed hair, put outfits on at the exact last-minute and then went like a madman to pick up my daughter. Somewhere in there I made chicken fingers and put them on a plate for her. She ate while I worked with her sweaty hair. The girl did NOT want it up. It would have been so lovely if I had been just given a chance. Nope. I love puberty. With a wave of the brush, I gave up and we whizzed out the door.  She ate while we drove and I hoped she didn’t have chicken cooties stuck in her teeth and that the sweat wasn’t visible to the naked eye.

We made it on time and family pictures commenced. First the group shots. Those started with a fun “I’m NOT going to smile!” Kristen then tried to get some individual shots. The boys were in fine form. All I had to do was yell out the word “Fart!” and they were all smiles and laughs. The girls? Well, let’s just say they didn’t kill each other.

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The Reverend and I were getting cozy and kissing for the camera. Look Reverend, family pictures are FUN!!  Suddenly, we heard what we thought was “Get off my Sh** you Butt-head!” and realized, with great relief, that they were playing “Ship”. The name calling just became that much less horrifying.  We love drama. Super hard to get all serious and cozy with that kind of drama going on behind us. I could NOT stop from smiling.

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Then, there was a sisterly moment, when the two of them were posing on a precarious ledge. One got a little “feisty” and they both fell backwards on the grass. I laughed, then realized one of them actually got a little hurt and was crying. I thought we were done for, for sure. Alas, we moved into other more serene (ha ha) poses.

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We survived the Family Picture adventure that we had all dreaded. It had it’s ups and downs and it’s fair share of belligerent behavior but we made it. We even got to kiss each other more (The Reverend and I) than we’ve been able to kiss each other for…well, for too long. That part was down right enjoyable! And I was right! Kristen was able to make us look like a Loving family despite all the outtakes she had to sift through.

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Oh wait, I know the “normal” pictures are around here somewhere…

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Oh goodness, I guess there is no way to look normal after all

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How about this?

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There we go. A winner! Although I think the crazy, ill-behaved pictures suit us just fine! 🙂

And the awesome ending, as I was talking with Kristen, was when I noticed my daughter chewing something in the van. When asked what she was eating, she held it up triumphantly and declared `Chicken!` with a winning smile. Where was the smile beforehand I ask you? No where. But for a cold crusty who-knows-how-old piece of chicken…there it was.  For a moment I wondered just where had she gotten chicken and just how old was it? She’s been known to eat mysterious items. As I pondered where she had gotten it, I realized that it was from supper and she had found it on the seat…so much less awful. We live the life of Napolean Dynamite.  Tater tots in the pockets…yup. Been there.

That concludes our edition of Painful Picture taking  with the Reverend’s family.

And the end of the story really is in how God provided 4 more parties to help me earn what I needed to pay for the rest of the photo session. God knew I needed those family pictures as a great reminder of what HE had built and put together and provided the money for us to enjoy them.

Quirky family

animal_muppetI’ve known about it for a long time. I’ve known that I have a quirky family. Let’s be honest, you don’t want to know the quirks of your Spiritual Leaders do you? The Reverend and his family have quirks. Some. Yes, we have embraced our inner weird. We’ve accepted it long ago. Do you want to know and put a face to someone who cleans out their nose a certain way? No? Well, then this post is not for you.

My family will remain nameless, but extended family is welcome to take credit for some of the quirks, if they feel so bold as to do so.

I have outed some of my more mundane quirks. Today I out the Reverend’s Family and those in the extended sides. I think I’ve probably terrified a few by that little statement. Well, I couldn’t be alone now, could I? You can rebuke me later…I won’t name names if that helps.

In no particular order with no particular gender assumption I give you the weird side of the Reverend’s much-loved, mostly acceptable bunch.

1. Someone just can’t help sniffing every single candy before it is ingested. Can. NOT. Help. It.

2. Prays with a conversational voice while walking around so we never know if they are actually talking to us or Him. Scheduled events have gone unwritten on the calendar because of this inside voice. Sometimes they are talking to us.

3. Has to touch and possibly move every item in the house. If I left something in one place it likely will have moved to a place only known to one person…and that person ain’t talkin’.

4. Thinks we all chew/swallow too loud. Apparently, it is annoying.

5. Cannot watch a sports game without loud volume and then complains when we try to communicate (talk) whilst the loud crowd cheers over something.

6. Thinks her cat bowl is prey and must play with it. In her mind it is acceptable to bat it all around the kitchen and slop the water all over while she decides whether to eat it or not.155

7. Hates water on the floor, because when it gets cold, and she steps on this cold water it makes her loo loo. Crazy cakes!  Said water on the floor is thanks to the one who hunts her cat food.

8. Thinks child noise is wonderful yet feels like it’s tearing her ears out at the loudest of times.

9. Thinks smelling farts is a must. Inhale deeply to get it all.

10. Saying “Fart” is funny EVERY time. Has pet names for farts like “tart” or “park”…tries to hide the word fart in normal conversation.

11. Has to adjust themselves (you guys know what I mean) ALL the time. Do you need that much adjustment? I’m thinking new underwear.

12. Loud scraping of a knife on a plate can send one into an internal (or external) shiver and a loud “Ahhhh!!”

13. Hates it when someone is reading over his shoulder. He can’t read while someone is lurking. Can’t do it.

14. Types so loud the neighbors can hear it. I don’t know why the letters must be pounded with such enthusiasm but they are. They must be writing something terribly exciting all the time!

15. LOVES to be tickled. I think it’s crazy but what can you do? Just tickle.

16. HATES to be tickled. Tickle me and DIE. Not really, but to come out of it severely injured, is a possibility.

17. Is the most patient and loving person until you make her plan something and time is running out. Getting in the vehicle with you can be a lesson in hysteria as she lurches from one stop sign to the next. RRrrreeeev. ERCH. RRRrrrrev. ERCH. Fun times!

18. Needs to end on an even number…I don’t know why…but that would be ME.

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I love my family. I love that they love me as I am and I love them as they are. Let’s face it, we all have our “things” that people either get irritated about or get over it and accept who we are.

Around here we call some things “Doing a Marcy”.

Basketball in Pajamas

Basketball Planet

(Photo credit: J.Gabás Esteban)

I get the kiddos all to myself for a few days **insert Muppet-type laughter**. Yes, the Reverend is gone for a few days while I whittle away the hours with nothing to do but knit **more laughter** Hold me.

I get to turn another year older tomorrow. That’s fun! And while we’re talking about birthdays, let’s talk about the fact that I was keeping myself up at nights for the last week trying to will myself to remember to renew my Driver’s License before this birthday. I don’t like to write notes to myself in bed because in the morning I will either forget that I wrote myself a note, or I will forget where I put the note, or how to decipher the hieroglyphics that I wrote in the dark. Too bad my best memory is while I am trying to sleep. I must have reminded myself often enough the last few nights, because I did it yesterday! Whew. That would have been awkward with the husband gone. Then we’d have to walk everywhere or drive illegally…and I wouldn’t do that. Ever. So we’d be walking. For a day.

You might as well know now, that I get distracted like a dog with a new scent.

Our small town has done major renovations in the hub of the “downtown” this year. I’ve not been downtown for months. I’ve seen it from a block away or edged close to it while walking the kids somewhere, but I’ve not taken a drive through and parked in its whole new street design. I did yesterday. I probably should have been aware that they haven’t finished the last phase of topping the road but that little fact escaped me. Now where DID I put that town newsletter **looking under STACKS of  paperwork** That little piece of information could have been useful to me. While I was exiting the vehicle and telling the girls to wait for me, I got distracted by my phone. The exposed curb came over and kicked me and, instead of rolling into it, I grasped at air as if it were a flailing rope and came up with nothing. SPLAT! Like a messy exclamation mark. The good thing is that we don’t live in a tourist trap where people’s phones are out and ready to record. In fact, I’m not sure there was another living soul on that street to see my fantastic leap of death into the air. Small towns are great like that. I was pretty sure my body would hurt for a few weeks.

Surprisingly, I woke up feeling a tad less like I was an elderly woman and more like I’d been rear-ended in a slow moving car.

Tonight I had the pleasure of taking our crew to Basketball practice. By that time in the day, I usually yearn to be comfy and warm. My body had begun hurting a little more and my PJ’s were calling to me. I didn’t care if I’d become “that mom” who wore PJ pants to public places. It’s a small town and I have little dignity left anymore. I’ve gone to Kid’s Club in slippers. If people are going to talk about my gigantic black slippers and fluffy pink pj’s then they really need some new material for town gossip! When you deal with arthritis and Fibromyalgia this long you start to think about survival in ways that make you happy. When flare-ups happen, Flannel PJ’s make my body all sorts of happy. So, out I went in my bright pink PJ bottoms with hearts all over (and a top, in case you were wondering) and I was ready to go.

After practice, my daughter said “Why did you go to practice in your PJ’s?” and I asked “Why? Did it embarrass you?” **a little dramatic eyebrow waggling** She replied ‘YUP!” I said “Well, I could have danced around like this.” Giving my best rendition of a shaking cha-cha with a little awkward belly dance move. I said “Now that would have been embarrassing.” Piping up calmly. “No mom, your PJ’s were more embarrassing.”

That’s when she offered that I should do the waltz with her in our small livingroom. Like I know how. Waltzing with me is a dangerous venture, as she found out, when we fell over the armchair and onto the floor. Well played, my girl. Well played. Fits of giggles later we had more requests for Mommy’s peculiar style of dance and once again the crowd was cheering.

I think there are definite possibilities for this time without The Reverend, like breaking all the rules. The Rev and I don’t waltz…at least, not yet.

For my birthday tomorrow, I have covert plans to drop consequences and current grounding. I will be nixing any groundings that have been in effect. I take life to seriously sometimes and I think my birthday is a perfect time to let my hair down (I may have fallen on my head). I want them to know how much of a pleasure it is to be their parent. Happy birthday to me! I have a plan to give them candy too. In their lunches. Teachers can thank me later. It’s organic candy.

I may even wear pants…well, not PJ pants. Normal pants. If I can get the laundry done on time.

You mean you laugh TOO?

I’m going to be telling some secrets…some of you find them quite amusing…others may find it quite shocking news to hear from THE Reverend’s family.

The Reverend’s family has been known to be, well, human….yes, your minister’s family could be human too. It comes out at the oddest times though.

As all good minister’s kids are taught (and maybe some aren’t) that certain words are swear words or at least words that should never be uttered in public. It’s hard though for kids that go through public school because they hear every foul language known to man and then some. Also, everyone probably assumes that the pastor’s kids should be immune to them, after all shouldn’t they be perfect? Um, no. I’m here to tell you that we’ve learned to laugh over our lack of perfection and that we are OK with it.

One of my children let a major foul streak go in a very public place which left everyone shocked and scratching their heads. We knew this meant that something at the core of his being was bothering him. Perhaps no one even noticed. It’s all good. We noticed, and have had a good long talk about what was bothering that child to the point of using language that he never has used. He had some valid reasons to feel frustrated but we tried to tell him that the language that he used could be taken offensively by many.

This evening, we went out for my birthday supper. During the conversation one of our children was using the word “freakin'” like it was going out of style. Everything was “freaking good.” or “Freakin’ funny.”  Lay off it a bit child! It’s not a terrible word, but you can say it too many times…oh the BALANCE of these things!

Then we drove to Wal-Mart where I said something about the store with the word “Crap” in it, and then said in a conspiratorial whisper, “Not that I should use that word.”

Piped up from the most unlikely source in the backseat  we hear the words yelled “Crap, freaking….FREAKING CRAP, freaky crap…”

Which of course set my other children, and perhaps their parents, into choking fits of laughter. It was one of those moments that we could laugh in the safety of our own vehicle about the complete humanity of our family.

Four muchuchos

Not completely sure they’ve caught the fact that we are urged to ” in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, 8 sound in speech which is beyond reproach,” Titus 2:7 and the lessons we are always teaching them in this area, but tonight…tonight  was a night where we were ok to laugh and find humor in our humanity and realize that we all have a little ways to go.

Not only that, but Mother in particular, has a potty mouth. I mean, REALLY!

 

 

Doing time in the nursery

This time it's green tea.

This time it’s green tea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an active volunteer and member of our small church, I do time  in the Nursery Program we run for the little ones during the sermon part of the service. I love me some toddlers and preschoolers and yet feel that sometimes I come across as scary and slightly crazy as “Animal” from the Muppets does. I can act a mite nutty  so it actually works for me in the Nursery Program we have in the church. They think I’m nuts and they are crawling all over me…except the shy girl with the soother. Poor thing. Think I may have scared her.

It was my turn today, and I must admit my arthritic pain was making me feel more like a grandma. Stiff, old and a little snarly, If I am going to be totally honest.

There was an absolute darling amount of children in that Nursery and I pulled some of my kids in just to help with keeping some of them entertained. I also did not want my children having a brawl out front while The Reverend was preaching and I would not be there to stop it. They were big helps! I’m glad I “recruited” them.

In the meantime, I was having a particularly silly pretend tea party with a young lady (3) who usually doesn’t really like me. Today she was hugging me, and telling me she “really liked” me. She would NOT let me go! So we had a good time scarfing down pretend food and tea and kept party going while the silly faces and sounds abounded. She handed me a “pot of tea” right to my face like here drink it “NOW”. I almost tossed it back until I saw there was something moving in the “tea pot”. This something startled me so I ….

a) Screamed and ran out of the room crying, upsetting The Reverend so much during his sermon that he had to stop

b) Drank the definitely alive spider in one terrific gulp and belched loudly afterward, like a good pirate. I was pretending to be a pirate at the “Tea Party”.

c) Screamed, threw the spider onto the floor and crushed it in front of 10 toddler/preschool witnesses.

Tell me which one you think it was and win the reward of being the smarty pants.

I’m still trembling a little it whilst singing in my head, “There was an old lady who swallowed a spider, it wiggled and jiggled and tickled inside her…perhaps she’ll die.”

English: Unknown spider

For the record, the little hostess did not tell me she was serving live food to the guests…

Not quite as anticipated

Thanksgiving at the Trolls

Thanksgiving at the Trolls (Photo credit: martha_chapa95)

Happy Thanksgiving for all the Canadians in the crowd. Whoop!! Whoop!!

I was not as jazzed up about it this morning and was going to stay in the foul mood I was in until I had my fill of turkey, and dang it!  There was no turkey for me this Thanksgiving. BOO HOO!

It all started with best intentions. First, we had invited  a few people for a Thanksgiving Day feast set to go at 4pm (Sunday). One guy from Africa, whose family is still in the far away land, said “yes”. We were thrilled. We just could not find anyone else, not even strangers (we were bribing with cookies), to commit to join us for the festive meal. We were set to go with only one man to celebrate the day of thankfulness. We were thankful just to have a reason to cook up a turkey, make some pie and eat until we were stuffed.

Then the day of reckoning came. Having CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and Fibromyalgia has only recently made my reliability a very dangerous thing to place any bets on. On Friday, I was barely functioning. I got a few things done, but by Saturday my body had crashed. I could not get out of bed and I couldn’t believe it! I told my limbs what I thought of their betrayal and it didn’t seem like  they were hearing me. I tried almost everything. Still, I couldn’t guarantee that I would be up for prepping a meal and our house and then having a meal ready by Sunday. We thought the most wise thing to do was to call it off and cancel with our one guest. I LOVE hospitality and having people over. It’s one of those things that I’ve missed most about having my CFS/Fibro kick my butt this year. Even though I have tried to kick its butt by running a 5 km recently, apparently it hasn’t up and left my system. Bummer!

I woke up this morning with a better feeling body but a stinky attitude. I tried to hide it the best I could and spent time with my family before church going over what we were all thankful for. It was a fantastic way to get most of my mind off of my troubles. One of my children said “I am thankful mommy does all the stuff and cleaning and cooking and that she is here.” Aw! It wasn’t elaborate but it was sweet.

We went to church where the Reverend reminded us to put our minds on things above from Phil. 4:8   And now, dear brothers and sisters, one last thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” He challenged us that if we keep our minds on things that are negative and dishonorable or even dishonest, then we will live lives that show that. Instead, fixing our minds on things that are all the above will make us see life from a different perspective and make it good. I was needing that particular spiritual kick in the pants. I had been stuck in pity thinking about how much I missed my extended family and how I really wanted to have different plans for Thanksgiving.

I felt the need to cook up a plan of my own. I knew that we didn’t have much money left for the month, but I thought I’d ask anyways….”Could we go for Chinese food for lunch?” I asked the Reverend. He looked thrilled by the idea and immediately said yes. Now, not everyone can say they spent their Thanksgiving meal at a gas station! We enjoyed our kids and had some fun with them while waiting and eating. The food came, steaming hot and loads of it. We chowed down and promised to come back later for ice-cream. We were stuffed, like a turkey!

The Reverend got up to pay the bill and found out that someone had payed for our meal!  Someone we knew only in passing had paid for the bill for a family of SIX! We were BLESSED!  and so very thankful! It’s not everyday you are carrying on with your family only to have it observed by someone else (well, it is a small town) and then have them show such kindness. They didn’t even know the state of our bank account. Thank-you sort-of-stranger (we know his son) and thank-you to God!

We went home for a sauna and movie afternoon. Also, not a traditional way to spend this holiday, but hey!  Who’s making the rules anyways? We sweated and we laughed over the antics and misadventures of Porky Pig and generally had a relaxed time. Three kids rotated in and out of the sauna like chicken on a rotisserie but I stayed and sweat out whatever was ailing me. Mostly aching bones, ’cause I’m getting old like that.

I got a call from a friend of mine who was the gas station waitress’ cousin. I had left my purse at the gas station. Thankfulness chipped away at my heart as I realized that the waitress had cared enough to call her cousin to get the message to me. After drying off from the sauna, we made an early trip back for ice-cream and my purse. The kids were ecstatic!

We came back home to enjoy our ice-cream when a shriek was heard. The shriek of an 11 year-old child a thing to behold. Children that age don’t make those sounds all the time anymore (usually) so we thought the worst. Through gasping and crying, we managed to figure out that he had broken his brace when he was eating the ice-cream cone. He was seriously freaked out that he would not win his Xbox????? The orthodontist has a draw for those kids who keep their teeth clean. Irony? I think so. Besides the fact that the really bent wire was making him nervous the Xbox was the biggest concern. Sigh!  We called the ortho ER number to see what we could do. I have to admit I thought that he had gotten into the Thanksgiving wine when he said to clip the wire with nail clippers. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t know we have four children because even with a thorough job at sterilizing them, the cleanliness of those clippers could be questioned. I’ve seen my kids’ nails up close and personal.

A few spazzy moments later and the wire was successfully clipped. My son kept wailing “Why are you taking so long, just snip it…why are you taking so long.?” Apparently, I am not very good at using those kind of tools in a moving child’s mouth.

After having delicious pie with people who were new to our community we went home to attempt peeling children off of their sugar highs. My son started running around with a possible Halloween costume on which included underwear on his head with his eyes peering out the leg holes. He has a history of being difficult to settle so I said “I’ll stick this pair of underwear on my head if you will go to bed… as long as they’re clean.” He nodded. I stuck the undies on my head (as any good superhero would do) and then saw my son slaying himself with laughter. “I tricked you Mom. They weren’t clean. You just put a dirty pair of undies on your head. ha ha ha ha ha hahahahahahahaha…” I just totally set myself up for that one.

So many reasons to be thankful today. Even the dirty undies. It made me laugh and it will keep that child in stitches for weeks as he tells all his little friends.

Summer Vacation story…and I’m sticking to it

Official logo of Winnipeg

Official logo of Winnipeg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being in spiritual leadership is extremely taxing in both the spiritual aspect, the social aspect and just feeling the weight of the expectations on you. Every year we try to see family and fit some relaxation time in there with the four kids. Relaxing with four young kids could be considered an oxymoron. Perhaps there are those who think that The Reverend and his very Holy Family *sarcasm* should just go into seclusion and read their Bibles.  Then there are the times we end up in a big city with a lot of mesmerizing lights, go over to a random Italian home and enjoy an authentic Italian meal, drink homemade wine and end up in their basement singing songs from the ’50’s.  My sister is dating a nice guy who is from Italy and maybe they’ve invited us in to “The Family” *say that with a raspy male voice it makes it sound more impressive*It was hard to tell because they showed me the cellar and that worried me a little. I’m kidding. It was favaloso!

Today we had an odd thing happen. We went all the way to the beach and had NO ONE wanting to go swimming. Oh sure, the teenagers went in to dip their toes and the kids wandered around aimlessly but really all we could do was sit there and eat snacks. Sure, not every adventure has to be actually adventurous but it would help if MY kids acted themselves and spend the time in the water…that would have been normal. Some of them just hung around looking out of sorts. Halfway home “Mom, I’m going to barf.” and barf he did. I should have known b/c our older daughter was complaining of a very sore head so she was kind of out of sorts. But mommy says “We are ALL going to have a fun time at the beach because it’s holidays…RIGHT?” Ah so momma’s not always right. We tried though. It was early to bed for barf boy and headache Queen. Then the Queen of Scream showed up and made me rap her a lullaby. Well, I rapped and she screamed. So over tired was she that she did not appreciate my lyrical artistry.

I ran, jogged with my brother around Winnipeg yesterday. Right off my bladder seemed full. Yah. No bathrooms. So my game was a little off with that little middle-aged crisis. Ok, me with my short (and I do mean SHORT) legs can never keep up to a brother like mine so as I moved my legs at lightening speed he sauntered along…and did a very good job of looking like he was getting a good jog in. He’s nice like that. Even though I felt intimidated to run with a long-legged guy like him he jogged easily beside me. Twenty-two minutes of jogging and a day later and he must have been deceptively working me harder than I thought. My thighs are screaming and my calves are begging for jog day not to be tomorrow. But I will. I will let him work harder than me and my short legs will let on. I can be stealthy like that. YA right…

All in all my holiday has entertained and relaxed, kind of. I have more stories but have to ok them with my family yet.

I love being with my fam jam. They are kooky like me only maybe more so. I should go to bed now though. Insomnia does not cure travel weary stress brain.