Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Volunteering and Healing

Over the summer I completed training to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children displaced through dependency, neglect, or abuse.  I became a volunteer because my mother and her nine siblings were taken into state custody in 1945.  I've seen the result of a broken system and have personal scars as a result of effects on my mother.  The ten children were separated.  Some were adopted, some lived in orphanages until high school graduation.  I met several of them, but only knew two, and them vaguely.  I met a couple cousins once.

Today I sent in my first court report for a hearing later this month.  I felt the tears welling up as I hit send.  I felt the weight of the responsibility.  I wonder about the long term effects of what I recommended and will later have to testify to in court.  I didn't realize how difficult it would be.  How heavy the weight would be.  Fifty years from now I don't want the children of the children I'll be appointed to along the way to say I screwed up and they bear the scars as a result.

I am assigned one or two cases at a time.  Social Workers have 30, 40, 50?  I'm sure she was diligent and did what she could in good faith and in the best interest of my mother, my aunts, and my uncles.  I think it's time I let up on the social worker who did what she felt was best for my mother.  Maybe it's time to let that pain go.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New Week, New Composer

This week is Frideric Handel and the oratorio.  I adore Handel.  Every time I hear the Hallelujah Chorus I cry.  It is one of THE most beautiful pieces ever written!  Handel declared, "I did think I did see all of heaven before me and the great God Himself!"  I feel that way when I hear it.  I always have, even as a child, without being told anything about it, I felt it.  Now that I'm an adult, I can almost see the the Messiah Himself surrounded by seraphim and the rest of the heavenly hosts singing His praises.  I share with you today the most famous chorus of the most famous oratorio ever written.  Don't forget to stand.  The little guy and I did.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Let Children be Children!

My husband calls it "Academic Bullying." And he's absolutely right. Kids are pushed so hard these days that there is little down time. Little self time. Little time to be the children they are and just play. And that includes teenagers! Too many adults have forgotten that their children have only a small period in their life to be children, to play, have fun, and just learn to RELAX. Children should NOT be busy all the time! They should NOT be studying all the time! They should NOT be under so much pressure with so many expectations on them that they are on medications for anxiety and/or depression. Mom! Dad! Stop trying to live vicarious through your children. Listen to your children. Let them be kids. Let your children ... PLAY!!!

"Anyone who looks honestly at the experiences of students at Sudbury model democratic schools and of unschoolers—where freedom, play, and self-directed exploration prevail—knows that there is another way. We don't need to drive kids crazy to educate them. Given freedom and opportunity, without coercion, young people educate themselves. They do so joyfully, and in the process develop intrinsic values, personal self-control, and emotional wellbeing. That's the overriding message of the whole series of essays in this blog. It's time for society to take an honest look."

The Decline in Play and the Rise in Children's Mental Disorders

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

As child #5 has chosen to attend the high school and will begin this Thursday, I found myself back to homeschooling a little one!  Day two of official Kindergarten for #6. Aside from the normal reading, math, and science, B-Man is studying music.  He takes piano lessons every week from an amazing teacher and friend, practices every day, and really enjoys classical music and learning about the composers.  For the next few weeks we are studying the Baroque Period (1600-1750) and three of the most famous composers.  This week is Johann Sebastian Bach.  Bach signed all of his compositions, "S.D.G." - Soli Deo Gloria - "to the glory of God."  We listened to Invention in A Minor on the CD that came with the book and then we watched a video of  Toccata and Fugue in D Minor being played by Hans-Andre' Stamm on the Trost Organ in Germany.  It was built in 1730 and 70% of the pipe organ is the original material.  The artistry of the organ itself is enough to move me to tears!  Then to think that there is a very good chance that J.S. Bach himself played on this magnificent instrument?!  It's been a good homeschooling morning!

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pearl Harbour: a Lesson and Warning From the Past

Pearl Harbor is on AMC and I found it just in time to see the attack.  I remember seeing this in the theater with my husband and his shaking and fighting tears while he watched.  I had never seen a movie affect him like that before, and I've never seen one affect him like that since.  My husband is a Navy Veteran, my eldest son is a Marine, my grandpa was also a Navy veteran.  Pearl Harbor is personal.

Pearl Harbor happened for one reason and one reason only, when the Axis Powers started their aggressions NO ONE STOPPED THEM.  At the beginning Europe tried appeasement which resulted in their being attacked.  WE ALSO DID NOTHING.  Our lack of standing up to the Axis powers to stop them not only allowed them to have victories which made them more bold, but our inaction made us look weak.  Our leaders thought that what happened on the other side of the world wasn't our problem and we should stay out of it.  Pearl Harbor was the result.

WWII started with with Japan taking Manchuria; Italy taking Ethiopia; and Hitler deciding that all German speaking peoples should be one, so he invaded and annexed Austria, the Rhinelands and the Sudetenland (sound familiar).  Japan's leadership talked peace to us while planning the attack on Pearl Harbor.   Our president is either ignoring history, or worse, is well aware of what he is doing.  One makes him a fool, a pacifist coward.  The other makes him a traitor aiding and abetting the enemy.  Either way, he likes playing with an imaginary marker drawing pretend "red lines" that make us look weak and vulnerable while the leadership downsizes our military.    I wonder if it will really take another Pearl Harbor to wake people up to the dangerous situation we are heading for.

Time to take to heart the following quote from George Santayana, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  (The Life of Reason; Vol. 1 Reason in Common Sense 1905-1906)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up: My Son Who Overcame!!!!

For this week's wrap-up I am going back to last Friday night.  Our Senior had one more class complete to be a high school graduate.  Last Friday night he gets this huge smile on his face and said he was done FOREVER.  That's right, I am now the proud parent of TWO high school graduates!!!!

Tuna's story is an amazing one of determination and overcoming.  I hope this inspires someone who really needs to be encouraged.

My son was born with a unilateral hearing in his left ear and fluid behind the right.  I knew at six weeks that he couldn't hear well, but the doctor ignored me (the first of many fights with doctors through his life).  When he was 2 1/2 a neighbor told me about the early intervention program through the public school system.  My son, had a 95% overall hearing loss; 50% was the deaf ear and the other 45% was from the fluid that needed a prescription to clear.  If the doctor had listened and sent him for the test (HMO required doctor referral), he would have had full hearing in the right ear.  Sorry the doctor said.  He then went to speech therapy 2-3 times a week for 2 years, something that wouldn't have been necessary if the doctor had listened in the first place.  As a further result of the hearing loss, he had auditory processing disorder.  He heard in one ear, but the sounds and words would get dropped along the way.

I also had a feeling the he had a form of Autism and a stomach disorder.  More arguing with doctors who danced around and hinted at munchausen by proxy.  We changed doctors again.  This one picked up on my son's behaviors the first time we met and referred him to the Dan Marino Center for Autism at the Miami Children's Hospital.  He was diagnosed with Asperger's at eight-years-old.  We, however, had been dong therapy for it at home though since he was about four.  Always look in the eyes, stop looking away, look at people when they speak to you and when you speak to them, etc.  He was also diagnosed with OCD and ADHD.  We could not medicate the ADHD because the medication caused seizures.


He actually caught our rabbit!
As if that wasn't enough, he was diagnosed through another specialist with dyslexia, but with words.  We attended eye therapy every week and did "homework" therapy for 2 1/2 years.  He was also diagnosed with Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome.  Most simplified, he would get stomach migraines that would last from 2-4 weeks.  During this time he would survive on ONE peanut butter and jelly sandwich a day, nibbling a little bit at a time.  CVS can be deadly and one little girl we knew nearly died from it when she was about six.  His gastroenterologist dropped his as patient because he missed an appoint.  My cousin's ten-year-old daughter was killed in a car wreck five states away and we went to her funeral.  I kid you not.

Fast forward years later.  At the end of fifth grade he was re-evaluated by a children's hospital where we live now.  They confirmed all of his diagnosis, but said that he had achieved more than ever would have been expected from him already.  They attributed this to homeschooling.  He was unmedicated, but we lived by the belief "Legtimate causes, no excuses!"  He learned to control his ADHD, OCD, and Asperger's through shear will and determination ... and a loving supporting family.

We were told not to expect him to be able to do a full high school load.  He proved them wrong, even choosing to take an extra science class this year.  He has worked with an electrician who couldn't believe he had labels because he had a "better understanding and working knowledge" and did "better work than most professional electricians".  He has dealt with many adults who don't believe his labels.  Last year he no longer qualified for special assistance from the public school (we never used it except for yearly testing).  They told us that at this point, he wouldn't even be diagnosed as Asperger's.  HORRAY!!!  He continued to homeschooled through high school where he has completed all of the standard classes, plus extra classes, and will be receiving a full regular diploma from an accredited high school that we use as our umbrella school.  Crossroads Christian School is just absolutely amazing and have been so good to us!!!  I highly recommend them.  I AM SO PROUD OF HIM I COULD BURST!!!

Through everything he has remained loving and kind, never holding a grudge against those who hurt him or teased him.  I believe it is his relationship with JESUS that has made the difference.  My son has overcome mountains with the faith of a mustard seed.  He is a true inspiration in my life, and I love him more than words can ever express.

Linked to: Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With the Crazy March Snow

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up: Flat tire, Braces, New Driver, OH MY!

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

~~Daffodils by William Wordsworth~~
It's been a long week! On Monday Pooh had to be taken to the dentist 40 minutes away for a filling.  Well, he didn't actually have a cavity, it appears that he had the start of a cavity that remineralized on it's own.  However, it was best to cover it for protection as a band for his new braces would be going around it on Wednesday.  That took up out entire afternoon.  We were welcomed home by a wonderful display of Spring ... FINALLY!!!!  No more snow ... we hope.  Thirty minutes later we left for my daughter's two hour long Monday night dance which is also 40 minutes away, but in another direction.  We live in a rural area so we drive a lot.  My husband and I took the opportunity to have a date night during her class time though, so that was a good thing.  It can be difficult to find "us time" with so many children and so much going on.

It works!
You can wrap a 3-year-old in it!
Tuesday night my daughter has her other dance class.  About half-way there my front right tire blew while we were in the left lane and no one wanted to let us over so we could get off the road (the right shoulder isn't wide enough for even a compact car to safely pull off let alone full sized passenger van).  I had to speed up to 80 mph with a flat front tire in order to get over and off the highway safely.  Thank you, LORD, for keeping us safe! We had the same issue as Audria with people not keep to the left (Weekly Wrap-up: Flat Tires, Torture and a Recipe).  About thirty minutes later, my husband, AAA, and a police office arrived within 5 minutes of each other to help out.  Amazing how well people pull over when a cop has his lights on!  My daughter and I took off in my husband's vehicle and made the second half of her class.  I found myself sitting there without any hand work as I finished off the quilt I was working on Sunday.  If you're interested in quilts and quilting, you can find pictures and cutting sizes at And three weeks later ... it's a QUILT!.  I get the most inspiration from seeing what others have done!

Wednesday morning started off comfortably at the couch.
It is a perfect place to do school work and study!

I see the camera,
so I'm hiding a grin.
Yes, I am still in my PJ's.

Biology together.  Fish have a bladder
that holds gas to make them float and
slime to help them swim.  Neat.

"Come look at my gubby with me.
Does his swimes help him swim too?"

Coffee.  I need coffee.
Just let me get my coffee.
Only seven more lessons to complete in
one subject and my Senior will be done
with high school forever!  

Our 4th Brace Face,
Tinsel Tooth, Metal Mouth
Pooh and left at 11:35 and were at the orthodontist at 12:15 for spacers (yes, it took 40 minute to get there in yet ANOTHER direction).  We did get to have lunch and hang out together until braces time at 1:45.  I really cherish any alone I get with my children, even if it is a burger a Wendy's and walking around Big Lots.  In a family our size you have to make a point to get that one-on-one which is so important.  Two hours later his braces were on and banded with orange and green for the Florida Gators.  GO GATORS!  He was a little excited to get them on and was patient during the time it took to get them on.  Since then he's had to eat a sandwich with a fork a knife, had to break up a cookie to eat it, and couldn't bite into a taco.  He isn't so excited anymore.

Anyway, we ran a few errands after his braces and got home 45 minutes before leaving for church.  Thankfully church is only a five minute drive!!!

Thursday morning I had to drive Barns to school, take Tuna for his bi-weekly shot, drop off a cat that was dumped at out house (I will spare you the full story of stupidity that goes went with it), then pick up Barns for his driving test (he passed HORRAY), take him back to school as he didn't have a parking permit to drive himself back, picked up the kids at the house to go to the park, then back to get Barns and FINALLY drop the daughter off at the Girl Scout troop she volunteers with.  WHEW!  I was so pleased when our new driver volunteered to go pick her up!

"Mom, why do you have a camera?"
"Just smile.
Then you can leave for school."
Thursday night brought some commotion at our house when Arty the Hedgehog saved the entire family from Bane the Action Figure.  You can read all about it at Arty the Hedgehog, Crime-fighter Extraordinaire, Beats up Bane and Puts Batman and Superman Out of Work!.

Today is Friday.  My son drove himself to school this morning.  We are almost done with school already so we are going to spend this gorgeous, 70 degree, Spring afternoon at the park!  My daughter has a troop meeting tonight, but I think I'll sit back and let my new driver handle it.  Yippie!

Linked to: Weekly Wrap-Up

I have said these things unto you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
~John 16:33