Fourth Month/Four Somethings

My online friend, Heather, hosts a monthly link-up called SHARE FOUR SOMETHINGS: Something Loved, Something Read, Something Treasured, Something Ahead. Bless her and her diligence. She is currently on an extended family road trip visiting National Parks. You can follow her trip on Instagram!

Something Loved…

Wow. This should be much easier than it is, and this is why this is such a good discipline.

But as I sit and think, one thing comes to my mind: My kids. In particular, my older kids.

My son moved here to help care for my parents, and I just LOVE having him around.

My daughter is having a TOUGH semester at school, and I have planned a mother/daughter getaway at the beach for a few days when the semester is over to help recover. I can’t wait.

Parenting is haaaaarrrrrrddddd. I have failed ridiculously over and over again. I require an enormous amount of forgiveness and grace on a regular basis. But I sure do love my kids. (98% of my actual in-person life is doting on Ryan, so there’s no harm in leaving her out of this one.)

Something Read

I finished Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans. I expected to both like it and dislike it much more than I did. Like it because I had REALLY high expectations for her writing style. She is highly regarded within the liberal Christian culture, so I think I expected her to be so moving and eloquent it might make me re-look at my conservative values.

Nope.

I expected to dislike it because I wondered if it make me question things, or look at my faith differently. (I wondered if I would be defensive.)

Nope.

MANY of the points she makes I have made to others in my own journey. But the parting of ways comes to this: she seemed to think she believed what the Bible taught incorrectly rather than considering that people lived what the Bible taught incorrectly. It has heightened my resolve to really know what the Bible teaches and how it applies to me. (Which has me on the craziest journey through Proverbs 31…but I digress.)

I am also reading the devotional Seeing Beautiful Again by Lysa Terkeurst, and How To Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LaPera. Summer is coming, so a few novels will be mixed in…

Something Treasured

I treasure Tuesdays.

My precious little peanut spends all her time with her mom and dad. We adore her. We treasure her. We protect her.

But it makes for a small world, that is not particularly in her best interest.

It has not always been this way but life circumstances, followed by a pandemic, have created our own, personal dysfunction.

Recently I hired a tutor to come work with Ryan on Tuesdays. I get all the activities prepared, and they spend hours together. At first Ryan wasn’t thrilled, but this last week we added decorating sugar cookies to the list of activities and things are looking up.

Meanwhile, while they are doing homeschool, I go to restorative yoga, then counseling, then lunch, the marriage counseling. It is a day purposely devoted to a better, fuller life and I am grateful.

Something Ahead

Actually, there is a LOT to look forward to in large part because of my Tuesdays. There are patterns I am putting an end to, which means that the future looks brighter in several areas.

I am becoming a person with better habits spiritually, financially, and emotionally. I will add better health habits in the future, but for now I will praise the progress where the progress is.

And, of course, I look forward to a few days at the beach with my college student daughter!!

I am resting on Proverbs 31:18: She senses that her gain Is good.

Marching Four-Ward

Ohhhh…Bless Heather for her diligence and faithfulness. Each month she hosts a link-up highlighting Four Somethings: Something loved; Something Read; Something Treasured; Something Ahead. It’s a great writing exercise, and a kind-of center base for life. Taking the time to reflect is always a good practice…

Something Loved

Can we chat for a minute? I mean really, as though we were having coffee together.

This month I have loved good counseling. I found a delightful woman to spend an hour with each week, and an insightful gentleman to spend an hour with my hubby and me each week.

We have a lot on our plates. Many, many (most) couples with special needs kids don’t make it. Our daughter is an utter delight, but she definitely has special needs.

My mom has a terrible disease. In the various online forums for people with the disease, or with family members who have the disease, there is a lot of talk about assisted suicide. It’s that kind of a diagnosis. My dad is not the man he once was, and falls all the time. Last week, after having already been to the ER or doctor’s appointments on 4 separate days and not wanting to go again, I let him shout as I pulled staples, from his last fall, out of his head. I gently tugged out fifteen staples in total, with only 4 good yells. That was not a bad ratio.

***Several months ago I had to take my mother and father to the doctor’s office because they each had staples that needed to be taken out. We are very well known in the doctor’s office so it was no real surprise when the Physician’s Assistant looked at me, handed me the staple remover, and said, “You really should have one of your own.”

All that to say, this gal needs help. And counseling is a really good idea.

Something Read (Or, in this case, Said)

Several of the other joiners in Four Somethings are prolific readers. They inspire me to read more…next month.

I started The Road Back To You and Searching for Sunday but haven’t finished either.

I had a friend message me on Facebook, looking for help. He has a precious young (kind of like a) daughter, who struggles with the role of women to submit, and asked if I could help talk to her about it. I am always happy to try, knowing I may fail. I will write much, much, MUCH more about this in the future, but this is what I said:

We have done society an enormous disservice by centering this conversation around the woman’s obligation to submit when the heart of it succeeding is the responsibility of the man to serve and lead. In the two primary places this is discussed–the home and the church–if the man is fulfilling his obligation before the Lord, the context is far less controversial.

If a robber comes into a home with one bullet in the gun, it the husband/father’s responsibility to take the bullet. The “submissive” act is to stand behind him and allow him to honor his responsibility (to lay down his life for his family) before the Lord, as the leader of the family. In God’s formula, the husband always looks to his family’s best interests first. Submitting to the best interests of everyone involved is not an act of weakness, or being less than…

Just because many most men are failing at this, it does not mean God got the formula wrong or we have somehow misunderstood. It just means men can be dumb.

And this is why I need counseling…I, too, have some heart issues that need hammering out.

Something Treasured

Good caregivers.

I cannot say enough. 2021 got off to a really rough start caregiving wise.

My son moved from Virginia to East Texas to help, and I could not have gotten through without him. We have used 3 different companies since December 1st: One I fired. One dropped us. And one still remains. (I feel like the Goldilocks of daughters…”Too hot!” “Too cold!” “Just right!”)

I hired several private caregivers I thought would be wonderful and they, too, are gone. My parents are a LOT of work, but I am happy to say, now I think we’ve got it! In addition to the 24-hour care they require, I have people for saunas, showers, massages, exercise, outings, trips to the fitness center, and house cleaners. We are planning outings and hoping for improvements. I am so, so grateful. (And grateful my parents did well financially so I can pay for it all.)

For those of you in this season of life, or heading into this season of life, I humbly acknowledge that there are family members genuinely dissatisfied with the care my parents have. They regularly share their dissatisfaction. “[This person] clearly thinks they (my parents) are being mistreated,” is something I have heard several times. There are seasons in life when knowing you are doing your very best before the Lord is enough, and other people’s opinions can’t register.

That is also something I treasure.

Something Ahead

Well…getting more centered in my own life feels like it is on the horizon.

I now have quartz countertops, which makes my kitchen functional! I am cleaning more, homeschooling better, getting the right help in several areas, and summer (my favorite season) is coming.

There is hope. And a lot, a lot, A LOT of work to get there.

Indeed, It Is Very Good

***This was originally posted in the LOVE OF DIXIE MAGAZINE…

The car reeked of chlorine. I sat in the parking lot, my daughter still in her swimming suit, basking in the significant progress she made in just a few days of aqua therapy.

We flew nearly 3,000 miles to get help. The speech therapist we sought out then connected us with an aqua-therapist who worked her magic in the pool. Ryan learned how to control her airflow enough to blow a whistle. She began to learn to swim. It was incredible.

There, in a rental car warm from the summer sun, the most overwhelming grief washed over me. Tears were uncontrollable as I sobbed and took deep breaths. Pulling out of the parking lot—leaving behind these women who helped my daughter so much—I learned an incredible truth: We only grieve what we are grateful for.

I was profoundly grateful for their help, and I was desperately sad to go home and face the challenges alone. Again.

Several months later, my daughter and I drove hundreds of miles to a week-long swimming clinic for kids with special needs. I watched more gifted therapists, in the pool, with more precious kids. 

The first day a beautiful, curly-haired, autistic preschooler screamed and cried the entire lesson. The instructor was unphased and upbeat. The little girl’s Daddy was steady and confident, but her Mom had to walk around the corner and collect herself.

Sometimes you just need to catch your breath.

The second day, the precious cherub only cried for 20 minutes.

The final day that brave little champion jumped in the water, laughing and splashing. This time it was her Mom who sobbed the whole way through, tears of joy and enormous pride staining her cheeks. It is difficult, sometimes, to put into words what an incredible privilege parenting special needs kids is.

They are warriors who muster tremendous courage to do things that come easily to most people. They add color and texture to the ordinary. However, this parenting road is not without costs. Those costs, unfortunately, can be relationships.

My college-student daughter shared with me the experience of talking about her sister with her friends. As she explains what our life is like, they stare pityingly, with wide-eyes and jaws open. “She’s actually one of the happiest people I know,” she assures them.

People who are not in the throws of dealing with special needs kids often don’t know what to do or how to think about it. Nearly a decade and a half into this journey, I have ideas about what might be helpful to parents who share a similar story to ours. If you have friends whose kids are unique, perhaps this will give you something to consider.

Our boundaries are often tighter than yours. My daughter almost always needs to be in my eyesight if we are not at home. While wandering and exploring is joyful and necessary to typically developing kids, it is dangerous for mine.

We have been at family events where everyone wanted to go for a walk down long winding, unstable trails, unaware of what that would be like for Ryan. We are not party poopers or lazy, but some things are not realistic for us. There are homes with trampolines or tree houses that we end up avoiding because the price of dealing with them makes the experience overly draining. Physical coordination is not something we can take for granted.

We would love someone to stay in the kiddie pool with us. For over a decade we had season passes to the water park, as did most of our friends. 

For the first few years it was delightful because we were all in the same season. We had toddlers and traded off helping; one mom at the top of the slide, one mom at the bottom. Our chubby babies laughed and splashed, sliding down slides, getting all the vitamin D one could want. 

But then the other kids grew and developed. While they were bounding around from adventure to adventure, their moms were laying out getting tan. Meanwhile, my daughter (who had finally learned to walk) and I were still in the pool with the little people. I would get her situated at the top of the slide and tell her to wait, then run down to the bottom to catch her. 

I entered a season where it was far lonelier to go to the water park with friends than to go by ourselves, so I stopped going with friends. I understand that moms need a break; hanging out and chatting is soul-filling, but I would have loved someone willing to stay in the kiddie pool with us.

Sometimes your kids should experience things that are not fair. Once my daughter and I were at the park, swinging. She was safely tucked in one of the toddler swings, steadily flowing back and forth. She was having a blast. She swung for a long time.

Another child wanted the swing. The Mom said a little too loudly, with a tone of irritation, “I guess you just have to wait until they are willing to share.”

The fact of the matter is that there are many things kids with special needs cannot do, or participate in. Because of that, when something works and is loved we may let them continue beyond what the watching world thinks is their “fair share.” And we may not apologize for it. 

Our kids are a gift. We are doing the world a favor for raising these precious people. They are funny. They see beauty in unique places. They give the gift of forcing us to slow down and breathe deeply. They simplify a tightly wound world.

My daughter is a joy spreader. When she was an infant a seasoned specialist looked at her, smiled and said, “She really is remarkably sweet, isn’t she?”

Yes, she is. She can’t talk. She sometimes learns after being introduced to things ten thousand times. It’s not a fast process, but she is wise in her way. She loved her grandmother with Alzheimer’s with so much ease. Her expectations of people are inspiringly low. 

My world is infinitely more vibrant because of our journey, and yours will be too if you have friends like my precious little peanut.

When she was just two days old we were getting ready to check out of the hospital, totally unaware of what the future held. Our beloved pediatrician came to examine her. After many strained minutes looking and testing, his face softened. He put his hand on my leg and said in a gentle tone, “I am so, so sorry, but I would put your baby in the category of there’s something not right, but I don’t know what it is.”

Stunned, I took a deep breath and replied, “On the wall above her crib I painted Genesis 1:31, ‘And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good.’ I guess it’s time for me to figure out if I really believe it.” 

With that, our journey began. I got the joy of figuring out those were not just words painted on a wall. I don’t only believe, I know. God created my daughter and, indeed, she is very good.

Hello, Four Somethings. Nice to see you again.

My online friend, Heather, hosts a monthly blog link up.

I am an infrequent, but always welcome, participant.

Reading through my post from nearly a year ago, I was a tad bit (hugely) depressed to see that I was looking forward to a remodeled house almost a year ago.

Guess what my “Something Ahead” could be today? You guessed it. A remodeled house.

You may not be surprised to learn that my marriage has seen better and easier days than these we have now…but I digress.

Something loved…

It’s true it was inconvenient, and many in other parts of my state suffered enormously. I am not minimizing that in any way.

But it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Something read…

In this case something said because I FINALLY finished the audio of Brene Brown’s I thought It Was Just Me, But It’s Not.

She is brilliant and I love her words. (For those who may wonder, YES, her politics are too liberal for me, but I can easily set that aside to dig in to the wondrous information she has about humanity.)

In the book she says something along the lines of, “Shame always results in fear, blame, and disconnection.” I am digging and reflecting with a huge desire to make sure those things are no part of my relationship with my grown kids.

It’s hhhhhhaaaaaarrrrrrrddddd.

Something treasured…

I am homeschooling well for the first time in a long time…

I took the time to write out my real goals for my daughter and our life as a family. As I thought and prayed, I realized the absolute most important thing was to ensure my daughter was tired at the end of the day.

Our nighttimes were getting stupidly hard, and the real reason was she was understimulated during the day. Painful to acknowledge, but that became the focus of planning the rhythm and routines for our schedule.

We have not yet reached perfection…but we are on our way to much better.

I treasure that.

Something ahead…

There were some $%^$&**y things that happened in January that I am still recovering from. Caring for aging and infirm parents is not for the faint of heart.

But I am close to having a routine for them that delights me. YAY. Infrared saunas, massages, balance board therapy, the gym, the salon, lots and lots of walks, and lunches out. I told my mom, “I don’t want you to never again see a sunset because you are sitting in your chair watching Fox News.”

Just over the hill from their home is Lake Palestine, where the sunsets are beautiful.

My now non-verbal mother still has a poet’s heart. I am constructing a team dedicated to infusing beauty into her days.

My once-brilliant jurist of a father, as it turns out, has a deformed tongue that resulted in a lifelong case of sleep apnea. The sleep specialist walked me through what happens, explaining that his brain cells are dying from lack of oxygen while he sleeps.

That makes so much sense.

We are hoping to fix that problem and stop that decline by the end of next week. I am constructing a team dedicated to movement and stimulatiion and fuller days.

I am hiring a tutor once a week for my precious little peanut, who isn’t little anymore. This will anchor our week and help her learn to interact with more people.

And, of course, someday I may have a remodeled kitchen.

Lots to look forward to!

On Life

My mom has one of those diseases.

You know the ones. Those that when you see it in someone else, it makes you go, “I don’t ever want to be that person.”

The ones that cause pity to boil up from the little-thought-about depths of our humanity.

Some days I cannot believe this is our life. Her life.

My mother, who spent our entire childhoods oversharing, cannot talk. She is fed by a tube. She has no use of her right hand and painfully little use of the left.

Communicating is a grueling process of pointing at letters on a laminated printout of the alphabet. I say I want to get a high priced, eye gaze technology communication device for her, but the paperwork sits unattended.

There are always a million plates spinning.

*****************

I often don’t like reality.

I prefer hope.

*****************

I want to believe that if I find the right vitamins and do the right therapies and hire the right people my parents might get better.

Everyone looks at me like I am nuts, and I am beginning to think they are right.

******************

Lord, I really want to live a life that honors YOU, but I admit I also want a bit of the miraculous to spill onto my mundane.

There is so. much. mundane.

*******************

In the span of ten days, as I am trying to create a thriving routine for both my special needs daughter and my special needs parents, people have had car problems, kidney problems, the stomach flu, tooth aches, seizures, electrical problems, allergies and an impending snow storm.

I need to take a moment and say, “Back off, Satan. You are not welcome here. You will not reign. YOU DO NOT WIN.”

The enemy of my soul desires my destruction and if he cannot have my destruction he will take my discouragement.

He cannot have it.

*******************

I start again tomorrow. Praying for progress and peace.

Searching for beauty. Trying to grow. Making things I can control better while accepting the things I cannot control might very well get worse.

ELECTION 2020: A Guide For Conservative Women

ELECTION 2020: A Guide For Conservative Women

This is it.

The days are winding down fast and Election Day will be here before we know it. This is an election of enormous consequence.

When it comes, may we know we did all we could do. Then let’s remind each other the results are God’s.

Many are wondering, WHAT CAN WE DO?

I’m glad you asked.

Pray. Pray fervently and often. Consider joining me in fasting every Tuesday between now and the election. (I allow myself drinks, and finish fasting at 6:00 pm.)

We need to pray for our President and our country; for unity and wisdom, AND we need to be praying for the opposing party. May they be humble and wise. May the scales fall off the eyes of people who refuse to see. May each of us come to know God better and rely on HIM more during this season.

Donate. Small amounts add up. Much of the Republican fundraising is funneled here. Have a garage sale and donate the proceeds. We NEED to keep the Senate and the White House, but we should try to take back the House as well.

Serve. If I still lived in California, I would call Joe Collins’ office and see how I could help. WHY NOT help Maxine Waters retire? Make phone calls, walk precincts, answer phones, send out mailers…anything. Do you know who is running in your district? Can you help them?

Keep it positive. There is enough division. Let’s rise above it. Keep it simple: Republicans want safe streets, funded police, school choice, to open back up quickly after COVID, and low taxes. No name-calling. No foul language. No pointing fingers…just steady reminders of what we are building toward.

This is our time.

We women can make the difference for our families, our future, and our fundamental beliefs.

Do not let people shame you for supporting President Trump. There are abundant reasons for doing so. Here is just a shortlist:

  • Lower taxes. This has made a real difference to many people.
  • Higher wages. Prior to COVID wages were actually increasing across all demographics.
  • Energy independence. For the first time in 70 years, we were a net exporter of energy products. This has a profound impact not only on opportunities here in the US but helps to shift the balance of power around the world. (Can you recall one significant radical Islamic terrorist attack, anywhere in the world, since the US became the #1 oil producer? I can’t say for sure those two things are related, but I do believe fewer oil dollars in the pockets of terrorist funding regimes is a good thing.)
  • ISIS is gone. We need to not forget the days of ISIS running through villages in the Middle East, beheading all the Christians, and taking all the teenage girls as sex slaves. It was horrific. It is done.
  • Peace agreements for Israel and Arab nations. This is huge. This President literally cannot do anything to get kind words from the left, but this is a really, really big deal.
  • The Supreme Court. Enough said.

This election is poised to be a fundamental shift in demographics.

The Republican umbrella of low unemployment, better trade deals, a strong military, and supporting law enforcement so our streets can be safe speaks to people of all races, colors, and creeds. No longer is this the party of rich, white people.

It is the party of dreamers.

In 2020 The Republicans did not offer a new platform for the convention. It was not a litany of promises and “this is what we will do for you if you vote for us!” Instead, they boldly stood firm on the promises made in 2016. It was a political party saying, “This is what we are doing, come join us!”

They celebrated what was working: The wall is getting built. (No more caravans from South America.)

The economy was the best on earth. (It will get back to booming.) Republican policies work.

They talked about wanting to restore order in cities across the nation.

Meanwhile, this summer, Chaz (or Chop, or whatever it’s name was) in Seattle had to be shut down after a few short weeks. The dreams of spaghetti potlucks and a summer of love crumbled in the face of violence. In June, the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted to defund the police. In September they wondered where all the law enforcement had gone.

The differences in philosophy about keeping cities safe could not be more stark.

Let’s agree that protests do not cause property damage…Riots do. Think of all the cities that are being ripped apart by protests and riots. This article talks about the 1 billion dollars in damage caused by rioters since May. Of those cities being ripped apart, how many are run by Democrats?

I encourage you to take the time to look it up.

“Let us first examine the political leadership of the most dangerous American cities, large and small alike. ‘Danger,’ for purposes of this analysis, is defined in terms of the number of violent crimes committed per 1,000 residents. Four categories of violent crime are included in these calculations: homicide, rape, armed robbery, and aggravated assault. The statistics regarding the incidence of each of these crimes in each city were derived from FBI records and were published in 2019 by the custom analytics website NeighborhoodScout.com.[4]

The following chart shows the 50 cities that have the highest violent crime rates in the United States and: (a) have a population of 25,000 or more; (b) are governed by mayors who are clearly identifiable as either Democrats or Republicans;[5] and (c) have either a “Mayor-Council” (MC) form of government, a “Council-Manager” (CM) form of government, or a Hybrid (HYB) of the two.[6]  Of those 50 cities, 46 are governed by Democratic mayors and administrations; only 4 are governed by Republicans. Moreover, 42 of the top 43 are governed by Democrats.” –frontpagemag.com

Do you realize the President already signed an Executive Order requiring police reform and better training? And that he passed the FIRST STEP ACT–prison reform to undo the Biden-authored Crime Bill of 1994 which incarcerated African American men at a much higher rate than white men? He advocates for school choice. He is fighting for equality across this land, and it is reflected in the polls, even if it is not reflected on Twitter.

We can do this.

We can be kind and loving to the people we disagree with and relentlessly move forward with saving this nation. We can learn, and then articulate kindly what the better choice is.

We can vote and encourage others to vote as well. We are women. We can do anything.

We can sit on the Supreme Court, run winning Presidential campaigns, hold high offices, and love our families and communities with honor, grace, and effectiveness. We can celebrate people, even when we disagree on policy.

We can be the people we want the other side to become. Are you with me?

Education

Education

Ok, I am in a mood.


Let’s chat about education.


Many people are posting memes imploring parents to support teachers and administrators as this nation faces decisions and circumstances never before seen in my lifetime.


People want us to be nice. Got it.


But this is an amazing opportunity to try to think CLEARLY and, perhaps, DIFFERENTLY than ever before about how and why we educate our kids.


I believe there is one vital question/concept that must be wrestled through first and foremost: OPEN, WELCOMING PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE EITHER ESSENTIAL FOR QUALITY EDUCATION AND VITAL FOR OUR NATION OR THEY ARE NOT.


Hang with me.


Doesn’t it make sense to answer that first? Ultimately we have had to answer that very question about hospitals, nursing homes, and prisons.

Have we seriously debated/discussed/contemplated whether or not schools are vital?

If they are, why is whether or not to open the focus, rather than how to open?

If they are not, why are we allowing the discussion to be dictated by the same people who have run the system we no longer consider to be vital?

As we are continuing this conversation, let me ask: Do we really want systemic change and better results for all people?

Really?

Don’t just answer because the obvious choice is the only comfortable choice. What we say with our words, and what we live are often two very, very different things.

If we do want solutions, we should talk about things that work.

*****************

In many ways, if we want something to change, the very best place to be is facing a problem that can be fixed with personal responsibility. Think about it: If the only way life can get better is for someone else to do something, we have very little power.

If the only hope for people suffering under the burden of systemic racism is if the system changes–that is an incredibly vulnerable place to be.

(I suspect some people will now need to take a deep breath. Nothing in the previous statement implies that systemic racism does not exist. Nothing implies that the systems should stay the same. It merely states the hypothesis that IF personal changes can change outcomes within the system, that is a better place to be than if outcomes can only change after the system changes.)

Again, hang with me.

*********************

There are a wide variety of international studies that support the following conclusion: The number one indicator of academic success is not race, gender, geography, class, or income. The number one predictor of academic success is whether or not a child is read to early and often.

If that is true, and if we want all kids to have the best possible chances in school, WHY are educational experts not screaming READ TO YOUR KIDS from the rooftops?

Do we believe teachers and educators don’t know this?

Think of the anxiety and stress burdening parents and teachers regarding open/closing of schools. What if the conversation shifted to this:

“The number one thing parents can do to support academic excellence for all ages is to read quality books aloud to their children. How can we help you, parents, develop this habit?”

I think that is empowering.

If, during the last few months on lockdown, families read Little Women, To Kill A Mockingbird, and Tom Sawyer together, do you believe they would feel as far behind academically?

Parents of little people could read the Little House on the Prairie series.

Language, history, attention spans, and connections would all be encouraged and developed.

Putting aside whether or not everyone would do it; or whether or not there might be economic, geographic, or racial disparity in who actually followed through; it is still a valuable option available. Willingness is the defining factor. If access to books is an issue, I suspect many moms would line up to help fill in the gaps.

Instead, people are confused and afraid, waiting for the breadcrumbs of ideas and plans coming from the people in charge.

************************

It is time for even the most supportive public school parents to sit in the discomfort and face the fact that political ideology has hijacked much of the public education system.

That doesn’t mean there are not great teachers. It does not mean there are not great schools. It does mean that there is nowhere near a healthy amount of diversity of thought and there is a DRIVING desire by the people in power to control as much as they can.

As a general rule, it is far easier to control victims.

At the 2018 American Federation of Teachers convention, three of the keynote speakers were Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. The president of the AFT said this: “We are in a race, and the November elections are the key…[To] truly change America takes more than mobilization—it takes organization, persistence, and a sustained political effort.”

To believe that public school system is only about education and not driven by politics is, well, wishful thinking.

The Los Angeles Teachers Union has made its demands for what needs to happen in order for the schools to open up and get back to normal after COVID. You can read the entire document here. For those who don’t have the time, I will copy and paste the demands for you:

FEDERAL SUPPORT

  • Federal Bailout…Many experts are calling for at least $500 billion in additional federal assistance this year, and a commitment to continue support over several years.
  • Fully Fund Title I
  • Fully Fund IDEA
  • Medicare for All

[That’s right. The Los Angeles Teacher’s Union is demanding they control what kind of health insurance I have here in East Texas.]

STATE SUPPORT

  • The California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act of 2020, aka Schools and Communities First [This is a proposition on the November Ballot. They are including an outcome of a yet to be held election in their demands.]
  • Wealth Tax
  • Millionaire Tax

LOCAL SUPPORT

  • Defund Police
  • Housing Security
  • Paid Sick Leave
  • Charter Moratorium
  • Financial Support for Undocumented Students and Families

This is from their published document. I did not get this information from a right-wing news source, I got it from their own site. This is the conversation being driven by one of the largest teacher’s unions in the nation.

Does it match how you feel? Are these the hurdles you think should be overcome in order to best serve your child? Is this what you think education should be about?

I am going to say this as clearly as I can: If we really want to deal with systemic racism, truly, we must acknowledge that the single greatest perpetrator of it in this nation is the public school system.

They regularly, publicly, promote a narrative that reinforces limited opportunities and demand handouts for people of color. Some of the worst schools in the nation are in predominantly minority filled neighborhoods. Rather than promoting education as the key to a free and better life, they ask for handouts that tether people to reliance on the government for survival.

And they fiercely fight against the opportunity for parents to choose better (or even just different) schools for their kids.

The benefits of school choice to minority communities are deep, wide, and profound.  As Heritage.org says: “For instance, students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps low-income students attend private schools of their choice, experienced a 21 percentage point increase in graduation rates.”

You can read more about the benefits of school choice here or here.

There is no more passionate enemy of school choice than the public school system, as the LAUSD teacher’s union’s demand to put a moratorium on charter schools illustrates.

We should celebrate every single child who is educated well. It should not be offensive or insulting if that education takes place somewhere else. One school’s success does not guarantee another school’s failure. There is more than enough room for a thousand different kinds of schools to succeed in teaching millions of individual students with unique strengths, interests, and needs.

However, in the public school system, as it stands, there is only room for one way of thinking: theirs.

This is a beautiful opportunity to change that. Rather than seeing this entire debacle-ish situation as a choice between one disaster and another, it could be an opportunity for radical, systemic shifts that are dynamic and thoughtful. Need ideas?

I thought you’d never ask:

What if school districts offered different types of schools, rather than similar schools in different locations? In this virus-filled era, there is no better time to consider several of these:

  • OUTDOOR SCHOOLS I am not an expert, but an outdoor school is more than simply having class outside. It is building learning and curriculum around activities that are–you guessed it–outside. For those kids who actually suffer when they have to stay still and clean, this is a beautiful option. Getting in touch with nature, learning about the ecological systems, gardening, moving, journaling about the experiences. Literature filled with stories about life outdoors, connecting reading to real-life experiences. How many kids would thrive in such an experience? Learn more here.
  • UNIVERSITY MODELS My daughter was educated in a university model high school, and we loved it. (“It” being the University Model Method, not necessarily the school we attended.) This quote sums it up: “The immediate goal of the University-Model® educational system is quality, cost-effective college-preparatory education accomplished in a way that gives parents more time for imparting the faith and values they hold precious.” It is designed to combine time at home and time at school. The time management aspect readies kids for college very effectively. You can learn more here. That is a faith-based program, but obviously it would not be in the public school system.
  • MONTESSORI SCHOOLS. A district in my area here in East Texas has a Montessori charter school. You can learn more about this method of educating here. This particular method of educating encourages self-discovery and exploration. It would be a very doable thing to add the cleaning and sanitizing of the stations, by the kids, as part of the learning experience. It lends itself to the teaching of hygiene.

Obviously, that list is not extensive. There are many more ideas, but why not start talking about ideas rather than limitations? Rather than growing a generation of kids that are afraid and think in terms of limitations, we could start something better than what has ever been before–and NOT have it dependent on voting the way the teacher’s union wants us to.

Dear Portland Moms (And, well, Moms everywhere)

Dear Portland Moms (And, well, Moms everywhere)

My kids will undoubtedly need copious amounts of therapy for being my children.

I am hot-tempered, hard-headed, and horrendously lazy.

My intentions are among the best, most complete, and well thought out in the world. My actions…are not yet up to the mark.

Yet, as crazy as I may be, I think that many mothers out there have lost their ever-loving minds.

I started to consider whether or not I was from a different planet after the last Super Bowl halftime show.

Credit to the Chicago Sun-Times from Google Images

Facebook started blowing up with moms–many Christian moms– who thought it was an awesome performance. Somehow, scantily dressed men pawing and looking up the crotch of an extremely provocatively dressed woman was admirable.

The defense seemed to be that it was a wonderful thing because J Lo was “hot”. So, if I understand correctly if she was not, say, attractive, and was just an average mom of three kids without millions of dollars to spend on her looks, the performance would not have been so great?

Apparently, it was not a problem that she was being portrayed as a piece of meat and doing things that fuel both the pornography and prostitution industry on what some believe is the biggest sex trafficking day of the year? Huh.

There were still moms–Christian moms–raving.

“Is this what you want for your daughters?” I asked over and over and over again.

I got no answers.

I think my daughter is prettier than J Lo. This is not what I want for her.

WHAT DO WE WANT FOR OUR KIDS? WHO DO WE WANT OUR KIDS TO BE?

This week Portland, Oregon moms locked arms and took to the streets. My understanding is that they were “protecting” protestors from federal police forces sent to protect federal property.

This is a screen shot from my computer.

Wearing coordinating t-shirts and bike helmets, People magazine declared they were there to protect the demonstrators.

But where were the moms when this took place?

Another screen shot from my computer.

Seriously. What kind of character do we want our kids to have?

I believe in standing up and speaking out.

But I believe it must be effective. And I believe it needs to be for the right things.

Last night someone posted a video taken in the beautiful college town near where I used to live in California. “Protestors” were walking through public places and shouting in unison, “F*&#$^$%k YOUR COMFORT!” over and over and over again.

What on earth does that have to do with anything?

In an attempt to encourage elevated conversations and clarity, and to try to find like-minded people, I am going to put in writing what I believe and want other people to believe with me:

  • Profanity is not the mark of intelligence. I go through seasons of cussing–and they are all seasons peppered with stress and unhappiness. F-Bombed filled rants rarely get compassion from other people. If you want people on your side, use your nice words.
  • It is wrong to destroy other people’s property. I can’t believe this needs to be elaborated on, but it does. “Property can be replaced, people can’t” seems to be the rationale. Do you know what else can’t be replaced? Time. The time invested to build businesses and believe in dreams. Time spent creating art and memories. Time spent trying to get ahead and create financial stability for family…only to have it destroyed by someone who is angry about something someone else did.
  • Blocking the freeway is illegal. It is not a peaceful protest if you block traffic. (**I am going to define a peaceful protest as something someone else has the choice to engage in or avoid.) Blocking traffic doesn’t give people a choice and–in my opinion–makes you a bully. It is also against the law. Even if local police “give permission”, that doesn’t make it legal. Or smart.
  • It’s time we started speaking out about children being hurt. In my former California community, while blocking freeway traffic, someone smashed a car window. There was a 4-year-old in a car seat in that car. Over the 4th of July weekend, an 8-year-old girl was shot in Atlanta. An 8-year-old boy was shot in a mall in Alabama. An 11-year-old was killed in Washington DC. Add Chicago and San Francisco to the cities where kids were killed. All of them were children of color…let’s protest for those beautiful people.

What is it we really want? For weeks and weeks, violence has filled our cities. Police officers were battered and property destroyed, and there has been silence from the parents of the people doing the damage.

But as soon as the federal government decides enough is enough and takes responsibility for protecting federal property, moms hit the street. Ok.

Do I want them to have that choice and that freedom? Absolutely. I completely support the First Amendment Right to do just that.

But is that who you want your children to be?

If the protests were peaceful, would additional law enforcement be necessary?

Are you proud of your kids when they march through cities wishing ill on other people and cussing? What does “F*#$%K YOUR COMFORT” have to do with any righteous changes that may need to take place?

Have we/you, as parents, worked hard to try to provide a good life for yourself and your family? A comfortable life?

My husband and I have. We are not ashamed of that. We do not feel any obligation to martyr ourselves for the popular socialist mantra of the day.

While we have worked (sometimes effectively, sometimes not as much) for a good life, we have also served and given our time and treasure to causes and people we believe in.

Remember those books that filled our shelves when our kids were preschoolers that taught us all about natural and logical consequences? It is a natural and logical consequence that when people seek to damage and destroy federal property, federal law enforcement will step in. “Protecting” your kids from that consequence might not produce the kind of adults you want your kids to be.

It seems to me that “woke” white people are storming through the streets and social media trying to feel righteous and important by shaming those who see things differently. It seems these Portland moms want to shame the federal officers for showing up to do their jobs. Their job is to keep vandalism and destruction from continuing. I think it’s an admirable goal.

If you want me to join your cause, inspire Me. Wouldn’t we want our kids to be inspirational and informed, rather than loud and ignorant? Do we believe the “woke” protestors can define socialism? Name a successful socialist country? Name several signers of the Declaration of Independence? Know what the Magna Carta, Emancipation Proclamation, or Mayflower Compact is?

Really. That is a serious question. Do you believe the vast majority of people wreaking havoc have accurate historic knowledge and can explain the context of decisions made in the past?

How about us, the parents?

Ignorance should not win the day.

It is possible to have compassion for others without feeling shame for myself, my blessings, or even my privilege. (More on privilege another day…) I would go so far as to say, shame never helps anything, but clarity does.

So again I ask, what do we want for our kids’ lives and character? Let’s build on that.

May Four Somethings

My friend Heather has a monthly link up. Our little online community shares something loved, something read, something treasured, and something ahead. I rarely actually do it.

I intend to every time.

Since I want to become a person more successful with my intentions, I am going to plow through here…

And do it.

Something Loved

There really are so many things I love, even though my heart is a little grumbly lately, but one of my favorite new additions to my world is BALANCE THERAPY for my Dad.

He falls like it is his job.

We were on a grueling, but amazing, 5-week path to health when COVID hit. The thought of where we could be grieves me. Two months of staying home with very little movement are NOT good for the aging population.

We were going to start Balance Therapy locally just before everything shut down. After a bit of research, I discovered a Balance Therapy place still open an hour and twenty minutes away, so I signed him up.

It is amazing.

Miss Vanessa is a wonderful addition to my TEAM HAPPY. My Dad is absolutely getting stronger, and it has been weeks since he has fallen to the ground.

He is FATIGUED when it is over. We stop for drive-thru Western Bacon Cheeseburgers on the way home and give him his Singing Canary with double protein powder to sip while he rests when we get there.

I schedule IV Vitamin and oxygen therapy the day after to help his body recover. Just because he is 83 doesn’t mean all his best days are behind him.

Something Read

Technically, I listened to this. Gary Sinese reads the audiobook, and I Love his voice, but Steinbeck’s words from the early 1960s are so poignant in today’s world.


“I remember an old Arab in North Africa, a man whose hands never felt water. He gave me mint tea in a glass so coated with use it was opaque, but he handed me companionship, and the tea was wonderful because of it. And without any protection my teeth didn’t fall out, nor did any running sores develop. I began to formulate a new law describing the relationship of protection to despondency. A sad soul can kill you quicker, far quicker, than a germ.”

John Steinbeck, TRAVELS WITH CHARLIE

Let us each work on building not-sad-souls; in ourselves, and in those around us.

Something Treasured

This is, hands down, having my college-age daughter home. (This has nothing to do with how I feel about colleges closing–I am opposed–but love the actual result of it which has been having her home. I am in conflict here.)

All families have rough spots.

We certainly do.

But my daughter is not currently one. She gutted distance learning out. (And hated it.) She self isolated at a mobile home we are renovating after spending spring break in New York.

Even that meant she was here, and I could deliver food and go clean and enjoy her presence.

Then she came home and has been a delightful watcher of her sister while I do the necessities with my parents. (My husband is gone working on an out of state project.)

We celebrated her birthday.

(Yes, our refrigerator is in the living room. We are in the middle of a remodel…life is not as orderly as I would prefer.)

I bought her new clothes.

We are working together to train her dog, and have made incredible progress. He is becoming well behaved and trustworthy in almost all situations.

She leaves in a week to take possession of her first apartment. School won’t start until the end of summer, but in our pre-COVID days we signed the lease for June, because that assured she could get this apartment. She is moving from Champlagne College to the University of Vermont so she can switch majors. This apartment provided perfect distance between connection with her previous college and proximity to the new.

Apparently there is currently a nice selection of available jobs, as some prefer unemployment to work. She prefers work, so this is a good time for her to return.

I will miss her madly.

Something Ahead

Someday my house will be remodeled.

It will have an open floor plan with a large island and dining room. This means there will be several places to actually sit as a family and have a meal.

It will have flooring that is not wood-looking linoleum.

My daughter will have a new room and homeschool room.

In my imaginations, it will be so much easier to create a rhythm of life that helps my family to thrive in my someday-newly-remodeled home.

I can’t wait.

As COVID-19 heads into the next season of whatever it is, I CAN’T WAIT sums it up nicely.

Homeschool Ideas

Homeschool Ideas

I am terrible at homeschooling.

Except for the times I am not.

Consistency is what I lack most. And my kiddo has pretty severe special needs, so there are complications. BUT, I still believe it is our very best option.

In these crazy, COVID-19 days, where CDC guidelines run the risk of seriously altering public education, it is a great time to investigate other options.

For anyone who may be wondering IF homeschool 20/21 is worth it, the following is a compilation of resources and ideas. I wish desperately I could turn back the clock ten years and start then, knowing what I know now, but forward is the only option.

First, you do not need to create your own curriculum. There are plenty to choose from.

Here is a list of free curriculums.

There are also many places to purchase an all in one curriculum or individual courses. Try here. Or here. Or another one. I have used this one and really liked it.

That should help get you started.

If you have small kids, ages 2-7, I recently stumbled across Other Goose. The founder, Erin Loechner, blogs here. She believes in chasing simplicity as though it were an Olympic sport. She’s my newest favorite.

There are MANY, many different educational philosophies. Each have their own strengths and merits. Many homeschool families combine various parts of various notions. One of the beauties of homeschooling os the freedom to find what helps your child/family to thrive.

Several years ago the book someone recommended A Thomas Jefferson Education. There was going to be a book group conversation about it, and of course I had procrastinated the purchasing of it, unaware that it is impossible to find in a normal book store. So, I downloaded it to my daughter’s kindle and sobbed my way through reading it.

Suddenly, my whole life made sense.

The author, Oliver DeMille, breaks down education into three types.

The conveyor belt education, education for the masses, is designed to teach people what to think.

A professional education teaches WHEN to think. This is necessary for medicine, education, and law, etc. Under what circumstances do you apply this information?

A Thomas Jefferson education is based heavily on mentoring and the classics teaches HOW to think. I suddenly realized why I hated school and struggled in Bible Study groups.

I hate being taught what to think. In that spirit, I don’t want to tell anybody what to think about how or where to educate their children. Instead, these are just ideas and places to get more information.

Here is a quick overview of several different educational philosophies.

THE CHARLOTTE MASON METHOD

The Charlotte Mason method, from my simplistic point of view, focuses on habits, nature, and reading original sources whenever possible. If you want your child to spend hours outside every day, consider this method.

This website gives a thorough overview. This morning my daughter made the bed without being asked. This counts as a homeschool victory! (Habits make up a life, for good or ill.)

REGGIO-AMELIA APPROACH

Like Charlotte Mason. Reggio emphasizes environment for learning. Natural is best. Allowing a child’s interest to inspire deep learning is encouraged.

Here is a great, brief introduction. In fact, that website has an enormous amount of helpful information.

CLASSICAL EDUCATION

The Well Trained Mind is the modern go-to resource for information on a classical education. Here is their link, with an abundance of information.

In a vastly over-simplified explanation, the Classical Model teaches with history as the foundation. Learning goes through 4 one year cycles:

  • Ancient History
  • Medieval History
  • Renaissance/Reformation
  • Modern

The science, math, art, and literature are all taken from the period of history studied. This does allow a unique insight into how the people, places, inventions, and culture influence what happens from one period to the next.

ABEKA

I honestly know very little about Abeka, except that they have been around and used by Christian schools and homeschoolers for decades.

You can look into their resources here.

Never has there been a better time to make hard decisions about education. Paying private school tuition for online at-home learning would not be my favorite thing in the world. Days full of mask wearing, small crowds, no field trips and no assemblies is not a winning formula either.

One of my biggest regrets in parenting is that I stopped reading to my kids. Once they started to read chapter books, I let them read whatever they wanted as often as they wanted. They started reading chapter books at 5 and 6. If I had it to do over again, I would have continue to read aloud every night.

She is my favorite resource on the topic. If you really want to understand the how’s and why’s of how much good it can do for your kids look here, or here, or here.

Not everyone has a choice. But for those who do, who are thinking about the third option: HOMESCHOOLING, I hope this helps!