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The Bedside Table

July 7, 2010
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Since a lot of you occasionally ask, a few of you sometimes ask and one of you always asks, I am going to start periodically posting what I am reading on here.  It might possibly be of interest to you or you might finally quit clicking on that little link every time my posts pop up on your Facebook update page. 🙂

I try to keep at least one fiction and one non-fiction going at a time.  Right now, I am a little unbalanced.  I have two fiction and one non-fiction going on.  I also have an “idea” book of 500 fun educational things to do with your kids (think make fractions pizzas) that I am reading.  But that doesn’t count.

The fiction have captured my attention less than the non-fiction – although both are very good (The little that I have read – it’s hard to read them when I want to read the other one all the time.).  So I will talk about them first.

Anne Rice’s Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt: So in case you didn’t hear, Anne Rice left the Mayfair Witches and Lestat behind and has found her faith.  She is now writing stories inspired by that faith.  This is the first one.  It tells a story of what could have been Jesus’ childhood.  Jesus is still seven in the part I am reading.  Not sure if he will age or not.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett:  Sometimes, when a book is told from multiple people’s view points, I get lost.  Not because I am that scattered but because the authors don’t have enough different voices to their writing.  This story is told from the view point of three women in Mississippi, 1962 – one white, two African American, the “hired help”.  I can hear Skeeter’s drawl just as clearly as I can hear Minnie’s sass and Aibileen’s intelligence.  Skeeter  is looking for her maid who has just up and disappeared and she is going to enlist the help of the other two ladies.  But, I haven’t gotten that far in that one either.

The non-fiction one is the one that has me sitting up just a bit longer than Keith at night.  The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast Too Soon by David Elkind, Ph.D. is fascinating.  This book came out originally in 1981.  It was revised in 1998 and 2001.  This guys basically says that we, as a society, have made our children grow up too fast.  Now I already knew this but to hear the examples and research and such behind it is fascinating.  So I am going to talk about it. 🙂

The early academic pressure children are under today is the first thing he talks about.  Kindergarteners have homework today.  Kindergarteners “fail” their grade.  Then you can look at the way children dress. Not that long ago, prepubescent boys wore knickers until they started shaving. Did you know that? And when did pre-teens start wearing makeup?  What about those little model girls?  When kids dress like kids, it’s a signal to people to treat them different – like the kids they are. And when kids dress like adults, they are more likely to act like adults.  Do we really want  that?  Another last evidence of pressure I will leave you with that I think is pertinent to us: the change in summer camps.  Odd one, eh?  Have you noticed that more and more summer camps focus on sports camps instead of swimming and camping and such? He says this one “reflects the new attitude that the years of childhood are not to be frittered away by engaging in activities merely for fun.” I don’t know how I feel about that one because I know a lot of kids who do sports for fun.

Couple of little points that I found interesting:

  • Aviation officials estimate 500,000 kids fly by themselves each year
  • Lawyers are increasingly encouraging kids to sue their parents
  • “The media portrays young people as precocious and present them in more or less explicit sexual or manipulative situations.”- American Beauty for example (an older example) portrays a Lolita seducing her friend’s father.
  • Media also promotes the above mentioned wearing of the adult clothes (that I hate by the way)

He breaks the book down in the following way:

Part I  Our Hurried Children

  1. Our Hurried Children
  2. The Dynamics of Hurrying: Parents
  3. The Dynamics of Hurrying: Schools
  4. The Dynamics of Hurrying: The Media
  5. The Dynamics of Hurrying: Lapware, Brain Research and the Internet

Part II Hurried Children: Stressed Children

  1. Growing Up Slowly
  2. Learning to Be Social
  3. Hurried Children: Stressed Children
  4. How Children React to Stress

10.  Helping Hurried Children

I think it’s going to end up being a fantabulous book. I’ll let you know.

Off to read some more of it…

Good night.

Thankful

July 5, 2010
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WordPress offers a new feature of some sort. I don’t really understand how it works, but I clicked on it: plinky.  It’s a writing prompt.  I share a love of writing prompts with Abby, just for the record.  Funny that I mention her, because today’s ramblings are about her in a round about way.

So I click on today’s prompt and it’s “When was the last time you thanked someone?”  Well, I thank people all the time. I try to be polite.  “Thank you for coming over.” “Thanks for passing the peas.”  “Thanks for remembering your manners.” (Yes, I use that one. Often.)   And I not only remembered the last time I thanked someone in a thoughtful way, I remembered the time I have yet to thank someone – or in this case a bunch of someones. First for the thank you.

Abby spent the last week at CreationFest.  It’s a music festival in Mount Union, PA.  Think of it as Woodstock for Christians.  She went with the youth and four leaders.  Supposedly she had fun.  She got in last night and I have only got one word answers out of her so far.  “Did you have fun?” “Yes.” “Who was your favorite artist? Casting Crowns?” “No.” “Newsboys?” “NO.” “Well, who?” “Skillet.”  See, it was like pulling teeth.  I am going to chalk it up to being tired and all that.  But the cool thing was she had a prayer warrior back home (other than her family) the whole time she was gone.

Mrs. T is the grandmother of one of the children I teach in Children’s Church.  She is very sweet and always has a smile and a very sincere “How are you?” for me.  She and her husband help out with our outreaches when they can.  Mrs. T was Abby’s prayer warrior.  She wrote Abby a letter (that I have not read) just telling her she was praying for her and that she hoped her week was a blessing. and letting her know she would be covered in prayer all week.

To know that there is someone out there who is praying for my daughter when there is no “obligation” to do so makes my heart sing.  Mrs. T wasn’t asked to pray for Abby.  There was no prayer request made.  Abby isn’t one of her grandchilldren that I suspect Mrs. T prayers for religiously.  She is just a precious woman who cared enough to ask God to watch out for Abby last week. 

So I sent her a message telling her how much I appreciated it.  I haven’t seen her in person yet to tell her face to face but as soon as I do, I will tell her.

As for my non-thank yous, I realized last night, when I saw the thank you cards, that I have yet to send my Haiti thank you cards.  So if you are one of the people who made it possible for us to go, you haven’t been forgotten,  I’m just rude.  I overlook things.  Go back a couple of posts and see my airplane post.  Sending thank you cards was actually on a to-do list that I made on the plane on the way home from Haiti. It just never got to-done.  So for that, I am sorry.  Sincerely.  Please forgive me.  I am a terribly rude person.

Facebook Made Me Miss Haiti More Today

July 4, 2010
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I read a status on Facebook that made me miss Haiti today.  Kinda odd, I thought.  Not that I need Facebook to miss Haiti, just that reading a status update could take me back so easily.  It’s been four months, ya know?  The update was from a pastor at another church who just returned from Haiti on Independence Day (or perhaps he wrote it last night and I was just reading it today?) and was really appreciating the USA a bit more today.  And it made me miss Haiti just a bit more today.

See, I miss Haiti almost every day.  But I don’t talk about it. Or show it.  Because that’s crazy.  How can you miss a place that has no showers or toilets?  Not to mention sufficient food?  Safe drinking water? How do you miss a  place like that?  But I want to go back so bad I can taste it.  But I don’t talk about it. Because that’s crazy.

But I thought about Haiti again today. A lot.  And the children of Haiti.  And their smiles. And their eyes.

Happy Independence Day!

Interview with My Youngest Step Daughter, Emily, Age…Errrr…8.99.9%

July 1, 2010

Emily turns 9 tomorrow.  She is my youngest step daughter. You could probably figure that out if you read my blog title.  I was sitting here and had this great desire to write something, but wasn’t quite sure what to write.  Emily was talking and I was thinking, “Wow. I really like talking to Emily.” Because I do.  She’s smart.  And funny.  And super cool.  She has this great personality.  When she grows up, she is gonna be one of those people that rock stars hire to learn attitude from.  Yeah, she’s got it whatever it is.  So I decided I was going to conduct an interview with Emily on the eve of her ninth birthday.  So here it goes:

Me:  Hi Emily!  Do you know what time of the day you were born?

Emily: 5ish my mom said this morning, because I was asking her that.

Me:  5ish in the morning or in the evening?

Emily: Evening.  That’s what she said. I think at least.

Me: Ok.  Cool.  Do you remember anything from that night?

Emily: What night?

Me: The night you were born.

Emily: No.  *giggle*

Me: Oh ok.  *snicker* I was just being silly.  But you knew that right?  So what is one thing you want to accomplish this year now that you are nine?

Emily: Art.  Well, no, because that’s really hard.

Me: Dream big kiddo.  Your nine now. Seriously, why should you not try it just because you think its hard.

Emily: I dont know

Me: Do you know any famous artists?

Emily: No

Me: Have you ever heard of Van Gough?

Emily: The name is kinda familiar….

Me: He was a famous painter. He painted Starry Night.  What about Matt Groening?

Emily: No.

Me: He created The Simpsons.

Me: Do you think either one of them said Art is too hard?

Emily: No.

Me: Then why would Little Miss Emily?

Emily: I dont know

Me: How about we make a deal? For your ninth birthday year, I will try one thing that I think is too hard and you try one thing you think is too hard like art?

Emily: Ok.

Me: Do you not even want to know what my one thing is?

Emily: I do.

Me: You want to know or you do as in you already know?

Emily: I want to know.

Me: Ahhh.  Well I dont really know what it would be yet. I have a few to choose from. *giggle*

Emily: What?

Me: Ummm you want me to list them all?

Emily: No just a c ouple.

Me: OH ok.  Umm.. *embarrassed giggle*  Learning a foreign language.  Reading biographies.   Controlling my internet usage.  Ok that’s three is that enough?

Emily: Yes.

Me: Which one should I work on?

Emily: All three.

Me: Hmmm how did I know you were gonna say that. Ok. I will do all three and you will try art?  I will find you that online class we found before and you will do it?

Emily: I guess.

Me: OK Deal?

Emily: Deal.

Me: OK.  What’s the best thing that has happened to you in nine years?

Emily: I don’t know.

Me: Ok what’s the best five things that have happened to you in nine years.

Emily: I don’t know.

Me: Ok.  Where’s the best five places you have been in five years.

Emily: I don’t know.

Me: Hmmm this interview isn’t going very well.  Why don’t you ask me a question.

Emily: How many times have you dyed your hair?

Me: Oh…. probably in excess of 100 times.

*shocked look from Emily*

Emily: What is your favorite thing to do?

Me: Hang out with my family.  Kinda cheesy huh?

Emily: No.

Me:  Oh, and I like to read, of course!  And cook!

Emily: And take naps. And play on the computer. And go to the library.  And do this and do that…

Me: Back to my turn now… What is your favorite thing about being home schooled?

Emily: Just being home for school.

Me: Do you wish you weren’t the baby?

Emily: No.

Me: Why?

Emily: The Adults treat you good sometimes.

*at this point Emily indicates she is ready to end the interview*

Me:  Ok.  We can end it there.  Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today, Emily.

I hope you have a fantabulous birthday.  I hope your ninth year is wonderful and very kind to you.  I hope that lots of wonderful memories are made in the next year.  I hope that many friends are met…

*and from the strange look I was getting, I decided to end the cheese fest there and completely end my interview*

Ice Pops, Water Slides, Fresh Vegetables And Oh! Look! An Airplane In The Sky!

June 28, 2010

I don’t know what’s going on. I am so scattered. More so than normal.  So unfocused.  Most of you know I battle a mental disorder.  I went to my shrink a couple of weeks ago and brought this distraction-prone-ness up to him and he thinks I have adult ADD.  What?!?!  That so isn’t me.  He won’t treat it with medication, thank goodness. I hate medication.  And I already take so many, I don’t need any more. Apparently ADD medication reacts very poorly with some of the medication I am already on and the medication I am already on takes precendence over any ADD medication we might ever dream of putting me on, so I am stuck with this scattered-brainedness it would seem.

Unfortunately, that means that half the stuff I have planned to get done over the summer isn’t getting done in quite the way I had hoped.

I started a quilt.  By that I mean I cut all the fabric out.  Then something bright and shiny caught my eye. Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

Keith wanted me to go through the entire house and do some good deep cleaning.  So I started on that. I got the pantry cleaned out.  Moved on to the fridge.  Made it to my bedroom.  I haven’t moved beyond that.  This was last week. Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

I have started two read aloud books with the girls.  Neither of them are finished -not even half-way finished.    I am not necessarily going to take the blame on this one though.  They wanted to read both Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief and The Magician’s Elephant at the same time. Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

Because I am not even half way finished with Percy Jackson, I am not far into our unit of study into Greek Mythology.  We made our paper mache Mount Olympus and that’s as far as we got.  Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

The garden that Keith – and I – worked  hard to get ready to plant never got finished.  Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!  Now it is a bed of weeds, some pea plants and a bunch of dried up carrots.  Keith has decided to revive the garden in an effort to get more exercise.  I am going to take advantage of his efforts and go behind his weeding and digging and plant some more seeds and hope it isn’t too late to see some veggies grow this year.  We are in the south after all. Growing season shouldn’t be over till September or something crazy like that.  Unless an airplane comes along of course.

We have been trying to get together for a game night with friends for weeks now. Our schedules are hard to pull together well.  But I tell you, it really feels like something is trying to keep us apart. I cannot get this thing worked out with them to save my life.  It’s driving me insane. Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

Speaking of friends, if you have called me, I probably haven’t returned your call. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to or haven’t meant to. It’s that  it has totally slipped my mind.  Seriously.  I found a voice mail on my phone yesterday that had to be from two weeks ago. How in the world did I miss that?  Oh! Look! An airplane in the sky!

I made out a beautiful schedule for the summer – just a loose outline of things that needed to get done in a lazy day type thing.  I can’t find it.  It’s in The Land of Everything That Disappears When The Airplane Flies Overhead.  I imagine it is a big room with lots of windows and deep crimson walls with lots of white trim around the windows.  Plenty of black and white art fills the walls and there are plenty of bookshelves to house all the books that I start but never finish.  There are mismatched socks, lost housekeys, misplaced shopping lists, my favorite (for the few days while I have them anyway) pens, the endless scraps of paper that I write endless lists on but can never find later and, last but not least, bits and pieces of my sanity.  And it’s all over cast by the shadow of an airplane that’s constantly flying overhead.  This room is a treasure trove of goodies.  The map to this room is hidden somewhere in my mind but I can’t quite put my finger on it.  It’s quite a disturbing feeling actually.

So if you have any advice on how to get back on track, please share. This scatteredness is really annoying. 

Through the Looking Glass

June 14, 2010
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Every Monday I sit in a poorly air conditioned, glassed in office and answer phone and greet visitors for Interfaith Homeless Network.  The phones are relatively quiet and there aren’t too many visitors.  I play on the internet all day and get a lot of piddly stuff done that gets lost in the shuffle of home life the rest of the week. 

Interfaith does a lot of things.  They are a homeless day center.  They help their families (its families only that they help) find housing, get on public assistance, get into school, find jobs, just get a leg up in society where many people shut a door in their face.  I love volunteering here. Over all.

There is one aspect I do not like.  They are understaffed.  Because they are understaffed, the people who do come in, normally have to wait quite a while before they get seen by the one case manager.  They get angry with me.  Their children get h0t (did I mention the poorly air-conditioned office?), hungry and fussy.  The moms get embarrassed by their children, hot and fussy themselves.  It creates for a hostile waiting area sometimes.

My desk looks out onto a parking lot that is shared with an empty warehouse. Not a breathtaking view for most people but some days it sure is to me.

Today was one of those day: the case manager had one person in her office doing an intake interview to see if she would be accepted into the program and four people waiting on her: two mothers and two children.  One very hungry young boy and one very patient alibiet hungry teen.  The waiting room was grumpy.

Then the young girl who was in with the case worker came out.  She was finished with her appointment.  I watched her walk through the glass doors and out into the hot sun.  I watched as she did a happy dance and rejoice with her arms waving in the air.  She made it into the program!  A chance at making it out of homelessness.

I watched through the looking glass as someone’s life changed today.

by OH Photography

A Glimpse Into The Life Of Me – Courtesy of Pearls Before Swine

June 12, 2010

courtesy of comics.com