Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Practically perfect Niece

Okay, I can't let my niece's comment go without notice. You see, my niece is practically perfect. Just ask her husband! Or better yet, just ask Becky! LOL!

How often we look at Natalie & think, "That is Becky all made over!" Becky's best friend since they were 3 said this to Becky when she first met Natalie, "She's JUST LIKE YOU!" Natalie looks a lot like Becky, acts a lot like Becky, and has the same shopping desires as Becky. Natalie is a bit shyer than Becky was at this age, but only for the first 3 minutes or so. Did I mention that they have just a tiny bit of a competitive spirit? Okay, I'm lying. They have a HUGE amount of competitive blood & there is nothing kind spirited about it. I mean, they are out for blood & guts when it comes to winning. Bwahahahahaha! NO, not really. But, they do like to win. Becky at Natalie's age was, um, a bit ACTIVE. Yeah, hyperactive would aptly describe her. She was also a bit of a dreamer. We had to call her back to earth a lot. Natalie, well, she's OFFICIALLY ADHD, so 'nuf said about that!

The one area I can see a big difference in is how they feel about dogs. Natalie would bring home every dog we see, but we can't have a dog here. Honestly, if we could, I would love to bring home several dogs, too. Phil has other thoughts on that. Becky, not so much on the dogs. But, I can't blame her. See, from the time she was old enough to remember, her family had dogs. Not poodles, not dachshunds, but BIG dogs. They had Golden Retrievers who were far bigger than Becky. They had a Golden who gave birth to either 12 or 14 pups! This was a BIG dog! Later, they had Black Labs who also were BIG dogs. I have this suspicion that they were really small horses in dog costumes, but I've never been able to verify that. Really, if you are the QUEEN, and some animal who is bigger than you tries to rule the roost, wouldn't you consider this highly disrespectful?

Why am I posting about my niece instead of telling you what's going on here? Because she is the only one who left me a comment lately, so I thought I should indulge her. I have to protect her fragile self-esteem after all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My "Practically Perfect" child

One of my all-time favorite movies is Mary Poppins (which sounds best said like Dick Van Dyke said it all spread out, "May-a-reeeeeeeeeeee Po..........ppins", much like my Grandma from East Texas would have said). On her measuring stick, it has her measurement marked with, "Mary Poppins, Practically Perfect in Every Way." Well, Bethany most definitely has listened over the years as she is quick to tell you that no one is perfect except God.

On Wednesday we visited a new pediatrician. She isn't new to ME, but new as a doctor. Barbara Belcher is a Pampered Chef consultant whom I've known for about 6 years. We've never had the right insurance to go to her until now. With Phil's new plan, we could use a family practice doctor (which he & I are doing) within the Well-Med plan (WM is the company he works for now), or we could choose a pediatrician. Sadly, our pedi clinic was not on the list. I had to choose one from the list, or take them to a doctor in the adult clinic where they specialize in treating the elderly. Hmmm, what to do! I looked and was SO happy to see that Dr. B. was on the list!

Her office is near downtown. In flowing traffic it only takes about 20 minutes to get there, which is about what it takes to get to our former clinic. It's just not a familiar area to me. The clinic where we used to go is in a very nice area of town which has developed into a medical community. The offices are all fairly new. They had a toy train track raised with engines that raced through the building. There were cool heat activated drawing boards that only required a hand to use. They had all the latest equipment AND they always had a movie on.

Well, this office is older and smaller. There was a tv on, but we happened to be there during "Playhouse Disney" which is a preschool show. There is a fish tank, which is WAY cool, but no train. Mostly, the issue we had was that the girls were too tired and Natalie felt a need to complain. A lot. Mainly it was due to waiting. She had things with her to do, she just chose not to do them. Yet, Natalie is the child who was "practically perfect" today.

You see, Bethany is a very small child. She is at the 3%ile mark for height & has been below the chart so long for weight that they can't even track it. Both girls had eyes checked and had 20/20 vision. At one point, Bethany must have not understood this was a test & when Natalie said something wrong, she said, "NO, it's ....." (whatever the letter was)! I had to explain to her not to do that. I didn't ask what the hearing test showed, but since nothing was mentioned, I guess it was normal, too. But, my wild, wiggly, wordy wee woman was practically perfect. HER weight is in the 48th percentile & HER height is in the 49th percentile. She's JUST RIGHT for her age! So, for today, my baby is PRACTICALLY PERFECT! Of course I can say that now. She's sound asleep!

The Teen Scene

Tonight I finally got to go to the fall Bible Study. I got sick 2 weeks ago & was still feeling yucky last week. I think I will find a different place to park & walk in next week. This church has a HUGE youth group event every Wed. night. I honestly am not sure WHAT it is. I just know there are teenager type people all over the place. And the girls almost all have the exact same haircut. It is quite an odd experience for me. Even as a teen I wasn't involved in BIG group events. I went to a very small church where our youth group ranged from about 2 to 6 kids at any given time! In school, I was on the dance team, but our school wasn't huge, so even with the band & dance team combined, we weren't a HUGE group. Plus, if we were ever all together, it wasn't for just hanging out.

So, this weekly event looks like something the kids really enjoy. Looks like they have outdoors activities they can do, or indoors, or just hang out with friends. I walked through, to get to my car after Bible Study, feeling very out of place & trying to picture my own children in this setting. I think that the youth includes 6th grade & up. I have a child who is old enough for this, yet I could not even begin to imagine her in this swarm. There is loud music and kids skateboarding outside and kids sitting in groups playing guitar and all other teenager kinds of things. My 12 year old was proud to tell the doctor that she brushed her hair today. My 12 year old is content to build things out of whatever scraps she can find. My 12 year old would be as happy to receive a toy oven or cash register as most 12 year old girls would be to receive new clothes. My 12 year old could care less if she "matches" or has anything "stylish" on.

I did see one young lady there who has been in my middle school cooking class, and there, in the midst of all her peers, was still willing to come up to me and give me a hug. She doesn't look like all the other girls. I suspect she would be just as happy to be skateboarding as to be shopping for new clothes!

Of course, I do have another child. She is 9, yet, would be quite happy to be old enough for a youth group, I suspect. She would love the noise. She would love the crowds. Very likely she would fret more over WHICH jeans and t-shirt to wear than about fellowship with other Christian kids.

As I drove away, I had several thoughts. First, for the young lady I saw, and knowing her siblings, this seems to be such a good fit for them. I was happy to see how God had led them to this church. I also thought, "I don't think this is what my kids need." My Aspie girl has learned to be comfortable with some of the other girls at co-op. This point has taken 5 years to reach. While these are Christian kids, there are just so MANY of them that I would feel like I was putting a minnow in a lake full of full grown catfish. Then, I thought that my 9 year old doesn't need to be encouraged in the things I can see happening with a group this size. If the stage she is in now continues, this could EASILY, for HER, become more about outward appearances than a heart for the Lord.

I am glad there are churches who open their doors to the youth of this generation. I've met some amazing young people at our homeschool co-op. I'd FAR rather see them gathering for skateboarding and listening to Christian music than to be dashing into my neighborhood streets as if to taunt drivers, and listening to music.....well, some kind of noise that seems like it MIGHT be music. Yes, I'm becoming an old fogey! Yet, it caused me to realize that my kids aren't that far from this age, and that I need to pray fervently as they enter this next stage in life.

It also made me ask where else I could park. LOL!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Mind boggling

A hurricane hits the Texas Coast, about 200 miles from my house. Flooding and horrific wind damage occur all along the Gulf Coast, and into Arkansas and Louisiana. The storm continues to travel northeast. Look where it is now:

The remnants of Ike pass through eastern Canada dragging a cold front through the Northeast Monday.

Most of Ike's moisture should remain in Canada, but a few showers could cross the border and fall over northern New York and northern New England. A stray shower or thunderstorm cannot be ruled out along the cold front Monday afternoon and early evening along the coast from the New York metro south through eastern Virginia.

The cold front is expected to stall offshore Monday night and Tuesday keeping eastern Virginia and the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula murky with occasional showers into midweek.

The remainder of the region should clear out with slightly below average temperatures.

And we got NOTHING but 100 degrees with extreme humidity. Mind boggling I tell ya'!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On the Road

For those who are curious, Greg & Robin, and Lindsey, the dog-who-thinks-she's-a-person, decided to drive this way. They are at Mom & Dad's for at least 2 nights. Nils & Katie (their son/DIL) are here in San Antonio, so they have plenty of family around to spend time with. I found out Becky & Chris (my niece/nephew) are driving back from Las Vegas. That gives them a couple of days to get back & they will likely stop in San Antonio. We could have quite the reunion in the middle of the week.

I asked how the church members were doing. Mom said as far as she knows, the main problem is that they have no power and the water is well water, which needs electricity to pump. She said if they have hand pumps they could use that, but if not, then that's a really tough spot to be in. Hopefully Red Cross will arrive there to help out.

As for us, Mom says they got a little rain last night. I haven't checked. It's been super cloudy all day today. After 100 degrees yesterday with what felt like 95% humidity, I'm happy to stay put inside waiting for my sinus infection to go away! I think I have a hurricane in my head!

I'll update as we know more.

In Ike's aftermath

Ike came and we....ll sort of went! I'm sure you've seen the news with pictures of the horrible devastation left behind in Galveston and Houston. Tonight there were tornado watches out in states further north. This hurricane was massive. I've never seen a storm that big in size. Even though it was a Category 2 storm, it packed a punch because of it's size. It is supposed to dump rain in Chicago on Sunday where they are already water logged. The newscasters said it would reach as far north & east as New England!

I talked to my brother in Houston Friday night. He & my sister-in-law hadn't had rain yet at 11, but it was windy & trees were bending over. My dad reached him at 8 Saturday morning. His house wasn't damaged that he knew of. His biggest concern was for his church members. He is a pastor of a small church in Splendora, Texas. No, I don't know exactly where it is, but I know it's near Houston. He said much of the congregation were elderly and/or lived in mobile homes. They had to get out of those, so he spent a lot of Friday calling & getting them to shelters. As of last night, he said he was planning to drive out there Sunday morning & just take his guitar (he knew power would be out) and see what people need.

Now, the irony of this storm. Originally, we were told this would hit Corpus Christi. So, people in Corpus boarded up windows & headed out. Then, when it changed direction, some of those folks went back & the Galveston coast had to evacuate with less time left to do it. We were told that either way we'd get lots of rain. Activities were canceled all over town. Guess what we woke up to today? Beautiful clear skies. At one point it sprinkled for about 30 seconds. I walked out & saw a few drops on one part of my car. It is incredibly humid & we tired our record high of 100 today! Phew! I can intellectually see the maps & understand how we didn't get rain, but I really can't COMPREHEND how we could be dry and New England could get rain from this. Very strange if you ask me!

We're praying for those who have been left without homes, power, and in some cases loved ones. Governor Perry today said this will be the biggest search & rescue mission Texas has ever seen. President Bush has declared 29 counties a major disaster and is sending federal help.

As I was dropping the girls off at some friends' house to play, the mom walked me out and noticed her a/c unit is dripping. I told her my car a/c is also clogging up. Then I said, "I guess I will be thankful that I have a car and a home." She said, "And that we have air conditioning and electricity." Funny how a tragedy can turn a complaint into a gift.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Hurricane Poem

Ike, Ike, you are a big bad storm,
You're getting stronger where the water is warm.
You will slam into Texas the weathermen say,
But why does Texas have to be in the way?

We did not hurt you or call you bad names
We didn't tell you not to play in our games
Did someone say you couldn't ride her bike?
We have done NOTHING to hurt you Mr. Ike!

So why are you coming knocking at our door?
Why can't you stay far away from the shore?
We don't want you hear, you very bad boy.
You'll flood our streets and take our joy.

I cannot, I will not say that you I like,
I cannot do that you see Mr. Ike?
So go away and play with your friends at sea,
And stay FAR FAR away from ME!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All Grown Up

LONG before I had kids, I became an aunt. I was 15 when my nephew, Nils, was born, so in some ways I felt more like a big sister to them when they were young. They would come for visits in the summertime and we did all the fun stuff there was to do. In those first years we (my parents and I) lived at Canyon Lake, there was NOT a lot of fun stuff around. Schlitterbahn didn't open til I was a junior in high school, or maybe a senior. Sea World opened when I was a new teacher. And Fiesta Texas (six flags) didn't open til much later. We did have Landa Park, a nice park in New Braunfels with good playground equipment and a duck pond. There's also one of those steam engine trains you can ride. AND the zoo. I think my mom STILL has the "mold-a-rama" critters that they got at the zoo.

This is my nephew and niece when they were about 2 & 4. Isn't that sweet the way they were hugging each other? Okay, so it was posed, but it's still cute! They are the best of friends. She was his "Best Woman" in his wedding & he was her "Man of Honor." I was just reading Becky's blog (The Kisers in my blog roll) and she said to the moms & aunts she is NOT ready for kids. So, I decided I'd have to settle for a trip down memory lane to see the kids I got to have fun & play with for so many years before having my own.

Here they are now. I cropped the others in the family out of this shot. The others have a "Are we through with pictures yet" look on their faces! LOL!

Okay, so if Becky & Chris aren't ready for kids yet, when are Katie & Nils going to have some???? !!!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What makes us different?

I've been "chatting" online with some ladies from across the U.S., and none in San Antonio, recently about the different reasons people have for homeschooling and how sometimes it is hard to tell the Christian Homeschoolers from any other kids based on their behavior. Of course, I have to preface this with the fact that I know plenty of dear Christians who have kids in public school and they are doing just fine. I also have to say that my children will probably never be the "golden standard" in homeschooling. I can already hear my friends saying, "AMEN" to that & wondering how I can write about kids' behavior! Yet, I have hopes that they will clearly be those who carry Christ with them wherever they go, as they get older. As I wrote about previously, our co-op Girl Scout troop left a GREAT impression on the Aquarium employees, so we must be doing something right!

What I AM thinking about right now, and what we've discussed, is that the reasons Christians homeschool today is not necessarily the same reason they did 10 or 20 years ago. I knew people who were homeschooling 20 years ago. They deeply desired for their kids to have a Christ-centered education in all they did. They wanted to keep them away from what they saw as growing problems in school. You may be thinking, "Twenty years ago they didn't have problems in schools like they do now." Well, a friend of mine took her son out of kindergarten when a 3rd grader offered him some "coke." This little boy told his mommy that boy was silly and all he had was powdered sugar! This was 20 years ago, here, just down the street from where I live. Police were called in (though the principal initially refused to do anything, and the mom was ready to call in the news station before the principal agreed to have the police come), the young boy was found with drugs and all kinds of things, such as jewelery, stolen from parents. For that matter when I was in high school 25 years ago we had kids who were taking drugs during school. This was all PRE-Columbine. Yes, I know not all schools are like this, and as I said, there are plenty of Christian kids, and non-Christian kids as well, doing just fine. However, this IS a reason that parents took their kids out of school in those days.

Today the reasons for home schooling are quite varied. Some still do it for the same reasons today. Others homeschool, I've found, because they find schools are "too religious" (yes, really). Many do it because they want to provide a "better education" than they feel the schools can provide. Some have special needs kids and want to be able to work with their kids one on one. Apart from families like the Duggars, most homeschoolers I know have 2 to 4 kids, and it IS possible to have one on one time with each child to do school work. Though, I applaud the Duggars and other large families (I do know families with 8 & 9 kids) for being able to keep up with all those kids & all that work! I'd be crazier than I already am!

We (the aforementioned ladies and I) have noticed that today if you walk into a homeschool co-op, you may not see the same behavior you would have seen 20 years ago in a homeschool co-op. We know that even as Christians we don't all have the same expectations of our kids. In our particular homeschool co-op we have just gone through a revision and setting of standards for our co-op. We have essentials that all must agree to, and then we have doctrinal issues that we do not want to be divisive among us (for example, girls wearing only dresses vs. wearing pants and shorts; if you do one or the other it's okay with us, and we don't take a stand on this). As far as a dress code, we do have a list of standards, and ask all girls, boys and parents to agree to this. The same with behavior. While we may have different standards at home, we have a standard set forth for behavior at our co-op.

The biggest concern I have for my children is the same one I had for my students when I was in a classroom. I want them to learn the skills being taught. I want them to excel at these skills. I want them to enjoy learning and WANT to learn more. I want to instill in them creativity and boldness to try new things. I want to instill in them, or continue to encourage in them, basic traits like respect, courtesy, kindness, and so forth. I think these are all important. Yet, I think none of them is essential. There is ONE thing that is essential for my children: To love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Matthew 16:26 says, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?" Yes, learning zoology is important. Yes, learning to write a 3 point essay is important. Yes, learning to do algebra will take you places. Yet, God didn't call me to be a mom first and foremost so I could educate my children in the ways of the world. He called me to have as my number one priority the training up of my children in His ways. "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov. 22:6

My kids are still in training. I am not the best coach in the world. I have often said about raising kids (well, as far as homeschooling goes) that the proof is in the pudding. We can't say at grade 4 that if a child hasn't mastered the skills which the great state of Texas says they should master by age 10, that the child is a failure. When the child is 20 then we will see if the education was effective. On the other hand, even the best coach can have players on the team that just can't hit the ball, or who strike out. We may provide the best training for our kids and still have them go astray, yet we hope that when they are old they will turn back to the Lord.

The reason I'm having these thoughts is that our co-op has created committees this year. I said I'd be part of the prayer team. Somehow that meant I was to head up the chapel committee. I'm not sure exactly how that leap was made, but I suspect that it's because my last name is second in the alphabet and the one before me is already on the leadership team. (grin) For the past 2 weeks we've been working on what to do during our chapel time. It's been shortened to a 25 minute period from 35 minutes, but leads into lunch now so we can continue talking over lunch. I had no idea how difficult it could be to do this! There are some parents who want an all inclusive chapel, some who want kids in chapel by grades, and some who just don't want chapel time since they go to church and Bible study. I can understand ALL views. I know that in most classes there is some sort of talk about the Lord. There's even an apologetics class for the middle through high school kids. I also know that most families in our co-op do take their kids to church every week and/or Bible study/AWANA/youth group or some other function. And I know most families teach the Word of God in their homes. In fact, I can understanding NOT wanting chapel because the parents may be concerned that we may address an issue differently than they would at home. These are all very valid concerns. Yet, in the very depths of my heart, I think, if we can't come together for 25 minutes to worship our Lord or learn from His Word, then how are we any different than non-Christians?

True confession time: I write this as I have not started working on my weekly Bible study for this week, which should have started on Wednesday. Maybe that is why that 25 minutes is so important to me. To me, it isn't "another thing we have to do at co-op" but rather a break from the busy-ness of co-op. A time out from the lessons and the teaching and crying babies in the nursery and pre-teens who can't sit still. It's a time to re-focus, regroup, re-energize, and remember that we have a much higher calling than just the schooling part. Maybe my perception is different from others. Maybe it is something that should be taught at home and practiced at co-op without extra time out. Maybe I am just thinking WAY too deeply for late at night!