Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Three Years

Three years ago, we were all sitting in a hospital, waiting for the patriarch of our family to die....

We were in DC, packing our household goods into a moving truck.  I got a phone call from my mother on the 27th.  She told me the doctors were not releasing my father from the hospital.  As Gary and I packed, I cried and tried to figure out what to do.  After all, although the truck was being picked up by the moving company the following morning, we still had to clean our house and pass inspection, before driving to Kentucky where Gary would check into his new command, and we would close on our house.

Finally, after many tears and heartfelt discussion, we decided that the boys and I would fly to Oklahoma, while Gary stayed behind to take wrap things up.  This was a hard decision.  Gary and my father were very close.  They had been ever since we married.  My dad even took to calling me his "son-in-law's-wife."  But, needs must, and we made that decision.

Saturday morning, the boys and I got on a plane and flew to Oklahoma.  When we arrived at the hospital, Xavier, 6, did not want to go into the room.  All the wires hooked up to his Papa scared him.  He really didn't understand what was going on, but he knew it was bad.  Dominic was too young, at 3, to understand it at all, and Gabriel was completely overwhelmed.  I was just heartbroken.

My dad was a fireman, and my entire life he was larger than life.  He could move a piano on his own.  He could leap tall buildings in a single bound.  Now, he was hooked up to a machine that forced him to breathe, being given the highest dosage of morphine allowed, and in incredible pain.  He had lost at least 100 over the previous year.  The cancer had, quite literally, eaten him from the inside out.  It was such an awful way to die.

My family was flying in from all over.  My uncle drove up from Dallas, to bully the nurses.  What would we have done without him?  My cousins, sister, brother, uncles, aunts... we were all there.  It was a blessing when my father lost conscience at about 9 PM.  My cousin flew in from Phoenix and arrived at about midnight.  My family did what it does in these situations.  We talked.  We laughed.  We cried.

My father would stop breathing for a few minutes and we would all start bawling.  Then, he would start breathing again, and we would just stare at him.  Finally, early Sunday morning, on the 29th of April, my mother's birthday, my father died.  He drew his last, painful breath.  He left this earth.  We said goodbye.

Since we were in the middle of moving, and the people we were buying the house from kindly moved our closing date back, we were able to stay with my mom for two weeks.  My cousin, Jerry, also stayed in Oklahoma.  I'll be honest.  I think the children would have been completely ignored if it were not for Jerry.  My children all love Jerry absolutely and completely.  Of course, I always have, as well.  But those two weeks solidified a love so deep, it can never be changed.

Over the course of three days, my father died.  My 6 year old cousin burned down her older sister's house.  My 3 year old son fell and split his head wide open.  It was not a relaxing week, by any means.  Then, my husband arrived, held me in his arms and cried with me.

I spent those two weeks helping my mother get all her finances figured out.  We spent time going over my father's retirement information.  We created a budget for her.  We laughed and we cried.  We went shopping, and we ordered a headstone that had a huge catfish with an arm sticking out of it.  We put cough drops in my father's pockets before he was buried.  As a matter of fact, we found out later that every single person in my immediate family put a cough drop in his pocket.  He did like those honey lemon cough drops.

It did not seem as though I had time to grieve.  And, in fact, I probably did not.  It was only after closing on our house, three weeks later, and beginning to unpack that my mind had time to dwell on the fact that my father was gone.

Most days, I don't think about Papa being gone.  I most miss him when I talk to Gabriel.  Gabriel is so much like Papa that I have a hard time listening to him, sometimes.  I miss Papa for Gabriel.  Gabriel and Papa would have had so much fun sitting out in a fishing boat, talking about politics, history, and the economy.  These are Gabriel's favorite topics.  They were also Papa's.  All I can do is support my boy in his quest and love, in honor of Papa.

I miss you, Papa.  I hope you're having fun in The Great Lake in the Sky.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Work in Progress

The Beginning

Building Raised Beds

Rocks From Our yard


Monday, April 5, 2010

Commands VS Requests

For a long time, I've tried to figure out a way to balance my need to have my children obey me when I need them to, and my need to allow them to question things when it is okay to do so.

I want my children to learn to think independently.  I do not want them to be dependent on my, or anyone else, for the rest of their lives, after all.  I prefer that they be able to ask questions and make reasonable decisions for themselves.  The only way to teach them to do this is to allow them to ask questions.  Those questions will be answered, and if there is some logical reason that they can then evince as to why my answers are wrong, then the conversation must continue.  Consider the following circumstance:

I ask my children to complete their math before doing any other schoolwork.

Gabriel asks why.

I explain, "We don't have a lot of time to spend on schoolwork today.  As you're ahead in all other subjects, I prefer that you be sure to finish math."

If Gabriel can figure out a more pressing concern (IE "This economics book is due back at the library today.  Since it has holds on it, we cannot renew it.  Also, we are going to the library this afternoon.  I think I should be sure to finish this book, first.") then the conversation should continue, or I should change my request.  In this case, I would agree with him, and that would be the end.

However, there are those times when I need or want my children to obey me without question or argument.  When we are in a hurry, I need my children to put on their shoes without asking why.  When we are in a parking lot and I see a car coming, I need my children to stop or move out of the way without asking why.

Up until now, I have had a difficult time figuring out how to manage these two need.  Then, I had an wow-you're-stupid ah-ha moment.  I can use commands and requests.  So long as I don't use them interchangeably, this should work, although it will take some training on all our parts.  So, if the matter is something my children can question, I will phrase it as a request.  If it is something that needs to be obeyed without question, I will phrase it as a command.  This will take a LOT of training on my part, since I tend to phrase everything as a polite command- "Please, take out the trash." for instance, could be phrased as, "Will you please take out the trash?"  This could become a learning moment.  For, if the child wanted to know why, we could discuss the reasons we all do chores, the benefits of not having trash all over the house, and why I am not going to be the one taking out the trash.

I am not giving my children the option of saying no.  I am giving them the option of finding out the reasons behind my commands, and, if they have a logical argument against those reasons, the opportunity to debate said reasons.

Hopefully, this will work.  We shall see how it goes.  Parenting is a continuing-ed process, and ever changing.  I have very few desires for my children, but they are big ones.  I want my children to love learning.  I want my children to know how to learn.  I want my children to be respectful.  I want my children to be polite (hence the reason they will not be allowed to say no).  I want my children to be self-sufficient.  I want my children to be independent.  I want my children to be able to think logically.  Basically, I want my children to be men when they are done growing up.  When these desires are not being met, my parenting tactics must change.  As children grow into teens, and then adults, their parenting needs change.  So, then, my parenting must grow with them.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April New Month's Resolution

I got the idea of a new month's resolution from Michelle.  The idea is to make small changes in your life each month, thereby making it easier to change.  Small changes are always easier to make.

I am going to take this one step further and use the Benjamin Franklin method of changing.  The theory is that if you do something every day for 30 days, it will be a habit.  Or, if you are trying to break a habit, keep from doing it for 30 days.  Benjamin Frankly kept a calendar.  If he did the thing he was trying to stop doing, he would make a mark on his calendar and start the 30 days over.  Once he had accomplished his goal of refraining from his bad habit for 30 days, he considered the change complete and would move on to another goal, always striving to be a better man.

This is the way I am approaching my change.  One of the things I hate most is gossip.  It can be very damaging and is a terrible thing.  Unfortunately, I have become a terrible gossip.  I want this to stop.  So, for as long as it takes to break this habit, I will not speak bad of a person.  I will only speak good things about people.

Do you have something you would like to change?  Consider doing this for yourself.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gifted Education Myths

This is a must see for all educators.  If you're interested in gifted education, or are an educator, please, do all you can to educate yourself about what gifted students really need.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Shakespeare and Xavier

Monday, we took Xavier to the doctor in the hopes of getting the ball rolling on allergy testing.  While he was there, the doctor asked the question, "How's school going?"

He replied, "It's weird."  (The two little boys have gotten on a 'weird' kick.  Everything is weird right now, but that was not helpful at the doctor's office.)

She tried to question him further, but he just maintained that everything I had him read was "weird."  Finally, after she asked him what he was reading, he said, "I don't know.  I don't understand half of the stuff my mom makes me read."

What?!?  I'm telling you, these homeschool kids do not have an all important skill.  They don't have the ability to take what they're learning and put it in a small conversation.  My sister says that the reason public schooled children have this ability is because the teachers say, at the end of the day, "What did we learn today?  We learned................"  The children then can look at it and say, "Oh.  Yes, I see.  I learned xyz."  Homeschooled children on the other hand tend to not realize they are learning things.  They just know they had to read a book that they may or may not have liked.  Homeschool parents don't usually tell their children what they have learned.  After all, we reason, the children have already learned it.

Ironically, Wednesday, I was telling Dominic that he needed to treat others the way he wants to be treated.  Xavier piped up from the other side of the car, "You know, Mom.  This is like Shakespeare, in Taming of the Shrew.  That guy had to act like that woman.  It's all an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Yes, there were some mixed metaphors in there, and he didn't remember the names of the people in the play, but he understood the moral.  I guess the moral of this story is, "It all depends on your definition of weird."

Note: Xavier and Dominic read from Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Craft Hope

According to their website
Craft Hope is a love inspired project designed to share handmade crafts with those who need them. It is our hope to combine our love for crafting and desire to help others into a project to make a difference around the world.

They started by making 27 dresses for children living at the Pan de Vida Shelter in Mexico and the Davis Lar Orphanage in Brazil.  Their last project knitted netted more than 420 scarves for foster care teens entering college.

Now, they're moving on to an education project for Liberian orphans.  Please, take a moment to read about what they do, and spread the word on them.  If you have the time, please contribute to their project.

Craft Hope Spreading seeds of hope one stitch at a time


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