Saturday, September 2, 2017

Children are people not objects

Children are a difficult subject to adults.   They come into the world and few can resist their sweet expressions and adorable stretches.   With nine children in the family, I realize how quickly the wonder of a new baby passes.   I do remember the joy on children's faces, the smiles of older people at church, and even strangers  at little infant people who mostly sleep and then they cry and other things.   Some babies need to be walked endlessly but they are little people and we want them to be comforted, so the ideal is to comfort them.   

Like puppies they get bigger with lightning speed and start insisting on some things which the adult in the world has to keep pushing forward in care for them.   I have heard from so many how exhausted they are with their kids and they're speaking the truth.   Having children definitely takes the focus off oneself or at least it should.   Parenting is exhausting for sure as it pushes us beyond ourselves.   

Children do need help.   No matter what a child's age is, even the infant actually needs a relationship with their parent and caregivers.   This seems really obvious but frankly I see so many examples of where children are treated as objects and not people.   All people, not just adults are in a relationship with those around them.  Adults all can fall into the trap of merely ordering children around and relationship ends up being built on the children's jumping to do our bid and call.   The attitude of children as servants should nauseate and not be the first approach.

Perhaps the art of relating to children as people like ourselves is because we are torn between the care they need and how much we don't want to give of ourselves to others.   Yelling at and mocking children is out there.    If I were the incredible hulk, I would transform regularly at disregard for a child's ability to understand and the shame and rejection  they feel at the way they are spoken to and about.

Talking about children out loud in their presence, as if they aren't in the same room, whether the topic seems innocent and fine as we are 'concerned' about their struggles, the effect is the same since the children can and do hear what adults say.  Imagine that.   Speaking ill of them to friends and relatives is actually not a good plan at all as it reinforces in others a negative opinion of the child and degrades their ability to do better.  Adults who hear these things and parents who hold so tightly to talking about their objects of possession, also known as their offspring, in front of others, on the phone, on facebook and other places should know that their words do have an effect on their children even if the words seem innocent or 'helpful'.  

One way I like to look at the concept of children as people, is that I look in their eyes and can see their feelings in emotions right there.   I imagine how I would feel if spoken to in the manner they have been spoken to.   Is it okay to speak to an adult that way or would the abusive tone be considered rude and abusive?   Seriously.   

Three adults are standing within close proximity of each other and two of the adults begin having interchanges about the third adult right in front of him as if he weren't there.    The third adult would feel all sort of things which might include feeling invisible, less than human, embarrassed, awkwardness.   If the same three adults were colleagues, speaking about one person in front of them to another would certainly be considered inappropriate.  The concept is exactly the same with adults in children in a room as all three are people.  The associative property comes to mind.   

Talking about children in front of them or in back of them, should give us pause to think if we are helping them by gossiping about them with other adults.  It is still gossip especially if the talk is speaking negatively about the child.   The talk does hurt the child's reputation in the eyes of others, for good or for ill.   We all have done this from time to time or perhaps some have succeeded in never doing it, but it just seems good to bear in mind the harm caused to the child when spoken about in front of others in their presence or not.  I plan to pose examples and alternative solutions and examples from interactions with the younger variety of people I encounter in my daily roaming.   If the reader does make a habit of doing this, I am basically hoping that folk can reconsider their actions for the good of the younger humans in their lives.   

Friday, September 1, 2017

A Tribute to Gil the fish

A few days ago, my beloved Gil breathed his last.   Gil was the best goldfish a woman could ask for.   I am pretty sure he was seven or eight years old when he passed.    Sigh.   Such a good fish.

He started his journey as a little fish in our fairy garden in our backyard.   I had made a little tiny pond in the little tiny garden with an air pump to keep the fishies alive.   There were five in the beginning.   Five adorable, lovely fish.   They arrived sometime in June.   Everything went smoothly for awhile.   I would walk outside and hear the little bubbly noise of the water from the wittle pond which of course was so very relaxing and what every American should experience.   I was feeling great and I was feeling fine.   Gil and his friends swam happily together eating mosquito larvae and living the good life.  

One night a few days later....I discovered two of the cute little fellows had gone missing.   The kids were distraught when they found out.   We assumed a neighboring cat got hungry but in hind sight it was more likely a raccoon.   They died a violent death for sure.   We did catch some raccoon that summer but we will never know what exactly happened.   I try not to think about it very long.

The rest of the summer passed and at summers end, only Gil remained.   The weather was getting a lot colder so we decided it was time for him to move inside.   There were no fish bowls kicking around so I made a trip to WalMart to get the necessary supplies.   So many choices of colored rocks and little plastic pirates!   I settled on the blue, pink and green rocks and the standard fish bowl.  You know the kind you can carry around in elevators and to appointments and such.  I passed on the plactic pirates as being a bit to cheesy.

The adventures we had with Gill.   Sigh.   Such sweet memories of Gil on the shelf and having our very own cat Scout regularly visit for a drink of water and a cat's equivalent to TV watching, peering at Gil through the glass. They had such a great friendship. I think they did....pretty sure.....  Gil must have had incredible trust to not have heart failure after some of these visits but the cat respectfully drank the water and I never saw her reach in.  She just day dreamed about it.  

Years literally passed and Gil grew in size and stature.  He was also joined by some of the other survivors from future summers.   I couldn't bear putting Gil back outside again so his  gallon bowl housed about five other fish who joined him through the years, from what I can remember.    Eventually he and his friends got so so big it was time for them to get a new pad.  The standard fish bowl is only one gallon.   I found a square tank on Amazon which had a nice filter and pump setup and they finally had more space to move around.   I have no idea how six fish were surviving in a one gallon bowl but they did.  Ah....space.   So delicious and refreshing to see them moving about together.  

Several more years went by and they all grew in size and stature.   My brother was marveling at them all squishing in their five gallon tank and staying alive.   What goldfish could survive such a squishy environment?   He let me know that he had fifty gallon tank sitting in his backyard which he could reseal and check for leaks.   Fifty gallons!   We've traveled huge tank land before,  but decided that I would accept his offer and make room for the goldfish to move up in the world to a fish palace! Wow.  

I can be glad at heart to know that Gil spent his last few years in enough space where he could find some quiet time away from his friends.   They totally loved their new pad.   The TV screen for the cats and children was incredible.   Sigh.   I tried to remember to feed them regularly and mostly keep up with the care of the water and filters.   Such a glorious fish life.

A few weeks ago I noticed Gil was spending a bit more time resting on the bottom.   I was a bit concerned but figured it was just a coincidence he was still there most of the time.   When I put food in the tank he would still swim to the top.   Then the other night.....choke......he was laying on his side and had labored breathing.   My poor Gil!   I wasn't sure what to do as I am not a fish expert.   I couldn't take him out back with a 22 but I had to do something.   He was clearly suffering so decided to take him out and hold him in his last minutes.   Did you know fish can breathe outside the tank for a long time???!!!!!   Well they can.   He couldn't move anymore so I knew it was for the best but seriously, watching him breathing every so often and staring blankly ahead was pretty hearth wrenching.  My son was crying.    Two of the kids sat with me and we talked about all our memories of Gil through the years.  Finally Gil breathed his last.   We wrapped him in a little cloth and took him back to the fairy garden where he had lived his first summer with us.   The kids dug his grave and put him in.   My son placed a rock over where he was buried and we will always remember him when we occasionally make it down to the fairy garden for some weeding.  

 He lived at least seven years and I wouldn't trade them for anything.   I still look for Gil in the tank.   Nothing will ever be the same in that tank without him.   Goodbye Gil!   You were the best!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Council of Raccoon

Bird feeders and garbage had  been ravaged in our backyard.   We decided at least a month ago to trap the coon and  end our misery.   My two youngest boys dutifully set our live animal trap in the back garden, which obviously had visitors in the past.   The next morning, one of the largest coons I've seen around these parts greeted me with a cold stare.   The coon was defeated in posture and probably didn't appreciate my glee upon discovery.  

I asked the boys to reset the trap and see if there were anymore.   Um, were there more?   We kept this routine up for weeks.   My status on Facebook was daily about the latest finding.   We only caught one opossum over this time period.   The boys began to look at me with weariness when I asked them to set the trap at night.   Their reaction of triumph left them after the fourth or fifth coon.  

After weeks went by with a raccoon discovered each morning, I decided to give the boys  a break as we were busy settling back into our fall routine.   I was hoping we had gotten the lot of them but yesterday morning I found birdseed and watermelon leavings from the trash all over the place.   The boys regained their enthusiasm and went to the task of resetting the trap.   Sure enough, a cold stare greeted me when I walked out on the patio.

The morning greetings have seemed endless.   When will it stop?   I personally believe that raccoon across the Indiana territory had called a raccoon council in our woods.   There was probably votes on whether or not the humans would notice them and if there were trees and places to raise their young over the summer of 2017.   Topics of the council would include sending subliminal messages to city and state councils to outlaw the disposal of coons in town as they are so cute and rascally, who could be annoyed by them?    There might be discussion about how to get the word out to others of scheduled picnics by humans so that they could come and search out their garbage bags.   Which parks were the best picks for leavings?  

Discrimination against raccoon is out of control in this country.  This was probably the key note speaker's topic.   There are most likely areas where farmers, country and city dwellers are not deceived by cute little children's books and works of art for country decor.   (Seriously, if your yard was overrun with coons you might object).   The coons certainly stayed up late and ate loads of overripe berries on the night of the key note speaker.   Drunk coons for days!   We've heard them screeching at night.   It could be the topic of the evening was  getting heated or .....something.......

I'm sure there are raccoon in a woods near you making plans to travel to the next Council of Raccoon in our backyard.   It will be great.  

Hoping for a sale on birdseed soon......

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Children free to play

I am going to use my old drafts as writing prompts.   Children free to play......    a person is a child once.   I see their time flying away.   What a delight  to see a child at play and reveling in it.   I have had  children addicted to the sandbox and they simply do not want to leave it.   The youngest in my family is getting older all the time of course and his older siblings are getting older, so there is less time spent playing.   I want to facilitate their playing as much as possible by throwing all of us outside and spending time together.  
"Free" to play was implying that children have less time to play as their lives are scheduled up such there is little time to just have nothing they have to go and do.  My year is as busy as ever and looking at the schedule I do want to guard their time to be able not be under pressure to produce and cough up anything for given activities.   Being free to be bored is awesome.

 Purposely taking off from school today, life around the house just seemed more peaceful.   Right now the kids are outside playing frisbee together.   Phew.   Kids playing outdoors afforded mom some quiet time too before the time of electronics.   I'm not against electronics, but I am against them forgetting how to play and imagine.   We are a family of addictions or obsessions so I do want to guard what time they have left as children to just be children and take that along with them into adult life.  

Clarification and reiterating that my choices with my kids are the privilege of parents for their own family.   I am not judging anyone their choices but stating what I have observed in my own family.   I want my children to have a childhood full of hands on playing.   I had it and have hilarious memories from all that my friends and I played together and wonder why my parents and theirs were okay with some of our shenanigans.   Wow.  I hear hilarious stories from my older children of the stunts they pulled together and then I can revel in the fact that my darlings did some pretty crazy stuff and we can all laugh about it now.  

Day off

I wonder if I can remember to take every Wednesday off and have it be 'the day off"?   Our Monday and Tuesday have me on my toes from Monday when I wake up til Tuesday around eleven.   If I give the whole family permission to take the next day off, I think that will remove quite a bit of stress for everyone.    I've been trying to figure out the schedule so we don't all lose our minds.  

Taking today off from tasks and homework has been over the moon wonderful.   We slept til we wanted to, I had a doctor's appointment and a few errands to run and the rest of the time has been everyone chilling out and waiting for Evening Prayer time.

I want to write more so will see if this is the last post for a few years or if I can manage to get back to it.  I've had many a blog post rolling around in my head but none get down in writing.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Three flown, six to go.

My two eldest boys have flown the coup.  I am delighted for them.  I can't say I'm sad and I know it wil be quieter but envisualizing them independent and away from their noisy family is also time to cherish for them.  I am one to love my kids deeply and probably too deeply.  I enjoy talking with them and having their adult companionship.   What more could I ever want for them but to successfully be independent.  I can also unload extra stuff on them!!!!!   Whee!!!!!   Less furniture!!!!!   Stuff be gone.  Ha ha.

Transitions

Life has been bouncing around.  I'm not necessarily suited for change but everyone experiences it.  I used to hear of people's struggle with change and wasn't able to feel it.  For the longest time stamina and goals moved me through life.   Now I see it everywhere and pretend to understand it.

I'm not very talented at bearing with change is what I've discovered.  Change has been pounding away at me.  It seems relentless.  I'm not good at it.  I keep moving forward.  The phone rings and someone is very ill and needs help in the family.  I want to love those people and feel it all too much. The phone keeps ringing.   I hate the phone.  Stop it.

Then stepping through healing or death.  The eyes of people tell so much.  Pray with me Karin.  Listen to me.  I will and I count it a privilege to listen to the dying.  I rejoice their confession of faith. If lucid, they share memories which I won't have anyone to speak to anymore about them.  He favorite great aunt, their stories, their impact.

The young and healthy have eyes and stories and relationships we hold in common.  I need to press forward for their sake to maintain and develop those wonderful relationships.   I have a weakness of feeling things and have talk myself into activities of relationship.   I want to know my children and family truly.

The journey marches forth.  I hope I can do this thing.  I hate the phone.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Leave them alone to play

I used to pride myself on my kids ability to make believe and play with just about nothing but the great outdoors or indoors.  Kids don't need very much to be happy and content.  Mostly they don't need to be in contact with adults constantly to be content.

Our family does have the luxury of living in the middle of ten acres of over half woods and some meadow.  Ever since our oldest was a small child, I can remember putting a sand box outside the living room window and our toddler basically lived in that sandbox while I  read a book and saw her head bobbing around.  She didn't care where I was as she was in her little world of imagination.  She would play for hours and then......I would read to her and she would take her nap....and then start the cycle all over again.

We have nine children total, which isn't necessarily relative to to the topic, but all of them have basically disappeared to their play land for most of their free time.  As small children they were loaded with free time.  Countless people have commented to me at one time or another the kids ability to just be content by themselves without my involvement.

Last week, my second to last child, took me on a delightful romp through our woods.   She showed me all her favorite haunts which frankly I wasn't aware existed.   My seeming neglect or lack of supervision, produced forts which were in their third or fourth stage of redesign by her and her sibs.   Her older sibs had also built and rebuilt forts in the woods.   She described the walking bridge they had created at the bottom of slippery hill and then showed me the remains of a foundation I didn't even know existed after twenty four years of living here!  This bridge had also undergone renovations as some logs rot you know.

I loved how she reminisced about her years in the woods.  It was a world to me that perhaps I can be sorry I wasn't as aware of but on the other hand it is their world.  When I dismiss the kids from their home educated world they frankly stop school in my world and then enter their own school of play.

Another area she described as one of her favorites for all the mushrooms they find there.  She is seven mind you, and the mushroom world is one of her favorites!   Where is MY mushroom world!?   I need a mushroom world!   This world will last her young life.  It can extend through the knowledge gained in observation into her adult life. She experiences things most people will never ever have a chance to experience, mainly because she was given the chance to play and explore on her own and with her sibs.

Lately the collaborative playing has been as Minute Men fighting the British all over the yard.  The book we read together is now live action in the yard without my meddling.  I pondered meddling when the Minute Men started bickering together but I thought better of it and left them to their own devices.

For all the panicking I've done through my parenting years as to whether I am teaching them everything I 'should' I really needn't worry too much about it.  My kids are thriving, know how to work hard, and have so many childhood tales of their adventures.  When they are released from my clutches of reading, math, etc., they disappear into their world for hours and hours.  I am happy for them. My fifteen year old still swings on the swing set and loves it.

So.....I encourage parents to encourage free play time outside as you can.  I know some people don't have that luxury due to apartment living, city living, so go camping!  Get out of sterile plugged in lives and get the kids outside to play with what is there.

Friday, April 15, 2016

And the kids were happy

With the help of my doctor, I had a revelation this week about how to reduce my stress and the rest of the family's stress.  I have grown to highly dislike Monday's.  Monday evenings are fine with either church or band rehearsal and being able to walk away from a day loaded with stress but the day itself usually makes me want to rip patches of hair out.  So......he mentioned an idea in this random conversation, of structuring Monday's to only include the easiest things which do not require tedious one on one work.  Eureka!  I thought about that and we are only going to read books aloud and practice our instruments and......that's it.  If a kid wants to play a little 'catch up' from years of my caring for elders then they can but......not with me unless I'm up to it.

  Our weekends are usually full of activities both for the kids, and then husband I try to spend some time on projects or visiting family and friends.   No one seems to look forward to the reality of Mondays.  I'm emotionally tapped out and overwhelmed.  I still have a few kids not reading as well as I would like and then writing ability needs attention with others.  We whittle away at this each day and it consumes our lives.  I'm determined to quietly be done around two each day and being ok with whatever we accomplished.  We need time to breathe and not be on school work duty all the time.

This afternoon I was with one of my kids at the dentist and two moms were discussing how exhausted their kids were with homework til eleven or twelve at night!   Yikes.  When was childhood robbed by all this schoolwork?   I don't want all this stress all day for my kids.   On Thursday we finished around two for everyone and everyone went outside and used the swing set and hammock and romped in the woods.  I heard my 15 year old exclaim that she hadn't swung on the swing set for forever.  Sigh.  Sounds like we have been oppressed.  Really.  I don't want to take their childhood away from them by obsessing over the amount of work they've gotten done.  I'm now switching gears to a regular routine with some things like practicing, math, reading instruction and then accepting whichever kids get some work done with me the rest of the day.    This is predictably happier.  I will know I'm done mid-afternoon and they will experience some freedom each day.   Phew.  I hope I can make this a lasting plan.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Hubbard Chicken

This is a friend's recipe for dressed up chicken which the whole family enjoys and guests might be impressed as well.

Simple

Buy or cut up chicken into parts and skin them, counting enough pieces for each family member plus a few extras for the teenagers.

Lay in your favorite tribal cookware pan.  I use my stoneware bar pan usually.

In a food processor mix several slice of stale bread, a few tablespoons dried oregano, one onion quartered, surge for a few seconds till in a consistent crumbly blend.

Sprinkle mix overtop of chicken and bake at 375 degrees for around an hour depending on the meatiness of the chicken.  Nothing spells disaster like undercooked chicken right?   I tend to cook it till I see the bone showing......definitely done.  Bread crumb mix keeps skinless meat moist and yummy.