parenting


Are they listening?Do you ever wonder if kids “get it“?

Recently I have been examining my life and what kind of parent I have been so far. The results have been less than inspiring. My GPA in Parenting would be only slightly higher than the average GPA of those boy’s from Delta house… before the Toga Party.

Sometimes you wonder, “Am I doing the right thing?” “Do they understand?” “Am I getting through?” Especially now that they are teen-agers, I wonder, “Am I doing everything the best I can?” “Will they be scarred for life?!” or “Will they be okay in spite of my failings and poor parenting?” The angst of parenting…

Then from out nowhere comes a Bolt of lightning  that illuminates your self-imposed Apocalyptic scenario and fills your heart with hope. Hope that they “get it” and you are not a complete dismal failure as a parent (just a partial dismal failure). I had one of those moments today as I listened in on the raving and ranting of my teenage daughter. A bad day at school was compounded by her having a sore throat and not feeling too well. She was in rare form and far from being dismayed about her tirade I was completely ecstatic!

Why, you may ask, was I overjoyed to hear my teen-age daughter on the warpath? It was the subject matter that had me completely enthralled. I would like to quote her and let you hear what had me cheering her on. She was on a roll about what had taken place in one of her classes today (and probably more than just one of them). I have to preface these remarks by stating my children attend a Private Christian School. Here’s what she was going on about…

I’m sick of people not listening in class. All they do is go to school to socialize. Yeah, you have friends there, but class time is not socialize time unless you’re NOT doing anything as a class! They don’t care about their grades, which will be sad when they try and get into college because they won’t be able to. Then, they will blame it on other people, when really the only ones to blame will be them selves. They can’t even shut-up long enough to hear anything that is going on in class. I just want to tell them, ‘Why waste your parents money if you’re not going to do anything? Also, the teachers need more respect than that because the are spending their time to help us… when they could be doing another job for less hassle. If you want to socialize then go to a public school where at least you are not wasting your parents hard earned money.’”

Wow! You go girl! This is from my little girl? My little ‘freshman’?

Cha-ching! She gets it, she really gets it! Boo-yaa! Game, Set, Match!

This is not coming from a wall flower either, this little firebrand is outgoing and very social. Yet, she knows her goals and she realizes that the game began on the first day of class, this her freshman year. The clock is ticking and we are keeping score. From this point forward she is racing toward college and she can see that what she is doing now, does count. That is why she got so upset with her classmates today, their selfishness is not just hurting them but it hurts her and all the rest who are counting on good grades to help them get to college.

That’s the kind of argument that makes a parent proud!

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DNA

Australia’s Daily Telegraph recently published this story about a lawsuit brought against an IVF clinic by Aussie parents because doctors failed to identify a “cancer gene” in a procedure known as “preimplantation genetic diagnosis”.

According to the Telegraph:

Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, was pioneered by Victorian scientists, and the controversial gene screening has been embraced by fertility clinics around Australia and the world.  It is billed as a way of reducing the incidence of deadly genetic diseases, including more than 30 inherited cancers, cystic fibrosis, deafness and blindness.  Dozens of Australian children have been born using the controversial technique, which has triggered ethical and legal debate over whether scientists should be allowed to “play God'”.  The tests are carried out on an IVF embryo when it has eight cells. A single cell is removed and DNA tested for gene mutations.  The mother who is suing produced eight IVF embryos for genetic testing. Of the embryos tested, only two were given the all-clear for implantation. The others were discarded.

Doctors reportedly assured the parents that their child would not have a hereditary, cancer-causing genetic mutation.  The doctors were wrong, and now the child has a high probability of developing cancer at some point in his life.

Stories like this shine a clear spotlight upon the ethical minefield of modern genetics.  Since the successful mapping of the human genome in 2003, scientists have been working feverishly to identify genetic predispositions to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  As further discoveries are made and technology continues to develop, a host of ethical problems will arise.  It’s hard to imagine, that in the not-too-distant future, human beings will be “genetically designed” not to develop cancer.  Perhaps we will never discover a cure for cancer because there will be no need: people will simply be immune to it.

But why stop at cancer?  Why not “turn off” the gene that gives rise to obesity as well?  And while we’re at it, let’s make sure that the genes are arranged to produce intelligence and a balanced personality.  Then maybe we can tweak the genes that will determine personal appearance – because after all – who wants to have an unattractive child when they could have otherwise?

  1. So how about it?  Would you allow your child to be “genetically vaccinated” against cancer or other diseases? 
  2. What about obesity? 
  3. Below (or even average) intelligence? 
  4. An introverted personality? 
  5. Unattractiveness?

I’m quite sure that I could go along with number one.  I’m not so sure about two.  The rest of this list gets progressively more scary.  What do you guys thing about it?

Pack up the kids and the family fortune ‘cause we’re off to the cinema.

Admission to the movie $$$. Popcorn (popped maze, fluffy Styrofoam, proof that with salt and butter one can make anything palatable) $$$$$ (… I’m glad that mortgage lender was still available to approve the third loan on the house so we could afford the popcorn , of course the sub-prime loan debacle began subsequent to that loan, hhmmmm??) and a Drink $$$$ (anything with that much salt requires a beverage). Having to take a second job to pay for it all… priceless.

“What be this bleating in mine ears???” Baaa, Baaaa. Ah, a flock of sheep; all queued up for their ration of salted, buttered, Styrofoam and caffeinated, colored sugar water to wash it all down. (And for those disillusioned few who believe they have escaped the prison of said sheep fold, I offer exhibit A to the court, bottled H2O. Only the worst of prisoners are restricted to Styrofoam and water rations.

I watch, mesmerized, as one sheep followed the other and each was fleeced, right there at the counter. Then they walk away with a goofy self-satisfied grin that flies in the face of the fact that they have just squandered a full 1/3 of their children’s college education fund. Baaa, Baaaa! “Next!” and I take my turn at the shearing.

What movie could be so compelling I would risk financial and gastronomic ruin to attend? None other than that cinematic epic of popular culture, that masterpiece of film making, none other than that icon of hip, debonair and coolness…(I get goose bumps just thinking about it)… give it up for, “Alvin and the Chipmunks!” aaaaaahhhhh!! Woooo hooo!

As I sat there taking one for the team (so-to-speak) a great line from another strain on my budget came to mind and I settled in like a penguin on the beach in Madagascar, “Smile and wave boys, Smile and wave.”

Then it began to dawn on me, hey! this is a pretty good commentary on popular culture and on the Hollywood entertainment machine in general. It was heartening to see someone actually expose (albeit in a backhanded, under the radar manner) the star machine for the meat factory it is and the industry moguls for prostitutes they are. Wow! This reality thing has gone from Survivor, to the Biggest Loser, to Smarter than a 5th Grader, to Alvin and the big screen. Reality meets fantasy in a surreal rock-u-mentary featuring the meteoric rise to stardom of three striped rodents.

To be honest, without the trite remarks, the movie did a good job of showing the pitfalls of life without boundaries, My radar clicked on when the antagonist said, “There is only one rule…. There are no rules!” That is the essence of our present pop culture, No rules! No boundaries! Freedom! Complete autonomous freedom leads to anarchy. Alvin and the Boys were a fantastic visual representation of that truth. More of the, “If it works for you then it is ok,” mentality. One only has to look at Lindsey and Britney and a host of other pop icons to see the natural outcome of complete autonomous freedom. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, especially when it is given at the personal level.

So, all in all, I would have to give the rodents a thumb’s up. It may not be Oscar material but it is a good springboard to initiate conversation with your children concerning boundaries, rules and what true freedom means.

Catchy Title, eh? “A Movie review:”So, What fare are we serving up today?

“Because of Winn-Dixie”

I was shocked! I tell you absolutely shocked, to find out tonight that there are actually some people who have not yet seen, “Because of Winn-Dixie.”

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This movie is a Southern fried humdinger!

When I first sat down to watch a Family Night movie titled, “Because of Winn-Dixie” I thought yea, ok, I’ll endure this and then we’ll get to a good movie. I found myself eating that sentiment and walking away thoroughly satisfied. I had not read the book so I had no idea what I was about to see. We liked so much we bought it and have re-watched it on several occasions.

The story is about a preacher, his daughter Opal, her adopted dog Winn-Dixie, and the adventures, and friendships forged one summer in a small southern town. Between Opal and Winn-Dixie we see the greatest adventure of all, that of people and relationships. We see the tender heart of a child who wants to know why her momma left her and her daddy on the one hand, but who refuses to become scarred , cynical and jaded by that loss. We see how simple acts of kindness change all those who come within Opal and Winn-Dixie’s sphere of influence.

Far from being a Pollyanna, Opal is a real kid with real hurts and real questions. Her character is powerfully endearing and reminds us that people crave fellowship with others and will respond when given the opportunity. The charming innocence and childlike wonderment of Opal is contagious, and the simple honesty of child and dog quickly affects all those this dynamic-duo come into contact with.

This is real entertainment. No flash, no glitz, no glam… just a purity that speaks to the heart. This is the way movies should be. Two thumbs up!

Things have been going by so fast that this review was posted in 2007 before it was written… the universe has finally caught up to my time in reality, and here is last year in review.

2007

 

Wow, another year has past. I thought this year we would do one of those Christmas letters.

My problem is remembering what was significant… or even what actually happened this year.

 

This was our first full year since mom’s home going. It has been an emotional rollercoaster, from out of nowhere would come a flood of memories, or an huge dose of reality would steamroll us. The hardest part is going over to the house and trying to clean up. So many memories. But mom left us with the greatest gift of all, a testimony of her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I would not call mom back to this world of pain and suffering, that she knew all too well, even if I could. Her joy is complete in Jesus Christ now. She cannot return to us but she showed the way she went and invited others to believe on Jesus Christ so that we could see her again some day. I am looking forward to that reunion.

This summer we took our vacation in Atlanta Georgia. The main event was a Braves game. Before passing Mom had made me promise to get the kids to a Braves game as soon as we could. She had wanted to go herself but her health was just too bad. So we went to a game the day before the first anniversary of her passing. I remember thinking about how that would play in a Master Card commercial: Trip to Atlanta $$, Tickets to a Braves game $$, Hot dogs and a drink $$$$$$, The memories of a promise kept… priceless.

Children are such a blessing!

I have always thought it was amazing that I have had children who were born in different years (obviously), different decades (1990‘s, 2000‘s), different centuries (1900, 2000), and different millenniums(2nd and 3rd AD) and had twins to boot! 

Can you believe that the twins had the in-class portion of Driver’s education this year??? They are freshmen in high school this year. That can’t be right… but alas ‘me babes’ are suddenly ‘me teens‘. She played both JV and Varsity Volleyball this year. He has been on Varsity Baseball since 7th grade and he made JV Basketball again this year. (He played soccer last year as a fill in, but sat out this year. The soccer team all wanted him to play again this year. Maybe he will play again next year.)

Our little one started pre-school this year. I just turn around and it is another milestone in one of their lives. She is attending pre-school at RHRBC. That is the church I grew up in. Talk about a flood of memories!! The old building is gone but just being there evokes some strong memories of Mom and Dad; good memories.

This year marked two decades my wife has put up with me. She is either incredibly brave and loyal or dain bramaged. She is an incredible woman and a wonderful mother. Right now she is in the hospital recovering from surgery. Everything went very well, the operation was a success, and she is doing very well and may get to come home soon. She can recuperate here at home over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

I guess that leaves me to talk about. How can one describe such legendary grandeur in the mere fifteen lines left on this page? You can’t. It is impossible! Think of the Grand Canyon, the vast Atlantic Ocean, and then think of them being filled… with me, and you can begin to imagine my …. What my pants must daily endure.

You know, they say there are four stages of a man’s life:

1> You believe in Santa Clause.

2> You stop believing in Santa Clause.

3> You play Santa Clause.

4> You look like Santa Clause.

I have reached stage four; beard, belly and all. Ho, Ho, Ho!

So, there you have it, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (maybe I’ll get a copy of that for Christmas) from Us to you.

Seriously, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas (while we are still allowed to say Christmas) and a Happy New Year.

D,T,K,D & E

It was a mild September Sunday. I was languidly perusing the pages of a book when I was startled by a cry from my wife on the opposite end of the house. As I hurried to the location of the sound, she met me in the kitchen waving a small, plastic wand. “It’s positive!” she declared as she danced about the dining table. I stood there blinking as my world rolled off of its axis. There are some things for which we can never prepare ourselves; the announcement of a child is one of them.

The arrival of a pregnancy to hopeful parents brings with it a kaleidoscope of feelings. Emotion washes over you as intense and irresistible as a tidal wave.  Surges of joy and trepidation accompany moments of pride and apprehension as you begin to grapple with a new identity. Parenthood looms over you – promising, threatening, and wonderful.
As time passed I watched my wife transform into a swollen version of that person who danced around me in the kitchen (the dancing had stopped by the fifth month). Morning sickness and mood swings dominated our household as the tiny life within her asserted his presence. Books and videos on parenthood became our primary source of information and many hours were spent in breathless silence as we awaited another kick.

Six months into the pregnancy, a routine doctor’s appointment revealed that Stephanie had developed preeclampsia. This meant critically high blood pressure that was a serious danger to both Stephanie and the baby. She was placed on strict bed rest until delivery, and we were warned that the baby would probably be coming earlier than either of us expected.

And that is precisely what happened. On April 21, 2003 (just six weeks later) Stephanie was admitted into the hospital for an induced labor delivery. That night the doctor informed us that he had scheduled the delivery for the next morning and that we should try to get some sleep. My wife followed his orders; I did not.

I became intimately familiar with the ceiling of my wife’s hospital room that night as I gazed up at it, listening to the seconds tick by on my wristwatch. I was overwhelmed with a feeling strangely akin to the Christmas Eve’s of my childhood. In a matter of hours I would be a father. The thought exhilarated me and terrified me at the same time.
Sunrise came and flooded the room with light. April 22 had arrived and so had the nurses to escort my wife to the delivery room. Pain, fear, and wonder ensued and at 10:00 that morning I was handed a bundle of blankets that had a tiny face inside staring up at me. And this is the point in this narrative when words can no longer fulfill their function in conveying true meaning. At that moment I experienced such emotion that to try to describe it would only risk sentimentality.

Perhaps the only way to explain it is to say that at that moment I felt as though I were holding an extension of myself transformed into a new person.  A life that was indivisibly linked to me in its origin, yet completely individual in its actuality and potential. I was astonished by how fiercely I could love a face that I had only seen for a few moments. I wanted to tell him all of this. I wanted him to let him know how incredibly special he was; how much he had changed me. But I could not find the words and he would not have understood if I had.

This time five years ago, I was expecting our first child.  My pregnancy had been normal as I slowly watched my feet disappear under my expanding belly.  Nausea in the first trimester gave way to butterfly-like feelings in my abdomen.  What a miracle!  My body had become a home for this tiny person that I did not know yet, but whom I loved intensely. Each month ticked away with a visit to the doctor.  “All is well” was each report…that is until the first week of March. 

The week started out terribly.  I got a speeding ticket.  How could a State Trooper give me, a pregnant woman, a ticket?  Sure I was speeding, but who could blame me as distracted as I was?  It did not even bother him that I cried as I squeezed out from behind the steering wheel to find my registration.  This could not be happening, we did not need this extra expense with a baby coming.

The week only got worse.  I went to my normal check up, expecting the same “all is well” tag, but when my doctor came in,  the expression on her face spread panic through my heart. 

“What’s wrong?” I implored.  I had not even been officially checked yet.  They had only gotten my weight, blood pressure and made me pee in a cup.

“You are showing the early signs of preeclampsia, otherwise known as toxemia.” she almost seemed to whisper from the other end of a tunnel.

“What is that?  How can this be?  Things have been going so well.  What is going to happen to me and my baby?” 

“Preeclampsia is basically where your body is rejecting the baby.  Your blood pressure starts to creep up and protein shows up in your urine.  We are going to write you out of work until delivery and put you on strict bedrest.  We don’t want you to even walk outside to check the mail.  Rest, stay put as much as possible, for your sake and for the sake of your baby.”

I could not be written out of work, I had only trained my back-up for one day.  She was not prepared.  What was my boss going to say?  Josh was not with me at this visit. What would he say?  I could not even talk to him when I called, so I had to get the doctor to repeat what she had said to me.  “It’s going to be okay.” He assured me, but my emotions were telling me otherwise.

The next six weeks are kind of fuzzy to me.  People of the church fixed meals for us because if the meal planning were left to Josh, we would have cereal, Chef Boyardee and eggs everyday, although he would have meant heartily well.  I had days that I spent in fellowship with my Father and felt His love assure me that no matter what happened, this was all part of His plan.  Then I had days that I could not feel His presence and I cried…anxious over what would happen to my baby, starving for fellowship outside these four walls, and from just plain boredom (how many times can you watch the PBS lineup before getting sick of it).

Baby shower time came and I feel into deeper depression.  I could not even properly register for the things we needed and wanted.  We started the process, but had to quit because I could feel my feet swelling from the rising blood pressure.  This should not be so hard to accept; it was just a luxury and I knew our family, friends and church members would make sure we had what we needed.  But I longed for everything to be as it should have been.  Even then, God assured me that this was part of His plan.

April came before long, and the doctors had made me their test subject.  I had to do a few 24-hour urine samples and store them in our fridge, yuck!  Then on April 21st, the doctors ran several tests and sent us out to wait closeby for the results.  We headed over to Barnes & Noble to peruse their new selection of books.  After what seemed like hours, they called us to come back.  “Are you ready to have this baby?” they asked.  I had not even packed my bags yet, oh great!  “We have a room ready for you.  We will induce your labor and since you are only 3 1/2 weeks early, all should be okay.”

We got settled in our room, called the family and prepared for the night.  They gave me the medicine to induce and at 5:10am the next morning my water broke.  Luke Christopher was born at 9:09am on April 22nd, just one minute shy of a 4 hour labor.  He was amazing!  This little life that we had been praying for was finally visible!   

Luke had his normal up’s-and-down’s as an infant.  Maybe a few more down’s because his lungs were a little underdeveloped, but now he is a healthy, happy, lively little boy.  I look back on those days and I can see how God protected us, provided for us and used it all to teach me about His faithfulness and His friendship.  All of this was in His plan.

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