Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Young Teachers

Well, it's begun. I'm beginning the process of becoming a crone.  I'm turning 41 this year, which I happen to think is not old and crochety, but my extremely youthful doctor recently told me that "You should start taking a calcium supplement now that you're getting older."    What?  Aren't we all getting older?  Even juvenile doctors.  I do like and respect my physician quite a bit; she's knowledgeable, current on the data, and  more personable than your average physician.  I worry that she, since she's approximately the age of Doogie Howser, our small town is going to lose her  to brighter doctoring pastures.  

But that was the first time a professional said to me, "Now that you're getting older," and it's begun my crone-ification.

Because meanwhile, the middle schooler has several teachers who are under the age of 25.  They do not have ANY gray hairs or wrinkles, and yet they teach preteens.  That is some serious youth right there, if you can spend the majority of your day with 100 twelve-year-olds and not have ANY gray hair.

One of the young teachers sends very short and terse text messages to remind parents about homework.  Very short.  Very terse.  And every time, my first response is to want to shoot back a text message that says, "You need to take a respectful tone with your elders, young man."  I don't,  and it's not just because I'm "getting older" and my calcium supplementation keeps me from understanding how text messages work.  I'm a good parent, and I don't make waves with the teachers. But it's still my first thought.  

Let's the croning begin!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Diabetes-- our unseen guest

Diabetes is the unseen guest in our home, ever present to us though often invisible to the rest of the world.  Sometimes diabetes is a quiet guest, who trundles along with us in our daily lives.   And sometimes, sparked by an email that changes are coming to the health insurance plan, Chris's diabetes keeps me up all night despite the determine to breathe and not borrow trouble and sleep.

Diabetes is the unseen guest:

  • in the mysterious high morning blood sugars that persist for a week and then disappear. 
  • in the counting of grams of carbohydrate in every meal.   Counting 6 grams in 100 grams carrots in this stir fry, 4 grams in 100 grams of peppers,  3 in 100 of mushrooms,6 in 100 grams of onion, 3.5 in this 10 grams of garlic. Total it all and divide it: 5.48 grams of carbohydrate for every 100 grams of stir fry.  And is it all this tedious measurement and math what makes it a pain or the  reminder of why these measurements are necessary?
  • in Chris's every successive 80 hour work week and the fears of early widowhood. 
  • in listening to people tell you how they're pretty sure they read some news story about how diabetes can be reversed.  Oh, fun!  Time to do some education  about the difference between Type 1 and Type 2.  
  • in sniffing the children's breath, not for alcohol or anything illicit, but for ketones when they've been drinking a lot of water.
  • in the stories of people's diabetic cats and how many shits I do not give for diabetic cats.
  • in the closet shelf that holds infusion  sets, sensors, needles, lancets; in the butter drawer of the refrigerator which is solely devoted to insulin
  • in being buddies with the pharmacist and quarterly visits to Lexington for check ups. 
  • in pills swallowed prophylactically  to stave off kidney damage. 
  • in late night  fears about changes to insurance and what they may mean, for long-term financial stability and,worse, for long-term survivability.  
Even though type one diabetes is not the death sentence of 150 years ago, the shortened life span of 50 years ago,  it's no less a serious, life threatening disease.   And even though Chris is skinny and in good health, diabetes is still our daily guest at the table and in every other moment.   We seem chipper and cheerful.  To the world, Chris seems like someone who can do anything and never gets down.   But he isn't; we aren't.   We have an unseen guest.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Theology Time with Paul

We have landed ourselves a deeply religious boy.   He has a mother who's not at all spiritual, but into the Social Gospel in Christianity.  His father practices his own mix of what we call 12-step-astro-buddhism.  And then there's his sister's ongoing preadolescent spiritual crisis.  But the boy is out and out religious.  This is a child who frequently chooses to stay and listen to the sermon on Sunday instead of running around in children's church.   During the sermon, he whispers asides to me about his opinion of what's being said.  "Nope," he says, "that's not true."  I'm not sure what it means that finds  more fault with Kent's sermons than with Rachel's.  Hint: those of you who know Paul and his deep appreciation of the ladies can probably guess why.

Since the New Year, he's been having us read his "Page-A-Day" Children's Bible to him during his bath. Chris started out trying to read him fairy tales.  Fairy tales, the boy says, are way too scary.  Cinderella?  Terrifying! But the Old Testament, bring it on.  Nothing scary there, just a few  massacres. What?   Anyway, we read the Bible during bath time, and the boy has a lot to say.

And now, for posterity, theological gems from a six year old:

  • "The Old Testament God is still good, but he makes bad choices."   This came after the drowning of all those Egyptians in the Red Sea, followed by the forty year desert wandering.
  • "The Old Testament God is crazy."  I had completely forgotten or never even known about the passage in Judges where God creates a town for people who have accidentally murdered someone.  Both Paul and I found this mystifying.
  • "Old Testament:  if something good happens, you know something bad is about to happen.  Good. Bad. Good. Bad.  It's a lot like kindergarten."   This was Paul's response to Joshua's death after finding getting his people settled in their homes.
  • "True!  It's all true!   Moses, true!  Ten Commandments, true!  Red Sea, true!"   Chris was the parent who shared the limits of Biblical literalism with him, but I was the recipient of this diatribe. He's like the Billy Eichner of the Bible. 
  • "People in Berea are not for war.  People in Berea love people even when they are bad.  Do you think Berea took over for Jesus after he died?  Jesus was a very good man.  God was his dad."  (after the Martin Luther King Day service at church.)

  • And my current  favorite, Paul's theory on universal grace:  "There will be killers in Heaven, but there will be no guns."
Sometimes it feels like a big responsibility to talk about deep moral issues all the time with a small child, but Paul so infuses God into every conversation that I'm beginning to feel less like I had better get these conversations right and more like theology is just the talk we do.  

Meanwhile, you might spare a little prayer for all of us as we try to not to giggle during his extremely long blessings before the meal.  When a prayer begins "It was a dark and stormy night,"  you know that your mashed potatoes are going to grow cold.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Litter gitters

Near our new house is a big field. When we first moved to town, there was a defunct dorm/personal care home/motel there, but the College tore it down that summer. Now that we live close to it, we've noticed the lot attracts litter, partly because of the very small parking lot located at its edge. Inspired by the work of Richard Cobb in Huntington and his Adopt Your Block program, we decided to renew our litter gitter energy and focus it on the empty lots near our house.  For you city folk readers, you may be imagining a standard square lot. This is more of an ambling field with trees and a creek (or at least a sizable trench) and mysterious structures left over from dorm days. It's a magical space that Paul likes to explore every day on the way home from school. So this Saturday, even though Sister was off building picnic tables with the Girl Scouts and I was at Fiber Frenzy for a class, Paul and Chris took to the field with gloves, bags for trash and recycling, and the grabber. Here is some of their adventure.








Thursday, March 6, 2014

Where have I been?

Once again, the blog disappeared for a few weeks there as it does from time to time.  So where have I been?


  • Enduring eleventy-million snow days.  This winter just keeps plowing through, leveling I don't remember what last week and four inches of snow and ice this week.  It's not that I couldn't slog through the snow to the computer to write.  It's more that I seem to need some small space of silence in my day to also find mental space to write.  Also, I need to be allowed access to the computer.  There are important youtube videos to be watched on snow days, I understand.
  • Similarly,  my mind has continued to be utterly filled with the locations of gloves, hats, and boots.  Which gloves are currently drying on the radiator?  Which gloves are actually currently dry? Have muddy boots been deposited in the basement so they don't drip all over the floor?  Has mud been scraped from shoes so that they can be worn to school?  In the event of school happening again?  I'm amazed that Canadians and Minnesotans are so smart because all this glove/boot/hat stuff has eaten my brain 
  • Encountering the wonder of "Winnie the Pooh" for the first time.  I'm serious!  We just started reading Winnie here at our house, and these are some amazing books.  Look for a blog post soon.
  • Getting my weekly adrenaline jolt from the new season of "The Americans."  Now that the children in the show are in seeming jeopardy, it's entirely possible that this season will kill me.
  • Stressing out about my continued unemployed/stay-at-home mom status.  The truth is that I enjoy being the CEO of the family, volunteering, doing all those 1950s mom things.  But the specter of Chris's diabetes and resume gaps lurk ever bigger in my mind.  Chris is healthy, but I worry.  I worry.
  • Agitating for civil rights in Frankfort.  Look for a blog post here soon. 
  • Writing a handbook for a new community garden here in Berea.   Knowing that I'm not handy with the building of beds and knowing that I don't own a truck for the hauling of stuff, I of course seized on the community garden task that requires writing.  I can definitely do that.   But will spring ever come? And do I jinx it if I start to buy seeds?
  • Getting thrilled every time I find a plant that tolerates shade in one of my seed catalogs.  I love the trees at this house, but I have to embrace shade like never before.  And I'm sorry, I don't like hellebores.  So every time I see that partially shaded circle in a seed catalog, I get all excited.  Did you know hydrangeas can tolerate shade?  I did not. 
  • Discussing theology with the theologically-minded six year old?  More on this soon, too.  I am informed that "the Old Testament God is still good, but he makes bad choices."   
  • Empathizing with the travails of middle school.  Among the things they don't tell you about parenthood in advance:  you not only have to endure your child's adolescence, you get to relive all your own memories of that awkward time.
So that's what I've been up to? What's the end of winter bringing to you?  I'm going to try to do better now that the sun is shining.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Quick, hide the 20,000 Lego pieces!

A baby is coming! A baby is coming!

Wait, no, hang on.  A baby is coming to visit this morning.  I can see where those first two sentences could have given readers a little heart attack.  No,  a baby is not coming to live here.  That couldn't happen without the express written consent of various doctors (who -- spoiler alert! -- have forbidden it) and possibly even the baseball commissioner.  No, a baby and his mom are coming here for coffee this morning.  No, that sounds bad, too.  No babies will be drinking coffee in my house.  Not even constipated, wise beyond their years, world weary babies.

The point is that there will be a baby in this house for approximately one hour later today.

And boy, is this house a baby disaster.  There hasn't been a baby in our family for five years.   That's half of a decade, and that's long enough to forget everything I've ever known about baby proofing.

Except I'm pretty sure that there shouldn't be a bucketful of ashes right there on the floor right next to the wood stove.

So I took a little look around the house (panicked!) to see what I could and could not do before the baby arrives, and here's what I did:

(1) Put the ash bucket on top of the wood stove where he can't reach it.
(2) Did NOT light a fire in the wood stove this morning.
(3) Vacuumed, vacuumed, vacuumed!
(4) Vacuumed some more.
(5) Picked up any obvious small toys (i.e., the twenty thousand Lego blocks with which we share a home)
(6) Gave the elderly dog an aspirin for her arthritis, a tranquilizer for her crankiness, and benedryl to make her sleepy,
(7) Shut the door to the human (not just baby) disaster area that is the girl's room.
(8) Shut the door to the choking hazard that is the boy's room (i.e., the Lego museum).
(9) Hoped for the best.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The least of these

This morning, as the boy walked into school, he was whispering "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday" to himself.  No, he was not getting himself pumped up for a school-side monster truck rally.   He was just trying to remember what day he lost his tooth so that he could remember to tell his teacher when it was that the the tooth fell out --while he ate his toast on Sunday morning. It was so important to him to remember that "Sunday" to tell his teacher that he asked Mr. Hobson's Choice and I several times on the way to school: "What day was it again?  When did I lose mine tooth?"

And being his mother, I was overwhelmed and overcome by his pure sweetness.  It was one of those moment that only parents see and when we know our wild, unruly children at their core.  We see them as people who want to share important news with the world, who want their news to be seen as important, and who want to be proud.  

At that moment, I felt a kinship with all parents.  No matter what faces our children present to the world, we are blessed to see and love them in these quiet, vulnerable moments.  We want to send them out into a world that will see their gifts and hear their stories.  Some children, like the boy's older sister, are charismatic and personable; they command automatic attention to their lovely songs.  Some, like the boy are sometimes shy
watchers,  but he always pats his bus driver on the shoulder and tells her goodbye before getting off the bus.

As parents, we want them all, the quiet and the loud,  to be heard and seen for their best selves.

This morning, I felt so fortunate to send the boy to a teacher who I knew would listen to his explanation of the tooth, the toast, and Sunday.  Not all children have that kind of adult in their lives.  They should.