My Prayer in Crisis–A poem from a while ago…

I’ve been writing stories since I was eight years old.  Let’s just say that was a long time ago.  I started writing poetry in high school.  Again, a long time ago.  Today as I was trying desperately to clean up my hard drive of excess duplicates, I stumbled upon my file of poetry that I typed up along the way.  I have found as I perused my poetry that I don’t write to one specific style.  I just write what comes to mind that fits my mood or feelings.

This was written in 2001 and seems pertinent to my feelings today.

My Prayer in Crisis

When it rains it pours!

Problems sweep my life,

Flooded with daily chores,

My job as a wife.

 

But more pressing are others

That affect my living.

Siblings, dads and mothers

My heart aches from giving.

 

I just keep trucking along

Through all this crisis.

Dealing with what’s wrong

Praying God can fix this.

 

I’m only one soul

Searching for the answer

Struggling to stay whole

Not feed this crisis cancer.

 

My dear Lord, I pray to you

In your arms hold us tight.

Keep us safe through and through

Guide us to your light.

 

So we may understand

The trials that we face

Take us by the hand

To your saving grace.

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What happened to RESPECT?

Today, I want to rant about parents.  I know there are good parents out there.  I know many.  I’m not talking about them.  I’m talking about the OTHER parents. 

A short background, so I’m not misunderstood.  I’m not a room parent.  I don’t spend any time at the school chaperoning classes.  Frankly, I don’t like being around that many kids.  Mine are ENOUGH.  But I do attend programs and concerts that my children are participating in.  I like to show them my support.  If I have the extra cash, I purchase the video.  Because the school audio/visual kids get a much better view than my short ass.

Because of the winter storms that rolled through the Midwest last week, the middle school’s Christmas band concert was postponed.  It was rescheduled to last night; right behind the elementary school’s play.  Since I had a child in both activities, I was present at the school for over three hours. 

This is not a well funded school.  Our seating was metal folding chairs set up in the middle school gym, which has a stage on one side.  These chairs are not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination.  Because of these chairs, honey-do did not attend.  His back would have been in so much pain; I’d have to get a stretcher to get him home.  We don’t have one of those.  I also had my six year old first grader in the audience with me.  This is the child we affectionately call “crack baby”.  She has so much energy and spunk; she just can’t sit still or stop touching things.  I charged my phone prior to the play/concert so she would have something to do when she was bored five minutes after arrival.

During the elementary school’s play, the audience was packed.  Their program consisted of fourth and second graders.  It was fun enough that my crack baby sat still most of the time.  She was happy that she could see her fourth grade sister singing with the choir. 

Between the elementary school’s program and the start of the middle school’s program, there was an intermission for those people only attending the elementary school’s program to fetch their children and leave.  It allowed for the clean up of the play props; and the set up of the middle school band’s chairs, music stands, and large instruments.  As the middle school program started, the audience had dwindled to half.  This could be expected.

The middle school program began with the various choirs doing a series of Christmas tunes.  Then the two separate bands began their selections.  During this time, many people were slinking out of the gym.  By the end, the audience was only a quarter of what it was when the night started.

But the thing that really set me off, was the parents throughout this adventure.  During the elementary program, there were parents that let their younger children wander around, play games on phones without muting them, or just talk loudly.  These parents did nothing to discipline their children.  I believe this is bad behavior.  I know children act up.  But if they aren’t even scolded, they will never learn that disrupting someone else’s experience is not right. 

Yet that was not all.  During the middle school’s program, it was the parents that weren’t behaving.  Right behind me a lady answered a ringing phone and was having a conversation.  In front of me, a lady was talking to another woman two rows away.  I believe this is all in bad form.

I sat through everyone else’s kids’ programs.  I listened to them sing, act, and play instruments.  My children weren’t in every aspect of the evening, but I gave those parents my respect.  I just wish they would have returned the favor.  It’s times like this that I miss my growing up years; even though I hated it when it was happening.

Education in America

Though I started this blog to tell about all the silly things that occur in my home, I’ve noticed that this has become a platform for my opinions on different topics.  So be it.  It’s MY blog.

Last night on the evening news, there was a story about where the US ranked worldwide in education.  I was not surprised to see that we didn’t even make it to the top twenty.  I currently have three children in the public school system.  We’ve lived in several different states, so I am not biased to just my district.  I also have family that are teachers, librarians, and administrators.  Today, I even read several articles and blogs about this story.  So here’s what I see and why I wasn’t surprised.

Some eight years ago, I got a job that took me out of state.  I was living in Missouri and thus relocated my family to Texas.  Both towns were rural and close in population.  Yet, my thirteen year, who was then in Kindergarten, was already behind in the school district we moved to.  This didn’t surprise me then because the town we moved from was economically poorer than the one we moved to.  Since that time, we moved back to Missouri, to Indiana, to Oklahoma, back to Missouri, to Texas again, and now back to Missouri.  Yes, I know that’s a lot of moves.  Get over it.  My children’s scores did not suffer from this.  They continue to be straight A students.

But what I’ve seen by this is that it didn’t matter about the economics of the region I was in.  What mattered was the kinds of parents that I saw while in these school districts.  Many of them didn’t truly put forth an effort to be involved with their kids education.  To me, they seemed self-centered and lazy.  Of course too, many of them were half my age.  I’m the old mom of each of my children’s classes.

study wall

This is the study wall that I put up in our home, even before all the boxes were unpacked.  That way I could help them do their homework or tutor them when they don’t understand the teacher’s lesson.

I am involved heavily in making sure my girls perform to the highest degree.  I’m not one of those Tiger mom’s that insist on excellence constantly.  I know that sometimes my girls will screw up.  I also know when they just need some extra guidance.  For example, the thirteen year was put in Pre-Algebra at the start of the year.  After one class, she came home to tell me that it was too easy.  I promptly went to the school the next day and had her switched to Algebra.  After the first week, she was complaining it was too hard.  Come to find out, she wasn’t understanding the methods the teacher was using to teach the topics.  I spent many hours over the course of a few months each day “teaching” her what she was missing in class.  I stood at the chalk board pictured above doing example after example in order for her to “learn” the concepts.

That brings me to another gripe I have about school systems nowadays.  They seem to be teaching for the test.  I can remember learning concepts and then applying them.  I remember learning things so that it stuck in our heads longer than the completion of a test.  I really don’t know if teachers are just getting lazy or what.  That’s why I do my best to supplement my girls’ lessons whenever I can, so that they “learn” something; not just memorize something for the duration of the lesson until the test.

Another example of my using my learning aids is my fourth grader’s spelling tests.  I want me girls to do well with this because they may not always have Word or autocorrect to spell things for them.  Said fourth grader occasionally has trouble with remembering how to spell a word.  She brings home her spelling word list at the beginning of the week.  I quiz her every day from that list.  I do not go in order.  I skip around the list of twenty words so that she learns the words.  If she has trouble I make her spell it on the board with me reciting each letter so it’s correct.  Then at random times throughout the week, I’ll ask her the word.  It could be while we are walking to school, she’s doing chores, or it’s commercial time during a television program.  By test day, Friday, she knows how to spell it.  I’ll even quiz her weeks later so that I know she learned it.  I do the same thing with other subjects.

So what I believe is the real problem with education in America is the parents of students.  I’m not saying they don’t care or love their children.  I believe they aren’t setting high standards for their children to succeed.  Children need schedules, discipline, and goals.  I do not run my house like a boot camp, but they are on a schedule, they have consequences for their actions, and they have standards with which I believe they can achieve.  They are consistently encouraged and loved in our home.  And all my girls are straight A students, even the first grader who doesn’t get letter grades but sees “exceeds expectations”.

Welfare…

As I am a current online student, part of my attendance is marked by participation in a discussion forum.  These discussions are usually a question posed that we have to answer that relates to the current week’s topic for learning.  This week’s question in my economics class was about our opinion of whether or not the government should subsidize internet access to the poor.  Most all the students said no.  There were a few who said yes.  This brings me to my thoughts for today.  What types of people are using government assistance?

What first comes to mind when we think of assistance?  The answer is food stamps.  Next on the list is housing, or H.U.D.  Then there is heating or cooling assistance.  There is also, in some states, daycare assistance and car insurance assistance.  There are also cell phones or landlines subsidized.  There is even TANF, temporary assistance for needy families.  This is cash money to pay for incidentals.  There is healthcare in the form of Medicaid.  So these are some of the kinds of assistance that is offered to the poor by our government.

Now the first type of person that comes to mind that takes advantage of these offerings are what I like to call the career welfare recipients.  These are the folks that make their living by getting every available program to pay for their lifestyle.  These folks work hard to buck the system.  These are the people that give the system a bad name.  I think of them like the dog owners that raise their dogs for fighting.  They’ve given pit bulls a bad wrap as well.  These are the lowest of low people that drive me crazy.

I am not a history buff.  I do not claim to know everything there is to know about our government.  To be honest, this economics class has been a real struggle for me because it includes things like monetary policy and the like.  I REALLY have a hard time with it.  I’m not an activist or politician; and don’t care to be.  So some of my statements may be off base.  They are just my observations about it all.

I understand the original purpose of the welfare department to be a means to help the poor get some needed help while they get back on their feet.  I believe it to be a means of a hand-up not a hand-out.  This being said, that brings me to the other types of people that utilize government assistance.

The next category I’ve seen use assistance is what I like to call the newly poor.  These people have had good jobs, they took care of themselves, and were considered middle-class America.  But then the recession that hit the country in 2008 rocked their world.  They lost jobs.  In time they exhausted unemployment benefits.  They lost their homes and lifestyles.  In an effort to feed their families and stay afloat, they applied for assistance for the first time in their lives.  These people truly needed a hand-up.  That’s all they really wanted.

Another category I’ve seen use assistance is what I like to call the working poor.  This group encompasses two separate groups, but all for the same purpose.  These are the hard working people that just don’t make enough money to care for their families fully.  One part of this would be the uneducated that are manual laborers or menial service workers.  It’s not that they don’t want to make more; they just lack the formal education to achieve a higher paying job.  Another part of this group would have educated single parents or have a disabled spouse.  That would be me.  My spouse is disabled from an work injury and can no longer work.  These people are the sole providers for their families and just haven’t moved forward in their careers yet.  They may just be starting out or starting over because of the recession.

The last category is the obvious one.  That is the elderly and disabled.  Do to physical limitations or disabilities, they can no longer be a part of the workforce.  Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of people like this that do find some kind of part time employment.  I generally see them greeting me at Wal-Mart.  The point of having these folks use assistance is so that the selfish, greedy and arrogant people of the world do not just throw them away in institutions to be forgotten.  Assistance gives them a chance at having a self-sustaining life independent of others. 

So this is my observations about the kinds of people that use government assistance.  For some it’s for a lifetime.  For many others, it’s a hand-up; a way to make it through a tough situation.

By the way, my answer to the discussion included much of this post.  Though many of my classmates sited that libraries had internet access, as well as McDonald’s and coffee shops, I also pointed out that many rural communities do not have libraries, McDonald’s, or coffee shops with free Wi-Fi.  And with strict rules, I thought that an internet subsidy would be a good idea.  Of course the career welfare recipients would find the loophole and mooch that as well.

Tears of Respect

Today was one of those busy days.  It began productive with a little disappointment.  It continued with an emotional lunch adventure.  It was a little more productive up to dinner time.  Now I’m just hanging out with my feet up and baking cinnamon rolls.  The family is going to enjoy them before bed.  Honey-do and I will have ours with a little wine.

I started this because of my emotional lunch.  Our sassy thirteen year old is in middle school.  She’s a trumpet player in the school band.  Our local middle school provides an appreciation lunch for veterans.  Since honey-do and I are veterans, our presence was forced  requested.  I say this was emotional because my late father was Vietnam veteran, and this is one of those times of year that I miss him terribly.  One thing I always say and truly believe is, I was cheated out of time with him.  I found myself crying through much of the program.

It got me thinking about what I feel patriotism means to me.  It is not just serving in the armed forces.  It’s a belief in ones country.  A belief that the freedoms that were fought for over two hundred years ago are worth cherishing.  It about giving and receiving respect.

We have many symbols that represent our country and its freedoms.  We have the flag.  This is a world wide known symbol for the United States of America.  It something that many just wave on national holidays at parades.  For me, it is the blanket that wraps us and keeps us safe and warm.

We have the bald eagle; a majestic bird that rules the skies.  Its domineering prowess is a perfect symbol of our military’s presence globally and domestically.

We have our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. On the surface, it’s a song about a battle fought long ago.  But in that battle when the smoke finally cleared, our flag still was flying high.  It demonstrates that the United States may get knocked down, but we get right back up.

Patriotism, to me, should be part of our DNA chain.  I’m saddened when some people don’t get it.  I love that I was born in this country.  I love to call the United States of America my home.  I teach my children the importance.  I wish more did.

Reading, Writing, and Puppies

It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  Honey-do and I started painting a house for my landlord.  Unfortunately, she waited too long I think to bring us in on this job.  The average daily highs have been in the fifties.  Now our paint job looks like crap.  She knows that we work hard on any task she asks of us; I just wish she would have asked us last month.

This week has been tiring for me though.  I’ve been camped out with my female Great Dane, Athena.  Two months ago she went into heat, and we didn’t get her sequestered quick enough.  My male, Morpheus, tagged her.  She has been miserable.  She’s too old to be having puppies.  With our move, we hadn’t had time to get her to new vet yet to get her fixed.  I think choosing a vet is like choosing a doctor.  You should find the right one. In my camp out, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and working on one of my novels.  The ideas seem to be flowing for this one. 

Unfortunately, I have made more work for myself with this one.  I have been writing old school.  I grabbed a notebook and pen and been scribbling down the ideas like mad.  I’ll have to take extra time to type it out.  Lucky for me, I have Dragon software on my main computer, so I can dictate it.  Now I just need to be able to escape to my room rather than babysit Athena.

My reading adventures have been with the author Kim Harrison.  I am hooked on the Rachel Morgan series.  I like it because Rachel seems just as messed up with decision making as I am.  So far I’m through book 5.  I have to get with my library to check out books 6 and 7 from a larger library.  This is where small towns can feel so isolated.  If I were employed with a steady income, I would just buy the books.

I have to picky about the books I purchase.  Years ago honey-do moved all my boxes of books when we were just dating.  He and I had chosen to move in together.  He begged me to weed out my book collection; so the next time we moved, he wouldn’t break his back moving my boxes.  I complied.  I realized that many of my books were read once kind of books.  I changed my reading habits to check them out at the library (or borrow from friends) and only purchase them if I liked them enough to read additional times.  Honey-do has never really understood my love of books.  He definitely can’t understand how I could read books many times over or be reading up to four different books at one time.  The best way I could describe my love of written stories is compare it to his love of certain television shows or movies.  He can watch some television shows in reruns multiple time over.  I told him books are like that for me. 

Honey-do does like that our daughters have developed a love of reading like me.  He learned as an adult that he has reading disabilities.  He blames these disabilities on the lack of interest in reading.  I don’t mind that he doesn’t read like me, but I have one complaint about my girls reading.  They pick some books because they know a movie has been made based on that particular book.  I have a rule that if they want to read the book and see the movie; they must read the book first before watching the movie.  They fight me about this all the time.  The thirteen year made that mistake once with the Twilight series.  While at a friends house, she watched the movie before she was allowed to read the book.  She has since read the books, but has disappointments about both the books and the movies.  Now she is reading The HostBoth she and I would like to see the movie, but we are waiting until she finishes the book.  She would rather have disappointment in just one, not both.

A Jammed Packed Family Weekend

I had a busy weekend.  We had a delayed birthday party for the ten year old.  We held off because we wanted for her to have one of her grandmothers in attendance.  Honey-do left town for a few days and came back with my mom-in-law.  It was a nice visit.  Now he’s out of town again to return her home.  I’m sad when he’s gone because my children instinctively know I’m a push over for the most part. 

Here’s how things played out.  Friday, honey-do and I went to the city for shopping.  As much as I hate shopping, we had fun.  This particular trip was all about honey-do.  He needed tools and such.  Because my window shopping online wasn’t complete, we visited three hardware stores in order to find exactly what he was looking for.  He was pleased with our purchases and so was I.  One of those was a new air compressor.  The one I had bought for him sixteen years ago this Christmas was finally dead.  It was so worn out that it ran up my electric bill triple what it should have been, and it was so loud you had to leave the garage to have a simple conversation.  The new one is comparatively quiet and doesn’t run near as long.

Friday evening the thirteen year old had a friend stay over and attend a dance.  The friend we felt was not on her best behavior.  She continually tried to talk my daughter into doing things that she knew weren’t allowed.  I feel that she was just trying to get this girl to like her.  She’s always had a problem with this.

Saturday morning we had our normal chores like laundry.  The thirteen year old and her friend were being obstinate because they stayed up too late and we woke them at a reasonable hour.  The friend continued to be an issue.  When her mother came to pick her up, this child tried to interfere with our conversation in an effort to try and stay at our house longer.  My thirteen year old was well aware of the activities we had planned.  On our drive to an area festival we had a long conversation about respect.  We went to the festival to observe the ten year old’s art work that her teacher entered in an art contest.  That was a nice country drive.  Then we had her family birthday party with a movie, pizza, cupcakes and presents.  After the younger girls were off to bed, I invited the thirteen year old to join in a more grown-up movie.  She spent the entire time with her nose stuck in her phone texting.  This set me off.

Honey-do and I have worked real hard to instill family values in our children.  We didn’t grow up in the greatest of functionality.  Each of our families had a lot of dysfunction.  Another thing we have worked real hard to instill in our girls is respect.  We want them to be able to express their opinions but be tactful and respectful.  Needless to say, I lost my cool with the thirteen year old.  I grounded her for the first time in her life.  One week with no company, no bedroom TV, no cell phone and she must reflect on her attitude.  For a long time I’ve given her enough to rope to hang herself.  She finally did it, and she doesn’t like the outcome.

Sunday was church with the other grandma and a hay-ride in the evening which the thirteen year old had to stay home with mom, dad, and grandma.  She tried hiding in her room, but we addressed that.  She thought that if she stayed in her room, she wouldn’t get in more trouble.  That was not the point.

We’ve started a new week.  And with the rain we are seeing today, I foresee it washing away the rough portions of our weekend.