Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh to grace
how great a debtor,
daily I'm constrained to be.

Let Thy Goodness
Like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander,
Lord I feel it.
Prone to leave the One I love.

Here's my heart, Lord.
O, Take and seal it.
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Just to be sure I wrote a simple message to my blogging friends...

Merry Christmas.

May this be an especially lovely and peaceful time for you and yours.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's official. I now have three teenage boys. Wise One turned thirteen. It's also official that I am an all out geek. I took the boys to see Avatar and loved it. Anyone else see it?

Yesterday, I spent the day at Shands Hospital in Gainesville mostly waiting to get my son's toe re-examined. It had turned nice and black. Those who knew anything about it were concerned the part of the toe became a mass of necrotic tissue which needed to be removed by painful scraping. Can I say how delighted I am that we were wrong? It wasn't certain until the site was opened and drained that it was a "runners hematoma" which is simply a nasty blood blister with a few infected spots. As long as the site stays clean it will heal quickly!

Tonight Christmas lights. Happy Holidays, friends.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Peace stayed home from finals yesterday, but attended today. He'll make up the other two tomorrow (saying prayers/crossing fingers). He would say he's a bit better. The toe looks pretty awful, blue and swollen, but it seems more localized to one place on the big toe rather than a flaming red foot. Could this be good news? I'm hoping so. So far, it doesn't look bitten by zombies, but I'm positively sure I wouldn't want it to be my toe.

A Memorial For Tina Lillig

I am not surprised at how moved I am by this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It wasn't a jammed toe after all. Peace has an awful spider bite- we think from a brown recluse. Peace called me from school saying, "Something is about to explode in my toe. Come get me."

The doc loaded the boy with antibiotics, steroids, and hydrocodone. He stressed the fact that the antibiotic and steroids probably wouldn't do a thing, but he was giving them anyway, just in case.

"Mostly, you just try and make it through the pain with the pain meds till it's over," he said. Great.

Peace explained, "I have finals tomorrow. Will I be able to think?"

"Nope. This pain stuff isn't so great for studying or taking tests. I'll give you a note," he answered.

Um. A note for skipping finals. Not a great plan, but it's what we've got to work with. We headed back to his school and the secretary called the principal.

Peace whispered, "We're taking this to the top, Mom!" Love that sense of humor.

The principal in all her grace assured us the school would do whatever was necessary including letting him make up finals after Christmas. Oh, I so hope it's not necessary.

Prayers for him please. He's really torn up about skipping his first two finals today. They are his hardest subjects.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Retreat and Tina Lillig

I retreated this last weekend with four remarkable, beautiful, courageous, talented, amazing women. I'm stunned every. single. time. I receive an invitation to live art and prayer with them. Yet they ask, and I show up and stand in awe of who they are and how they are made. Meredith Lee and Almost hauled art materials, and a creative frenzy followed. Francesca packed some great wine, and Crow captured my heart with cookies. I'm easy that way. I laid out my Advent prayer stations for one evening prayer. Pics may follow on Almost's blog.

The hostesses at the retreat center showered us with incredible meals, hospitality to perfection, and delicious readings.

The last evening away, Francesca let me know through her cellphone email of the loss of a precious friend and saint, Tina Lillig. I put my head in my hands and sobbed a while knowing this world has lost a Great Light for now. As I said in my Facebook status, her Light is now stronger than death, but we mortals will miss her splendid company. She has been the National Director of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for many years. Her life is a testament to peace and strong advocacy for humanity, especially children. She opened her heart to me through the years, and though she'd never understand why in her unmatchable humility, she was a hero to me. In my opinion, replacing her in the National Association will be tantamount to finding a successor to Ghandi or MLK among our catechist community.

She wrote , dedicated her life to listening to God with children, and kept house for us, but her greatest attribute to me manifested in that she was one of the most gifted listeners I've ever met.

Please lift up prayers for her family and friends. She wished for donations to the National Association instead of flowers for her funeral. Figures that even in her death she'd give.

I'm home now to the repugnant smell of cat urine from the geriatric cat, Patches, and a quick ER trip for Peace regarding a painfully swollen toe he jammed, but happily did not break after all.

Art.Life. Death. Love. Stink. Healing. That's what it's all about.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sundry meandering thoughts

I should have stayed in girl scouts, because this morning I'm regretting my poor fire making skills. I had my boy scouts explain it to me and get a fire started in Clifford's new and improved fireplace, but the guys are now at school, and the fire wanes.

It caused me think about my year in Brownies. I think I was just learning to read when I got my Brownie handbook, and I dreamed I could be the brownie girl in the play found at the front of the book. I poured over that play time and again, because the lead role looked into a fairy pond and said magical words. When my best friend's mom asked me to take the part in our troop, I nearly fainted with joy. Her mother literally created a set including a mirror with greenery around it for the pond. It is a blissful memory of mine from childhood to have performed for all the parents.

I also recalled my one year in girl scouts with my sister. I don't think she and I were ever in a single club together of any kind after that, but we joined the same girl scout troop at Woodfill Elementary School. My fondest memory of that experience came about by my sister telling the girl scout leader how disappointed she was with her Christmas gift swap, so I held out my present to my sister in exchange. My sister happily handed me her miniature wooden angel ornament which I found exquisite for whatever unmemorable present I'd gotten in the exchange. Apparently the girl scout leader took this as some big sacrifice on my part though I don't remember it being so. Later, the leader came to me with a nifty girl scout coin purse, and whispered, "I saw what you did for your sister, and I thought you deserved something better." I turned that fabulous little forest green pouch over and over in my little girl hands thinking I was the luckiest person in the whole wide world that day. It's funny to me thinking back on that knowing how very satisfied with the tiny angel I was and astounded at a further gift.

Helps me remember that ya never know what a child is really thinking.

This morning my daughter and I arrived at our bus stop the minute the bus occasionally arrives, and I explained to her, "If we've missed the bus then I'll make sure the boys catch their and drive you on to school."

She burst into tears, "I don't WANT to be LATE! Please take me now. The bus never comes at sunrise, and look. There's the sun."

"Let not worry about what might happen just yet. We'll wait here ten more minutes..." I replied, "but oh, look, there's your bus now."

She dried her tears instantly and popped out the car with a lilt in her step.

When I was in second grade, my mom woke my sister and I in the middle of the night on a school night and stealthily took us to a friend's house far from our neighborhood after a she became afraid of dreadful things. The next morning, my mom let us all sleep in, and much to my horror, I arrived to Miss Bohn's class after 10 a.m. Miss Bohn must have noticed my tear stained face for I was ashamed that I was late. She spoke gently to me, "It doesn't matter what time you get here. I'm just always glad to see you." That woman had no idea how comforting and memorable her words were for me that day.

I've literally been trying diligently to live in the moment these days and not worry about the "what ifs" of the future. I can tell it's going to be a hard lesson for my girl as it is for all of us.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

RAD stuff

Just in case friends with RAD kids read my blog, I'm sharing an email I sent to my son's new principal. I think it's empowering to advocate for our kids.  I'll let you know how it turns out.

To Whom it may concern:

I am very apprehensive as a parent at the reports my son, Tater Vyne, is giving me about his experience at ________ Middle School. After asking for a meeting several times, I have finally been given a date in two weeks. I would prefer to be more proactive before things escalate further, so I'm writing to take swift action on his behalf.

Before Tater was born, he was exposed to cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and untold violence in the womb. His birthmother was in fostercare herself and gave birth to him at age 14. The trauma of this beginning has led Tater into having attachment issues which takes the form of not being able to trust. Our family was able to adopt him after some years, and he's in specialized therapy now with __________. Please call her if you need further insight (phone). We have also had intensive family therapy in 2008 for him with ___________ (phone) in North Carolina. _______is a wonderful resource for our family as well.

February 2009, after many years of homeschooling, our family decided to put Tater in school.
We met with __________ at North Middle in _____________ and met with his teachers regularly to check on his progress. His teachers and administrators gave glowing reports. He hit one rough patch one day that I know of in his time at North Middle. He struggled in pre-algebra but did well academically otherwise. The cooperation and communication with North Middle couldn't have been better.

When we moved here in October, Tater asked to transfer to your school though his North principal told him and us something like, “We don't want to lose you. We hope you will be able to finish this year with us!” __________, assistant principal, may also have input for you concerning Tater (phone). From what his teachers told us, Tater chose friends very well and was a good student.

Now that Tater has transferred to your school, it appears this is no longer the case. Tater reported to me that he was on some kind of “bad kid list”. He understands this to be a list of children the school is watching to fail or kick out. I'm also concerned that he said his “new best friend” was arrested for “being set up” with oregano in an Altoids can in his locker. I haven't met this young man, but I worry that Tater has suddenly started choosing friends poorly. Furthermore, if this “bad kid” list exists, why is the school asking to meet with us immediately? Wouldn't working with parents be the first step in helping children get on the right path? I haven't taken my son out of the chaos of fostercare to adopt him into our good home with a loving family, only to have him be walk into drugs and violence introduced at school. We have nothing of that in our home.

As you know, Tater's first introduction to ______ Middle was a bully on the bus who slapped him the first week and threatened him for several weeks after. Hopefully, this has all been dealt with, but all my children were terrified when the police came to our house asking for statements. Our family has never had any cause to have the police intervene. Imagine my eight year old daughter asking, “Is it safe in our new home? Will that boy bring a gun here tonight before the police can come back to help us?” Imagine what this experience does to a boy with trust and safety issues? When my husband followed the bus to school the day after the slapping, Buck was told at the office, “Just tell your son not to make friends with that boy.” Buck and I asked for meetings with teachers to open communication and were told more than once, “Wait until your son has some grades to discuss.”

This is what I consider a negative start, and my hopes in writing and meeting is to turn it around. I hope to start working together with you. I hope to let you know, as his parents, we see a trend developing which must be addressed right away. We are open to suggestions on how to proceed, and look forward to working through to a positive experience with you on behalf Tater at ______ Middle School.

True Vyne

**Update: The principal called me and chatted for quite awhile last night. I told her my concerns, and she asked how the school could help. She apologized for how the school has fallen short. I asked her to talk with her teachers about advocating for my son: putting him in the front in classes in which he's not succeeding, moving him away from people with whom he might make trouble, calling me when he's not choosing friends well, calling me when he's not living up to his potential academically. She told me to email her anytime and said she'd meet with me or any other parent when asked. She begged patience as this is her first year, and she needs time to learn and understand the culture. I'm impressed again with her humility and care for parents and children.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

kinda boring personal update

Clifford is decorated for the holidays, but she's got many construction projects underway- so she looks a bit messy while in progress.  My buddy, Andy, showed me how to tile this week, and I'm part way through tiling the walls around my master bath tub.   Who ever heard of a master bath with a giant tub and no shower?  Andy is taking care of adding the shower head part with his "mad plumbing skilz".  Another friend, Dan, constructed a perfect wall at the end of the tub.  I've found creating a shower takes lots more and longer than the snap of a finger.  Wishing I was a faster, more confident tiler, but, hey, it's my first job ever. Andy added an electrical box yesterday.  He promised as he left, "If you want to put in some outlets while I'm away, at least it wouldn't be a slow death if you mess up." Gotta like that sense of humor.  Today he'll return with our friend Jake, who I know will encourage me while I tile.  Last time he came over, he called out as I worked, "That looks really good.  You are doing well."   I know Jake would help if he could, but he has severely limited muscular use, so his cheering means the world to me.

When these folks come over to help, I know I'm blessed.  It's going to be a different kind of Christmas for my family, and this blessing makes all the difference to keep me positive and looking up.

I haven't found a job yet which is somewhat frustrating.  However, there must be a correlation in God's economy of going to full-time work after the many house projects are complete rather than having it all hanging over my head.  I know Pooh Bear is really having a rough time of it at school with so many hours away from home, and a job will mean even more time away from me.  Sigh.  Thank God she's a tough cookie.  She says regularly, "I'm just going to school, because I know it is better for you."  I keep reminding her that we could work something else out if it gets to hard, but she won't have it.

Tater says, "I'm on the 'bad kid' list at school."   Whatever that is.  Apparently, the teachers made a "watch out for these top 25 troublemakers list", and Tater thinks he's on it.  Could be that he was part of the bullying incident, and someone he considered his new best friend was suspended for 60 days when the drug sniffing dog found oregano in an Altoids can in his locker.  We talked about walking away from friendships with kids who seem to have something up to ones with less drama surrounding.  I finally was "allowed" to make an appointment to talk with Tater's teachers.  The school gatekeepers kept saying, "You need to wait to see his progress before you meet with his teachers.  It doesn't make sense to meet before we know how he's going to perform."  Eye roll.  Haven't these people ever heard of being proactive?  I've taken Tater back to attachment therapy now that we're more settled.  Since the huge changes in our fam, Tater has hit some big all time lows in terms of being a family guy. It was like living with Darth Vader for a about two months- the dark side of the force was strong.  Thankfully, he's come back around in the last month to something more like a cussing and manipulative Dennis the Menace.  I also wonder if he's made a habit of cussing at school which would definitely land him squarely on the "suspicious kid list" for me if I was a teacher and uniformed about attachment disorder.

Peace is plodding through Latin II, the bane of his existence.  He's running track. Yeah, the track season doesn't start till March, but hey, coach needs them conditioned, right?  Peace had two migraines this week.  I know it's the pressure of accepting our new circumstances and keeping up with school with which his momma no can no longer help. Math facts memorization I can handle.  Vis, vida, vimas, vitere- way beyond me.

Wise One continues to adjust to school with mostly pleasure.  However, he tells me sordid tales about the horrible acts of middle schoolers and the unprofessional responses of teachers.  Sigh.  I only wish the teachers knew how incredibly honest this child is, and that he could actually tell them the whole truth instead of the teachers losing their tempers and screaming at children, hoping somehow to get to the bottom of  crazy behavior. In our house, we call that fantasyland- using out-of-control behavior to bring control.   Wise One is having a weekend of caving with his best friend, Eli. Thank God for Eli's family and all the help they send my way.

Personally, I struggle with adjusting to a new sort of life.  I positively hate to watch my children wrestle with things from which I'd hope to shelter.  I'm ever so glad they aren't little ones anymore and have their mom's Vyne determination behind them.  I also struggle personally with keeping my life quiet and peaceful while storms rage all around.  One thing I'm considering is sitting in Adoration to soak in some rays of Grace.