Author Archives: Barbara

About Barbara

Grandma, Education, Lifelong learner

“What’s happening?” Questions From a Second Grader

“Hey! What’s happening? What’s going on here?” These questions expressed a smidgen of the confusion and pain our grandson experienced in second grade. In third grade, Elliott got answers to his questions. His school diagnosed him as a child with dyslexia and dysgraphia.

Our conversation began last spring when Elliott said, “Grandma, I really suffered in second grade. I didn’t understand why the other kids started to read really well and I couldn’t make it work. Nothing in school worked for me.” With diagnosis in hand, he became caught in a web of anger toward school, dyslexia, and most of all — himself. Elliott’s feelings probably matched those of countless other youngsters. How frustrating to be trapped between the realities of above average intelligence along with the limitations of a brain that processes — not wrongly — but differently.

Elliott has always been a smart little guy. He likes insects, enjoys a strong vocabulary, and plays electronic gizmos with dynamite execution. Cute, curious, lively — all the qualities that should have propelled him into academic success. No wonder he felt confused.

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This is What Parents of Children with Special Needs Can Do to Plan for the Future

An aspiring young writer, Jenny Wise asked to write an article for this blog.  In her writing, Jenny shares her compassion and understanding of children with severe disabilities.  I know you will appreciate what Jenny has to offer.  

Parents of children with special needs understand more than anyone else just how important it is to plan for the future. These parents cannot afford to put off creating a plan to ensure their children will be cared for when they no longer can do it themselves. You may not be able to care personally for your child forever, but you can make sure the right people do.

  1. Keep Detailed Records

Keep all of your special needs child’s records up-to-date. Create a file containing your child’s medical history, previous and current medications, surgeries and procedures, therapies, and doctor histories in a secure location in your home and in a safe deposit box or in your lawyer’s office.

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We Wanted A Bit of Magic

Sometimes the best-laid plans blow up all over us! Elaborate arrangements for a Labor Day weekend wedding in Corpus Christi began ebbing away when Hurricane Harvey first hit the Texas shores. Shortage of gasoline became the final blow to the couple’s wedding dreams. On Thursday evening when Joy called to tell me they had decided to cancel plans for a Saturday wedding in Corpus, she asked if they could get married in the gazebo behind our newly purchased home. Well of course! No problem! Yikes! Crawling into bed that evening, I asked Chris, “Can we pull this off?” “Of course we can,” he assured me.

 

So, with the first floor of our new home totally torn up for remodeling, downstairs toilets pulled, running water turned off, and only one day to prepare, we put a wedding together. Chris worked extremely hard cleaning the pool and balancing the PH levels. Our daughter Kirsten once again came through with brilliance and stamina. Todd helped with the delivery of tables and chairs and with wise suggestions. David, Melissa, Lane and Dalton joined the effort. We cleaned, swept, and moved tables and chairs. Continue reading

Invitation to Action

Never in my life can I recall having anxiety for the fate of our nation. As I consider our splintered attitudes, I fear that the moral grit of our nation balances precariously on a tight wire of values. I wonder if we will reclaim our imminent leadership or if we will crash and burn into the likes of a third world country? I also wonder if any of you share these questions and concerns? Below, I consider four ideas related to understandings and possible actions.

  1. Personally I need to understand that as defined by the First Amendment, freedom of speech does not include words and actions (fighting words) that pose harm to others. Like you, I listened to the chants in Charlottesville, Virginia. I cringed as I heard, “Jews will not replace us,” and “Blood and soil” (a term from Nazi Germany based on genetics and land of birth), “Go back to Africa” and words such as “faggot” and “nigger”. I find it comforting to know that the constitution supports values that match my own thinking.
  2. With stronger understanding of freedom of speech under my belt and our nation’s dysfunction exhibited with such glaring ugliness, I now turn to a consideration about how to respond. I have lived long enough to remember the return of military personnel at the end of World War II. I recall stories of torture and inhumanity toward Jews and others who were unacceptable to Hitler. Words of hate, rejection, racial bigotry and rejection have never been and will never be acceptable. I cannot condone or even ignore slurs toward other humans whether due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender preferences, gender identities, or origin of birth. When our president accepted those who shouted abominations, I found his attitude unacceptable.
  3. I must disagree with the president’s statement that there were good guys on both sides or that opposing sides were equally wrong. Although I am certain the local citizens and students at the rally made their own mistakes, we must stay focused on the presence of the alt-right, neo-Nazi, white supremacists.
  4. Even as I denounce white supremacists, I remind myself that for the nation to heal, we must all decrease our own hate and violence. Hate never defeats hate. To live with myself, I must participate in reasonable (or maybe unreasonable) nonviolent ways. In the process, I must not lapse into the temptation to despise others.

In closing, I urge all of us to join together to write letters, send emails to elected officials, attend meetings, and participate in rallies. What is America all about? It is all about us.

Work Cited:

Campbell, Alexia Fernandez. “Some Racist, Homophobic Chants in Charlottesville May Not Be Protected Under the First Amendment.” Vox. August 15, 2017. https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/15/16144058/charlottesville-free-speech

“What Does Free Speech Mean?” United States COURTS. 2017. http://www.uscourts.gov/about-federal-courts/educational-resources/about-educational-outreach/activity-resources/what-does

A Touching Story of Pure Love (or Maybe Not. . .)

On a hot summer day in August, I took Catherine, Aidan, Chandler, and Elliott to Altitude, a trampoline park. Because of a torn contact lens, Catherine had to stop jumping early and be delivered to an eye appointment. The agreement was that the three boys would keep jumping during the brief time I would be away.

Just before leaving with Catherine, I gathered the children for a water break. Elliott insisted that he did not need water; he needed candy. After touching his sweaty little body, I replied, “No, Elliott, you really need some liquid. No candy at this time.” A serious pout began.

As I prepared to leave, Aidan whispered, “Grandma, Elliott may really need some water. Would you leave some money with me just in case he needs something?” Well, of course I would. Off I drove with Catherine.

Upon my return, Aidan confessed, “Grandma, I got worried about Elliott. He wouldn’t jump; he wouldn’t drink anything. He just sat there pointing. So to take care of him, I bought some candy and made him share it with Chandler and me. That way, Elliott didn’t get too much sugar.” How thoughtful of Aidan. Looking at Elliott, I said, “Next time, let him pout.”

Hmmm. Perhaps from the beginning Aidan had a divinely conceived plan to get candy for everyone as soon as I left with Catherine. I ponder this remote possibility. . .

You have to love a kid who works from a master plan to manage the adults in his life. At age twelve, Aidan never misses a beat. Apparently, we adults totally lack the resources to keep up with his drumbeat. I find myself smiling. Oh — the possibilities for this kid.

It’s NOT About Trump — It’s All About Us

Folks! It’s not about Trump! It’s about us! We, the people hold primary blame for the challenges facing our country! After reading an article by Skip Bacevish (one of my husband’s classmates), I considered Skip’s words, “The individual inhabiting the White House has become the preeminent symbol of who we are and what we represent as a nation and a people.” Rather than attributing the state of the union to Donald, we must look within for our own causes and cures.

Fans of Trump as well as those of us who worry about him share an important common flaw in our thinking. We all tend to allot more power to Trump than we rightfully should. Those who adore Trump firmly believe he is the savior who will fix America — “Make America great again.” Those of us who distrust Trump wag our fingers dismally as we blame him and his cronies for the problems we face.

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Imagine IF. . .Shazam! We Actually Fix the System!

Imagine if . . . Texas had enough money to update all public schools, pay salaries appealing enough to catch the eye of the brightest and best graduates, and provide state of the art materials and equipment. Imagine if . . . in such a world, private and parochial schools also requested state funding. I might stand at the front of the line to say, “Of course Texas can fund private as well as public education.” Unfortunately, we do not enjoy this luxury in Texas. So, how does reality look?

Reality means that August heat now rages with full force in Texas. In a short time, public school doors will open for any and all children. Regardless of economic status, race, gender, academic or athletic ability, health, or behavioral issues thousands of children can and will stream through the doors of public education.

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To Heck With Being Sensible

Some of you may already know that Chris and I backed out of the offer we made on a cute little house. Today, I write about our latest (and final) house bid.  

I’m running out of time. No doubt about it. With my 80’s looming ahead in the not so distant future, I’d better take advantage of what’s left of my youthful 70’s. To heck with being sensible and sedate! Not that I have anything against practical shoes, a little help walking, or the luxury of peaceful naps. Searching for the proverbial gold in these golden years does not get easier. I’ve decided to go for it while I still have the eyesight to spot that golden glow.

And so, my husband, who is eight years my junior and I dumped our previous notion of downsizing. Actually, we had previously downsized all the way to life in a motor home. Yes, it was fun. Without a doubt, getting rid of superfluous stuff felt great. And yet, there were hazards to that downsizing movement.

In spite of providing the advantage of always being able to locate one another, the motor home left no space for a family that seems to insist on continual expansion. Those kids — the ones we assumed would grow up and move on with their lives have become rabbits. Constantly, they accumulate spouses and children, dogs, cats and even chinchillas. Don’t get me wrong. We love each and every one. While some senior citizens collect antique dolls, stamps, coins, or even books, my husband and I collect grandchildren.

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That Swinging Pendulum Can Pack a Punch!

Have you ever felt like life mimics the swinging pendulum on a grandfather clock? On one side, life presents the circumstances you prefer. The opposite direction propels you into dread and dissatisfaction.

I believe that if I can avoid wild, dramatic, herculean swings I can keep the pendulum gently swaying somewhere near center. As we all know, staying centered provides a path to contentment.

I also tell myself that just as I cannot control the motion of the clock pendulum, I do not control the variances of life. Faithfully, I remind myself (and anyone who will listen), that I can only control my reactions to life’s swings. Much of the time, I stay relatively close to center. In addition, most of the time my attitude remains stable in spite of worldly events. But not always. Below, I share two extreme swings of my personal pendulum. Continue reading

Poking Fun About a Serious Subject

At the risk of offending friends and family, I post this fictional and foolish letter. My intention, to poke fun at a serious topic, contains bits of ridiculous along with a significant truth. The underlying message suggests that grave responsibility accompanies sexual activities.

 Disclaimer: I do not have any grandsons named Billy Bob or Rex.

Dear Billy Bob and Rex,

After years of lectures, warnings, and suggestions about flossing, I feel my work on this subject now ends. However, rather than resting in peace, a new compulsion takes on importance. Billy Bob — it is now time — yea past time for a considered and intelligent conversation about sex. You know you have been anxiously waiting for many years. Now, the time has come and I owe it to all of you young, innocent males, with your under-developed frontal lobes, to tell you the truth about this important topic.

Here it is. Prevention falls squarely onto your young shoulders. You think the female members of the species would take the lead on this, with the 9-month thing and all, but alas, it falls to you. As much as females intend to take care of the issue — yes, I write about birth control — reliable evidence indicates that females frequently do not do so. Lurking in the back of our female brains, a vision of cuddling a cute, happy, dry baby persists. This syndrome creates a “yes, I took care of it” delusion. For example, “I thought I took the birth control pills…I only missed one tiny dose. . .that little ring thing just fell out. . . I heard the music but I lost the rhythm.” The list goes on and on. Of course, abstinence definitely works best and when used properly, it offers 100% certainty. However, abstinence presents a challenge. That means, you can apply abstinence 99 times out of 100. One “oops” cancels all previous hard work. Yep! That’s the one and only time! For obvious reasons, major surprises often accompany the abstinence method.

Even with the most responsible female, the responsibility, like the preverbal tennis ball, remains in your court. Any time you decide to engage in sexual activity, you enter a realm that could involve creating a new life, which we consider far too precious to take lightly. Truthfully, a shared responsibility indicates mutual maturity and responsibility.

I sign off as your grandmother wishing for great grandchildren in the far distant future. Sending Love and wisdom to you.

Grandma  (Written Oct. 2015)

Possible Reading

Herndon, Emily, M. Zieman. “New Contraceptive Options.” American Family Physician. Feb. 15, 2004.  http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0215/p853.html

Partners In Health. “Contraception Health Centre.” Web MD. 2015.  http://www.webmd.boots.com/contraception/features/new-long-term-contraception-methods.