Saturday, January 17, 2015

All in the Name of Science!

Just when you think life is calming down... things blow up.  I am not just speaking figuratively either, I mean a physical, literal explosion.  In my newly remodeled kitchen.  While I was out of the house.  In the name of science.  This would be a great opening for a new Dr. Suess book.  An additional chapter in all science books entitled "What NOT to do during a home experiment ".  Perhaps it was just for the sole purpose, of a blog post involving a dwarf that gets minimal attention.  Dopey.

So let me set the stage a bit.  Dopey is one class away from being finished with his high school academic career, as a junior. He opted to take an online Biology course, so that at the end of this year in June, he is finished with all high school required classes,  and will be able to just concentrate on taking classes at the local community college through the state's duel enrollment program during his "senior" year.

We enrolled in the online class and Dopey has been diligent in light of his current classes, and working, to get the lessons done and turned in on time.  Except this one experiment.  So in an attempt to free his weekend, while I was out of the house, he started his very "simple" experiment on evaporation.

Assignment overview:  take three liquids, and boil them, timing the exact amount of time it takes all three liquids (one of them being water) as they went from room temperature to boil through evaporation.  Simple!

So the first pot was water.  The second was vegetable oil.  The third was hydrogen peroxide.  

I got the call as I was 20 minutes out from the house.  From the dwarf that pays for the privilege of a cell phone and NEVER uses it!   So to say I was curious when I saw my phone ringing from him, is an understatement.  I answer to a perfectly calm voice, saying " Mom, I was working on my experiment, and had a little fire, but everything is okay."  My response was equally calm, "Okay, I am about 20 minutes out, tell me the details.  Are you okay?  Is the house okay?  Where are your brothers?  Is everyone okay?"  "Yes mom we are all fine.  I cleaned up most of the mess, it is okay."  

He continues to tell me that the vegetable oil, boiled, but at some point, when he looked away for just a minute, it caught on fire.  He continues that he was able to put the pot in the sink, and the fire kept getting bigger, so he threw on the water to dose it... and the flame got even bigger and then exploded.

To say that he was lucky is an understatement.  Had the window in front of the sink been closed, the fire and explosion would have come back in his face.  Earlier he had opened the window because the oil was initially smelling bad and making smoke as it heated up.

Until I got home to assess the mess with my own two eyes, I was calm and unaffected, however this home experiment could have gone horribly wrong and Dopey is one very fortunate dwarf!  

While he has experienced a few splatter burns on his wrist, and upper arm, overall he has escaped unscathed.  (Mortified because even his 12 year old brother knew how to put out a grease fire.)  Our newly remodeled kitchen... while not horrible, was not so lucky.
The casualties:
The ceiling that was just freshly done this past May as part of the remodel
A singed pencil tree and ornaments that were in the window
A few decorations from the top of the cabinets that need washing and cleaning thoroughly
The outdoor ceiling on the other side of the window that looks just like the inside one that will need scrubbing and repainting.  

Some lessons are best learned the hard way.  Lessons learned by Dopey... read all the instructions on the lab before starting!  The last line of the instructions said, never work at home without the supervision of a parent.   Most importantly, when there is a grease fire, do NOT ever add water. 

I think that Bashful summed up the day best as we all safely sat around the table for dinner, with grateful hearts,  last night sharing our favorite part of the day.  And I quote...  "My favorite part of the day was watching the fire and the explosion in first person!"  

Really, I can't make this stuff up! 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Bashful and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!

So my day of solace has been interrupted by the ding of an email notification from the middle school. (Darn, I knew I should have silenced my cell phone alerts.) Not only is he struggling with being respectful and doing his work today, he left behind a note earlier in the week to explain how he was really feeling about his teacher and his class!   The below is the note, misspellings and all, that was shared in the email, that broke up my solitude and peace, entitled, "Bashful is having a very bad day".

"I don't care about you (insert teachers name here)  you should just get out of my life you are like an annoying fat rat in my life.  I wish I never saw or meat you.  You also make me sick.  ever sense I saw you I got the chills.  I know that you will always will get me in troble for no reson and belive everyone when they are lying.  you always give me a refurel for no reson.  you treat us like we are preschoolers. you are the meanist teacher.  Some of my friends hate you.  You are the rudest teacher in the world.  Also you are the mos boring teacher I have in the world. From your hater Bashful.  P.S. Mr. K is cooler and more fun than you"

First hand I can speak to a time when I was in the 3rd grade. I know that my teacher, Mrs M.  told me that if I did not have all my flashcards finished, (multiplication math facts, written one on each index card for the multiplication tables 1 -9) at school with me the next day, that I had to stand on line and miss morning and lunch recess.  So why my mother could not understand why I woke myself up in the middle of the night to do them, and she found me in the morning asleep at my desk, panicking because I only got through the "6's" is beyond me.   The teacher threatened me.  The teacher was mean, she was scarey. No one liked her, she love to put kids on the line!  She meant what she said, and I was not willing to take the chance. 

Many of us can relate.  You have a story similar to this or remember a teacher that just the meanest of them all!  If you ever thought that your teacher was out to get you, in any way,  in your mind you wrote and re-wrote many of these letters.  

Here is my dilemma.  How do you punish your special needs child for finally listening to your advice?  When faced with a difficult situation in which he felt powerless, where he did not think his voice was clearly being heard, when he was frustrated, when he was certainly angry... he took his emotions and put them down on paper.  He admitted that is what he did.  We applaud him for that as for years, TSS's, family therapists, behavior therapists and the Prince and I have been encouraging him to journal his feelings and emotions when he is angry.  The part I suppose that we missed in our encouragement is the step that involves what to do AFTER your put your pencil to paper and you get all your feelings in writing.    

After he wrote his letter, signed his name, added his PS for dramatic flare and sighed because he felt better, he just left the note behind.   Not on purpose you see, quite by accident, because as you know, many who have special needs, the saying is true "out of sight really is out of mind".  

That is until your parents show you a copy of your feelings and your unkind words, in an email, from the "fat rat" teacher.  Whom you have already moved on from, forgotten about, and have minimal remembrance of what had you so rip roaring mad in the first place.

To wrap things up, here is what we hope the take away lesson for Bashful is in this: 

1) We are not always going to get along with everyone in our lives, but we must be respectful, and obedient to those in authority above us.  This is not negotiable as a member of this household.

2) When we are overwhelmed, writing is a great way to express our frustration and emotions. 

3) When we put things down on paper we MUST be careful to place that in a safe place or tear it up and throw it away.  Once the words are out there(written or spoken) in anger they can not be undone.  Feelings get hurt, trust gets broken and relationships suffer. 

4) You may feel alone, but you are never alone.  Even on your worst terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, Christ is with you.  He loves you more than a parent, more than a teacher, more than a friend and will never leave you!  

5) Always tell your mom and dad when you are having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day so that they can come along side you and help you negotiate your feelings and your frustrations in the moment, not days later.  

6) Lastly, be willing to own your mistakes.  Be willing to claim your part in the process. Be willing to help solve the problem at hand.  Be gracious in extending an apology and humble  in seeking forgiveness.     

I never thought that Bashful was articulate enough to pen such a letter.  Clearly when his adrenaline is pumping he is a very succinct in his thoughts and his writing.  I sometimes wish I could, but as you all know,  I Really Can't Make this Stuff Up! 


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Observations on Aging

So the house will not be the same, but my view of senior citizens and my commitment to my aging parents and my aging self remain the same.  I am committed even more so to the following statements in regards to my own journey into old age after witnessing and caring for Nan for the past month.

First,  I want to be placed in a senior living center/ assisted home care environment, when it becomes evident that I am beginning to struggle with aspects of life and the tasks at hand that I used to handle with ease.  I want to be able, in an age appropriate  situation, to make the most of my time and my activities.   The allure of others, in my same age bracket or similar circumstances who understand what stage of life I am in, and those that would surround me that are trained to work with seniors, makes all this an attractive option for someone that is as social and active as I am.  Secondly, I have come to the conclusion that it is a choice that we make as we age, to be humble, kind and tenderhearted or prideful and discontent, I am desiring to choose in advance kindness.  (when I falter in the years ahead, please bring me back to this post) and I am beginning now to pray that the Lord would grant me a sense of humor and humility in the entire aging process.

All of this to say, that within the past month, I have gained significant insight into many areas of aging that have perhaps crossed my mind briefly, but due to the circumstances at hand and the ensuing conversations, I have come to ponder these issues much more, and in research and consideration have come to the following conclusions: *** disclaimer, I am not, nor at any point in this post, do I lay claims to any medical insight or any professional training, this information is all gathered in the trenches, during day to day activities and  through first hand observations and musings.

When you live alone, it is far easier to keep up the facade of "normal aging".  The occasional repeating of facts, the infrequent confusion of dates and times and occasions is overlooked for a significant and sustained period of time longer than if you were married or living with other family members.

That there is a brief period in your aging years (70 - 80's ) where you can articulate that things are slowing down for you. That you are not able to keep up, or to use the phrase from an old folk song, "the old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be".  At this point you are aware, and still okay with the fact that things are not as they used to be, and you are willing and able to compensate for the changes to your physical being with glasses, or hearing aids, surgeries, or slowing your activities, making adjustments as needed to sustain a quality of life, knowing that things can still be good, but will not be the same. There comes a point in that journey where you loose that ability to focus or see clearly the aging process,  and you revert to phrases, like " I am not crippled" "I'm not deaf", "I can see that just fine", or " I am not an invalid" as a method of self preservation and to hide that you are not able to do what you used to do, with ease, and you not any to happy about it.

At some point in the cycle of life you go from having the ability and desire to help others that are transitioning through life stages, to being someone in a life stage that refuses assistance. For example at one time you were the first one that if a neighbor/friend had to give up driving, you offered them a ride to and from wherever they needed to go, because serving others brought great joy to you. Now at this stage in life, when the tables are turned, you are refusing to allow others the blessing of taking you places, or doing things for you, because you are stubborn or prideful and do not want to ask for help. Completely forgetting the era/season in your life where your service to others was a complete and absolute blessing.  I venture to say that some of this refusal to "be a burden" is a generational issue.  The prevalent mindset, of the 30's, 40's and 50's was that you took care of yourself. Pride aside, perhaps the even more underlying issue is the deep seeded thought that one just handles their own business, for the good, the bad, and the indifferent and that asking for help is a sign that you are no longer capable. 

The predominant personality trait that is hard wired into a person from birth reemerges in your later days.  In younger days if that personality trait is not an exceptionally great one, you learn the social cues and the social expectations and are able to down play that trait with more acceptable behaviors and respond accordingly.  In later days, I would assume you are too old or tired to really give a rip, so you stop trying. Sadly, more often than not, this dominate personality trait now taints how you respond to most things that come your direction. Often times without the realization that perhaps you are in the wrong or that you misunderstood the situation completely.

In no way do I wish to down play the affects of aging and the difficulties that lie within the psyche of the person experiencing the changes that are undoubtedly physical and mental.  There is much to be said for the grace in which those around love you through this process, I can't help but consider that there should be much more thought and consideration placed in preparing for the aging process.  Not just our retirement plan, this goes far beyond finances.

While in today's day and age, there is much more research, many more medical advances and far less stigma attached to seeking assistance outside the areas of what we feel comfortable with as our bodies begin to age, increasing our life expectancies exponentially. Sadly, we may delude ourselves when we are young into thinking that we are not going to be difficult as an elderly person, or that our experiences in life will make us a different breed of elderly, and while to a certain extent that may be true, I also believe that we need to be prayerful and conscientious about aging process.

In just this small window of time that I have shared with an elderly gal near and dear to our hearts, who declares "she is not old, or deaf, and is in denial about her memory skills", I have begun to pray that in my older days, I would be humble, gracious and would retain my sense of humor.  I am also being purposeful now, so that in my older days (or the event that I should I become ill and need full time care) that there has been prayerful considerations about what I desire for my care and for the amount of responsibility that I desire for my children to take in my life in the future.  I want to be intentional in the planning and preparation for the execution of events in the future. All of which will, in the long run lend to set expectations, and clear boundaries for everyone including ol' feeble minded me!  

This is not a time to make stuff up! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Greetings from the Prince and I

Greetings from the Prince and I ! 

2014 has been an eventful, joy filled, tear filled, busy, crazy year filled with growth, great change and tons of love that spans great distances!

I believe it can not be said enough, that this thing we do, called life, we would not have the ability to sustain or triumph through, without your love and support, without your prayers and your visits, without knowing that the Lord is the center of all that we do. 

The highlight reel this year, most certainly is a long one.  So in a heart of reflection, in no particular order, here are some of our 2014 highlights ( this year I got a consult from the Prince while compiling the list!)
  • Great snow storms in February ( Where we were able to craft our whole family (Daniel too) with pets, made from snow, and in a second storm, a dragon complete with green food coloring skin) 
  • A healthy family all 9 of us, the dwarfs and the Prince and I
  •  A new job position for the Prince, in which he continues to serve the Lord and others daily
  • A new home, in our new home state of Florida
  • The best neighbors ever (Kings Crossing family) 
  • A supportive and loving extended family 
  • A complete and absolute GOD story about the sale of our home to a "stranger" that has become woven into the fabric of the Lingle heritage
  • The wonderful gift of a legacy of friendship and learning at Hershey Christian School 
  • A final middle school girls basketball season ( where I was honored to coach Sleepy) ending in excellence
  • The gift of selfless, and giving friends and family as we prepared for our transition south
  • A month of meals gifted to our family during our transition stage
  • Great new house that is slowly becoming a home
  • Reliable mail service that carries greetings from afar
  • A beautiful new (free) kitchen (about 2 years ahead of schedule) 
  • Air travel that gets us, and our friends and family quickly between PA and FL
  • Involvement in a church that speaks truth, in love
  • Sleepy's involvement in an internship at the above mentioned church 
  • Happy's success at the Hershey Laundry volunteer program
  • Doc's move "home" to sunny Florida
  • Dopey's new job
  • Sneezy's job at a local day care
  • Happy landing a position on the high school JV soccer team as second goalie
  • Bashful entering the technology program and competing in districts
  • Sneezy's acceptance at the local college for the second half of her  academic senior year
  • Sleepy's success in the competitive portion of the JROTC, Raiders 
  • The excitement of adding another son to the family through Doc's engagement 
  • Happy, Bashful and Grumpy's rediscovered love of fishing.
  • Sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine
  • Being 30 minutes tops from the beach by car
  • Manna from heaven that stocked our pantry
  • Technology that affords us the ability to keep in touch with our family and friends with ease
  • Friends, family and more friends that continue to gather around our 12 foot table, even though we moved it 1100 miles
  •  New relationships growing and forming for all family members
  • God's sufficient  provisions - for just what we need, when we need it
We are yet again humbled, for the gift of each and everyone in our lives, for the imprint that you leave on our hearts and minds.  Never do we want to take for granted the hard work, the shared tears, the many laughs, nor for your investment of time in our lives through sharing, teaching, and multitudes of prayer. 

May you and your family be blessed as we enter into this new year!  Take joy in the knowledge that trials are to grow us,  not break us.  Opportunities to serve others before ourselves are available at every turn in the road.  The manner in which you have impacted our family is significant and meaningful.  Wishing you and yours the very best for a healthy, happy New Year!