Saturday, November 22, 2008

Extended Parenting

Yesterday we were talking about empty nest. We have friends who have two kids. Their kids were born about fifteen months apart. It is taking them nineteen years to go from birth to having both kids out of high school and launched into college.

We've had kids at home for 29 1/2 years and we still have about 5 more years to go if they leave after high school. I can't imagine what life will be like without the stimulation of another generation in my house. I suppose if I had really nasty teenagers it would be different, but I've been fortunate to have really great teenagers.

I think I'll take the loud garage bands, the crazy schedules, the messy rooms, the dirty socks under the couch, and the midnight calls to see if they can stay out a bit longer without quite so much complaining. All too soon this house will be more quiet than I like.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why are they called garage bands?

Tim has three friends here to start a band. It is not bluegrass.

I'm really enjoying it but I understand now why high school rock bands are called garage bands. They are loud enough that they have to be in the garage in order to hear the phone or have a conversation or hear yourself think. I gave them ear protection, but it was working too well for them. They did fine with the music but they couldn't hear each other talk between songs.

I was hoping the Beyond Consequences book would arrive today and I'd have something to post from that, but no such luck. I guess I'll take my Newsweek and Sojourners and Geez magazines upstairs and see if it's possible to read a little farther from the band.

They really do sound pretty good. But very large amplifiers in a small livingroom make for a high decibel sound.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Parenting help

I heard recently about a book called, "Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control". It is a parenting book. It is for anyone, but it was written by an adoptive mom.

I've been to the website and there is a lot of good stuff there. It is about a different paradigm for parenting. I can understand it, but it is definitely not second nature to me---at least not yet.

The idea is that every time a child behaves in ways that are not helpful or safe or respectful, etc., they are acting out of a state of anxiety or out of some other need. Kids who are happy and feeling good and loved and safe and confident generally are pretty much fun to be around.

So---the response to behaviors that are frustrating has to be on the level of lowering their stress and anxiety. If you come to a child who is angry and acting out and your response is to give them a consequence, you raise their level of stress and lower their ability to calm themselves or relate to you. And when a child is highly stressed, or upset, or anxious, their ability to learn is compromised.

It is the "soft answer that turns away wrath" approach.

It doesn't mean you give them everything they want, or that you let them run all over you. It does mean that you see behavior as an indicator of stress, rather than as an indicator of defiance or disrespect.

I'm not describing it as well as I wish I could. At the website there is a link for free stuff. There are several mp3 downloads that do a better job than I can of explaining it. But I like the premise, and I think it can help me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music again

Luke crawled over to the piano the other day. He grabbed the piano leg on the bass end of the piano and stood up. That was clearly not where he wanted to be. He wanted to be where the white keys were. He moved over and began to press keys. Tim got the camera and took this shaky video. Don't get dizzy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


The other day I heard a very short story about violence increasing in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I didn't get to hear much, but my interest was high because of a recent book I found in our church library.

"Left to Tell" is not for the faint-hearted. It is the story of a woman who survived the Rwandan crisis. Immaculée Ilibagiza did not know she was a Tutsi until she was well into her primary school education. During her college years, the Hutu war against the Tutsi people exploded. Of her immediate family, only she and a brother survived. She lost both parents and three brothers, as well as most of her extended family.

Currently Congo is suffering even worse violence, especially violence against women and children. I had NPR on this morning and the Diane Rehm show did an hour about this crisis. If you want to hear it, you can listen here.

At the end of the show they quickly said that there are things we can do. "Raise Hope for Congo" has a sample letter you can send to your senator and representative, and there is a petition to sign for the President. I already went and sent the letters and signed the petition. Raise Hope for Congo also has a lot of information, if you want to explore the site.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

KMEA Honor Band

I don't have much time to say anything of substance, but, yesterday Tim had to audition for Kansas Music Educators Association. He had signed up a month or so ago at school, but he no longer wanted to do it. It was another Saturday morning commitment, and he is tired of being busy every Saturday morning. Also he hasn't had as much time as he wanted to practice. He didn't feel good about his high school wind ensemble audition earlier this week and did not look forward to giving another audition he wasn't proud of.

However he was quite proud late last evening when he got the email from his Band instructor that he made Honor Band. Unfortunately that will likely mean another Saturday morning commitment, but it is quite an "honor".

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Historical Election

The election of Obama has been good news at our house. But aside from the strong belief that we chose the best person for the job, the added aspect of race has meant more to me than I thought it would. This is one time I am glad that I am past fifty, and wouldn't mind being even older.

I watched the end of the election results, and actually turned on the tv only about a half hour or so before they announced the winner. We stayed up to hear both speeches, and that was really what got to me. I remember Viet Nam. I remember civil rights in the 60's.

At Obama's speech, Jesse Jackson stood close to the front, and the tears ran down his face throughout the entire speech. I am old enough to remember that Jesse Jackson was there on the balcony when Martin Luther King Jr was shot. I remember both his runs for presidency, and I remember how completely impossible it seemed that he could believe there was any possibility of him winning. It was a different time.

Jackson was from the same era as Rev. Wright. He had the same reasons for anger and activism as Rev. Wright. Besides people being afraid of having an African American as president, people were also afraid of Jackson's activism.

But times have changed. A new generation has grown up with some improvements over the things Jackson and MLK and Wright had to live through. Not enough improvements to make things just or equal yet, but enough to make it possible for Barak Obama to convince a majority of this country that he is the best candidate for this job, enough for him to be able to speak about race without frightening the majority of voters.

Anyway, it was very moving for me to see Jesse Jackson watch Barak Obama's acceptance speech. What a night.

* * * * * * * *

And tonight is historical also, but only at our house. Ben helped me switch my laptop over to linux and also to add linux to our desktop. We are busy trying things out and setting up our personal accounts, learning how to do things the new way. Obviously blogging still works fine.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Dance

Let me introduce my daughter, Wesilla Washington, who is nothing like Sarah Palin, and who is adamantly for Obama, and who has the nerve to dress like this for the middle school Halloween dance.

Wesilla's teachers thought Wesilla was pretty, and pretty scary.

Also last week Luke discovered the ukelele, and to my surprise, understood right away that instead of banging it, like he does any other toy, this thing was meant to be plucked.


The kids and my parents were here tonight to roast hot dogs and hang out. It is so good to spend a relaxing evening together.