Friday, November 30, 2007

Good week at school

Only 1 phone call from school this week! Woohoo!

Most parents would not consider just one phone call from the school for the week a great success, but Rich and I are not most parents.

Our son has been in special education classes since second grade, starting with self contained classes to off-site day treatment centers. He began his seventh grade year in regular LD classes, changes classes each period and has a regular education Physical Education/Health class. In the special education classes he has been in since first grade, he did not regularly receive homework, did not have to be responsible for changing classes, and was not required to make sure all his needed supplies were with him.

The move to public school LD classes has been a huge jump and there have been many growing (and groaning) pains. But, we feel this is a necessity if we are to achieve the goal of making David a man who takes responsibility for himself. David does have some accommodations due to his disabilities, but he seems to finally be catching on. He has had a one-on-one for the last several weeks that helps to ensure that we are aware of homework that needs to be completed. She also reminds him when he is losing focus or getting off-task. We wanted this in place to get him up to speed with what all the other students have learned as they have progressed from grade to grade for the past six years. We do not plan on this being a long term necessity.

Yes, he still finds homework a pain and will try to think up ways to get out of it, but will presently get down to business and complete it. He is doing so well in science that when he returns to school after the Christmas break the school is planning on placing him in a regular education hands-on science class! We know that there will be more battles and issues ahead, but weeks like this help us to know that all our work is having some impact.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

It has been a couple of years since I have seen "A Charlie Brown Christmas," but watching it tonight was like visiting with an old friend. Before the days of DVDs or video tapes you had watch it when the network decided (usually only once or twice during the season.) I think this made us appreciate these gems more than this generation of children, who have so much at their fingertips. (Or should I say remote control?) I remember checking the television listing to make sure we didn't miss this classic, waiting all day anticipating and finally the joy of snuggling up only to have the show end way too soon.

I find I still love this wonderfully politically incorrect movie. As Charlie Brown searches for the true meaning of Christmas he throws himself into the Christmas play—Oh no! shouldn't that be the holiday play. Charlie Brown finally finds the true meaning of Christmas as explained by Linus and he actually uses the Biblical account from Luke 2:8-14. I pray that each of you, like Charlie Brown will find the true meaning of Christmas as explained by Linus in this video:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Cards: To Send or Not To Send

After a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend I now turn my attention to the Christmas season. Over the weekend I prepared our Christmas cards, which I like to send or deliver shortly after Thanksgiving. I was disappointed to find out that many no longer send out cards. The reasons given are usually "I'm too busy" or "it's too expensive." I remember as a child the excitement of checking the mailbox each day to see what long-lost friend or family member sent their love in these wonderful cards. So much of their personality was reflected in the cards they chose.

Call me old fashioned, but I take great care in choosing my cards and am actually sending more out this year than in years past. Some we will deliver by hand and others we will drop in the mailbox, sending our love across the country. As I prepare each card I pray for that person or family. Over the last two years our family has experienced many challenges and God has brought many new people in our lives that we are so thankful for. They have become family to us. We can never express to these people what they have done for us just by their friendship, so the price of a card and stamp is not too much to spend on them. I also use our cards as a witnessing tool for those loved ones who don't know the true meaning of the holiday season—the sending of God's one and only Son to become the bearer of our sins. As Christians we often complain about what "the world" has done to Christmas, but I think that we have a hand in it when we are out buying what the latest ad says we need instead of being the salt and light of the world.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give Thanks

David enjoying the leaves
David enjoying the fall leaves

Today as our nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving I reflect on how far we have gone from the original purpose and meaning. Today we gorge ourselves so that we can barely move, while we can't miss the game on television, then scour the ads to see what we can buy the next day. This is a far cry from the orginal Thanksgiving when in 1621 after a winter of starvation the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were joined by the Wampanoags for three days to distribute food from the harvest and to celebrate. The first proclaimed day of Thanksgiving was in 1623 after improvements in prospects for this still struggling colony. This was a day of prayer and not feasting. After the American Revolution the first national Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed on November 26, 1789 by George Washington.

It is important that we acknowledge the true meaning of this uniquely American holiday. One of the praise choruses I love is Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
Give thanks to the Holy One;
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, His Son.

And now let the weak say, "I am strong;"
Let the poor say, "I am rich."
because of what the Lord has done for us.

Give thanks!

This should be a day about God and not us, so take time and reflect on those who have come before us and endured hardships and sacrifices that we could never imagine. Take time to thank God for what we do have, not what we don't have from the latest ads. And give our children a sense of who we are as a nation and people. There is much to be thankful for.

The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cooking For The Future

While reading From Emotions to Advocacy, I was convicted about the need to make both short term and long term goals for our son. One of our goals is to teach him the ability to plan and prepare meals. He has helped us with menu suggestions and some of the cooking. However he has never had to pick the menu, check the supplies, shop for the missing supplies and do all the needed prep and cooking of the meal. This weekend we decided to have him cook a meal on Saturdays—with all the steps. With some help from Mom and Dad this meal was a great success. David made Provolone Burgers and they were wonderful.

We found that this was good timing, since Disney's "Ratatouille" about a rat chef has just been released. He is enjoying the smells of the different spices that are added to create new tastes and smells. David even helped Dad the following day to make homemade spaghetti!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Trip To Holland

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disablility—to try to help people who have not shared this unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this:

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip—to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean Holland? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guidebooks. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say "Yes, that's where I suppose to go. That's what I had planned." And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.

As a parent of a special needs child this poem touches the very core of my soul. I have met some amazing people due to my trip to "Holland." People I would never have met if not due to my son's needs and I would not have changed my missed flight to Italy for anything.