Thursday, April 30, 2009

Then and Now

I recently took a parenting style quiz on facebook. You know, one of those really statistically correct quizzes that anyone with a facebook account can create and post. Truth is, I seem to have this facebook quiz sickness. I Love these quizzes! I was taking three quizzes a day! I cut back to 2, then it's just a couple a week. Cody tells me I need to go to facebook rehab. He is probably right. Anyway, I have been indulging myself this week with parenting style quizes. Today I took one i hadn't taken yet. The result of this test? I was crunchy. You know..because that is how we always categorize parents..

As I was taking this particular quiz, I realized that one of the reasons I enjoy these things is because it allows me to reminisce on our earlier parenting years. The questions tend to be geared toward earlier childhood, and I answer as I remember...and then I get results like "you lean towards attachment parenting and even consider homeschooling" You see, the fact that we are on year 11 or something of learning at home is irrelevant.
So this quiz got me thinking about the differences in our lives between then (when my children were pre-school/early elementary aged) and now (when they are teens and young adults). I have created a short list of the comparisons I have come up with.

Then: Family bed
Now: Family hot tub

Then: Dinner at the table. I tried to teach the boys to sit and not stand.
Now: Dinner on the back deck. I try to keep the conversations rated P.G..and not gross.

Then: Before dinner the boys helped me cook
Now: The first one home starts dinner. The other boys help Brian fix cars, transmissions, something.

Then: We watched Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together.
Now: We watch David Letterman and Lost together.

Then: I stayed home for a decade so we could have the gift of time and a wealth of shared experiences.
Now: We all explore different work, trades and interests. We share our experiences with each other.

Then: Legos took over my floor, stuffed animals occupied our couch seats.
Now: Rock Band and "projects" occupy my floor, guitars occupy our couch seats.

Then: I read to the boys every day.
Now: We discuss what we are reading often.

Then: Their imaginations ran wild. They made stone soup, dug oil wells, and turned my living room into a jungle.
Now: Their imaginations run wild. Today they squished our dog between cushions and made a "Shadow Sandwich" (Shadow is the dog's name). Next, Austen turned the sandwich into a train. Shadow, by the way, thought she was in heaven.

So there you have it. The difference between then and now?

Not much.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ramblings from home

I am listening to Ta'ayush as he/she? chirps from her cage. The laundry is still going, Austen is reading Plato's Republic (for co-op next week) and Cody is filling out forms for his 1st job at Flying L Water-Park. Yay Cody! Rumor has it that this kind man is hiring Cody with the understanding that Cody will be leaving for a week in May and a week in July. This gentleman is also willing to accomodate Cody's soccer schedule when needed. What more can Cody ask for? Brian and Angee are getting ready for Prom. It is Angee's senior year..and Brian's one and only Prom. (He skipped the one at TAMS last year..he and Angee were speaking at a dental conference that weekend). There you have it. A summary of last weeks highlights. Now the not-so-exciting details.
It is the week following both the Passover and Easter. We were pretty busy last week preparing for and enjoying family/friends for both occasions.

Here are some plants I purchased...they are Austen's "National
Youth Gathering" fundraising plants. The ELCA holds a national youth gathering every 4 years. This summer it will be in New Orleans..with the theme being "Jesus, Justice (compassionate justice) and Jazz". I hope that at a time in our culture when many confuse vengance with justice, some youth will become more aware of what compassionate justice can look like. The kids will spend each day with study, worship, service (New Orleans still needs a LOT of help) and really good jazz. So..these plants..both on my porch (above) and my deck (below) are my contribution to this trip. I hope I don't kill the plants too soon!

We did have one unexpected surprise on Easter morning. It was
the beginning of Austen and the Case of the Mysterious Rash. Austen woke up with his eyes swollen, face and neck red. We assumed he had gotten into poison something or other. There are 180 acres in this sub-division..and he had been playing in all 180 acres the day before. We gave him some Benadryl, covered him in Calamine..and with all the sympathy in the world..asked him to straighten the living room while the rest of us left for church. He grinned and said, "Oohhh.."
The rest of the day was pretty routine. Guests came, we had confetti wars, eater egg hunt (and I found a snake!), kids played in the river..and Austen ran around covered in calamine. The family simply refered to him as "the phantom" "Phantom of the Opera". That evening he seemed to be getting worse. Aunt Sandy thinks he has eaten something...but what? We go through his diet for the past few days.."did you eat the 'mortar' at Passover? The cranberry Sauce?" "No.", he replies, "Aunt Barbara told me everything that had berries."(austen is extremely allergic to berries) . We give him more Benadryl and have him soak in an oatmeal bath.
The next day he wakes up worse! We decide it must be some fried apple pies he ate. After never know what they put in those things..there must have been some berries. The doctor concurs. Austen receives a shot, prescription allergy stuff, etc. We decide since Austen is not contagious he can go to the water-park with the rest of the co-op kids.Yes..the same water-park Cody is at today. Mistake. By evening, Austen is miserable!
We keep him home Tuesday. He gets worse. We return to doctor yesterday..not a clue! She is concerned..we up Austen's steroids, and they send him to the lab for blood work...and then it happens. Austen has a seizure.
It has been almost 2 years since Austen has had a seizure. He has been off of anti-convulsants for 4 months now..he has been daring to dream of possibilities in these past 4 months ..pilot license, drivers-license, etc.. possibilities that he would only whisper of before. Maybe he can be a missionary pilot? An airforce chaplain?
Austen seizes with the needle in his arm. We all realize how disappointing this will be for the nurse takes the needle out of his arm (while he is still out), a single tear falls down her face. Austen awakes..a tear falls down his face. They look at eachother and she gives him a hug. "It's", she says."I'm so sorry." It is understood that she is not apologizing for needle in arm..she means the dreams, the hopes, etc. Right then and there my heart is one of those "outside heart" moments that my friend Carol just wrote about in her blog at Here is a link.
In the past Austen's triggers have always been needles, lights and lack of sleep. Now we know those triggers are still there. We go back to the doctor tomorrow to see what happens next. In the meantime they continue giving him meds to ease the discomfort of this ever-spreading rash and contact his nurologist about the seizure. Austen is in much better spirits today..and says, "Well I can still run a cyber-cafe..or be president" (grin). My mommy heart is full of pride for the resilience and humor of this precious child. My youngest son..who is (gasp) almost 15 now?
I continue working at the Club. We seem to have an extra amount of angry/hurting kids this Spring. I try to feed them, play with them, listen to them (and their families) and just be there. We are in the midst of developing a mentoring program. Hopefully we will have this in full swing by we can have one adult(volunteer or staff) consistently developing healthy relationships with 4-5 Club kids over the course of a year. As a staff team, we have decided that this (meaningful relationships) is the best gift we can give these kids for the long-run. So..if anyone is interested in donating 2 hours a week for a year....let me know:)
All for now.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Message for Holy Week

Counter the loneliness, poverty, despair and frustration in the lives of those we
meet everyday. Help bring dignity and respect to all in your daily interactions. How? By modeling a life of agape love. It is simple, really.




Monday, April 06, 2009

16th Birthday!

16. Cody is 16! I feel very bitter-sweet about this. He, however, is so impressed..can't you tell? Actually..this was after a pretty long day. New drivers license (yay..yikes..both), lots of errands to run (by himself!) for mom,

usual co-op craziness at the house

and applying for a job. It wore him out!

I'm afraid that Brian and I have to take some ownership for Cody's lack of enthusiasm. We realized the other day that we had been out-of-town for his last 5 least.
The significance of this started to hit me the other day when I asked him What do you want to do for your birthday?
What do you mean? he asks.
Me: Your you want to do something? He has to be kidding, I think. After all, his brothers always have ideas..and we follow up on them! Have we really ignored him this long?
Cody: I have no idea what you are talking about.

Now don't get me wrong. We acknowledge his birthday. It's just happened to hit on the weekend of the OM state finals for the past several years. We have been sleeping at a Boys and Girls Club with about 13-25 other kids these past years. We sing him a song (all the kids over breakfast), we give him a present..and when we get home pick up an ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen. We ask him if he wants to do anything. He shrugs his shoulders.

We didn't always neglect him! The first year we took him on the road for his birthday..we were returning from St. Louis..we drove through Arkansas and spent the day at the diamond mines..per his request. Another year we took his entire OM team ice-skating in Houston...but then we sort-of just stopped. One year led to another..and then here we are. I have a 16 year old son who has no idea how to celebrate his own birthday.

Michael brings home a cake..Cody is busy playing with his GPS. Cody..I tell him as the VanBibbers and our family gather around his cake. You need to come join us.

Huh? You need to come join the party.
What are you talking about?
At the table Cody. You need to join us at the table. He looks at
me as if I'm nuts..and is studying his cake carefully. I have no
doubt he is inspecting it for strange ingredients. (you know..
chocolate, nuts, etc.)

Next comes presents. Has it really been that long since we actually
wrapped a birthday presents. Once again, I know his brothers
receive numerous wrapped presents every year. Cody has been
to parties with wrapped presents. But have we wrapped Cody's
birthday presents? Yikes. My guilt increases. He looks at the
present very cautiously. I think he is wondering if this is a trap!
Finally, Mason and Austen persuade him to OPEN THE PRESENT! tricks! Just some speakers for the computer. I guess the cards from grandparents and unwrapped stuff from his parents didn't have that element of fear. Now I really want him to do
something for his birthday. I want to do this for no other reason than Cody has unintentionally reminded me how long it has been since we really celebrated his birthday. Okay..never..because he doesn't like large groups of people. Still..I must try. After he plugs in speakers, hangs out in the hot-tub and helps me with some pictures..I ask him again if he would like to get together with anyone for his birthday...even if we do it late.

How about the movies, I ask. blank stare We could have a big party, I try again.. another blank stare
What if I invite your old OM team (the Cody's words) and your current OM team (now we are hitting familiar territory). They can just hang-out in the river and we'll make Sundaes or something.
I see/ hear a pause. A smile. That would be nice.