Saturday, July 25, 2009

She's Taken Over the Living Room!

We've now entered what we hope to be our last round of serial casting with our youngest daughter, Nappy. Born with a muscle/joint disorder called arthrogryposis, Nappy came to us with legs that were locked at 90-100 degree angles. They are now locked at about 40-degree angles and we're hoping after this round that they will have nearly normal flexibility. Previously, we've casted one leg at a time, however, time is marching on and she's getting older. We decided to do both legs at once. This means 5-7 weeks of her wearing two full-leg casts. Very limited mobility to say the least.

I decided right off the bat that our house would have to go. However, somehow that didn't happen. I decided that, too, when Swim Girl was in a body cast after hip surgery. Even when glorified by additions and basement finishing, a cape cod is anything but friendly to the mobility impaired. Somehow the economy has not agreed with me, so here we are, once again, with a child in too much cast, and a house with 4 staircases. In light of that, we moved Nappy's bed down to the living room, as well as her clothing, her special drawer full of treasures, and to cap it all off, her toothbrush and tooth-brushing cup.

How has she dealt with this all?

"You got me a new bedroom!"

"No, Nappy. This is just the living room with your bed against the wall. It's only your bedroom at night."

"Right. Okay, everyone out of the living room because it's my bedroom and I need time to myself."

Sigh. That went on the first day. Then there was the desk controversy. She decided that our piano bench was actually perfect to be her "desk" when sitting on her bed.

"You can do that when no one needs it for the piano." I told her. That was a mistake.

The following afternoon Green Bottle Boy wanted to play the piano. First he stood as he played, which, of course, didn't work. Let me take a moment here to interject that as a parent who has 5 kids studying piano, I was so glad that he finally realized that it doesn't work to play the piano standing up. For years I've had to specify to my children that you have to sit in order to play the piano. They have never believed me. So, this was a great victory for me, but then Nappy interrupted it all.

"You don't need the bench," She told GBB, "Just stand. This is my desk."

"Nappy," I said, "He needs the bench."

"Mom! He's just playing the piano. He doesn't NEEEEEED the bench. He just wants the bench. I need it to be my desk."

She lost and I won. However, then she was on to her next thing. Entertainment. Her current schedule is "Cinderella" in the morning, and then "Elmo" in the afternoon. I told her we would relax our television rules while she was in her casts, and some friends nicely lent us a little DVD player she can watch from her bed. That takes several hours out of the day. She's also been playing with her toys, sometimes on the floor, sometimes on her bed and sometimes at the kitchen table. Apparently, though it's getting old.

"Mom," she told me yesterday, "I just don't have a lot of toys that I love."

"You have plenty of toys." I responded.

"Not that I love...." she looked pained. "I think there's a solution. I saw a store when we were in the car. It said "Toys R Us". It's a store that sells toys. If you take me there then I will find lots of toys that I can love."

There are advantages and disadvantages to a child teaching themselves how to read when they are 5 years old! Lawyer/Social Advocate Boy did this, too, when he was 3. It was when he was 5 that we were driving through Gary, Indiana and he innocently asked us, "What's a showgirl?" Their world just gets much bigger once they can read.

So I explained to her that just because she read it, we weren't going there. The last thing I need is more toys in this house!

All in all, she's handling it well. I'm tired, and I'm not looking forward to all the appointments. I am, however looking forward to her walking!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Homeless in Cincinnati

The number of homeless in Cincinnati has been on the rise, as it has nationwide, and council members and county commissions are, apparently, quite put-out by it all.

“It’s clearly unacceptable for it to be used this way,” Pepper (Hamilton County Commissioner) told The Enquirer [in reference to the homeless sleeping at the courthouse] . “The building needs to be clean and safe and perceived that way.”


Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. These are people, fellow human beings, and need to be shown a better way to live."

Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. These are my fellow human beings and are, obviously, the ones suffering in the most challenging ways due to the current economic conditions."

Not: "It's clearly unacceptable for it to be this way. Obviously we need to be seeking new ways to help these people live in a healthy manner."

Nope. He just doesn't want to trip over them.

However, he's a step behind Council member Jeff Berding. While I'm far from an expert on homelessness, I had to laugh at the obvious stupidity of a recent motion initiated by this amusing council member.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, "Cincinnati panhandlers would have to pay a fee to register, pay earnings tax on their collections and toss their hand-written “Please Help” signs under a plan to be proposed next month.

Saying panhandling is as much of a business as, say, selling hot dogs, Councilman Jeff Berding is working on a plan he says will help make the city more appealing to residents and tourists. The plan also would require panhandlers, including those who walk up to people and those who sit holding their signs, to carry a standard sign issued by the city. That sign would say how much money the city has approved for agencies that help homeless people – more than $11 million this year, Berding said."

Now, I could use this opportunity to point out that it must be true that Democrats always think taxes solve problems. But I won't make that joke.

Berding, who has probably offended hot dog and water vendors around the city, claims that this will force the homeless to access the legitimate services that the city offers, however, I think we all know what it will do. It will push the homeless out of the city and then Pepper and Berding will no longer need to deal with them.

I'm not advocating a pitying attitude toward the homeless that enables them to continue to live in an unhealthy manner and place other citizens at various risks. However, how in the world are you going to get a 60+ year old mentally ill substance abuser to actually register with the county, obtain a license.... what, are they supposed to file self-employment tax too? Where do they keep their paperwork? I'm sure the police and courts are going to love all the additional work, as will the social workers who have to try to walk them through the process of getting a license. The 2% tax won't even pay for the costs of trying to administer this idea.

Recently a list was created that listed the 10 worst cities in which to be homeless. These cities are known for having the cruelest policies towards homelessness (which, to be noted, doesn't decrease homelessness). Cincinnati didn't make that list. Give it time, though.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Flies, Flies Everywhere, and Nary a Bite of Chicken to Eat

Our Suburban farm is growing. Our sunflowers are now towering over our heads, we've become zucchini and cucumber gluttons, and our corn is germinating even as I type. Our ducks and chickens now have free range of our backyard, meaning the garage door is always closed so they don't poop in there, and I am awakened each dawn to the sound of maniacal duck laughter. Ahhh. Farm life. There is a catch, though.

Flies! Agh! They are just terrible. I think that there is a colony of about 20,00 flies that has set up in our yard and that perhaps their collective intelligence is evolving. At first, I just sent Green Bottle Boy out there with a fly swatter. That entertained him for hours and killed hundreds of flies. Then he went to camp and all hell broke lose. Or should I say the flies began to multiple like rabbits? They were everywhere, especially in our duck pen. I cleaned out our duck pen, sprayed the entire area and hung fly strips around it like garlic hung to ward off vampires. So, did the flies die? No. They moved. I swear, they just up and moved their operation to my garden. Well, I can't spray there, so I hung up fly strips. They moved again. This time to my neighbor's garage. In response, we bought them a house warming gift: fly spray. I think they were appreciative. I'm trying to force the flies back to the woods, but haven't had much luck. They love poop, and, well, with 6 chickens, 7 ducks and 2 dogs, we have a lot of that around here.

Our dogs, though, have been an interesting problem. Last week we let them out, accidentally, while the ducks were out. Hydro ran down the steps and immediately began barking. My dog translator tells me he was saying, "Hey! Mom, Dad, the ducks are out! Hey! Mom! Dad! The ducks are out!" Sammy, our Border Collie, went into full sprint when she saw them out, and then stopped, only to bark at Hydro. I swear, she was barking, "Stupid! Shut your mouth and chase! Stupid! Shut your mouth and chase!" We brought the dogs inside and disaster was averted. Sammy looked at Hydro with great annoyance and disgust for the rest of the day. In dog world, Hydro became the equivalent of the child who raises their hand in class and says, "Teacher! You forgot to assign us homework!"

Earlier this week I decided that all the animals needed to live at peace with each other and the dogs would just have to learn to share the yard with the birds as the birds are simply too big to keep in a coop. We brought the dogs out on lead, so we could catch them and control them if need be.

Hydro's reaction was to pee on the duck pool. Of course.

Sammy, however, saw all the birds, whimpered and ran back up the deck to the door. She refused to come down.

"She knows she wants to eat them," My insightful husband noted, "So she won't come out."

Wow. Preemptive guilt. I wish I had that.

I dragged her down into the grass, and told her to 'hurry'. That works with Hydro as he was trained to pee on command. It doesn't work with Sammy. She just looks at you with a look that usually only a home schooled child could give. That look that says, "I just don't pee on command. I'm not like a school kid. There are no communal bathroom breaks in my day."

So we stood there, Sammy and I, in the grass, as Sammy cried. I dragged her deeper into the yard. She began to drool. I undid the leash and slowly she slunk back to the deck.

The next day, she was out and someone let out the chickens. Before we could stop her she chased them into the corner of the yard. Then a funny thing happened. She didn't take a bite. She simply chased them and jumped around, in a sort of primal chicken dance. It was at this point I realized that she didn't want to eat the chickens, she simply wanted to mess with their brains.

I love my dog.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy (Sort of) 4Th of July

Usually, I like the 4th of July. Our family has a slew of holidays and birthdays running from October through the end of May, and I get incredibly bogged down in celebrations. Then there's a break, and we have the 4th of July. There's not a set of expectations with this holiday unless you count hot dogs and sparklers, and the possibility of a fireworks display, so there's little planning on my part. We simply get a day off to celebrate our incredible freedom. Increasingly, though, I have a harder time celebrating something that is so precious, and treated in a manner so disrespectfully.

I'm thankful for the people who have protected my freedom, but at the same time, I'm angered by the unncessary use of our military around the world, as political leaders deem imperialistic dalliances as the defense of freedom. I'm angered by the loss of life by our soliders and innocent civilians as we fight a war that we cannot even agree as to what would define the end, and that could very well produce a government just as evil as the one overthrown.

I'm thankful for my comfortable home, nice paved streets and the ease in which I can live out my life. Yet I'm totally embarassed by our national trash output, greedy use of resources, and, especially people's defense of our gluttonous lifestyles. I'm even more embarassed when I hear people speak of those things as "God's blessings" on us, without even questioning if it's truly God's blessing or just a national movement to take advantage of those less fortunate.

I'm thankful for my freedom of speech, and yet embarassed that my fellow citizens use that speech to promote pornography, stupidity and cirular thinking. I'm also embarassed when my fellow believers choose to use that freedom to spread hate or American Civic Religion rather than the love of Christ.

I'm thankful that even during a recession my fellow citizens still have access to food, shelter and education. I'm embarassed and frustrated that many of them still don't understand the need for solid local government and services and the need to take care of each other.

I'm thankful for the freedom of religion that allows me to write and read the writings of Christians from around the world. I am completely embarrassed to be a part of a movement, though, that abuses that freedom by profiting from it by marketing cheap romance novels, knock-off fiction, and bumper stickers as ridiculous as Christian Pirate Bumper Stickers.

I'm thankful for the Americans that have come before and fought against the injustices of their day and worked to make this nation more Godly. I'm embarrassed by the people who have glossed over the tremendous sins of our history and tried to manipulate us into a theocracy that fits their needs.

Perhaps there will once again come a time when I can fully enjoy the 4Th of July. Until then, I'll remind myself of the good that can come from our country, and the ways that God has redeemed the sins of our past. May He continue to heal our land.