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If you think this is about YOU, maybe you should go reconcile with your parent and work to get back your kids instead of continuing to be a jerk. If you think I am you, or similar to you, welcome! :-)

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, and How Are You Holding Up? Goals for the New Year

For purposes of common Society (with a capitial S), the Winter Holiday is almost finished. Most of us will breathe a sigh of relief that we lived through that!

I've only heard from one grandparent this Christmas, and we were able to settle the hash of that adult child mighty quickly, thanks to the intervention of child services and an attorney. I had my own little incident, but that was kept to the Internet and a county sheriff's office. So, Christmas stayed happy for us.

We've had a few accomplishments this year: Moved to a house that was much better for us, with public transportation, got some good test results for the kids, and I lost 18 pounds. A goal never hurts.

What are your goals for the coming year? Going to get on the weight loss trail with me? Better health through exercise? Fix the enclosed porch into a room for a grandchild? Draw up a better budget? Go to court and get this matter of custody settled once and for all?

These are all good goal ideas. But goals just don't happen. They need motivation, something to make us accomplish that goal. If we don't follow through, all we had was a wish, something we wanted and hoped we would would obtain. With motivation, w can move that wish into reality.

So, give your goal some motivation!
  • State your goal in obvious, concrete, solid words. Don't just say, "I will lose weight." How much weight? What method? Will simple dieting be enough, or will exercise be involved? What type? How often? 
  • Less is more with goals. If you have one or two resolutions you convert to goals, you're doing well. Don't overwhelm yourself with a pile of goals! 
  • Give yourself an end date. Let's use the example of the enclosed porch being converted to a bedroom. It needs to be finished by a due date. "Someday" is not a date due, but an excuse to putter. If you fritter too long, your grandchild will have spent the remainder of his or her childhood on your pullout sofabed. And if you are Grandpa, Grandma is going to get mighty tired mighty quickly of the mess you've made of the enclosed porch, when she could have converted it to a sewing room or a summer bedroom. So, the goal is, "I will complete converting the enclosed porch into a bedroom for Clarence no later than _________, 2012." 
  • Break your goal into "chewable" pieces. Most people don't pile everything from a meal into a sandwich and down it in one gulp without chewing it first. Break down your goal into what you have to do to reach it. Put it into segments, individual "mini-goals" of one to two lines each. Meeting the "mini-goals" along the way will be so much easier than trying to swallow your whole goal in one gulp (and it'll be a lot easier to digest).
  • Don't forget to factor in the cost of meeting your goal when you segment it. If you're losing weight, will you be doing that on your own? Weight Watchers? Atkins? Detox? How much is it going to set you back? Will different foods be involved? Can you take the money you spent on unhealthy foods and apply it to healthy choices? Are you finding a job? New clothes might be in order. Quitting smoking? Maybe you need nicotine gum or patches. The enclosed porch is going to require lumber, insulation, maybe a new window, maybe some new furniture, definitely paint, possibly drywall. Figure out how much you intend to pay for this, and where you plan to get the money for it. One of the fastest ways to kill a goal is not to fund it. 
  • If you need help, line it up now. Maybe you never set up your own business, but you have a friend who has. Maybe you've never hung drywall, but you know your adult godson has. Maybe you just need somebody to whom to be accountable on your weight loss journey, or an exercise buddy. Gather information, asks questions, ask for assistance- NOW.
  • Give your goal some reality NOW. Posters and lapbooks aren't just for children. Cut out some pictures from magazines, or print some pics off the Internet, or even draw your own illustrations. Spell out your main goal on a poster, in glitter, and put the mini-goals in metallic using gel pens. Take before and after photos, and print them out, either at the big-box store on professional paper, or at home using your own printer. Make your self a goal thermometer, or whizo-meter, that you can complete every time you meet a mini-goal. Have fun with this, and make it REAL to you.  
  • DON'T GIVE UP. Just because you had a setback doesn't mean you can just quit. What did you tell your now adult kid all these years about quitters, about starting over again? So you have to rehang the wall, or the woodwork looks a little uneven and has to be redone. So you gained a pound. It doesn't give you the luxury of throwing up your hands in despair and flopping your butt down in the La-Z-Boy.
Here's hoping your New Year's resolutions take on the sheen of accomplished goals through out the year! If you'd like to send me some of them, I'll be happy to post them here (anonymously of course, if that's your choice).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Giving Season- To Yourself, Others

'Tis the season to be giving! One of the first people to whom you need to give is yourself. Why? You are putting in hours you didn't think you'd ever commit to the care and feeding of children, that's why. This is especially true if you are over 65 and this is your first year of retread parenting.

For some ideas on how to conserve energy this holiday season, see my past blog post

Now then, Retread Parent, what makes you smile and relax? Give that to yourself, at least once this holiday season. What could it be? Only you know that, but here are some suggestions to get you started on that thought:
  • Can you afford some pampering? Look into senior prices at day spas and salons. Even one afternoon on your hair, or one really good massage, can really do a lot for your disposition.
  • Don't think you can afford a new hair-do or a massage? Search the Internet or your good old-fashioned Yellow Pages for schools of beauty culture, physical therapy and massage. I have a couple relatives who are now massage therapists, and just as beauty schools need real human heads for practice under the supervision of licensed professionals, ditto that for massage. Free or low prices, supervisions, students get practice, you get some pampering- What's not to like?
  • As a rule, it's impolite to tell people what you want for a gift. But if they ask, you could say, "Gee, ya know, with the kids and all, I haven't had time to think about it. I haven't had time to breathe! And just look at my hair! I love the kids dearly, but boy could I use something relaxing." You might get a foot massager, or a couple boxes of Clairol. You might also get gift certificate to someplace nice. You never know.

As for all those stressors that pop up more so for us who retread parent, here's some tips on reducing that stress:
  • STREAMLINE. It's not about how.  There is no crime in serving latkes purchased frozen, bakery goods, pre-chopped frozen items with which to prepare food (onions and green peppers come already diced and ready to use), grocery-store deli prepared meals; for that matter, no crime in eliminating traditions you don't like, activities that don't make sense to your schedule, or stuff it's just not worth it to do. You may not be able to travel to see your sister 1,500 miles away this year. Just as when you were young and might have missed Christmas at Mom and Dad's because you were now married, you have other responsibilities. 
  • DON'T WORRY BEFORE YOU HAVE TO WORRY: I know. It sounds weird. Worry on a schedule. When I first heard it from my late aunt, I thought she was crazy. But, if you use a schedule, paper or online, and book yourself some time to worry about stuff (the adult child in this mess, how you're going to make ends meet, what to serve for dinner), you will be surprised how much stress this takes out of your life.
  • SCHEDULE. Create a flexible holiday schedule, a list, what needs to be done and when.

Now let's work on gifts for others. 

Is money a problem? It can be a lot more of a problem for grandparents and others raising young relatives. What was possibly more than enough for you barely stretches to the next week, or worse. Yet, you want to be sure those little ones, even big arrogant teenage ones, have that bright light in their eyes come Christmas morning, or on the first night the menorah is lit. Here's some help with making sure your grandkids enjoy their holidays without breaking your bank account:
  • IT'S ABOUT TIME. Spread your money and time over the year. Create your own gift certificates, with the computer or your own art skills. A promise for a real movie at a theater with all the trimmings in April when you have more money, just the two of you, can be a real boost to your relationship with a sullen teen who misses her Mom. Other gift certificate ideas can include trips to the store, picnics, zoo trips, playground time, trips to the ceramic shop, popcorn and a rented (or free library) movie at home with you, a gourmet dinner or dinner of favorite foods. Use your imagination.
  • CAN YOU OR SOMEBODY ELSE MAKE IT? Yes, it's pretty easy to make dolls, block sets, t-shirts, fancy flip-flops, and some jewelry. There are web sites out there that can also remind you how to make bath salts, soaps, candies, cookies, and a host of other things. Google, google, google. If you have more time and energy than money, this might be a good idea. If you can't do it, can you trade your time to do something else for somebody else to do it? I can't knit or crotchet well. I do have a friend who is wonderful at both, but can't do her Christmas letter or cards. It's a good trade-off, a nice shawl for doing her cards, inserting a lovely Christmas letter in there. 
  • WATCH FOR SALES, eBAY, THRIFT STORES TO HAVE IT. No joke. I once got the most amazing rocking horse at Goodwill for a certain child who wanted one. The horse is large enough for an adult to ride. It was hand-crafted, and according to the embossed stamps on the rockers, had two previous owners. Online, I saw a similar horse for no less than $250. I paid $20 for the horse, and another $10 to spruce it up. There are not thousands, but millions, of gently-used items that you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between new and used. It's certainly a good way to acquire new family heirlooms!
  • FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT, THERE IS HELP. I've heard from grandparents who are broke, period. They've gotten the grandkids on DHS and Kidcare because that's all they can afford, not merely because of the kids' status. Free school breakfasts and lunches will be missed during the holiday break from school. Older folks such as us are losing our jobs. Toys, games and the unnecessary take a back seat to food, clothing and shelter. For these caregivers, I can only say ASK FOR HELP. It might be a little late for traditional assistance, such as Catholic Charities or Salvation Army, but start with your local house of worship. Ask your DHS case worker for any leads on this. Don't be so proud that your grandkids go hungry or cold. My prayers for all of you going through this. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where There's a Will...

While we are on the legalities, do you have a will? You certainly need one, whoever you are, but if you have custody of grandchildren, or you you've adopted your grandchildren, you need to make one. Yesterday.

BIG NOTE: I am NOT an attorney. I am a grandparent who has been raked over the coals by an adult child who, for whatever reasons, lost custody of her elder children to the Mister and me. We later adopted them.

There is a difference between a ward and a legal child. One of these differences is that the probate court, in most states, or the family court in others, gives you permission to be the guardian or custodian of your grandchildren. An adopted child is one's child just as much as that problem adult child who caused this problem in the first place. 

So if you die, according to my sources, you're no longer the guardian. It's hard to take care of kids from the Great Beyond. In some states, however, a standby guardian can be named by the current guardian. The alternative is an "interested person" stepping into the role, or worse, foster care, child protective services or your adult child who doesn't care for them as it is taking over the raising of your grandchildren.

If you have taken the step of adopting your grandchildren, and don't leave a will with a designated guardian, your next-of-kin is your spouse, and your adult children. Yes, that's right. If you don't examine your family situation, your grandchildren could go back to their now legal sibling. 

Then there is your Stuff. Even if you think you don't have much, there is bound to be something you don't want Junior or Lulabelle to have. Whether you are the guardian, custodian or legal parent of your grandchildren, you need to tell somebody responsible what to do with your Stuff. 

So give yourself a great Christmas present. GET A WILL, POWER OF ATTORNEY AND DESIGNATE IN WRITING WHO TAKES CARE OF YOU TODAY PER YOUR STATE'S LAW. And go see an attorney. Your situation is indeed complicated. 

And while you're taking care of the will, etc., then how about your insurance policies and safety deposit box? Is your adult child on any of these? Do you you need to make some changes? Get the forms and get busy. 

My cousin was 57 when he died this month, while on his way to work. Thank goodness his adult children are responsible people raising their own kids. But anybody can die at any time.

So, it's a really good idea to give those grandkids a cushion of protection. You've come this far. Get a will. Keep your important papers updated.

If nothing else, you'll get a certain joy from knowing that Junior or Lulabelle will have quite a jolt when you do pass!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Survival of the Strongest: Visitation

Well, well. The noncustodial adult children must be out in droves this Thanksgiving. Here I was thinking it was a quiet year, and I have THREE requests for information on noncustodial visitation during the holidays.

Always remember: I am NOT an attorney. I'm just another grandparent. If you need a lawyer, get the best one you can afford, and interview before you need one, to make sure you have the right fit. 

Let's start with manipulation techniques. If your noncustodial adult child shows up at your front door unexpectedly on a holiday, you are under NO, repeat NO obligation to allow him or her to enter your home. This is especially true if he or she shows up drunk, stoned or seems out to cause harm. If he or she shows up unexpected with another person or persons, a camera, recording equipment, etc., you are being set up. If you don't want him or her there, tell him or her politely to leave, close and lock the door. If he or she doesn't leave, call the police. Waste no further time on the situation. 

When the police come, show them a copy of your court order and anything else to prove to you have custody of the children (WIC coupons, DHS cards, insurance cards, grandkids' report cards, kids' doctor's records with your name, etc.). If you or one of the grandchildren was harmed in any way, insist on filing charges, especially if weapons or weapon substitutes (tire iron, sock of change, etc.) were drawn. You can't be a wimp at this point. The holiday has already been spoiled.

Don't scream unless you are being harmed and then wail as loud as you can. Call all the attention possible to yourself at the first sign of harm. Otherwise, keep your voice as calm as possible. SEND THE GRANDCHILDREN OUT OF THE ROOM, the farther away from the situation the better. It's no time to play in the back yard.  Upstairs, the basement, wherever is out of range of the situation is best. 
A variation on this drama is the Old Friend Bearing Gifts. He or she will come to your door, telling you some sad tale of your noncustodial adult child, who asked the friend to bring the kids a little gift. That's the gift in the paper bag. It could be anything from snack food to toys. The Old Friend promised to deliver it to the children in person, as your adult child has told the Old Friend that you will not give the kids the gift.

You are being set up. DON'T LET THE FRIEND COME IN. Thank him, tell her she can leave it outside on the doorstep if she wishes, or your adult child can always mail the package return receipt requested. If Old Friend insists, pushes on the door, etc., close the door and CALL THE POLICE. Again, BEFORE you open the door, send the grandkids to the farthest part of the house.

The kids are going to be wound up from this. They will perhaps caper and take advantage. They might also be quiet, sulk or even not want to talk about it. Tend to them first. 

If you have court-ordered visitation, start preparation early. If at all possible, back in the planning stages, please strongly suggest to your attorney that visitation take place in a neutral place, and that the court order supervision. If there is proof that Junior or Lulabelle abandoned or neglected the children, or if there is proof of drug use or alcohol abuse, it's not that much of a stretch to request supervised visitation. If there's a criminal record, you certainly don't want Junior or Lulabelle in your house, at least not now. 

A court-ordered supervisor is somebody the court appoints to go along on the visit. In some states, the noncustodial parent pays for a professional supervisor from a list at the courthouse; in others, it's part of the law enforcement system; still others, some relative or neutral friend volunteers. A paid professional is best. When your adult child has to pay for this, visits taper off quickly. Supervision isn't cheap when it isn't low income, often costing upwards of $25 a half hour. When low income and sliding scale services are used, there is usually a waiting list. Low income and sliding scale visitation is usually limited to an hour to two hours.

If this is an overnight visit, it's still a good idea to have the handoff and pickup in neutral territory. Why do you think the local malls and fast food places team with kids on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons? Some counties offer neutral exchange points without having to go to fast food places or malls. Too many don't.

Also on overnight visits, inventory what the kids will take with them before they leave. The fastest way is to whip out your cell phone and snap photos. When you have a free minute, email the pics to your addy. But do record what they take with them, on paper as a list, in a logbook with the date and time of transfer: Clothes, toys, even the baggage, cell phones if they have them.

Speaking of cell phones, it's not a bad idea that at least one of the kids has one. It doesn't have to be fancy, and it doesn't have to have Internet capability. They don't need to wave it for all to see, but you never know. 

Take somebody with you to the drop-off. Sometimes, local grandparents groups offer the services of their members to switch off with each other. Two can play at the witness game, and that's why you need that spare person, as a witness. It's actually better, if you are married or have a significant other, that ONE of you and an outside person perform drop-off and pickup. If your spouse or significant other is related to the grandkids, one of you can do drop-off with another person, and one of you can do pickup. Grandma and Grandpa together might make up a story. Grandma with Aunt Irma on drop-off, and Grandpa with Mr. Jones from the grandparents' group on pickup- much more believable.

If your noncustodial child shows up sober to take the kids, note the date and time, either on your cell as a memo or in a logbook. Note who came with you, where you performed the hand-off, who was with your adult child, and if possible the make, model and license tag number on the car. If it's a holiday, how about a photo at Junior's car, Grandma or Grandpa? Now you have a photo of the car.

Your adult child is drunk or stoned? Check with your witness to be sure you're not imagining this. Make it clear to the children and your adult child that you're sorry, this won't do, and IMMEDIATELY load up the kids and take off.  If your adult child pitches a hissy in public, or tries to take the children, CALL THE POLICE or have your witness call the police. Let them sort it out. You are within your rights as your grandchildren's custodian to insist your adult child be sober when driving your grandchildren. Don't go right home if your adult child knows where you live, unless you have an order of protection or some such.

This may or may not cause more paperwork for you later on. If you're fortunate, your adult child will just write it off. There may be child services at your door, who were told you simply refused to give the adult child the grandchildren. Again, you have a witness (as well as everybody in the public, neutral place). But to be sure, trouble or no, send your adult child a letter (not an email, a letter), return receipt requested. Be brief and businesslike in the letter. "Dear Lulabelle, I could not let you take the kids on December 24th, 2011, as Mrs. Jones and I observed you were weaving when walking and smelled of alcohol. The staff at the Hungry Tummy noticed this as well. I have informed my attorney of this. I love you, but my first duty is to make sure Jimmy, Janie and Johnny are safe when you drive. Mom." Bring up NOTHING from the past. No name calling! Stick to the facts at hand, and be sure you have a copy of the letter. DO inform your attorney as soon as possible.

If your adult child doesn't show up within a reasonable time frame to pick up the kids, take them home. Some courts will set a time limit for pickup, and some will not. But it's a safe bet that if Lulabelle hasn't called you after 30 minutes, she's not coming to get the kids. Take them home, deal with their disappointment, and send a letter simply stating the facts. "Dear Lulabelle, You did not arrive to pick up Janie, Jimmy and Johnny on Friday, November 25, 2011, at 5:00 PM per the visitation agreement. I waited with Emily Johnston until 5:35 PM for you to arrive. I then took the children home, having received no phone call from you. I tried to call you three times, and had no answer from you. Please check your court documents for your next visitation date and time." OR "Please contact my attorney to see about future visitation."

If your adult child doesn't return the children within FIFTEEN MINUTES of the time set by the court order or as agreed upon, call the police. If you get some rock-head law enforcement officer, who says, "Oh, you're the grandparent" remind them that you are the COURT APPOINTED GUARDIAN. Call your attorney, leave a message if you must, but make it clear you need help ASAP. Record everything. Call your adult child, every five minutes, asking as calmly as you can when the children will be returned, that you are waiting at the place you said you would be and expect his or her call ASAP. Hopefully, you will get the children back that evening. Your attorney will advise you what to do next.

Unless you have seen marked improvement in your adult child (see this story), it's not fair to set up a family holiday in your home as if things were back to normal. It's not fair to the grandchildren, and it's not fair to you and your extended family. Don't make promises you can't keep to the kids. Count the blessings you have, stay safe and have a wonderful time! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This says it all...

...Wow. That's all I can say.

When you feel as if it's YOUR fault your adult child has turned out as he or she has, read the following article. I know a lot of you will be hard-hit as the Holidays start this week. Read this, several times if you must. It's that good.


Sunday, November 6, 2011


In our new house, there are 17 stairs upstairs and 13 stairs to the basement. I know this because there is a bathroom upstairs, and a bathroom downstairs, but no bathroom on the main floor. 

It seems as we grow older, we go to the bathroom just a little more often. I can still "hold it" with the best of them, but oh the head seems so far away when I'm on stair #1!

I have to say, though, there are certain benefits to running up and down the stairs. I've lost 2 pounds that way, so far. 

We've also included sidewalks in our routine. Prior to moving to our area, we had roads. We lived at the point of a hairpin turn in the road. Nobody watched how they drove, so walking was squelched at home. Anything we wanted was only five miles away, on dirt roads. Now, we not only walk, but walk to get to the store, walk to get to church, walk to walk. 

I remember a time when people didn't pull the car out of the garage or driveway to get milk or bread. I remember a time when even adults walked to church of a Sunday. I remember when a walk around the block was considered an evening treat in the summer.

Other families with younger parents look at me strangely when I tell them we took public transportation and walked to gym class at the local park district. Some offered to drive us. I explained that it isn't just a matter of having one car right now. Exercise is good for kids, and good for everybody. The independence of putting one foot in front of the other and creating one's own transportation as well as exercise has benefits not found in driving from place to place.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In praise of Daddies- Let's pick' em right!

I know the Boomers didn't raise a collection of wimpy men who think the greatest achievement of their lives is to create life with the Girl-Of-The-Moment. I know because I see those young men, in their twenties, thirties and even early forties, who are dedicated to their children. 

I saw a couple just the other afternoon, at the skating rink we now attend. They were having a wonderful time with their kids, and other kids were wishing their male parents were like them.  

I saw them again in various neighborhoods walking the kids for trick or treat. Some wore costumes. All seemed to be having a good time, whether they actually were or not.

I don't think it's a matter of Society giving permission to all fathers to take off and see their offspring only when it's convenient to them. There are all these men out there doing a fabulous job of being husbands and fathers, without regard to credit for their good work. 

I think there are simply young women who aren't sure what qualities are found in a future husband. They are a minority, but they exist. First we, then our daughters, are picking slugs and lumps, punks, cads and losers. The Bad Boys might be very appealing when it comes to romance or perhaps aggravating the parents. It's the Good Boys, though, that you want when it's time to hopefully marry and make babies.

If that's harsh, remember that I have an ex-husband, and he is not my favorite person by a long shot. He was a very absent father, choosing to parent when it's convenient to him, then boo-hooing when things didn't go his way. He left us when my older kids were 4 and 3, giving our marriage a whopping 6 years when the ink dried on the divorce decree, gone long before than. In that time, he'd been unfaithful no less than 12 times, of which I have proof. He told me he wanted the divorce as I was drawing his bath. His excuse was that marriage was too confining, and he didn't think he'd really had the adolescence he required.

So, I've been there, done that, regretfully. 

This isn't really aimed at grandparents today, at least not in the sense of dealing with the adult children who've abdicated parenting. This is a preemptive strike, as it were, to attempt to prevent future generations from making the blunders that lead to baby-daddies, divorce court, dead beat dads, and really, the vicious cycle that has grandparents raising more grandchildren than at any time in history.

I am expecting mothers everywhere to tell their unmarried daughters, young and old, but even their married and divorced ones, or the ones with baby-daddies, that there is a method to the madness of choosing a spouse. The days of getting married right out of high school are long over, but making babies younger and younger is not.

Therefore, please young women, and mothers, be aware, of the following when choosing a bed partner, a boyfriend, or even a mate:
  • MEN ARE DIFFERENT. They are not harder versions of ourselves with bigger feet and less brains. They think differently than women.
  • MEN ACT DIFFERENTLY. Thank goodness! Yes, they tend to mature slowly in comparison with women, but women who want men really want them to be different. All the jokes on Facebook and YouTube, all the country songs about guys, they have a ring of truth to them. 
  • DON'T TRICK THEM. It is simply wrong to take advantage of people, whichever gender you are. If they are of an age where they don't think as quickly on their feet as women, please don't trick them into anything, whether that's paying for your meal or lying to them about birth control.
  • BE HONEST. A pimp, drug dealer, thief or sneak doesn't make a good father, and in time doesn't make a good boyfriend or husband. A man who will cheat on his current wife or girlfriend will cheat on you. It's hard to raise a child from prison, and that's usually what happens as men of lesser caliber live their lives. You still might find a jerk in church, school or through friends, but you stand less of a chance that way. 
  • GET YOUR OWN SKILLS AND KEEP THEM UP-TO-DATE. You can dream of being a stay-at-home mom. But have some skills, just in case. This doesn't only apply to dating and mating with the Bad Boys. Good men have been known on occasion to die young. 
  • DON'T GIVE TOO MUCH OF YOURSELF AWAY. Sex is an issue, but that's not what I mean in this instance. It's one thing to be a good hostess, a good sport about jokes, mature about disappointment, ready to share one's life history when the time is right. It's another entirely to wait on a man hand-and-foot, be the constant butt of his jokes, the one who constantly sacrifices, and allow him to use your life history against you. 
  • TAKE YOUR TIME.  As I stated earlier, people no longer get married at 18, right out of high school. The maturity factor simply isn't there for most young people. Think about putting off serious boy-girl dating until at least 18, maybe longer. And if you think you've found Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Possible, take your time before committing to sex AND marriage. Ten years might be too long, but nowadays, six months is much too short a time to know each other before marriage without being over 25. Seriously. Take your time. 
  • KEEP YOUR JEANS ZIPPED AND ON YOUR HIPS, LADIES. Don't tease. Don't unzip. I'd say don't unzip until you have vows said and a ring on your finger. You are worth the wait. Boomers, particularly the later version, always seemed out for a sexual conquest. We were really, most of us, very insecure. Have confidence, and wait. You will save yourself an awful lot of grief. 
  • MOTHERS, SAY SOMETHING WHEN GIRLS ARE SMALL. Yes, your 3 year old is too small to hear the intimate details of procreation. She is never too young to hear that Daddy loves Mommy if it's true. Your five year old is not too young to know that babies should be made when Mommy loves Daddy and when they are married, and that the baby grows in Mommy's body. Your 10 year old daughter is not too young to know that once she starts her period, she could get pregnant, and a good young man who works hard is worth five of the flashy ones who want to take her places and buy her things  but really want nothing but to have their way with her. It doesn't start too early, that each little girl will grow into a woman, that she is of infinite worth, and babies too early are blessings, but blessings that are much more work than having them in a marriage with a competent male when a woman is older. If Mom is not on the scene, substitute Grandma and Grandpa, even if Grandpa is dead. 
  • MOTHERS, SAY SOMETHING EVEN IF THEY ROLL THEIR EYES AND THREATEN TO NEVER ALLOW YOU TO SEE THE GRANDKIDS AGAIN. Slugs are slugs, pimps are pimps, thieves are thieves. Yes, people can change. It is unlikely and requires a great force of self-will. If she's dating a slug, SAY SOMETHING. If she won't listen to coached terms, spell it out for her. Yes, her feelings will be hurt. Would you rather raise more grandchildren?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

21st Century Girl Scouts-- And no, Planned Parenthood is not involved!

It isn't easy leading Girl Scouts in the 21st century. Sure, we now have spreadsheets that tally dues and badge requirements, not to mention the glories of the Internet. It's still difficult, just the same.

I am an old Girl Scout, as well as a former Camp Fire Girl. Notice that is Camp Fire GIRL, and not just a member of Camp Fire, the modern version. 

The Girl Scout program of the 1960s and early 70s was solid, no-nonsense scouting. The promise hadn't changed much since 1912. The uniforms were pretty standard, with the Junior level outfit created in the 1930s. Everybody in the troop wore the same thing, and there was no deviation. The badges were changed now and then, but the basic badges and their requirements were spelled out in clear, concise language.  

I left Cadettes in high school because frankly, I outgrew it. Explorers, a coed program run by the Boy Scouts of America, was where I next hung my membership hat. It had better camping, boys, job skills to learn, boys, better awards and boys. Did I mention the two Explorer posts to which I belonged had boys? 

One post was sponsored by a major metropolitan newspaper (but not advised by Clark Kent, sadly). What I learned there dove-tailed nicely with my Journalism, Print Shop and Computer Programming (Fortran IV) classes at school. I had my photo in an ad the post designed, showing us using various tools. I took the L to the Loop and back to attend meetings. These meetings often included lunch and snacks purchased by our sponsoring organization.

The other post was sponsored by a Catholic parish, and was supposed to be related to law enforcement, even had a cop as the advisor (Yes, advisor with an o). In truth, we did very little police activity. We did do some coed camping. It was the 70s. We threw parties, dated the boys, and didn't do much else. My parents wanted me in that post because it was parish sponsored and close to home, as a condition of being in the other. Let me tell you, the newspaper post was far safer, parish sponsorship of the other or not. 

Girl Scouting popped up again with my eldest, who didn't like the program of the 1980s and 90s. Who could blame her? 

Girl Scouts had gone eco and touchy-feely. The promise and laws had been rewritten to sound more akin to cult dogma than Girl Scouts. "I will do my best: to be honest, 
to be fair, to help where I am needed,
to be cheerful, to be friendly and considerate, to be a sister to every Girl Scout, to respect authority, to use resources wisely, to protect and improve the world around me, to show respect for myself and others through my words and actions." Feeeeelings, woah, woah woah, feeeeeeeelings...

Oh, um, yes, the uniforms had pieces, not standardization. The brag was that the uniform pieces had been created by top designers. It was...OK. It was not what girls were wearing then, but the Intermediate/ Junior uniform of my era wasn't, either. They even changed the Girl Scout pin, worn by all invested Girl Scouts and leaders. 

Between the touchy-feely atmosphere, and the uniforms, it just didn't work for my Eldest. I let her leave after a year of Brownies. 

Flash-forward to 2004, and Belle was asking about something called Daisies. Seems Girl Scouts USA had scooped up all the Kindergarten girls into troops to have something to do. It involved handbooks that required no reading. The girls earned petals. They needed a leader. Guess who? It seemed GSUSA calmed down a bit, changed the promise and law (again), and offered better training. The "real" pin was back as an option. OK. I was in. 

By the time Baby was ready for Daisies, there were no Daisies to be had at her school. Everybody had other plans. That was OK though, because Belle was in Brownies, and I was the leader, as the Eldest flaked out on yet something else, being the Brownie leader. Baby could read in Kindergarten, so the other leader and I just registered her as a Brownie.  

Girl Scouts USA has undergone some significant changes again. We now have a curriculum; not handbooks, but a curriculum, just like school. We thought we were getting neat-o new handbooks, the Girl's Guide to Scouting, with all the badges on handy-dandy sheets in a binder with a magnetic clasp. 

Instead, we got some of the badges in the binder, but not all of the badges. Those are in activity packs, to correspond to Journeys. JOURNEYS! ARG! They are touchy-feely and allegedly written to how girls speak current idiomatic English. National didn't consult leaders. Once again, they consulted alleged experts. Educators. 

Will I agree that Girl Scouts tends to be led on the national level by those with a more liberal agenda? Yes. Most leaders do not like it. 

I saw it the other day on Facebook. It seems the First Lady involved herself in Girl Scouts and fitness, even though her daughters aren't members. http://blog.girlscouts.org/2011/09/help-first-lady-michelle-obama-and.html The comments were fast and furious on Facebook, and they weren't happy. The woman in charge of the GSA Facebook page seemed puzzled at that. 

Nobody I know is thrilled with the Journeys. Journey mean buying extra books, extra badge pages, and extra work. They are too structured, too much like school, without a lot of requirement to actually learn skills. I've heard "dumbed down" in some circles, but to me, more like launching pads, add your own material as necessary (and it is necessary). Our troop was not thrilled to open the pretty new Cadette books and find that a whole different packet had to be purchased just to complete the Babysitter badge. 

Then there is the big pro-life controversy, which begs the question: Is it OK to lie about an organization simply because you think it presents itself as too liberal? 

That's the circumstances of the debate that rages in pro-life circles, Catholic and otherwise. I can tell you now that GSUSA has NO affiliation with Planned Parenthood, no matter who says so. The National Catholic Council for Girl Scouts and Camp Fire (NCCGSCF) has repeatedly stated that sex ed isn't taught without parental permission period, that there are no Girl Scout leaders sneaking girls off to obtain birth control or abortions, yada, yada, yada. 

Conspiracy theorists don't want to hear it. They keep painting GSUSA as a bunch of radical feminists out to make girls promiscuous, homosexual and then drag them into abortion clinics.  These theorists, who claim inside knowledge, have yet to explain to me how this lesbian sex in which all Girl Scouts and their leaders are allegedly engaged leads to pregnancy.

What are the alternatives to Girl Scouts in the US? Well, there's American Heritage Girls. It's a good group, but it isn't Girl Scouts, and again, there's the ministry factor, the Christian basis, leaving out other religions. There's Camp Fire; good, but again, not Girl Scouts. There is a council in the area. However, Camp Fire now has a curriculum, too, more for afterschool under the guidance of a teacher or aide, and it's coed, even the smallest Little Star (no more Bluebirds). They do offer camping. Camp Tialaka is no longer there, they have a couple resident camps. 

It's been suggested by various people that Little Flowers, Sunbeams, Missionettes AKA Girls Ministries, Beehives and Mia Maids might be an alternative. These are organizations specific to Catholicism, the Salvation Army (which is pro-choice BTW), various Protestant denominations but mostly Assembly of God, and the LDS (Mormon) church. Not everybody is welcome in every group. I have never seen life skills or camping skills taught in Little Flowers; virtues, etiquette, doctrine, yes, but not the other stuff. Rainbow Girls? Rainbow Girls is also more like a sorority, in that a girl can apply, but doesn't necessarily mean she'll get accepted. It's an affiliate of the Masons, though I'm told having a male family member who is a Mason is no longer necessary. 

I suppose we could do the 21st century thing and get a program or class for each thing the girls want to learn. But the camping? The sisterhood? The combined skills? At least the uniforms for girls from Cadettes through Ambassadors are once again standardized, even modern: Khaki "docker style" trousers or skirts, white polos, khaki vest of sash- if they choose to wear uniforms. For now, we'll stick with Girl Scouts. 

There's always Venturing and Exploring, when they turn 14, where I fully intend to be a leader of some sort. I still remember those days, and teen hormones merit some kind of watch. 

Hey! I bet that makes me eligible to attend Wood Badge! Finally! Can't wait!

NOTE: Since I wrote this, the Salvation Army has stated for the record that they are pro-life, but will not turn away women who have had abortions. I'm good with that. :-) Go check out the Salvation Army site if you want more information. I have also emailed my local archdiocese office on Scouting, and received an email reply from the scouting chaplain. He assured me that, against the opinion of the naysayers, Catholic girls will not be considered in the state of mortal sin for being Girl Scouts; quite the contrary. He emphasized the religious medals and books Catholic Girl Scouts can earn. He also repeated that Girl Scouts has no affiliation with Planned Parenthood, does NOT give money to organizations on the national level, and that troops largely form their own program. I would suggest that those who have problems with scouting in a religious context contact their church leadership, and that every Catholic who bad-mouths Girl Scouts contacts their local scouting chaplain for more counsel. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feelin' like the Lone Ranger sans Tonto...

Another friend put four of her children into a school. She and her husband do not make decisions lightly in this regard. It's a good school, and I'm sure her intelligent children will have a happy stay there. 

But she is the fifth friend this year to put at least one child back in school from homeschooling, and the third to place almost all of her brood in a school setting. I am feeling as if I am the Lone Ranger, out on the range sans Tonto, cooking beans by the campfire, sleeping lightly in case I'm attacked by the bad guys, hand on the pearl-handled pistol in my holster.

Everybody has their reasons why they choose a particular academic environment for their children. I know at least one of these families went with school for economic reasons, so both parents could work full time. One family did it for health reasons, the health of the mother. One family did it because the homeschool environment was causing what they felt were sloppy work habits in the children, to the point where a brick-and-mortar school was going to teach the children about how good they had it at home. The others choose to keep their reasons private. They have their reasons, good ones. 

We have our reasons for continuing to homeschool. 

I have cash, at present. I now live in a community where I can get around on beautiful bifurcated buses that run on natural gas, saving money on a second car. The buses are beautiful, but the public schools are well, working their way up from years of decline. 

In each of these cases, I'm older than the mothers in question; in fact, I'm old enough to be their mother. Being an older mother has its advantages, for once. Again, having saved money over time, as well as decades of learning home economics first-hand, I can cut back to the bone and still homeschool, which some young families simply can't do and stay ahead of the bouncing finances. I might not be as healthy or robust as younger moms, but I make up for it with brisk walks, vitamins and a daily nap. Bike riding is coming along slowly, but it is coming along.   

The Mister has a graduate degree, as well as undergrad in another field. His teaching style has vastly improved since the days he taught various classes for a corporation (Our Eldest and the Boy will remember those days and shudder). Not that it's necessary to homeschool- and can be a hindrance at times- but I've had elementary classroom experience, and some experience with middle school as well. Both of us have extensive experience with technology, which is indeed helpful in 21st century academics, wherever those academics might be held and taught by whomever. When it comes to academics and technology, we have it covered, continuing to keep up on the latest in both fields. 

So far this year- and remember we hold school all year, no summer break- I've only had to nudge Belle a few times to work. Baby not only does the work willingly, but comes up with extra projects on her own. The projects are admittedly not what one would see in a classroom, but they are learning experiences just the same. 

Who knows how much Internet research experience as well as post-1960s history Baby learned during her Clint Eastwood phase?  How much comedic timing and speech delivery she learned in Lucille Ball/ Fran Drescher phase? For that matter, Belle accomplished a great deal during her infatuation with High School Musical, on the piano as well as voice. We all still learn a lot from Pawn Stars, Modern Marvels, Green Screen Adventures, Extreme Couponing, MythBusters and Who Do You Think You Are

Still, I am sure Belle and Baby could easily pass whatever test to go to the gifted school or a magnet. We would want more information on the program, and that currently isn't as forthcoming as it should be. The one Catholic school worth the money and transition experience has no room for Belle, and would put Baby in her grade of age, not her current academic grade, despite test results to the contrary. The other Catholic school offers a safe haven for kids who would otherwise go to public school in a rough neighborhood, but academically and technically isn't what our kids need. Would it be in their best interest to send them back to school now?

The Mister and I can only pray for guidance, and continue to do what we do for their benefit. That's the gist of raising children, their benefit, "the best interest of the children" when it comes to bringing them up to be responsible adults. For now, God has made it clear: Homeschool, alone or with others. Who are we to argue? There are obvious reasons to do so. 

God has His plans, and apparently His for us is to continue to homeschool, even if I feel I am the Lone Ranger at his lone campfire eating beans and drinking coffee alone, excepting the kids, the Mister, and of course God. God's plans for other families is school; some public, some private, all brick-and-mortar.

Good luck and good schooling, friends! You're doing what's right for your kids, and we're doing what's right for ours. It's wonderful that we live in a country where those differences don't exclude us from each other's lives, allowing us to follow the path God has chosen for our families.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Are you SURE you're enough part Native American? Better check with the tribe!

Once upon a time, a long time ago, oh, about 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act or ICWA was passed. It was amended in 2003. Its purpose was to stop Native American children from being swept off the reservation and into adoptive homes where they would not be taught the ways of their heritage. The reason for federal legislation was alleged rampant removal of children from reservations and into foster and adoptive homes off the reservations.

During the late 19th century, and through a part of the 20th century, that was no doubt true. There was many a school opened by  more than one Protestant group specifically as a boarding school without parental visitation to make such children assimilate into the culture of the US without reenforcing their native culture, to the point where their prior names were taken from them and given "real" names, American names. Oh yes. They were also taught a trade. For their own good, of course (cough, cough). Breaking up families in the name of God and the US. 

For further in-depth study on such circumstances, I highly recommend you read the Education of Little Tree. If you liked that, follow up with the Bean Trees, followed by Pigs in Heaven.

Let's move on to the 21st century. The various tribes have all this great land, and their own government. They've gotten into businesses to make revenue to share with their tribal members. Casinos, yes, but also hotels, shops, restaurants, fishing tours, high impact outdoors adventures! With all that revenue, suddenly people were popping out of the woodwork, claiming tribal membership.

The idea of the majority of full-blooded Native Americans living on the reservation, trading in wampum, eating buffalo and riding war ponies out to the edge of their designated-by-the-federal-government tribal lands is about as outdated as corsets and buggy whips.  The various members of various tribes have married into many European and African families. You may even be part Indian of some sort and not know it. 

What do these two things have to do with each other? It seems everybody is suddenly an Indian, at least partially on his mother's side, or his father's, or both but different tribes. It sadly also seems the ICWA can be used to scare custodial grandparents who may not know better into giving up custody of their grandchildren to avoid putting them through the emotions of a trial, or the alternative idea of spending their lives on the reservation as wards of the tribe, bereft of their other family; not to mention spending one's life savings to protect those grandchildren. It can mean many a sleepless night for an uninformed and frightened custodial grandparent. 

Of course, I'm not an attorney, and I don't even play one on TV (old joke). But I consulted a couple of attorneys on the matter, and asked some questions of the various tribes as well as the National Indian Child Welfare Association, or NICWA.

First, baby daddies and mamas who are irresponsible still don't get automatic custody based on ethnicity. If they are addicts of some sort, or have issues such as bipolar disorder, don't plan on them to get their acts together enough to hire a lawyer and file a proper case. The chances of that happening are remote. If they were that capable, the odds are good they would still have the kids, and wouldn't be threatening you. Besides, they would have to find a source for money to pay for it, or somebody to represent them pro bono (free). They would have to go to a court and prove that they are the people who should be raising the children in the children's best interests. Don't worry.

Second, just because Lulabelle hooked up with Johnny Big Snake and he is the defacto or even legal stepfather, doesn't mean he has some sort of rights to the grandkids because he is Native American. Those children share no blood heritage with him. It also works the same way if Johnny is Johnie, even if she claims to be an Indian princess. This goes even if they create a biological half-sibling or more to the brood you're raising now. 

Third, and possibly the most important, is the question: Is the person who suddenly wants these children claiming Indian heritage really an Indian; specifically, is he or she a tribal member who is recognized as being a prescribed percentage of Native American blood, as designated by the tribe in question?

Each tribe sets their own standards, namely who is a tribal member, and who is not. Honorary membership from attending a powwow or other tribal festival or ritual doesn't count for any tribe. Further, what counts for the Five Civilized Tribes doesn't count for the Navajo, and what counts for the Cherokee doesn't count for the Seminole, and certainly not for the Osage or any Apache or Aleut for that matter. It's just not that easy to prove one is entitled to tribal citizenship.

I can say, on the whole, the tribes are looking at bloodlines; in other words, genealogy. Applicants have to prove they are what they say, not simply say it. The Oklahoma Cherokee, for example, want strong proof, listing on the Dawes or other rolls of ancestors; original birth certificates , not just for applicants but their parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents; former addresses and anything else to back up the application, including DNA tests. The process takes no less than 10 months, and often 12 months or more.

Adults must apply for membership. This means just because your ex-husband has gotten a sudden yen to discover his heritage and applies for tribal membership with significant proof, your adult son is not automatically a tribal member. Junior has to submit his own paperwork. 

Percentage counts as well, when considering whether or not the grandkids are Native American.  This list indicates a wide variety of coverage, from 1/8 to any degree of kinship. When you hear the term "quantum bloodline" that's what is meant.

There are organizations, such as the United Cherokee Nation, that are clubs for those claiming Indian bloodlines. These clubs are not official organizations recognized by the tribes or the United States as tribes, for purposes of verifying tribal membership, and they usually don't claim to be. Therefore, a membership card to some organization doesn't necessarily prove tribal membership. 

Even if the alleged parent has a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood and a tribal citizenship card, there is still the question of whether or not the grandkids are Indian, if not by percentage, then by tribal registry. If you have custody, especially if they have already been adopted by you, you control whether or not they can be registered with the nation in question. Parental rights might have been terminated, whether by the biological parent's own choice or through declaring him and/or her unfit. Birth certificates have been changed. In many states, the adoption was closed, and therefore the files on the case have been impounded or sealed.  Hopefully, you have moved from your previous residence and are careful in giving out your address and phone number. Again, it seems like a lot of hard work for individuals (the adult children) who can barely function or earn money legally, to go chasing you down with the tribal court as a weapon.

Finally, the ICWA concerns exclusive jurisdiction over Indian children ONLY where those children who are domiciled or reside on the tribe's land, or are wards of the court or the tribe. That means IF the children were under a very defined set of circumstances, then and only then would the tribal court in question be the court of choice. The chances of your adult child's partner in creating Life going to this extreme, or of your grandchildren being in such circumstances, are very slim. 

In all other circumstances, the state courts have concurrent jurisdiction. Again, under very prescribed circumstances for jurisdiction, there is a choice of whether to proceed in tribal or state court. There are plenty of reasons not to use tribal courts and to object to them, two of which where the children over the age of 12 who are the subject of the proceeding choose the local court (the kids who are involved don't want tribal court), and where it would cause a burden of expense to use tribal courts.

In instances where grandparents are raising grandchildren, and where the tribal court chooses custody and guardianship, extended family is the first choice by law. Yes, the whole thing might have to be decided again, but the parent in question still has to prove he or she is up to the task of taking care of the children in question. The grandkids won't simply be removed from your home and care, flopped on the reservation and made wards of the tribe in question simply on your adult child's baby parent's word alone.

Finally, in circumstances where custody, guardianship or adoption have already been completed, the tribes are reluctant to uproot a child for no other reason than the child might have Indian bloodlines. This is especially true if you knew nothing of this alleged Indian bloodline prior to the custodial circumstances, especially adoption.

If Junior or Lulabelle threaten you with "Indian court" in a fit of rage, substance-induced or not; if you hear from your previously irresponsible ex-spouse, who was deemed by a court an unfit parent back in the day, that he is considering taking custody from you, based on his new found Indian heritage (especially if he's never met the children); if you catch wind through the extended family grapevine that So-And-So said this-n-that when talking with your adult child; if you read on your adult child's Facebook page that he's taken up with a genuine Kickapoo Princess and their alliance will win back custody of the kids, and with it his entitlement to food stamps, welfare money and your retirement check; RELAX. Until you have a summons in hand, nothing has happened. The possibility is good nothing will happen. If you do receive real legal paperwork, the odds are with you, and you will find the best legal representation you can afford.   

(Special thanks to the Cherokee Nation, whose representatives answered so many questions so patiently for absolutely free!)


Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Mother, the Homeschooler: Something She Did Right

You might not remember, but my mother's tried in the past to get me to enroll the children in Catholic school, alternating parables of stereotypical homeschoolers she's stumbled across in her life (2 families in addition to ours- the children are exposed to classical music, oh horrors); or fallible pronouncements from her throne as an expert in Canon Law, which she clearly is not. When we last discussed the matter, before communication broke down on another matter, the main problem with my homeschooling the children, besides my age, was that they were not in classrooms with crucifixes on the walls; and they did not have peer interaction for 10-15 minutes after lunch, when the children at the local parish school are allowed to talk and play. As that was our parish at the time, I offered to drive the children to the school for that time period, let them join the others, then take them home. That went over like the proverbial lead balloon.

My mother doesn't realize that I learned to homeschool at her knee. She wouldn't call it homeschooling. She wouldn't even call it child development. But her activities to keep 6 kids occupied and actually learning something were quite good for the time. Some could be applied today.

  • The Babee Tenda and the typewriter: We didn't have high chairs. We had a Babee Tenda. A Babee Tenda is a seat with table all around it for babies. The 1950s model could also hold small children of various sizes, including first graders. When we fought over my parents' typewriter, or we were too rambunctious, my mother would put ONE of us (obviously) in the Babee Tenda, put the typewriter in front of us loaded with a piece of paper, and put on the timer. The timer was so everybody got the exact amount of time with the typewriter. The Babee Tenda was also a good place to put a child playing with small pieces of anything.
  • Not collages: I don't think my mother knew what collages were until we made them at school. However, she had us not only make collages, but lapbooks as well, although she didn't know they were called that. She had magazines, she had scissors of varying sizes, she usually had glue (Lapage's), and if not, she knew how to make paste out of flour and water.
  • The 1950s Internet, the Encyclopedia Set, Part I: "Better" homes, even one as budget-driven as ours, had at least a set of encyclopedias. I was about 3 years old when the Grolier salesman came to the door. My father took him up on his offer for a complete set, not just the handsome brownish encyclopedias, but the Book of Knowledge, the Book of Popular Science (10 volumes), a set of classics (I'm not sure, but I think our set had blue covers), and a set of children's classics (definitely brown covers). IF we didn't write in or on them, and IF we didn't tear the pages, we were allowed to look at them to our heart's content. My life was so formed by the 1958 Book of Knowledge that, when offered an old set 20 years ago at the local public library sale for $3.00, I bought it immediately, making my son and husband lug all 20 volumes to the car. I still have them, and I incorporate them into our lesson plans on occasion. We recently used them for instructions on how to make a gel printer, or hectograph.
  •   The 1950s Internet, the Encyclopedia Set, Part 2: My mother read to us. My aunt, her sister, read to us when she baby-sat or even just when she came for a visit. My younger siblings probably don't remember that our grandfather, my mother's father, read to us. My mother liked TV well enough, but had no interest in afternoon soaps. The Book of Knowledge had stories galore, as did the Children's Classics. Mom preferred Knowledge, with its variety of stories for all ages, poetry, and articles. Aunt preferred Children's Classics, with the Little Match Girl, the Snow Queen and the tales of Andersen and Grimm. Grandpa didn't do either. He read to us from the newspaper; in fact, he taught me to read from the Chicago American and Daily News, but told me not to tell my mother or the sisters at school when I was old enough for school. 
  • Poetry in motion: My mother encouraged me to memorize poems. From "Bobby Shaftoe" at the tender age of 1, to Elvis' "Teddy Bear" to the Fizzies commercial, I enjoyed doing it, and for a long time, it seemed she enjoyed assisting me to do it.
  • Not just children's television: We got to watch cartoons, especially on Saturday mornings. But we didn't watch strictly children's television. We were NOT allowed in the room when "Peyton Place" was on ( a love/ hate program of Mom's), but we were allowed to watch most TV, including CBS and PBS specials on the war, technology, human reproduction (over 12), engineering, history and the Arts. We were also allowed to watch Dick van Dyke, Rocky and Friends, Have Gun: Will Travel (special treat- it was on past our bedtime), Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip, Adventures in Paradise, Maverick and Johnny Yuma. We watched as JFK was buried when I was six, and we watched a man walk on the moon for the first time when I was twelve. We watched as John XXIII was buried, and as Giovanni Montini became Paul VI. We learned a great deal about the world around us, and beyond us in the process.
As for that crucifix on the wall, we have displayed in our home a 19th century French crucifix with a genuine holy water font on the bottom. I think that counts double!