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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Reason for Everything

I was thinking about homeschooling as a movement, and homeschooling as a personal choice today and started wondering what the two main reasons people homeschool. I don't know that I agree that "a better education" is a primary motivating factor because if you are exhausted, overwhelmed, or find yourself slipping as the teacher, what keeps you pressing on? I think that may begin the journey for people, but to keep them there - is that really what is behind it?


 


I think for me the educational aspect of homeschooling is only a small part. Certainly I can control what goes in their brains to some degree, but we are a pretty open family when it comes to things like history, reading topics, stories, myths and legends, and even science. We have our beliefs and we uphold them in our studies, but this does not mean we do not talk about other people's beliefs. We do not shut out the world. (How could we, anyway?)


 


As I sit here and ponder my reasons for homeschooling I come up with a lot of varied reasons. What would you say is your primary motivation to homeschool? Or what keeps you doing it? Do you have just one? I would like to know what you think.


 


Kate


 

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Clash of Time

I was thinking this week, as I was watching the history channel, just how very different our time is from the past. It is hard to understand the difference just 50 years makes; or 100; or 1,000. We tend to think we are so ahead, so much better, so much more advanced than our predecessors were. In a lot of areas, but I am just not so sure.

Am I thankful for the amazing changes brought about in the last 100 years? Am I thankful for electricity to my home, my computer, the telephone, cars, hot and cold water to my faucets, my washing machines, and my quirky dryer? You bet. No question about it. Would I want to live in another time when these things were not available? Well, sometimes I think I would, but I fear I would not be up to the challenge. People seem to have been different to me - moral in a vastly different way. Perhaps it was that those things which were immoral or clearly wrong, were viewed that way by the general public, and not accepted as right living or a great choice for one's life.


I am a political and theological blog reader. I read many different blogs, but the two I link to are some of the best. I cannot read them all the time, or every post, but enough to keep myself aware of what is going on in both the political and theological blog worlds. Some things go well beyond shocking to me; as in "How can this exist in our world - how can it be tollerated?" The total depravity of humans seems painfully and horrifyingly clear. Some things, just come off as absurd, sad, or just really really ODD. How can we as a nation be *so* terribly divided?


I understand how we as a people can have fundamental differences as individuals with regards to political matters: economy, world affairs, investments, welfare, socialist vs libertarian, etc. I "get it" on those issues - how we can really differ. Americans have long differed in such areas. My greatest sadness, other than the knowledge that some of those I love do not know the Savior, is that we as a nation, and people of the world, do not have the same mind for Life. Life, at its core, should be sacred to all. Christian or not, shouldn't we all have the same thinking on Life? How can there be such a divide when Life is at the core of it all? How can so many just not care? Or worse, embrace the reality of death in such a wicked way? How can it now be considered right thinking, a morally right choice, to rip your child from your own womb; bloodied and torn into pieces? Does the world not know that a holy God is watching?


How can we have changed so very much in so little time? Or am I deluding myself? Haven't we, in just 50 years, changed as a nation? Hasn't the world changed in this view? Didn't we once believe that life was sacred? How can God stay His holy hand for long?


A grievous and terrible wrong - that we fight over in congress as if it is no more than pork barrel spending on a local bridge. I read the news, I read the blogs, I see what is happening to our splintered and bleeding nation. We need it to change - we need God to cause the hearts of our nation to be regenerated - to see a reformation. We need God's truth in our land and in our world. May it be His will, and may our prayers remember it.


Kate

Renewing This Blog


Clash of Time

I was thinking this week, as I was watching the history channel, just how very different our time is from the past. It is hard to understand the difference just 50 years makes; or 100; or 1,000. We tend to think we are so ahead, so much better, so much more advanced than our predecessors were. In a lot of areas, but I am just not so sure.


 


Am I thankful for the amazing changes brought about in the last 100 years? Am I thankful for electricity to my home, my computer, the telephone, cars, hot and cold water to my faucets, my washing machines, and my quirky dryer? You bet. No question about it. Would I want to live in another time when these things were not available? Well, sometimes I think I would, but I fear I would not be up to the challenge. People seem to have been different to me - moral in a vastly different way. Perhaps it was that those things which were immoral or clearly wrong, were viewed that way by the general public, and not accepted as right living or a great choice for one's life.


 


I am a political and theological blog reader. I read many different blogs, but the two I link to are some of the best. I cannot read them all the time, or every post, but enough to keep myself aware of what is going on in both the political and theological blog worlds. Some things go well beyond shocking to me; as in "How can this exist in our world - how can it be tollerated?" The total depravity of  humans seems painfully and horrifyingly clear. Some things, just come off as absurd, sad, or just really really ODD. How can we as a nation be *so* terribly divided?


 


I understand how we as a people can have fundamental differences as individuals with regards to political matters: economy, world affairs, investments, welfare, socialist vs libertarian, etc. I "get it" on those issues - how we can really differ. Americans have long differed in such areas. My greatest sadness, other than the knowledge that some of those I love do not know the Savior, is that we as a nation, and people of the world, do not have the same mind for Life. Life, at its core, should be sacred to all. Christian or not, shouldn't we all have the same thinking on Life? How can there be such a divide when Life is at the core of it all? How can so many just not care? Or worse, embrace the reality of death in such a wicked way? How can it now be considered right thinking, a morally right choice, to rip your child from your own womb; bloodied and torn into pieces? Does the world not know that a holy God is watching?


 


How can we have changed so very much in so little time? Or am I deluding myself? Haven't we, in just 50 years, changed as a nation? Hasn't the world changed in this view? Didn't we once believe that life was sacred? How can God stay His holy hand for long?


 


A grievous and terrible wrong - that we fight over in congress as if it is no more than pork barrel spending on a local bridge. I read the news, I read the blogs, I see what is happening to our splintered and bleeding nation. We need it to change - we need God to cause the hearts of our nation to be regenerated - to see a reformation. We need God's truth in our land and in our world. May it be His will, and may our prayers remember it.


 


Kate

Monday, September 19, 2005

Our first dance...

This was the first song we danced to as a married couple. I just loved it. My mother and her husband had taught us to waltz, and while this song was not exactly that, we did not look silly when we danced together. It was one of the highlights of my day and a fond and special memory.
Kate


I Wear Your Love: Kathy Mattea


The things I've collected, bought or selected.
The clutter that fills up my rooms.
I can lock up and leave it, never retrieve it.
Leave nothing but my love for you.



    Let the storm winds blow.
    I will not be cold.
    I wear your love.
    Thrown over my shoulders like a blanket of down.
    I wear your love,
    Like a bright suit of armor reflecting the sun.
    On the chilliest night, though I travel light,
    It is always enough, for I wear your love.


The rest can be found here if you want to read it. I want to be careful about copyright! :+) Kate


 

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Our Smallest Member

Here she is in all her brindled glory, Pebbles:


 



 


Did you notice her six toes? She is our polydactyl. She is rather a stinker, but we are training her to be a good kitty. She and Pip are the best of buds and that is a good thing.


 


:+) Kate

Monday, September 12, 2005

Pictures and Thoughts

They are not pictures of mine this time, the ones that move me. They are the ones of the elderly victims being helped or comforted by the military.  (Found here under the listing of "Emergency Triage.") I keep wondering to myself about all those elderly kept in the nursing homes that lost their lives. I keep wondering where all their families were. I keep wondering where this man's family was - why was he alone? He is, of course, one of the lucky ones in that he still has his life, and a caring military to help him. The face of the Staff Sergeant clearly showed how much she felt for this elderly man, alone and scared.


 


How many children are lamenting the day they put their parents in the nursing homes? What has happened in our nation when it is considered the norm to place our needy parents in a nursing home? I am not talking about those that need special medical care - sometimes that is just unavoidable - and sometimes we cannot provide the care they need at home. I am talking about our heritage, about honoring those who came before us; those who bore and raised us. Where is the honor they deserve? There have been so many pictures of the frail and dependent and many left completely to themselves. Abandoned. Where is the honor to father and mother? It is Godless.


 


I have a dear friend who cares for her mother on her property. She honors her, and serves her - all in the midst of a very busy life with children and homeschooling. She is faithful! She is showing her children that generational honor is essential. Is it always easy? Is it always convenient? I doubt it. Is it sometimes painful and scary knowing that her mother is not well? I cannot imagine it! But what a legacy she is leaving for her own children! It is an honor and a privilege to know her, and to see the blessings that have resulted in her choice to serve her mother. It is a blessing to me to see her living faithfully to God and serving her mother. She is a witness to the world.


 


I wonder where I will be when I am old and dependent. I hope that I will have trained, loved,  and served my children in such a way that they will look with shame upon the idea of abandoning me. I hope that when my mother is frail that she will allow me to help her. She is a stubborn woman sometimes, and we do not see eye to eye on everything. I can see her being so in this situation! I pray that God will help us all when that time comes, with grace, forbearance, and His love.


 


My He be with the man in the picture that so moved me today.


 


Warmly,


Kate

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My Brown-eyed Birthday Girl!

I would like to interupt my regularly scheduled blogging to wish my sweet and marvelous daughter, Elizabeth, a very merry and wonderful


 


HAPPY 5th BIRTHDAY!


 



(Not taken on her actual birthday, but she is just too cute in this picture not to post it.)


Thursday, September 08, 2005

There are simply no words

I have not read or seen anything this disturbing on all of the various forms of Katrina coverage yet. I am appalled that the local, state, and federal governments so completely fell apart to the utter ruin of so many. While those who know me also know that I am a firm believer in being responsible for the safety of one’s own family, and that I am *not* a "big government" advocate, *all* of the responsibility that we entrusted them with was utterly disregarded! It is simply unfathomable that so many suffered so very much. Please continue to pray for the refugees in our own country – this is going to be a long and painful recovery.


Kate


 


Note: This article was written by two eyewitnesses who were trapped in New Orleans. Larry Bradsahw and Lorrie Beth Slonsky are paramedics from California that were attending the EMS conference in New Orleans. Larry Bradsahw is the chief shop steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790; and Lorrie Beth Slonsky  is steward, Paramedic Chapter, SEIU Local 790.[California]


 


Hurricane Katrina - Our Experiences



Two days after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, the Walgreen's store at the corner of Royal and Iberville streets remained locked. The dairy display case was clearly visible through the widows. It was now 48 hours without electricity, running water, plumbing. The milk, yogurt, and cheeses were beginning to spoil in the 90-degree heat. The owners and managers had locked up the food, water, pampers, and prescriptions and fled the City. Outside Walgreen's windows, residents and tourists grew increasingly thirsty and hungry.


 


The much-promised federal, state and local aid never materialized and the windows at Walgreen's gave way to the looters. There was an alternative. The cops could have broken one small window and distributed the nuts, fruit juices, and bottle water in an organized and systematic manner. But they did not. Instead they spent hours playing cat and mouse, temporarily chasing away the looters.


 


We were finally airlifted out of New Orleans two days ago and arrived home yesterday (Saturday). We have yet to see any of the TV coverage or look at a newspaper. We are willing to guess that there were no video images or front-page pictures of European or affluent white tourists looting the Walgreen's in the French Quarter.


 


We also suspect the media will have been inundated with "hero" images of the National Guard, the troops and the police struggling to help the "victims" of the Hurricane. What you will not see, but what we witnessed,were the real heroes and sheroes of the hurricane relief effort: the working class of New Orleans. The maintenance workers who used a fork lift to carry the sick and disabled. The engineers, who rigged, nurtured and kept the generators running. The electricians who improvised thick extension cords stretching over blocks to share the little electricity we had in order to free cars stuck on rooftop parking lots. Nurses who took over for mechanical ventilators and spent many hours on end manually forcing air into the lungs of unconscious patients to keep them alive. Doormen who rescued folks stuck in elevators. Refinery workers who broke into boat yards, "stealing" boats to rescue their neighbors clinging to their roofs in flood waters. Mechanics who helped hot-wire any car that could be found to ferry people out of the City. And the food service workers who scoured the commercial kitchens improvising communal meals for hundreds of those stranded.


 


Most of these workers had lost their homes, and had not heard from members of their families, yet they stayed and provided the only infrastructure for the 20% of New Orleans that was not under water.


 


On Day 2, there were approximately 500 of us left in the hotels in the French Quarter. We were a mix of foreign tourists, conference attendees like ourselves, and locals who had checked into hotels for safety and shelter from Katrina. Some of us had cell phone contact with family and friends outside of  New Orleans. We were repeatedly told that all sorts of resources including the National Guard and scores of buses were pouring in to the City. The buses and the other resources must have been invisible because none of us had seen them.


 


We decided we had to save ourselves. So we pooled our money and came up with $25,000 to have ten buses come and take us out of the City. Those who did not have the requisite $45.00 for a ticket were subsidized by those who did have extra money. We waited for 48 hours for the buses, spending the last 12 hours standing outside, sharing the limited water, food, and clothes we had. We created a priority boarding area for the sick, elderly and new born babies. We waited late into the night for the "imminent" arrival of the buses. The buses never arrived. We later learned that the minute the arrived to the City limits, they were commandeered by the military.


 


By day 4 our hotels had run out of fuel and water. Sanitation was dangerously abysmal. As the desperation and despair increased, street crime as well as water levels began to rise. The hotels turned us out and locked their doors, telling us that the "officials" told us to report to the convention center to wait for more buses. As we entered the center of the City, we finally encountered the National Guard. The Guards told us we would not be allowed into the Superdome as the City's primary shelter had descended into a humanitarian and health hellhole. The guards further told us that the City's only other shelter, the Convention Center, was also descending into chaos and squalor and that the police were not allowing anyone else in. Quite naturally, we asked, "If we can't go to the only 2 shelters in the City, what was our alternative?" The guards told us that that was our problem, and no they did not have extra water to give to us. This would be the start of our numerous encounters with callous and hostile "law enforcement".


 


We walked to the police command center at Harrah's on Canal Street and were told the same thing, that we were on our own, and no they did not have water to give us. We now numbered several hundred. We held a mass meeting to decide a course of action. We agreed to camp outside the police command post. We would be plainly visible to the media and would constitute a highly visible embarrassment to the City officials. The police told us that we could not stay. Regardless, we began to settle in and set up camp. In short order, the police commander came across the street to address our group. He told us he had a solution: we should walk to the Pontchartrain Expressway and cross the greater New Orleans Bridge where the police had buses lined up to take us out of the City. The crowed cheered and began to move. We called everyone back and explained to the commander that there had been lots of misinformation and wrong information and was he sure that there were buses waiting for us. The commander turned to the crowd and stated emphatically, "I swear to you that the buses are there."


 


We organized ourselves and the 200 of us set off for the bridge with great excitement and hope. As we marched pasted the convention center, many locals saw our determined and optimistic group and asked where we were headed. We told them about the great news. Families immediately grabbed their few belongings and quickly our numbers doubled and then doubled again. Babies in strollers now joined us, people using crutches, elderly clasping walkers and others people in wheelchairs. We marched the 2-3 miles to the freeway and up the steep incline to the Bridge. It now began to pour down rain, but it did not dampen our enthusiasm.


 


As we approached the bridge, armed Gretna sheriffs formed a line across the foot of the bridge. Before we were close enough to speak, they began firing their weapons over our heads. This sent the crowd fleeing in various directions. As the crowd scattered and dissipated, a few of us inched forward and managed to engage some of the sheriffs in conversation. We told them of our conversation with the police commander and of the commander's assurances. The sheriffs informed us there were no buses waiting. The commander had lied to us to get us to move.


We questioned why we couldn't cross the bridge anyway, especially as there was little traffic on the 6-lane highway. They responded that the West Bank was not going to become New Orleans and there would be no Superdomes in their City. These were code words for if you are poor and black, you are not crossing the Mississippi River and you were not getting out of New Orleans.


 


Our small group retreated back down Highway 90 to seek shelter from the rain under an overpass. We debated our options and in the end decided to build an encampment in the middle of the Ponchartrain Expressway on the center divide, between the O'Keefe and Tchoupitoulas exits. We reasoned we would be visible to everyone, we would have some security being on an elevated freeway and we could wait and watch for the arrival of the yet to be seen buses.


 


All day long, we saw other families, individuals and groups make the same trip up the incline in an attempt to cross the bridge, only to be turned away. Some chased away with gunfire, others simply told no, others to be verbally berated and humiliated. Thousands of New Orleaners were prevented and prohibited from self-evacuating the City on foot. Meanwhile, the only two City shelters sank further into squalor and disrepair. The only way across the bridge was by vehicle. We saw workers stealing trucks, buses, moving vans, semi-trucks and any car that could be hotwired. All were packed with people trying to escape the misery New Orleans had become.


 


Our little encampment began to blossom. Someone stole a water delivery truck and brought it up to us. Let's hear it for looting! A mile or so down the freeway, an army truck lost a couple of pallets of C-rations on a tight turn. We ferried the food back to our camp in shopping carts. Now secure with the two necessities, food and water; cooperation, community, and creativity flowered. We organized a clean up and hung garbage bags from the rebar poles. We made beds from wood pallets and cardboard. We designated a storm drain as the bathroom and the kids built an elaborate enclosure for privacy out of plastic, broken umbrellas, and other scraps. We even organized a food recycling system where individuals could swap out parts of C-rations (applesauce for babies and candies for kids!).


 


This was a process we saw repeatedly in the aftermath of Katrina.  When individuals had to fight to find food or water, it meant looking out for yourself only. You had to do whatever it took to find water for your kids or food for your parents. When these basic needs were met, people began to look out for each other, working together and constructing a community.


 


If the relief organizations had saturated the City with food and water in the first 2 or 3 days, the desperation, the frustration and the ugliness would not have set in.


Flush with the necessities, we offered food and water to passing families and individuals. Many decided to stay and join us. Our encampment grew to 80 or 90 people.


 


From a woman with a battery powered radio we learned that the media was talking about us. Up in full view on the freeway, every relief and news organizations saw us on their way into the City. Officials were being asked what they were going to do about all those families living up on the freeway? The officials responded they were going to take care of us. Some of us got a sinking feeling. "Taking care of us" had an ominous tone to it.


 


Unfortunately, our sinking feeling (along with the sinking City) was correct. Just as dusk set in, a Gretna Sheriff showed up, jumped out of his patrol vehicle, aimed his gun at our faces, screaming, "Get off the ****ing freeway". A helicopter arrived and used the wind from its blades to blow away our flimsy structures. As we retreated, the sheriff loaded up his truck with our food and water.


 


Once again, at gunpoint, we were forced off the freeway. All the law enforcement agencies appeared threatened when we congregated or congealed into groups of 20 or more. In every congregation of "victims" they saw "mob" or "riot". We felt safety in numbers. Our "we must stay together" was impossible because the agencies would force us into small atomized groups.


 


In the pandemonium of having our camp raided and destroyed, we scattered once again. Reduced to a small group of 8 people, in the dark, we sought refuge in an abandoned school bus, under the freeway on Cilo Street. We were hiding from possible criminal elements but equally and definitely, we were hiding from the police and sheriffs with their martial law, curfew and shoot-to-kill policies.


 


The next days, our group of 8 walked most of the day, made contact with New Orleans Fire Department and were eventually airlifted out by an urban search and rescue team. We were dropped off near the airport and managed to catch a ride with the National Guard. The two young guardsmen apologized for the limited response of the Louisiana guards. They explained that a large section of their unit was in Iraq and that meant they were shorthanded and were unable to complete all the tasks they were assigned.


 


We arrived at the airport on the day a massive airlift had begun. The airport had become another Superdome. We 8 were caught in a press of humanity as flights were delayed for several hours while George Bush landed briefly at the airport for a photo op. After being evacuated on a coast guard cargo plane, we arrived in San Antonio, Texas.


 


There the humiliation and dehumanization of the official relief effort continued. We were placed on buses and driven to a large field where we were forced to sit for hours and hours. Some of the buses did not have air-conditioners. In the dark, hundreds if us were forced to share two filthy overflowing porta-potties. Those who managed to make it out with any possessions (often a few belongings in tattered plastic bags) we were subjected to two different dog-sniffing searches.


 


Most of us had not eaten all day because our C-rations had been confiscated at the airport because the rations set off the metal detectors. Yet, no food had been provided to the men, women, children, elderly, disabled as they sat for hours waiting to be "medically screened" to make sure we were not carrying any communicable diseases.


 


This official treatment was in sharp contrast to the warm, heart-felt reception given to us by the ordinary Texans. We saw one airline worker give her shoes to someone who was barefoot. Strangers on the street offered us money and toiletries with words of welcome. Throughout, the official relief effort was callous, inept, and racist.


 


There was more suffering than need be.


Lives were lost that did not need to be lost.


 


Sep 6, 2005

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Like a fine wine...

To my dear and wonderful friend Diane,


 


HAPPY
BIRTHDAY


 


to you!!


 


And a Bailey's Irish Coffee to you too:


 



 


May this year be full of joy, peace, and love in our Savior.


You are a blessing to me!


 


Warmly,


Kate


 

Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Smallest Victims

I can only begin to imagine what I would be feeling were I not able to find my children. My heart aches for these shattered families! Pray for these poor poor poeple.


Kate


Hurricane Victims Reunite at Center
Saturday, September 03, 2005


HOUSTON — In the midst of trying to find her husband and three youngest children, Hurricane Katrina (search) survivor Lisa Stewart temporarily lost her three oldest children in the cavernous Astrodome.


She found them Friday at a very human version of a "lost and found" department — a makeshift center where volunteers work to reunite children with their parents.


That's the center where children arriving bewildered and parentless get a big hug and a smile from volunteers. They also have a chance to play games to take their minds off all they've been through since the hurricane flooded New Orleans (search) and forced masses to rush for safety in buses. Some children became separated from their parents during the exodus.


"When they come in, I grab them and I hug them and I ask them if they are thirsty," volunteer JoAnna Clark (search) said. "The stories are unbelievable."


Stewart's trip to the lost children center came after she left her children aged 6, 7 and 12 with someone on the Astrodome floor so she could scour the crowd for her husband's familiar face. He had their 3- and 4-year-olds and 7-month-old. Police found the older children and took them to the center.


Stewart and her husband had decided in New Orleans to split up the family to make it easier to manage.


"They were taking the children and the babies and I had six of them," Stewart said of the bus preference system at the Superdome. "I didn't want to take all six, because I knew it would be hard on me with six children and trying to keep up with them. I took the big ones and he took the small ones."


Stewart, 30, thought her husband would be on the bus directly behind her, but "it didn't happen like that."


The volunteers at the center have a routine for the children they see. In addition to the compassionate welcome, they are asked their name and any details about when they last saw their mother or father.


"Some of them can give us a name," Clark said. "Some of them can't give us a name."


"One child was able to say that was his mommy and I said, 'How do you know?'" Clark recalled of one of the half dozen children reunited with a parent Friday. "He pulled up her sleeve and it had his name tattooed on her arm. So we knew that that was his mommy."


If the parents can't be located within a reasonable period of time, the children are placed in foster homes by Child Protective Services.


"We need to make sure someone is taking care of them, so they are not there alone," CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said late Friday. "It is really providing temporary shelter for these children until their parents can find them."


Digital photographs are being taken of each child at the center, she said. The photos and any information obtained will be placed in the agency's database, as well as the database of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


"These kids need to be with someone familiar after all they have been through," Olguin said.


Once off the bus, the children are evaluated by doctors and those who are alone are taken to the center, where they can find toys, stuffed animals, snacks and volunteers excited to greet them.


The reunions with parents aren't always happy.


Clark said one mother became overwhelmed after her reunion and told them she couldn't care for her child.


"They are so desperate that some parents have come and said, 'Just take my child,'" Olguin said. "They just don't know what to do. It is usually that they just need someone to talk to and they reached their breaking point. We know that is usually just a cry for help and we talk with them."


Olguin said the goal is to get as many families back together as possible.


While there are only a handful of children at the center, the volunteers have a very long list of children who have been reported missing. Parents leave their children's names and other vital information, hoping that they will show up on another bus.


"We have a list of probably 500 kids that are missing," Clark said. "The list goes on and on and on."


"There are children everywhere out there that are lost," Clark said. "The scary thing is the list of children we have that are lost — not the children that are here, but how many people can't find their children."