Monday, August 28, 2006

Parenting 101


I was talking with a friend about the state of affairs in our world today, the number of middle school and high school kids who seem to think drinking and/or drugs and/or sex are the top forms of recreation, the lack of respect many kids have for adults (heck, for themselves even), the lack of responsibility (personal and societial), and other such stuff that "old" people talk (re: gripe) about. We came to the conclusion (nonscientifically) that one of the big problems is a lack of good, solid parenting skills. We decided that any idiot can have sex, BUT any idiot should NOT be able to become a parent. So, if I was queen o' the world, there would be classes - several classes, years of classes - that you'd have to take and pass, and some sort of internship you'd have to complete before you would be given the physical ability to have children. I'm thinkin' the curriculum could be something like this:

Parenting 101 - Where Did I Put The Baby?
Unit #1: You will learn the absolute and paramount importance of responsibility, and have to prove such before you may advance to the next class. You will be required to complete the old standby "this egg is your child" task for a minimum of 4 weeks, which you will have to repeat ad nauseum until you pass the unit.
Unit #2: You will be given a small dog which you must take care of for 4 weeks; you must feed it, play with it, walk it, let it out when it needs to go out, clean up all messes caused by failing the previous-listed task, and, above all else, not let it loose, ever. Lose the dog and you will fail this unit, have to buy a replacement dog, and repeat the unit.
Unit #3: You will work in a daycare for 4 weeks under the strict supervision of a professional, helping with the babies and toddlers as you are directed. You must do EVERYTHING you are told to, including dirty-diaper duty, clean-up-puke duty, feed-the-children duty, read-to-the-children duty, play-with-the-children duty, clean-up-after-the-children duty, and, the most important task of all, don't-lose-or-misplace-any-of-the-children duty. As with the previous 2 units, you must pass this unit or repeat it until you do. And if you misplace a child, you must FIND the misplaced child and repeat the entire class, at least 10 times, before you will pass.
Unit #5: You would be placed in a home with a newborn and have to complete 4 weeks of sleepless or sleep-interrupted nights, constant feedings, trying to comfort a baby and not knowing what the heck he/she wants, and still living your life - cooking, cleaning, paying bills, interacting with other adults in a coherent manner....

I'm thinking there should be at least 5 classes, a semester to a year in length, that you must complete before you are given the ability to create a child (guess I need to come up with some scientific stuff here that would shut down that ability completely to procreate in both males and females until all courses are passed - oh! wouldn't that be great!?):

Parenting 201: The Terrible Twos...Threes...Fours...Fives....
This class would deal with toddlers, temper tantrums, boundary setting, the importance of routine, and follow-through (you know, actually doing what you tell the child you're going to do if they act out again). The concepts of boundary setting, routine, and follow-through are probably the MOST important lessons you MUST learn, so this class would be at least a year, and the lessons learned in this class MUST be demonstrated and used correctly in all following classes, or the entire rotation will have to be repeated.

Parenting 301: Toys, Teaching, Tantrums, Towing-the-line....this would deal with prepubescents; Parenting 401: Fitting In, Growing Up, Finding Yourself....this would deal with young teens (oh my, that would take at least a year, I'd say); Parenting 501: So You Think You're An Adult?!....this cap-stone course would be dealing with older teens/young adults (another year-long class, I'd say).

The Internship would be a year, with you shadowing successful parents of a baby, a toddler, a prepubescent, a young teen, and an older teen/young adult in 2.4-month rotations. Each parental unit would evaluate you, and you would pass the class ONLY if all 5 parental units had passed you. The Internship year would have to be repeated in full if even 1 of the parental units failed you.

And ONLY after you had passed all the classes and the Internship with flying colors, could you even CONSIDER becoming a parent, and be given the physical ability to do so.

Yep, if I was queen o' the world, that's what I'd do....

Monday, August 21, 2006

...he grew up in spite of the bricks


I used to tell my son I was going to put bricks on his head to keep him from growing taller, from growing up...

My one-and-only wonderful child turned 18 on Sunday. I am in awe of the young man he is becoming...he's handsome, smart, seems to have good common sense, and doesn't screw up too much (we think he's a genetic mutant - does not take after either his father or me, which is probably a good thing...). I think his father and I have done a pretty decent job of raising him so far, and he's done a pretty decent job of raising us, too.

He's a senior in high school this year, a football player, and he's taking his first college class. I have this one more year to have him underfoot (thank god) before he spreads his wings and flies (damn me and my "fly, little ones!" philosophy).

I try not to think about all the horrible things in this world that he faces in his future - just like I try not to think about the same horrible things in my future (there's a bit of Scarlett O'Hara in me...."I'll think about it tomorrow..."). I instead concentrate my engery on wishing for him the best of what's to come. He has brought out the best in me and his father over the years - and, at times, the worst - and for that I am forever grateful. But mostly, I'm very proud...of the son he is and the man he's becoming.

...guess the bricks weren't really needed after all...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random Photo of Breathtaking Beauty #7


After all the fire stuff, I'm thinkin' we need some jaw-dropping vistas to cleanse our palates, so to speak. Both of these photos were taken by me in May 2006 at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Longs Peak Through The Aspen

You Can See Forever and Ever....

The Northern Nebraska Panhandle Fires of 2006

Here are links to all my "fire" posts (in chronological order) for anyone who wants to read the story:

Sometimes there simply are no words....

The Smoke Clears

What a Diffence a Week Makes

...and I'd been feeling so much better about it all...

"Thank You!" - two small words that encompass a universe of gratitude

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

"Thank You!" - two small words that encompass a universe of gratitude...



Thank You!

And "THANK YOU!" to all of you who prayed, sent bright light, sent positive vibes - it all worked, and I thank you all, little ones!

Monday, August 07, 2006

...and I'd been feeling so much better about it all...


I really was feeling like I was moving forward from all the fire crap, and then I received these 3 pictures via email today (don't know who to attribute them to). Talk about a gut punch.... These are all aerial images of a small portion of the Spotted Tail fire, taken mid-week last week I would guess. The little smoke column you see was the woodchip pile at CSC - it burned for quite a while. It is painfully obvious how close we came to disaster here in Chadron. The burned area goes on south and a bit east for about 10 miles....




Cherish where you are and what you have in this life every day, little ones, cuz it can all go up in smoke in a heartbeat....

Friday, August 04, 2006

What a Difference a Week Makes....


It's very hard for me to believe that one short week ago today we were in the jaws of hell here. Today the skies are blue with fluffy white clouds hanging about, a light breeze (ash-laden yes, but a light breeze nonetheless).... sitting in my basement office I can almost convince myself it has all been a horrible nightmare.

But, alas, it is all too real. I spent some time this afternoon putting together an album of all the photos I have taken so far, beginning with some pictures from 7/27 when the fires in the panhandle had just started and going through our "tour" of the Spotted Tail burn area yesterday afternoon. Click here for the album of my photos to date.

Last night at the community meeting, the Lt. Governor of Nebraska spoke a bit - he said, "The face of the community has changed [forever], but the heart and the value [are] the same." How very true....

I cannot stress enough the need for financial assistance and fencing materials here. Please refer to the posts below for information on how you can help - and DO consider helping!

As before, one day at a time, little ones, and I KNOW we'll get there....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Smoke Clears

Well, little ones, things are looking better here in Dawes County today. They have 80% containment on the Dawes County Complex fires and are downgrading to a Type III team to keep a watchful eye on the fires to make sure they burn out in their contained areas (and don't jump containment lines and spread again). I do wish the news was as good for the Sioux County fires (by Harrison); they are only 25% contained and continue to burn out of control. We had rain throughout the northern panhandle region last night and that helped a lot, but not enough. Things are supposed to warm up again the rest of this week, which isn't really the best news for the firefighters still on the front lines.

I drove a bit south yesterday (didn't think to take my camera, but I'll go back out with it soon), and the view was, well, harsh. My head sings with happiness that the firefighters have been able to tame the beasts, but my heart weeps at the devastation of the forest and rangeland. I know come next spring the grasses will return, but all the common sense and knowledge of what's to come cannot quell the sadness of what is lost.

Many area ranchers are already planning to sell off their entire herds, as their pastureland and hay fields are all burned and they have no place to even put the cattle. It may well take a few years for the cattle ranchers in this area to recover from all this....

I ventured out with my camera this morning and took photos as Sprocket and I took one of our usual walking routes; check out this morning's photos here. These show ONLY the area south of the campus where the fire threatened to burn into town on Friday night, and they depict about 1/1000th of the area burned in just the Spotted Tail fire. Note the house on the hill that was saved (just one of many)...the firefighters did AWESOME work that night! Only 3 homes were lost...amazing....

There are photo galleries back up on www.chadrad.com again, and the local newspaper has some good articles and photos online as well.

Please consider donating to the Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund to help us pay for these fires, rehabilitate the land, help the victims of the fires (homeowners, ranchers, farmers), and help the many amazing volunteer fire departments that literally saved us in these fires. You can mail your donations to: Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund, P.O. Box 1125, Chadron, NE 69337, USA.

Thank you all so much, little ones, for your prayers, bright light, positive energy, and good thoughts for us here in the northern Nebraska panhandle. Please keep 'em coming, cuz' we all aren't out the flames just yet....

Update 8/03/06: It gets a little better every day here. The Dawes County Complex fires are 90% contained; the current estimated of total acres burned is 27,954. The northern Nebraska panhandle is in dire need of fencing materials (traditional and electric) to help area ranchers rebuild the burned fences. You can donate money to the Dawes-Sioux Fire Fund (address above) to help cover the cost of these much-needed fencing materials or you can deliver materials donations to the Crawford Livestock Market, located on West Beach St. in Crawford, or contact them toll free at (866) 665-2220 or at 308-665-2220. Donations of fencing items, hay, and other livestock feed will be accepted at the Crawford Livestock Market drop site.

Yesterday afternoon another fire broke out northwest of Harrison on the Ogalala National Grasslands; it grew from 300 acres to 1,000 acres in 30 minutes, but it was contained by last night. The Sioux County fires are still burning and not as contained as the Dawes County fires, but progress is being made.

I drove around this afternoon with my husband and took pictures...I'll get them up tomorrow. It was an amazing site, especially to see how damn close the fire came to jumping Highway 385 south of Chadron and Highway 20 east of Chadron in several different spots, how close it came to homes in several spots, and how hot it burned in some spots. There are still hot spots in the fire areas, and we did see an engine heading out to one of those hot-spot areas. We really are damn lucky Chadron is still here and so few homes were lost....

One day at a time, right? Keep the prayers coming, and please do consider sending in a donation. Stay positive, little ones!