Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Baby Augustus Update... Surgery

Brother Matching time!! YAY for brothers!

I want to start today by telling you about what my heart is praising God for this beautiful Christmas season....

1. He is Good!

2. Although He has allowed more hardship, pain, and uncertainty, to come our way, He has also been blessing us ridiculously so continually.

New PJ's on christmas eve!
3. Our WHOLE family enjoyed a beautiful Christmas day TOGETHER!! HUGE PRAISE!

4. He has drawn us so much closer to Himself which makes everything more than worth it! If you have ever doubted that God uses hard times to clear your eyes, I would love to share my testimony of that with you!

5. He is good!

6. Luke is working!

7. He has surrounded us with truly selfless people. I am so grateful!

That flash is tripping me out Mamma!

8. Although our life at this time is uncertain, our hope in Him *is* certain!

5'400'586'946. He is good!!!

Thank you for letting me just get that out there. Whenever I have updates that aren't as wonderful as some, I always feel as though I am not getting across the fact that God is soooo very good!

I love my sister and she loves me! Such a blessing!

Such a fun therapy video!
So, it's not my favorite news but we are headed to Spokane on January 5th for surgery number three. Unfortunately, Mr. A's Fundoplication (tummy wrap) has failed. Which means he is now able to vomit and reflux. And sadly the news from his pulmonary doctor was worse. It probably failed a while back because his lungs have taken a beating and he has likely been aspirating small amounts for a while. His chest is "barreled" out and his diaphragm is flattened. This means he is working very hard to breath and if it is not taken care of soon his lungs could fail. The fact that he sweats a lot while sleeping already means he is working pretty darn hard at breathing which is also affecting his growth because of calorie burn verses intake.  All of this is hard to take in but I am so thankful he said we could schedule for after Christmas!!!! Praise God! It was a special day for us all!

Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! We don't know how long Gussy and I will have to stay  but we are praying he does well and we can be home bound again soon!

Craziness at the Tannehill house!

Living In His Mercy,

The Tannehill Family

Monday, December 5, 2011

Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow!!

It's the little things in life that God blesses us with that just blow me away! This past week has brought some really fun and useful joys! 

On Wednesday night I asked Luke to pick up Hand Sanitizer and Toilet Paper the next day after work because we were almost out of both. Thursday he calls me and tells me that one of the suppliers he delivers to, "Crown Paper",  heard about Augustus and wanted to "help out".  This is what Luke came home with! WOW!! He brought home a professional hand sanitizer dispenser and 6 huge bags to fill it, along with a case of small bottles of sanitizer, and two very big boxes of toilet paper, paper towels, and tissue!  It never stops blowing me away when God provides small things so randomly! Thank you Father!

We were also very blessed by the Richland Police Department and Walmart this past weekend. A very sweet friend from church, who happens to be a police officer, signed our family up for the police departments "Shop with Cop" event. Thank you Officer Roe!  The children got to go to Walmart bright and early this past weekend and have breakfast with the Police Officers right before they were each given a $100.00 gift card and an Officer to take them Christmas shopping for their family! They got to shop and then wrap their presents, and even sit on Santa's lap and get a present for themselves from Santa! It was such a huge blessing and so very fun for them! They are so excited to have all of these presents under the tree that they shopped for and wrapped! God is so good and I am just feeling very blessed by the out pour of  love to our family this Christmas Season!

The "Shop With Cop" event was on the news and a couple of the littles were on :)

Living In His Mercy,

The Tannehill's

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Please Help!

 Meet Maggie!

 This sweet little girl is the daughter of one of the moms in my support group for children with HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy). She needs your help! This won't take you long and it would mean so much to them!  Sweet little Maggie is not doing so well and all this family wants is to take her home to meet her family in Illinois. Please, after reading her story, follow the link and nominate her for help in every way they have posted! ! It costs you nothing and would mean the world to them! Please, if you have been touched by watching Augustus' fight, please help them in this small way!
 Help Maggie!

Maggie's story taken from her page.....

Maggie Roberts is a 7 month old baby girl who is not long for this world. Due to complications she was born 6 weeks premature and sustained severe brain damage. Her short life has heart-breakingly been lived from surgery to surgery, connected to tubes and wires 24 hours a day. Her mother and father have given up everything to stay by her side and help her hold onto life, but she has been slipping these past months.

Maggie's Parents, Houng and Derek Roberts, are originally from Rockford, Illinois but moved to Ogden, Utah when Huong was offered a teaching job. With Maggie being born so premature due to a placental abruption, her mother Huong had to undergo an emergency cesarean, and then was put into a medically induced coma to help her heal from it. She underwent a hysterectomy to save her life and suffered organ failure. Thankfully, Huong was only in a coma for a month and a half and has recovered better than expected, but they will now never be able to have children. Maggie is their first and will be their only child.

Presently, Maggie is at home in Ogden, Utah with her parents, but they do not have any family here and their family cannot afford to all fly out to be with them during this challenging time.

All that her parents want now is to take her home to Illinois and surround her with family and love during her first...and last Thanksgiving and Christmas. Due to her delicate condition she would not survive traditional transport. What we are asking for her and her parents' behalf is help in finding her a way home. She needs to be transported in a specially equipped plane or helicopter. Airlines will not allow her to travel with the amount of oxygen she will need.

She has been denied by Make A Wish Foundation because she is under the age of 2 1/2.

We have sent multiple emails to media sources and entered her into the Home for Thanksgiving contest being presented by Ellen at http://www.ellentv.com/

We encourage you to contact media, enter her into the contest on Ellen's site again, and any other resources you may be aware of in helping us find her a specially equipped transport home. Even if you email Oprah or share this with your friends...you are helping.

Although we are not requesting monetary donations, if you would like to donate to assist the Roberts family it is graciously accepted. Paypal donations can be sent to: HelpMaggieRoberts@gmail.com

100% of All donations go directly to the Roberts family.

Thank you so much for reading this.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What's Your Problem?

Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." 
~Exodus 4:10~

I was told about Pastor David Bell by a friend while in the hospital with Augustus. It was so incredibly encouraging to see what God has done in his life! I remember crying when I saw him with his beautiful wife and four beautiful children. Not just any cry, but you know, the "whole face cries" kinda cry. What an amazing testament God has made of him! Against what life told him, he is married, he has a beautiful family, and he is an active *PARTICIPANT* in God's work! Many would say he is "the kind" that we as Christians need to serve and minister to. It is true that we should serve those with disabilities, but he turned his face toward the living God and decided he would serve and minister to us! 

So, I thought I would share my morning beat down with you all.... You're welcome *giggle giggle*

"I have Cerebral Palsy, what's your problem?"
~David Bell~

From David Bell's "About Me"...

Few individuals have felt the crushing blows that have besieged David Ring since birth. He was born to lose. On October 28th, 1953, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, David was born with Cerebral Palsy. Orphaned at age 14, he was cast about from family to family with nowhere to call home. He endured constant physical pain, humiliating public ridicule and constant discouragement. Yet in the face of these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, David emerged not victimized…but victorious!

Life was worse than hopeless to him until his relationship began with Jesus Christ who taught him self-respect and acceptance of his physical challenges. To most, physical challenges of this magnitude would prove to be a tombstone. For David Ring, this coming of age was and remains a milestone. You’ve never heard a speaker quite like David Ring. Although difficult to understand at first, you will soon find yourself captured by his quick wit and warm personality.
Whether giving a motivational message at a sales convention, or inspiring church leaders, David always focuses on an individual’s need to conquer the personal challenges an adversities of life. As you hear David Ring, you will laugh…and cry. You will be amazed at his triumph over odds. You will be moved to consider your own life. As one who has not been stifled by his physical limitations, he clearly stakes his challenge to everyone. “I have Cerebral Palsy–what’s your problem?”

As a nationally known speaker since 1973, David shares his story with over 100,000 people each year at churches, conventions, schools and corporate events. He has been featured on numerous occasions on several nationally televised programs.
David’s book Just As I Am, (Moody Press, Chicago, IL) tells about his heartaches and victories, and addresses the central theme of his life: “Triumph Over Odds.”
David and his wife, Karen, make their home in Nashville, Tennessee. They are the parents of four children, April, Ashley, Nathan and Amy Joy.

Living in His Mercy,

The Tannehill's

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Home With Mr. A!

Yep, I'm sleepy!
Outside Fun!
The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 
~Exodus 4:11~

 I set out this morning to create a new blog for updating everyone on life with Mr. A, which I have been horrible at and do apologize! I came here to my blog "Is It Not I" and tears flooded my eyes as I read the top which stated one of my all time favorite verses. It was such a blatant reminder to me that He knows my name, He knows my life from beginning to end. You see, this verse was always a favorite of mine because whenever I read it I saw the great power and strength of our God! I always imagined God using a stern, loud, Father, voice with Moses, here. One of those "how dare you question my plan" voices! I always thought it was so great! That is not the reason it brought tears to my eyes this time and not the reason it re-inserted it's self back into my life as a strong voice in my head....

Daddy Love!
Mr. A's first outing to the Pumpkin Patch!

He knew before I was knit together in my mother's womb that I would be the mother of Mr. Augustus. "WHO makes him deaf or mute??" "WHO gives him sight or makes him blind?" "IS IT NOT I, THE LORD!?!? Our God loves us so much He gives us encouragement before we even know we need it! What a MIGHTY God we serve, AMEN!? I want to explain a little further the significance of this verse in our life. You see, Mr. Augustus has been diagnosed as deaf and with Cortical Visual Blindness.  This has been a hard diagnosis for me and one I have not spoken of too much because of the pain I feel when  I think that my sweet baby boy has to deal with these invasive medical interventions without the use of those senses to ease that discomfort.  But what a comfort to be reminded of Who chose these things for Mr. A! I don't know a whole lot at this point of my life. Tomorrow is uncertain for us. But this I do know;  how dare I question the goodness of God's plan for my life, for Baby Auggie's life, for all of our children's life! This IS His plan for us. What Satan would love to use for evil, God WILL use for good! To this I am certain. 
You need a kiss!

 For this reason I have decided to keep my "old blog" instead of creating a new one. God knew what life would bring and He set us up accordingly. From now on I will be updating about Baby A. here. 

Sister Love time!
 I have prayed and thought much about what I would say when I updated everyone this time. There are great days and days that are hard to stay afloat. I have days that I recognize the ever present Lord so powerfully in this place, and days that I focus more on the enemy of my soul and what he is trying to accomplish. However, I praise God, Who's Joy is my strength, for reminding me of the truth that is my future and the truth that is the great adversaries future!! These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33~ My future is bright! His is not. OUR GOD HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD!  Can I tell you that if you have Jesus be of good cheer, Your Savior has overcome every trial you have or will face?! Can I tell you that if you do not have Jesus to turn from your sin and repent for there is a Great and Mighty God who loves YOU and sent His only Son to pay the debt for every wrong doing you have ever and will ever do?! This is a gift! No payment necessary! He wins and when you have Him, YOU win! I am not sure of much, but to this I am sure!

Masked bandit stopping fro some love!
Oh, how I love you!
  I mentioned that Augustus has been diagnosed with hearing loss. We went to the Audiologist today for an in depth screening to tell us if his hearing is something that can be corrected or if it is permanent. As disappointing as the results were, we are ready to accept them. Augustus is completely deaf in one ear and very severely impaired in the other ear. Now, that being said, he also showed that he had a lot of fluid in his middle ear. So we have been referred to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor. Once the fluid gets drained we are praying that he has some degree of hearing return. The audiologist told us that with the severity of his hearing loss it is unlikely that his hearing will return to normal but it can definitely help bring some of his hearing back. They were going to fit him with a hearing aid today but decided to wait until he sees the ENT so he can be fit with the correct settings right away.  We have been learning sign language and Praise God, it seems to be coming naturally to everyone in the house, so far. We were told about a video series called "Signing Time" that we will be ordering soon. It is suppose to be fun and easy to learn from. Praise! I am also very excited to have learned that there is a "Community center for the Deaf" here, and that most of them offer what is called a "Deaf Mentor", which is a mentor who comes to your home and teaches your family ASL (American Sign :Language). So Praise, Praise, Praise! God always provides! Another huge praise in this area is that Augustus has made such amazing improvement with his upper extremities! The therapists says that his movement with is upper extremities is normal looking and actually seems quite good! I was so happy to hear this because I thought the same thing and it is sometimes difficult to get Doctors and Therapists on the same page as you. One reason this is such a huge praise is this means he has a much better chance of being able to use sign language himself! I have been praying so much that if he is deaf God would give him use of his arms and the ability to sign. 

Couch Potatoes!
 CVB (Cortical Visual Blindness) is a type of blindness that does not affect the eyes but is a result of a brain injury. I was not aware of this prior to Mr. A, but the whole brain is used in the seeing process as opposed to just one part that sees. There are many pathways throughout your brain that play a part in the seeing process. If there is damage in the middle of one of those pathways it interrupts that seeing process. This means a few things. 1. Augustus can see some things. 2. The brain *can* form new pathways if it so chooses. And 3. Therapy and stimulation of these pathways can aid in that process.  His eyes are good, it is an issue of  how the brain interprets what the eyes see. The great news is that he has already made some huge improvements with seeing. Praise God! We live in a time with many bright and stimulating toys and videos so we have tools all around us! Praise!
I love you too Mr. Glow Worm.

 The next thing we get many questions about is Augustus' ability to eat and will he ever eat. The answer in short, is we don't know. We have found some wonderful therapies and we are very excited about the prospect of good results but all we can really say is that it is in our Father's Hands.

 I love all of you so much and I can not even come close to expressing how much your love, support, and prayers mean to us! I promise I will try my best to update you more often than I have been. I also want you all to know that questions do not offend or upset us in any way. We are more than happy to answer any of your questions. So many of you have been emotionally invested in our journey and we want you to know that we appreciate you all so much!

Could therapy be any funner?

 There are days when all I can do is fall to my knees and beg God for mercy. I am in no way strong, courageous, or good, but I serve a big God! If you gain nothing else from watching Augustus' journey from death to life, I hope that you know that there *is* a God and He is mighty to save!
Oh yeah!

Living In His Mercy,

 The Tannehill's

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Psychopathic School

  This is taken from John Taylor Gatto's book, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling

This speech was given by the author on 31 January 1990 in accepting an award from the New York State Senate naming him New York City Teacher of the Year.

I accept this award on behalf of all the fine teachers I've known over the years who've struggled to make their transactions with children honorable ones, men and women who were never complacent, always questioning, always wrestling to define and redefine what the word "education" should mean. A Teacher of the Year is not the best teacher around (those people are too quiet to be easily uncovered), but she or he is a standard-bearer, representative of these private people who spend their lives gladly in the service of children. This is their award as well as mine.
1 .
We live in a time of great school crisis linked to an even greater social crisis. Our nation ranks at the bottom of nineteen industrial nations in reading, writing, and arithmetic. At the very bottom. The world's narcotic economy is based upon our consumption of this commodity; if we didn't buy so many powdered dreams the business would collapse - and schools are an important sales outlet. Our teenage suicide rate is the highest in the world, and suicidal kids are rich kids for the most part, not the poor. In Manhattan, seventy percent of all new marriages last less than five years. So something is wrong for sure.
This great crisis which we witness in our schools is interlinked with a greater social crisis in the community. We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent; nobody talks to them anymore, and without children and old people mixing in daily life; a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact the name "community" hardly applies to the way we interact with each other. We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that. School is a major actor in this tragedy, as it is a major actor in the widening gulf among social classes. Using school as a sorting mechanism, we appear to be on the way to creating a caste system, complete with untouchables who wander through subway trains begging and who sleep upon the streets.
I've noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my twenty-five years of teaching: that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools, as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers do care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic; it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.
2 .
Our form of compulsory schooling is an invention of the State of Massachusetts around 1850. It was resisted - sometimes with guns - by an estimated eighty percent of the Massachusetts population, the last outpost in Barnstable on Cape Cod not surrendering its children until the 1880s, when the area was seized by militia and children marched to school under guard.
Now here is a curious idea to ponder. Senator Ted Kennedy's office released a paper not too long ago that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was ninety-eight percent, and after it the figure never exceeded ninety-one percent, where it stands in 1990.
Here is another curiosity to think about. The home-schooling movement has quietly grown to a size where one and half million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents; last month the education press reported the amazing news that children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers in their ability to think.
1 don't think we'll get rid of schools any time soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we're going to change what's rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution "schools" very well, though it does not "educate;" that's inherent in the design of the thing. It's not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. It's just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.
Schools were designed by Horace Mann and by Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and by Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and by some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce, through the application of formulas, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.
To a very great extent schools succeed in doing this, but in a national order increasingly disintegrated, in a national order in which the only "successful" people are independent, self-reliant, confident, and individualistic (because community life which protects the dependent and the weak is dead and only networks remain), the products of schooling are, as I've said, irrelevant. Well-schooled people are irrelevant. They can sell film and razor blades, push paper and talk on telephones, or sit mindlessly before a flickering computer terminal, but as human beings they are useless. Useless to others and useless to themselves.
The daily misery around us is, I think, in large measure caused by the fact that, as Paul Goodman put it thirty years ago, we force children to grow up absurd. Any reform in schooling has to deal with its absurdities.
It is absurd and anti-life to be part of a system that compels you to sit in confinement with people of exactly the same age and social class. That system effectively cuts you off from the immense diversity of life and the synergy of variety; indeed it cuts you off from your own past and future, sealing you in a continuous present much the same way television does.
It is absurd and anti-life to move from cell to cell at the sound of a gong for every day of your natural youth in an institution that allows you no privacy and even follows you into the sanctuary of your home demanding that you do its "homework."
"How will they learn to read?" you ask, and my answer is "Remember the lessons of Massachusetts." When children are given whole lives instead of age-graded ones in cellblocks they learn to read, write, and do arithmetic with ease, if those things make sense in the kind of life that unfolds around them.
But keep in mind that in the United States almost nobody who reads, writes, or does arithmetic gets much respect. We are a land of talkers; we pay talkers the most and admire talkers the most and so our children talk constantly, following the public models of television and schoolteachers. It is very difficult to teach the "basics" anymore because they really aren't basic to the society we've made.
Two institutions at present control our children's lives: television and schooling, in that order. Both of these reduce the real world of wisdom, fortitude, temperance, and justice to a never-ending, nonstop abstraction. In centuries past, the time of childhood and adolescence would have been occupied in real work, real charity, real adventures, and the realistic search for mentors who might teach what you really wanted to learn. A great deal of time was spent in community pursuits, practicing affection, meeting and studying every level of the community, learning how to make a home, and dozens of other tasks necessary to becoming a whole man or woman.
But here is the calculus of time the children I teach must deal with:
Out of the 168 hours in each week my children sleep 56. That leaves them 112 hours a week out of which to fashion a self. According to recent reports children watch 55 hours of television a week. That then leaves them 57 hours a week in which to grow up.
My children attend school 30 hours a week, use about 8 hours getting ready for and traveling to and from school, and spend an average of 7 hours a week in homework - a total of 45 hours. During that time they are under constant surveillance. They have no private time or private space and are disciplined if they try to assert individuality in the use of time or space. That leaves them 12 hours a week out of which to create a unique consciousness. Of course my kids eat, too, and that takes some time - not much because they've lost the tradition of family dining - but if we allot 3 hours a week to evening meals we arrive at a net amount of private time for each child of 9 hours per week.
It's not enough, is it? The richer the kid, of course, the less television he or she watches, but the rich kid's time is just as narrowly prescribed by a somewhat broader catalogue of commercial entertainments and the inevitable assignment to a series of private lessons in areas seldom of his or her own choice. But these activities are just a more cosmetic way to create dependent human beings, unable to fill their own hours, unable to initiate lines of meaning to give substance and pleasure to their existence. It's a national disease, this dependency and aimlessness, and I think schooling and television and lessons have a lot to do with it.
Think of the phenomena which are killing us as a nation - narcotic drugs, brainless competition, recreational sex, the pornography of violence, gambling, and alcohol, and the worst pornography of all: lives devoted to buying things, accumulation as a philosophy -all of these are addictions of dependent personalities, and this is what our brand of schooling must inevitably produce.
I want to tell you what the effect on our children is of taking all their time from them - time they need to grow up - and forcing them to spend it on abstractions.You need to hear this because any reform that doesn't attack these specific pathologies will be nothing more than a facade.
1. The children I teach are indifferent to the adult world. This defies the experience of thousands of years. A close study of what big people were up to was always the most exciting occupation of youth, but nobody wants children to grow up these days, least of all the children: and who can blame them? Toys are us. 2. The children I teach have almost no curiosity, and what little they do have is transitory. They cannot concentrate for very long, even on things they choose to do. Can you see a connection between the bells ringing again and again to change classes and this phenomenon of evanescent attention?
3. The children I teach have a poor sense of the future, of how tomorrow is inextricably linked to today. As I said before, they live in a continuous present, the exact moment they are in is the boundary of their consciousness.
4. The children I teach are ahistorical; they have no sense of how the past has predestinated their own present, limiting their choices, shaping their values and lives.
5. The children I teach are cruel to each other; they lack compassion for misfortune; they laugh at weakness: they have contempt for people whose need for help shows too plainly.
6. The children I teach are uneasy with intimacy or candor. They cannot deal with genuine intimacy because of a lifelong habit of preserving a secret inner self inside a larger outer personality made up of artificial bits and pieces of behavior borrowed from television or acquired to manipulate teachers. Because they are not who they represent themselves to be, the disguise wears thin in the presence of intimacy; so intimate relationships have to be avoided.
7. The children I teach are materialistic, following the lead of schoolteachers who materialistically "grade everything' and television mentors who offer everything in the world for sale.
8. The children I teach are dependent, passive, and timid in the presence of new challenges. This timidity is frequently masked by surface bravado, or by anger or aggressiveness, but underneath is a vacuum without fortitude.
I could name a few other conditions that school reform will have to tackle if our national decline is to be arrested, but by now you will have grasped my thesis, whether you agree with it or not. Either schools have caused these pathologies, or television has, or both. It's a simple matter of arithmetic - between schooling and television, all the time the children have is eaten up. There simply isn't enough other time in the experience of our kids for there to be other significant causes.
What can be done?
First, we need a ferocious national debate that doesn't quit, day after day, year after year, the kind of continuous debate that journalism finds boring. We need to scream and argue about this school thing until it is fixed or broken beyond repair, one or the other. If we can fix it, fine; if we cannot, then the success of home-schooling shows a different road that has great promise. Pouring the money we now pour into schooling back into family education might cure two ailments with one medicine, repairing families as it repairs children.
Genuine reform is possible but it shouldn't cost anything. More money and more people pumped into this sick institution will only make it sicker. We need to rethink the fundamental premises of schooling and decide what it is we want all children to learn and why. For 140 years this nation has tiled to impose objectives downward from a lofty command center made up of "experts," a central elite of social engineers. It hasn't worked. It won't work. And it is a gross betrayal of the democratic promise that once made this nation a noble experiment. The Russian attempt to create Plato's republic in Eastern Europe has exploded before our eyes; our own attempt to impose the same sort of central orthodoxy using the schools as an instrument is also coming apart at the seams, albeit more slowly and painfully. It doesn't work because its fundamental premises are mechanical, antihuman, and hostile to family life. Lives can be controlled by machine education but they will always fight back with weapons of social pathology: drugs, violence, self-destruction, indifference, and the symptoms I see in the children I teach.
It's high time we looked backwards to regain an educational philosophy that works. One I like particularly well has been a favorite of the ruling classes of Europe for thousands of years. I use as much of it as I can manage in my own teaching, as much, that is, as I can get away with, given the present institution of compulsory schooling. I think it works just as well for poor children as for rich ones.
At the core of this elite system of education is the belief that self-knowledge is the only basis of true knowledge. Everywhere in this system, at every age, you will find arrangements that work to place the child alone in an unguided setting with a problem to solve. Sometimes the problem is fraught with great risks, such as the problem of galloping a horse or malting it jump, but that, of course, is a problem successfully solved by thousands of elite children before the age of ten. Can you imagine anyone who had mastered such a challenge ever lacking confidence in his ability to do anything? Sometimes the problem is the problem of mastering solitude, as Thoreau did at Walden Pond, or Einstein did in the Swiss customs house.
Right now we are taking from our children all the time that they need to develop self-knowledge. That has to stop. We have to invent school experiences that give a lot of that time back. We need to trust children from a very early age with independent study, perhaps arranged in school, but which takes place away from the institutional setting. We need to invent curricula where each kid has a chance to develop private uniqueness and self-reliance.
A short time ago I took $70 and sent a twelve-year-old girl from my class, with her non-English-speaking mother, on a bus down the New Jersey coast to take the police chief of Seabright to lunch and apologize for polluting his beach with a discarded Gatorade bottle. In exchange for this public apology I had arranged with the police chief for the girl to have a one-day apprenticeship in small town police procedures. A few days later two more of my twelve-year-old kids traveled alone from Harlem to West Thirty-first street where they began an apprenticeship with a newspaper editor; later three of my kids found themselves in the middle of the Jersey swamps at six in the morning, studying the mind of a trucking company president as he dispatched eighteen-wheelers to Dallas, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
Are these "special" children in a "special" program? Well, in one sense yes, but nobody knows about this program but myself and the kids. They're just nice kids from central Harlem, bright and alert, but so badly schooled when they came to me that most of them couldn't add or subtract with any fluency. And not a single one knew the population of New York City or how far New York is from California.
Does that worry me? Of course; but I am confident that as they gain self-knowledge they'll also become self-teachers - and only self-teaching has any lasting value.
We've got to give kids independent time right away because that is the key to self-knowledge, and we must reinvolve them with the real world as fast as possible so that the independent time can be spent on something other than abstraction. This is an emergency; it requires drastic action to correct.
What else does a restructured school system need? It needs to stop being a parasite on the working community. Of all the pages in the human ledger, only our tortured country has warehoused children and asked nothing of them in service of the general good. For a while I think we need to make community service a required part of schooling. Besides the experience in acting unselfishly that it will teach, it is the quickest way to give young children real responsibility in the mainstream of life.
For five years I ran a guerrilla school program where I had every kid, rich and poor, smart and dipsy, give 320 hours a year of hard community service. Dozens of those kids came back to me years later, grown up, and told me that the experience of helping someone else had changed their lives. It had taught them to see in new ways, to rethink goals and values. It happened when they were thirteen, in my Lab School program, and was only possible because my rich school district was in chaos. When "stability" returned, the Lab closed. It was too successful with a widely mixed group of kids, at too small a cost, to be allowed to continue.
Independent study, community service, adventures and experience, large doses of privacy and solitude, a thousand different apprenticeships, the one-day variety or longer - these are all powerful, cheap, and effective ways to start a real reform of schooling. But no large-scale reform is ever going to work to repair our damaged children and our damaged society until we force open the idea of "school to include family as the main engine of education. If we use schooling to break children away from parents - and make no mistake, that has been the central function of schools since John Cotton announced it as the purpose of the Bay Colony schools in 1650 and Horace Mann announced it as the purpose of Massachusetts schools in 1850 - we're going to continue to have the horror show we have right now.
The "Curriculum of Family" is at the heart of any good life. We've gotten away from that curriculum; it's time to return to it. The way to sanity in education is for our schools to take the lead in releasing the stranglehold of institutions on family life, to promote during schooltime confluences of parent and child that will strengthen family bonds. That was my real purpose in sending the girl and her mother down the Jersey coast to meet the police chief.
I have many ideas for formulating a family curriculum and my guess is that a lot of you have many ideas, too. Our greatest problem in getting the kind of grassroots thinking going that could reform schooling is that we have large, vested interests preempting all the air time and profiting from schooling as it is, despite rhetoric to the contrary.
We have to demand that new voices and new ideas get a hearing, my ideas and yours. We've all had a bellyful of authorized voices mediated by television and the press; a decade-long free-for-all debate is what is called for now, not any more "expert" opinions. Experts in education have never been right; their "solutions" are expensive, self-serving, and always involve further centralization. We've seen the results.
If s time for a return to democracy, individuality, and family.

Mr. Gatto climaxed his teaching career as New York State Teacher of the Year after being named New York City Teacher of the Year on three occasions. He quit teaching on the OP ED page of the Wall Street Journal in 1991 while still New York State Teacher of the Year, claiming that he was no longer willing to hurt children. Later that year he was the subject of a show at Carnegie Hall called "An Evening With John Taylor Gatto," which launched a career of public speaking in the area of school reform, which has taken Gatto over a million and a half miles in all fifty states and seven foreign countries. In 1992, he was named Secretary of Education in the Libertarian Party Shadow Cabinet, and he has been included in Who's Who in America from 1996 on. In 1997, he was given the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for his contributions to the cause of liberty, and was named to the Board of Advisors of the National TV-Turnoff Week.

Mr. Gatto's books include: Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling (1992); The Exhausted School (1993); A Different Kind of Teacher (2000); and The Underground History Of American Education (2001)

Encouraging Words

When the enemy of your soul slaps you around
and knocks you down and says, 
“Why don’t you just stay down this time?” 
The Hand with great wounds reaches down and lifts you up,
and the Lover of your soul whispers in your ear so only you can hear,
“I got this.” 
He defends the weak and heals the broken 
and knows there is infinitely more to your story. 
- Geoff Ludlo-

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Time Savin' Mama: Freezer Waffles

With Pregnancies progressing, babies to nurse, schooling to be done, and meals to prepare, how many of us Mama folk couldn't use time saving tips? I am a time cruncher I like to get all my chores done in the most productive way possible so I do all sorts of shortcut work to help cut down on time when I'm feeling tired or overwhelmed with my day.

One of the things I do that my family loves and saves a ton of time in the long run is what I call "waffle weeks". My whole family enjoys it and when I'm feeling icky from being pregnant my husband has a yummy breakfast he can pop in the microwave or toaster before work! Plus, even the children can "make waffles" if need be.

What you'll need

10 lbs pancake/waffle mix. I buy mine as the cost is pretty similar and it's just one thing I like to do easy.
Waffle iron
Wax paper
Gallon size baggies

How to do it

Now there is a reason that I call it "waffle week" and not just waffle day etc. starting Monday morning I get a large mixing bowl and make enough batter to fill it. I heat up my waffle iron and start making waffles. I will make make them until it is all gone. We eat as they are prepared and with the remaining I stack them on a cookie sheet dividing the layers with wax paper.

After which I put them in the freezer until the next morning.

The next morning I bag up the frozen waffles and start all over again. I do this all week until the mix is gone. By the end of the week we have a good supply of ready to heat waffles for whenever breakfast needs to be fast or someone (A.K.A. Mama) doesn't feel particularly keen on making breakfast quite yet.

Happy Waffle Making!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Welcome to the Homestead: The Chicken Coop is Almost Done!

Not a whole lot to say on the matter but wanted to share the progress and the super cutie who was "helping".

Daddy stops to play peek-a-boo with Ellie and show Mama the door to fetch eggs
Daddy pleeeeeease!
Ellie sitting in her roost

"Hey, come back Daddy!'

"Look Mama, Daddy made a seat just for me! "

I will post more as it gets finished!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Eight Years

This beautiful little one has given us eight years of wonderful. How can it have been eight years already? Eight years since my life was to change forever. Eight years since the day I would forever see the world in a different light. Eight years since the day I would no longer care for my selfish ambitions. Eight years since the day God reached down into my life and blessed me with a the greatest gift of all; the day I became a mother.

Happy birthday my sweet, sweet Lily! You are loved so very dearly by us! Thank you for eight years of wonderful!



Tiny handprints grow so fast
Their awkward groping soon will clasp
A ball, a book, a sweetheart's hand,
A diploma, breifcase, wedding band

Tiny handprints grow so strong
It doesn't take them very long
To snap a shirt, to paint, to draw,
To labor hard, to drive a car.









Tiny handprints grow to be 

A person that is quite unique
A wonderful mix of so many things
With her own feelings, thoughts and dreams.



Tiny handprints grow to rely
On her parents to bring her up just right
Her parents pray that when she's grown
She'll say their job has been well done.







Tiny handprints are ours to love

The sweetest gift from God above

A miracle that never is surpassed

How sad they grow up way too fast.

Author unknown


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Welcome to the Homestead: Homemade Ricotta

I recently discovered how cost affective it was to make your own ricotta cheese rather than buy it! It was incredibly easy and you don't need anything special to make it, just basic ingredients!

What you need

1 Gallon of milk (NOT ultra pasteurized) I've found that Kirkland brand works well.
6 Tbs. Vinegar (or lemon juice but I have not tried lemon juice personally.)
1-2 tsp salt depending on taste.
Cheese cloth
Plain old colander
1 pan of Chocolate Peanut Butter bars (optional but highly recommended)

This can also be halved. I used half a gallon of milk and 3 Tbs. of vinegar the first time and it worked beautifully

How you do it

In a heavy bottomed pan pour in milk

Add salt

Turn to medium heat, if you have a thermometer plop it on in there now. You want it to reach about 180-185 degrees or right before boiling, a soft simmer.

While waiting eat a Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar, or two or three. Oh and stir occasionally so as not to scorch your milk.

In the mean time place cheese cloth, 4 layers thick, in colander. I forgot to take a picture but you get the idea.Once milk reaches desired temperature remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Stir for a few minutes, you should see it curdling almost right away.

Scoop into cheese cloth lined colander with slotted spoon until all of curdles are in cloth. You can drain the water over after into another pan to use for boiling noodles.

Once all curds are in wrap up and hang. I hang mine from the faucet.

For more creamy ricotta only hang for a minute or for a firm crumbly ricotta for 5-10 minutes.

And there you have it, fresh, homemade, cheap, ricotta! You can refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or use right away. Recipe for the Manicotti that this beautiful batch went into coming soon!  Happy cheese making!
A tub with less than this amount in it cost around $2.70-$3.00. A gallon of milk cost $2.00 here. Cheese cloth is also quite cheap and vinegar super cheap. I love homemade ricotta!  To see what I did with this beautiful batch check here. Happy cheese making!