Archive for June, 2009

Working temporarily on a medical-surgical unit at Bristol Regional Medical Center, I am developing some firm ideas about aging and the care that I would like to receive. One of my favorite soapboxes is related to advance directives – my advice to each one of you is to seriously think about the care that you want and the treatments that you do not want, and to complete some advance directives while you are still healthy and in your right mind. I do not intend to be an elderly person hanging onto the last shred of human life through any sort of artificial means or medical treatments. Should I live to a certain age when things start to seriously deteriorate, either mentally or physically, I would like for my terminal illness be allowed to run its course and carry me  off before I become either a burden to my family or find myself the victim of my own deteriorating body. I realize that some suffering may be inevitable, with possible loss of various functions before my time may come. If, however, I am found living in a nursing home with a very poor quality of life and I develop pneumonia, I would like to receive no other treatments beyond oxygen (to ease breathing) and pain medication. Rather than viewing the pneumonia as something that should be aggressively treated, perhaps it  might be the friend that ends my full life, saving me further debilitation and loss of dignity. Too many older adults are not allowed to die but are subjected to treatment after treatment, staving off death when their quality of life is very poor indeed. It may raise ethical questions to make judgements about someone’s quality of life, but I firmly believe that were these adults able to voice their sentiments on the issue, they would prefer to be allowed to pass on. Often patients will express this desire, but families step in and insist that everything be done. I know I would want to be allowed to die. Truthfully, once my mind has gone, I see no reason to linger. Legally speaking, the medical profession is obligated to treat until no further benefit can be gained. If the family insists, the medical profession can (and often does) give futile medical care. If you do not want these treatments as you age, you must indicate so on legally binding documents – advance directives – and let your wishes be known to your family and those who might become responsible for you in the event that you become incapacitated in any way. Advance directive forms can be found on the internet, and should be filled out while you are healthy, not once you become sick. Your families should also be notified of your wishes and the location of your advance directive papers. Too many times, this has not been done, leaving the families with decisions they are ill-prepared to face in crisis. Many families do not discuss these sort of topics, and those are most ignorant of wishes when dilemmas arise. Let your family know and sign those documents!


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Sometimes I wonder what drives me to homeschool Kate, why I read books about parenting and character building, why I spend so much time and effort wondering if I’m doing the right things – striving to correct my own parenting techniques…Often people will say to me, “Our parents never did any of this, and we turned out okay!” Truth is, I’ve realized that I don’t want my kids to turn out okay. I want them to turn out excellently. I want to be able to loose on society conscientious, mannerly, respectful adults, with a strong work ethic, high standards, with moral and ethical excellence, well equipped to handle whatever life may throw at them. It’s not enough for me for them to survive childhood – I want them to have the tools they need for a successful life. It is to this end that I strive as a parent. That’s why I feel compelled to homeschool Kate at this time – I see needs in her that I feel will not be adequately met in a classroom scenario. I see character that needs molding that will get lost in the shuffle if I lose access to her for 40 hours a week. I feel like we have so little time as it is – were I to put her under other influences at this juncture, I might lose what influence I have over her and the opportunity that I have to mold her while she is young.

Some of the people who consider themselves to have turned out “okay” are not necessarily so. Looking around, one sees many people who are missing basic life skills falling prey to their own ignorance. The ability to communicate, diplomacy, respect, and a work ethic are sadly lacking in many individuals.

Molding the character of my children increases my self-awareness. As I strive to teach my children, I see things in myself that need changing, and can make those matters of prayer and personal endeavor. Teaching my children is educating me. I don’t know how long the homeschooling will continue. Either way, the character training will never stop – not for years, at least. It’s an overwhelming responsibility. I have realistic expectations  – I know that it’s unwise to expect perfection. But I do expect growth. I expect results. I expect to be proud of the woman that my daughter becomes.

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A Cup of Tea


I grew up in Newfoundland. The differences between northern Canadian culture and Southern culture have become more apparent to me over time. One of the things I miss the most (and those are truly few) is the tradition of having someone over for ‘a cup of tea.’  Informal entertaining at its best, a cup of tea was usually a spontaneous, brief, and enjoyable way to have a bit of company to break up your day. The visitor didn’t care what your house or your person looked like, and often the tradition was carried out in work clothing after you finished a task or took a much needed break. People would come over for a cup of tea after church in the evening. All that was needed  was a little tea or coffee, easily prepared, and something else to eat. Cookies from a package often sufficed – I even remember having toast. Of course, if there was a little more notice, one might whip up a pan of squares or something else to go with the tea. The point is, it could be carried out with no prior planning or preparation. I’ve been finding myself a little lonely this week, and have been longing for the ability to call someone to “come over for a cup of tea” but can’t think of anyone who would even know what I was talking about. I just want someone to come over for a visit with me, without having to go to all the work of planning and cooking dinner, and cleaning my house in order to entertain in true Southern style. I just want a visit! I’m wondering if I could begin a new tradition down here. Does anyone have time to take an hour out of their day to just sit and talk while we drink a cup of tea or coffee? Seems to me, back in Newfoundland, despite the tininess of our circle, not a week passed without one such visit…often there were many in a week. Auntie Judy would come on Saturday (or we would go there), someone would come over after church, or Mrs.Goff or Barb Janes would drop by for something and end up staying for a visit. In fact, anyone stopping by the house for any reason was an opportunity for a cup of tea.  I know we had more time there, since things moved at a much slower pace. Yet, with time being so scarce these days, perhaps a more informal approach to fellowship might be an improvement, using the little time we have to greatest advantage. Sometimes I miss a simpler way of visiting…so for those interested, come for a cup of tea!

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Gardening Notes

After a trip to Evergreenn, I put in Garden Number Two yesterday – cucumbers, canteloupe, crookneck squash, butternut squash, and watermelon. Last year we got one little watermelon which the children ate in one sitting. I’ve added a layer of newspaper to the top of my garden to cut down on weeds and minimize watering. It’s not glamorous, but it works. Garden Number One consists of tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, beets, carrots, peppers, and marigolds. The herb garden (my personal favorite) has rosemary, basil, lime basil, chives, parsley, cilantro, dill, pineapple sage, lemon thyme, oregano, and peppermint. Several of those plants exist just so that I can go out and smell them once a day! Kate and Whitney (the little neighbor girl) helped me put in the garden, and they worked like troopers. I think they were mostly fascinated by the interesting and gross bugs, grubs, and spiders they unearthed. It’s apparently quite fun to squeal every time you see something yucky, or talk about how cute the roly-polies are when you’re nine. We all got beautifully dirty and felt as though we had done a good day’s work. Now, all that’s left to do is trim the holly, viburnums, and magnolia, cut down the dead butterfly bush, seal the driveway, level a spot in the yard for the pool…you get the idea…

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I’m struggling with my nine-year old these days. Truth is, I feel like we’ve been struggling for a while. I feel the urgency to build and nurture a strong relationship with her in order that when she goes through the struggles of the teen years, we’ll be able to talk. I feel like I have been diligent about providing the moral reason why I have required things of her, but see so few evidences of that implantation. I hate the times that I have to step in as the ultimate authority figure in her life, but she is not yet at an age to be autonomous (Lord help us if she was!). There are such fine lines between allowing her some liberty while still maintaining necessary control, being the authority figure and trying to become the friend, continuously imparting necessary virtues while seeing little proof that they’ve even penetrated that thick head of hair. I find that this may be the most difficult parenting I’ve done yet. I’m starting to feel very hesitant about having any more children, feeling that if I can get Kate raised, I’ll have accomplished something huge, and that it’s taking every bit of energy that I have to give. Truth is, I don’t know what else to do other than pray almost every minute that I’m dealing with her that I’ll know what the right move is, the right word is, and how to best snag her heart.

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Blogging is not something I do for you, it is something I do for myself. Often there are things on my mind, and the best way for me to process them is to write about them. For those of you who take the time to read my blog, caveat emptor! I’m not attempting to start anything, be anything, or prove anything, but the things I write are some of the things I’m thinking about as I go about my day.

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