Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A funny happened on the way to find Jesus

Never would I insult or belittle the way others worship.  With that said, I have two things to say about the last two weeks; "Holy Shit." and  "Oh my GAWD".  We have attended two new churches in past two weeks.  We really loved out old church but since moving we haven't gone because it's too far away. (that perception will probably change.) 

Okay, church number one.  It was in it's temporary location.  They are getting ready to build a church.  We thought that was a good sign.  Good churches are always expanding.  So we arrive a tad bit early. (35 minutes)  We are confused from the start.  From their webpage, we assumed that it was non-denominational but the Baptist Association's office was there as well.  We have nothing against Baptist, it just wasn't what we were expecting.  We go in and I immediately see the "coffee shop".  I really don't care if a church has coffee shop.  But don't call a coffee pot with some flavoring set out a coffee shop.  Thanks for the coffee and the false advertising.  I don't know why churches now need coffee shops anyway.  My Bible must be missing 1st Seattle's Best and 2nd Starbucks.  To me it would make more sense to have a winery.  Since that is more biblical than coffee.  And it might just bring in more sinners to save.  Uhh where was I.  Oh yeah, since we were early most people were in Sunday School.  We walked around, read the bulletin and found a seat.  The service began.  It was okay.  I felt like I had gone to church in someone's living room and it was Uncle Bob's story time.  The preacher read off his papers the whole time, rarely looking up.  It reminded of speech class.  The singing was the greatest either.  It just wasn't for me. 
The second church was recommended to us by a neighbor.  Which by the way I will have to avoid now because I won't know how to answer "What did think you about our church?"  This time we arrive right on time.  We shuffle in not knowing which direction to go.  A lady tells us how they are going to need more chairs.  Okay but why are you telling me?  We make it inside and find a seat.  It's a packed house.  This must be the place to be.  The music starts and 30 minutes later is still going.  Uh-oh, this isn't going to be an hour is it.  Tick tick tick. The music ends and they bring in a guest speaker. Tick tick tick.  Then there was a baby dedication.  Tick tick tick.   The preacher starts talking and I think "Oh, he must be wrapping things up."  Uhhhhhhhh, no.  He begins to preach.  Now the website says non-denominational but I'm pretty sure that was a Baptist sermon.  That's fine, it's good to have a change.  Tick tick tick.  We have now hit the two hour mark.  Two hours may be the norm for some but 75 minutes is about all I can last.  Wait, didn't he say something about baptisms today.  Oh yeah, and here comes that train of people now.  Tick tick tick. Having me sit in one place for two hours is like putting a puppy in cage and expecting him not to bark.  We got to go.  We leave before they start dunking people.  I feel a little bad but this wasn't for me.  

During the last service, Gretchen and I had the same thought.  We miss our old church.  We will probably return to it.  Although we might give the Catholic Church another try.  I don't know but I never thought finding a church to attend would be so hard.

I guess to way to explain how I felt during the last two weeks is:  Have you ever been invited to a someone's house for a party and when you get there you find out that it 's for Amway.  Yeah, that's how I felt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Parenting ADHD

People often joke that they may have A.D.D., using it as an excuse of why they are forgetful.  If they only knew what it was really like, they wouldn't think it was so funny.  If there are any nay-sayers that want to claim there is no such disorder, that it's just children misbehaving, I'm here to tell you that it is REAL. Also, more research should be done to find out why it exists and to find a cure.  There is no ribbon to wear, there are no big media events, and when Tom Cruise is your poster boy, ADD/ADHD gets forgotten about.  By the way, if there was a ribbon, it should be a multi-colored pinwheel because that how an ADD/ADHD brain works.  It's goes a millions miles an hour in a million different directions.
My oldest child has ADHD ( Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).  It is a disability.  I think most people have no clue of what it is like.  However, if you think you have a clue, multiply it by 10.  I started to name famous people with ADHD but then it wouldn't help the point I'm trying to convey about how hard it makes life.

We first started seeing Noah's symptoms in preschool.  ( Pre-warning-The following stories piss me off so far beyond belief that if I rattle off some rather choice words please give me)  Noah's first year of pre-school was fine.  He liked sitting on the teachers lap and getting the extra attention.  We weren't concerned about that.  The next year started off a freaking nightmare.  "Noah's not doing what is suppose to be doing"  "Noah doesn't stay on task" "Noah ... Noah ... Noah..." Then came, "Noah is biting the other kids."  Now we had had issues with Noah biting is older cousins.  It was his way of fighting back, but biting the other kids, I'm still not convinced.  But what really brought us to the brink was that Noah was being sent to the principal office everyday.  And when I say everyday I mean EVERYDAY.  It became part of his routine.  We finally sat down for a parent/teacher conference where it was more of "Noah does"  when we ask his teacher and her aide what they were doing to help him and his behavior; we were told, and I quote verbatim,  "We have 15 other kids in the class, we don't have time to give him any extra attention."  Silence followed.  As the conversation continued and we discussed with the principal ideas to help Noah, it became more apparent that his teacher (hereafter referred to as "that bitch" had no inclination to help and that Noah's daily trips to the purple chair shaped like a human hand, that sat in principal's office, would continue. We then requested that Noah be moved to another class.  It took a few days but Noah was moved.  His new teacher was hesitant but accepted the transfer.  Who could blame her for being hesitant about receiving a child who won't do what he is told and bites other kids.  Well from day 1 that clouds lifted and sun shined.  Noah did not have any problems for the rest of the year.  Hallelujah!  Now I won't say that "that bitch" lied but a child's behavior just doesn't change instantly.  And Noah's supposedly did?  I will never buy it.  It was during this time that I went to a seminar about ADHD.  However, Noah really did not show all of the signs.
Two years later in first grade, little things started occurring.  Noah would come home with his white polo shirt covered in food everyday.   EVERYDAY.  Another thing was that he was chewing is pencil until there was nothing left of them.  Then came second grade.  He wouldn't stay in his seat, he would walk around the room and he would sharpen his pencil 20 times a day.  The biggest issue was that he wasn't getting things done in class.  So we had him tested.  Our doctor would not diagnose him without the school testing him first.  And so began, the meds.  More on those later.
Fast-forward four years.  We had moved to Louisiana from Illinois.  Noah began middle school.  He had been placed in the advanced gifted program.  Another freaking nightmare.  He would come and do homework until 9pm. The poor kid had no life. Back to school we went for a conference with all of his teachers.  Again, all but 1, claimed they didn't have time to help him and that this was middle school and kids needed to be more responsible.  Blah blah blah. The conversation escalated and I thought Gretchen and the young English teacher were going to go at it right then and there.  The fall out from the meeting was once again nothing was done to solve any of the issues.  Two weeks later, I went to his school and pulled him out of the advanced gifted program.  He was move to the gifted program.  Problems solved.   This year he is at another school and with two weeks in I can happily report no problems. 

Two other problems that we have to deal with are problems at home and social problems.  At home, we have to take extra time making sure that Noah does everything he has to.  Brush his teeth, get dressed, find his shoes, eat, and take his pills.  Those are just a few.  If you tell him to do something like go get some socks.  Two minutes later he will be playing with something and has totally forgotten about the socks. The extra attention takes time away from our other kids and I often feel bad for the other but for peace within the house, it has to be done.  It doesn't matter how much you scream and yell, it won't cure the disorder.  Believe me, I have done my share of screaming and yelling.  Another thing you have to learn to deal with is the impulsive behavior.  While most of us might think, I wonder what this does, or I wish I had that $100 bill, or I'd like to punch him in mouth, we don't act on it because our filter tell us not to.  ADHD kids don't have that filter.  They know right from wrong and do mostly right but there are times when you just want to pull your hair out and ask "WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?!"
All of these little quirks affect his social life.  ADHD kids usually act more immature than other kids.  Noah will argue about anything.  If I say the sky is blue, he will argue that it is green or vice-versa.  It doesn't matter what the topic is he WILL argue with you.  Those two qualities make it hard to make and keep friends.  This leads to hurt feelings and "everyone hates me."  We are getting ready for the teen years and I fear this may get worse.  I wonder sometimes if moving to Louisiana made things worse for him but with no jobs in Illinois we really didn't have a choice.  We comfort him the best we can and pray that things will go his way someday.

There is no magic pill to make all of this go away.  If you are new to ADD/ADHD you will find that it is all trial and error.  What works great for one kid may be a nightmare for another.  The following is a list that we have tried and what effects they had:

Concerta - Worked ok.  Significant loss of appetite. Noah almost refused to eat.
Straterra - we don't remember
Adderall - A complete disaster.  It caused Noah to be mean and hateful. He even threatened to stab a kid with a pencil.  This one lasted only 2 weeks.
Focalin- this is what has worked best for us.  Some loss of appetite. But he eats pretty well now.

Other side effects have been that he becomes extremely worried about the safety of his brother and sister, almost to point of being paranoid.  "Coming down" off of his meds at night he can become extremely emotional and/or confrontational.  Too much medication will "zone" him out.

First of all, you need to know that none of your child's disorder is your fault.  We all want to do what's best for our kids and placing them on medication is the last thing that we want to do.  If you do decide to medicate, watch your child behavior closely.  You will have to find a balance between good and bad side effects.  You have to be ready to fight for your kid at school.  Some schools/teachers are great and some are just terrible.  Some schools do not like to give kids their meds.  Often they will try to place the responsibility on the child to remember to come take their meds.  That's ridiculous.  Sometimes Noah can't remember what I told him do a minute ago, how's he going to remember to go take a pill in the middle of the day. 

I think some teachers get into teaching just for the power of telling kids what to do or they expect all kids to act like perfect little angels.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but ADHD kids march to the beat of their own drum.  I suggest you find ways to accept that and incorporate methods that benefit those kids.  If a kid was in wheelchair you wouldn't punish them for not climbing the stairs, so why punish a kid who can't focus on the task at hand. 

There are several websites out there on ADHD.  I found this one today (  It seems pretty good.

Finally, to the parents of ADD/ADHD children: you are not alone.  There are countless parents just like you in this world.  If you need help, Gretchen and I are more than happy to talk about our experience or give you some advice.  You can message us here or on Facebook anytime.

So the next time your at the store and your kid is out of control and people are staring at you like your the worst parent in the world, you can hold your head up high and know that you are some of the best parents in the world.  And for those who stand there judging, you all can go to Hell.  

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do I make you uncomfortable?

Why do the words "I'm a Christian" make some rooms uncomfortable.  I have heard conversations that would make the devil blush, but the moment Christianity is mentioned the room goes silent.   Are the people just embarrassed about how they carry themselves or are they afraid that they may offend the professing Christian.  I once read that NFL quarterback Kurt Warner had a party for his teammates and hardy anyone showed up because they thought they would feel uncomfortable.  To be a Christian means you admit that you follow Christ.  No where does it say that Christians are perfect.  People that get labeled as "Holy Rollers" or "Jesus Freaks" usually aren't considered "cool" outside of the Church setting.  I don't get it.  I am a Christian.  I don't feel uncool about that.  I like the same things others do: books, movies, music and sports.

 About the conversations I mentioned earlier, people will tell you every last detail, disgusting or not, about any and every part of their lives.  But talking about Church is off limits?  It's okay to put a number 3 on your car in tribute to a race car driver but a cross or fish in remembrance of Christ is over the line?  A think a lot of it comes from the separation of church and state.  What most people don't realize is that the Christian founding fathers' idea was to keep the state out of the Church not vice-versa.  These days you see God be taken out of everything including, schools, government, and even the Christmas Season.  Enough!

Christians are just normal people who believe.  No one is making you do anything.  I'm sorry that what you do embarrasses yourself.  Maybe instead of rolling your eyes at those who preach and profess, you should stop and listen. But until then why don't you just treat us normally and move on. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Little Miss Gretchen sat on the toilet

Yes, two blogs in one day.

At precisely 5:49 a.m. I was awakened by "SHANE, there's a big spider in here!" (the bathroom)  Now, I have seen Gretchen's "big spiders" before and they are usually not that big.  So, I climb out of bed and go into the bathroom and to my surprise she's on the toilet.  No, not standing on the toilet, on the toilet.  "The spider is under those rugs."  "Grab a shoe."  I went and got a shoe.  I pulled the rug back and yes it was a rather large spider.  He must have been out for a morning stroll because he was just going about his business.  He never knew what hit him.

I'm not really scared of anything but, I have a huge dislike for spiders and snakes.  If a spider is outside he gets a pass.  Eat all the bugs that you want.  A snake doesn't get that lucky.  I know snakes have a place in the ecosystem, it's just not around me.  I will kill any snake that I see.  The problem with spiders and snakes is that they are always where they shouldn't be.  And they feel it's our fault when we stumble upon them.  If either startle me, it's over for them.

This wasn't the first time Gretchen has called me to kill a bug.  The first time, I was 17 or 18 years old and she called me on the phone because there was a cricket in her room.  I came over and found her standing on a milk crate and a tiny cricket in the floor.  It was a comical scene, as was this morning's scene with the spider catching her with her pants down.

Civic Dooty

While I will always love my hometown of Mount Vernon, there are reasons I don't live there anymore.  And while I could rant for days about numerous topics, I only going to blog about one.  Apathy.

For a town that cries about not having anything to do, Vernites sure don't do anything about it.  Recently, the Jaycee's cancelled their House of Horrors, a forty plus year tradtion.  It was cancelled because no one wanted to help.  I imagine it was a lot of work getting it put together and people have too many other things to do like play Farmville or Mafia Wars on Facebook.  It takes a team of people to get things like a haunted house done and made enjoyable.  However, the people of Mount Vernon, when ask for help, just shut their doors.  People are too busy watching Jersey Shore or Real Housewives to do anything productive.  In my last blog, I questioned what kids would remember from their childhoods, now I wondering what young adults will remember 20 years from now "Hey remember that time when Pauly D...." rather than "Hey remember when we ran the haunted house and....."  Stop living vicariously through TV characters.  Go out and make memories of your own. 

This coming Halloween will be the 10th year for Trunk-or Treat in Mount Vernon.  Guess who started it.  ME! (with the help of Gretchen)  I got the idea from a church in another town and brought it ours.  I was Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus at the time.  (Back in the 10 years that I was Catholic)  I brought the idea before the council and received blank stares.  I ask about starting a committee.  I was told we didn't need one.  I was also told that it wouldn't work.  Did anyone volunteer to help?  Nope.  So Gretchen and I did it.  I worked my ass off and made it successful.  The next year when the Methodist Church made the front page of the paper with their Trunk-or-Treat, I thought "Hey, what about me?" Oh well, I'll just toot my own horn.  Now, at last count their were 6 different trunk-or-treats in Mount Vernon.  My gift to you.

The problem is that no one in that town wants to help do anything.  What the "Leaders " of Mount Vernon should do is go to Highland Il on August 27 and 28 and witness Kichenfest.  This is how a community should support itself.  Games, food, drink,and music.  Oh wait.  it's put on by the Catholic Church, so you anti-Catholics living in Mount Vernon (and you know who you are) might not want to go.  But I was blown away by how good this event was.  I while I was there, I realized why it was so good.  It was because everyone helped.  Everyone took their turn(young and old): cooking, running games, picking up trash, etc...

Let's compare that to events in Mount Vernon. umm lets see  ummmm  oh.  Cedarhurst Craft Fair.  You go and look at items others have made.  Okay that's part all right.  Civic originations have food stands, reasonably priced.  That part is okay,  But parking has gotten way out of hand.  Everybody trying to gouge their fellow neighbor.  I remember when the only the high school's Youth and Government raised money by helping park cars.  Then the whole town got greedy.  This is our success story?  Cedarhurst?

Let's look at our failures.  Sweet Corn and Watermelon festival.  Neither had anything to do with our town that I'm aware of.  It's now gone.  County Fair at the Fairgrounds. Gone.   Santa's Cottage. Gone.  BBQ and Music festival should have been successful.  It wasn't.  All of these could have been successful.  It only takes a two things:  Volunteers and Community Support.  That's all. And Mount Vernon will give neither.  But we can sure bitch about having nothing to do.  We should have a Apathy Parade.  No one shows up for it and no one cares that no one shows up.  Wait, that's everyday in Mount Vernon.

Mount Vernon's civic originations are dying or already dead.  The death list includes, The Optimist Club, The Lions Club (I think), and now maybe the Jaycee's. Part of the problem is apathy the other is the current members.  When I joined the Kof C, I had all sorts of ideas.  One by one were shot down and eventually I just quit.  Too many people saying we can't do that, that will be too much work or they just wanted to go with their buddy's idea.

The Jaycee's had a bad reputation when I was younger but, I understand that things have really changed since then.  If I still lived there, I would join.  But alas, I escaped that black hole 14 months ago and shan't return.

Now, if you are interested in making a difference and getting involved.  The Jaycee's really need your help.  Contact Dan Voyles on Facebook or at  or visit the Mount Vernon Jaycee page on Facebook.

Come on Mount Vernon!  Get off your lazy asses and do something.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

They grow up so fast. And it's our fault.

Almost thirteen years ago, we found out that we would be adopting our first son.  Thirteen years.  At times it seems longer but, for the most part it could have been last week.  They do grow up fast by our measurements but as a kid I remember those days seem to last forever. 

These days, people push their kids grow up even faster.  Just the other day, the soccer team Real Madrid signed a seven year old to a contract.  Yes, SEVEN!  Parents want their kid to be the next Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Mary Lou Retton, Peyton Manning or Tim Lincecum.  Even though the chances of that happening are very slim. If the kids enjoy those activities, great.  But looking back on their childhood memories, are those activities all they see?  In the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher,  there is a part where one father is shocked to see that Josh's (the main character) father had taken him fishing and missed out on all of the potential chess practice.  Basically, there is more to this world than what is seen from the baseball diamond, football field, golf course, gymnasium, or chess club. 

"Who are you going to the dance with?"  I've heard this asked of a fifth grader.  Are we starting then preparing for the next King and Queen of the Prom.  Why? WHy? WHY?  I don't get it.  What are fifth graders going to do at a dance?  Stand on the side?  Goof off with their friends?  Yes, I admit that my first girlfriend came towards the end of my sixth grade year and if you look at my Facebook friends, she's on there.  It wasn't much more than the occasional holding of hands. But I guess you gotta start somewhere. The point is it wasn't my parents or society pushing me to have a girlfriend. it was my own choice done at my own speed.

Now, as some push kids to grow up faster, some kids don't want to grow up that fast.  They are content still playing with toys and using their imagination. Those kids are looked at as strange and immature.  THEY'RE KIDS!!  Let them be kids.  They don't want to be the next big sports star.  Maybe they aspire to be the next Neil Armstrong, Louis Armstrong or Billie Joe Armstrong.

There are pictures of me hanging in the grade school that I attended.  They are team photos of our second and third place "state"  finishes in basketball and track.  However, most people have no clue that I finished third in a poetry writing contest in sixth grade.  Other than a letter from the Principal and a white ribbon there was no other recognition.  It would be 15 years before, while helping at a youth conference at church, I would pick up a pen and start writing again.  Now, I have pages of poems and songs and a few different novels started.  I know this seems a little off topic, but I spent so much time on sports trying to be the next Cardinal 2nd baseman, that I probably missed where my talents really lie.

Brett Minor, a friend of mine and fellow blogger, recently wrote about how his Scholastic Bowl teamed crashed the sports banquet.  I found that hilarious. It makes me think of my high school's Sports Hall of Fame.  We honor our high school sport heroes.  (By the way, where are they now?)  I can picture Al Bundy saying, "I played high school football." Why just sports?  I believe that our high school has had National Auto Repair Champions. ( I forget the real title).  We have had several Mock Trial winners, Speech and acting winners, Youth and Government winners.  Where is their due?  Off topic again?  Nope.  Who are we raising up, putting on the pedestal?  The sports kids.  The creative kids are frowned upon labeled as dorks, geeks and/or nerds.  Parents push their kids to be sports heroes so they can be popular and then they can date and go to the dance with other popular kids, leaving the rest to be picked on or chastised because they won't reform and fall into line with their more " mature"  ways.

With so much shown to them at an early age, it's no wonder kids are bored with life by the time they graduate high school.  I'm sorry that your dreams didn't come true but, trying to live them through your kids is just wrong.  How about we let kids be kids and stop pushing them into sports so hard and stop stressing how important being popular is?   And maybe, just maybe, they won't grow up so fast.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

School is now in session

August 5th my two oldest go back to school.  Whatever happened to starting after Labor Day?  They used to say the three best things about being a teacher were June, July and August.  Guess that's history.  It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that since the summer is so short now, maybe be should just go to year 'round schooling.  I know it would improve my mental health not to have to worry about what my kids are doing while I'm at work.  Just because I assign them reading it doesn't mean they do it.  And when I get home I'm to worn out to check.  With the way the speak English I'm guessing they don't.  My boys have two jobs: empty and load the dishwasher and take out the trash.  Both hardly ever get done.  The dishes in the sink look like someone's science project. So that's not much help. They do get some physical education though.  Too bad it's playing basketball on the Wii.  There, I named them all.  Now the only people who get hurt by year 'round schooling would be the teachers.  Sorry teachers.  Yes, you too Sis.  Suck it up and work 365 like the rest of us.  I suppose summer daycares would take a hit too.  But all in all I feel it's the way to go.