Every Child Deserves a Team

In my work, I’m often considered to be a member of a “team.”  My clients often have medical, mental health, or educational issues and at times I attend meetings on behalf of my clients to determine what patchwork of services will best assist him or her to become the best they can be under the sometimes heartbreaking circumstances in which they find themselves.  For many of my clients, when they turn 18 or 21 and leave, are “kicked out,” or age out of the foster care/independent living “system,” their “team” disappears and they are alone.  Utterly alone.  If they are lucky, there is at least one other seasoned adult in each of their worlds who will help them navigate the waters of adulthood: love, marriage, education, career, even about practical things like how to make a collect call from a payphone.

Yesterday, I eased my lazy butt out of bed a few hours earlier than I usually do on a Saturday morning.  After my usual morning ablations and attempting to make myself as unscary looking as possible (even if it is Halloween), I toddled downstairs, and John, my DH, and I drove to Baltimore for the annual Autism Speaks fundraising walk at M&T Bank Stadium. Soon we were joined by the organizers, our daughter Dori and son-in-law Donald and two of our grandangels, Madison and Ruby. Their friend, Meredith was also there to walk.  Soon our the team “Madison’s Super Divas” was complete with the addition of Kristin, Sonny and baby Johnny. This grandma’s creaky joints and extremely stiff knee made it around one stadium, but the rest of the team did the circumferences of both M&T and Camden Yards.  There were all sorts of vendors with informational brochures, stands where kids could play with musical instruments, sign up for dance lessons for kids with disabilities, paint faces and pumpkins, get a t-shirt, and the like.  There was a band backed up with a nice assortment of recordings that played throughout. The hour before the walk began, we greeted each other, hugged, laughed, enjoyed the antics of the little guys and appreciated Madison’s new maturity.  Everyone caught up.  Meredith’s parents were on their way to the Rally to Restore Sanity (or to Keep Fear Alive, LOL) and as soon as we were done, she was headed for Washington to join them.  (We later learned that the metro was PACKED with people that morning trying to get down to the Mall at the Smithsonian!) Kristin was feeling fine, with less than four months to go on her second pregnancy.  Sonny was already chatting with other participants and had scored a t-shirt from their team (Note to self: get t-shirts for our team next year!). Donald was quiet, but his usual funny self. Of course Dori had organized the team and registered all of us.  John and I came in our Autism Awareness baseball caps and were enjoying the grandkids. Johnny was cracking up at everything.  Ruby was already humming B-I-N-G-O and the Farmer in the Dell (great pitch that kid has).

Finally, we were off.  After the walk was over, we all piled into our respective cars and met up at the Trolley Stop in Ellicott City for lunch.  It was a great day – and I think a good time was had by all. When we got home, John started painting the bathroom and I, devoid of all ambition, sat down and started knitting. and watching the televised Rally to Restore Sanity.  Loved John Stewart’s Keynote speech:)  Next thing I knew ,it was 6 PM and I had slept about 3 hours.

The rest of the day was somewhat uneventful, but something about the Walk yesterday really hit home for me.  Both before and after the walk, there were group after group of people standing together  – some in the same t-shirts, some in the same hats, some a motley group like ourselves, some with kids, some with generations from babies to elderly great grandparents.  We all had one thing in common: each one of our family groups had at least one member with us who had been diagnosed as being somewhere on the autism spectrum. We were all giving our time and effort to help a cause, to be sure, but so much more than that, we were all showing our love.  We were saying, “one of us has autism; therefore, our family has autism.”  Each one of those groups represented to me the team that each one of their children had behind them in their lives. We were the teams for those children.

There is another moment that comes up fairly frequently in my everyday life very similar to this one.  At baptisms and confirmations in my church, the entire family comes up to the altar.  They surround the infant  for whom others are speaking or the young person who is making his or her own personal affirmation of faith.  These are the people who make up the core of support for each of these children.  They will provide love, safety, advice, concern, prayers, consistency, discipline and joy. These are the ones who will love him or her as no one else will and sometimes when no one else will.

Many of my clients would have no one with them at the altar. Something is very broken in their families – but they still deserve a team – a team of people who will simply be present for them, to care about them and to help them to realize that they are important too. And infinitely precious.

There is a group of adults who try to do this on a regular basis.  They are volunteers and they care. They work hard, one child at a time and often their work goes unrewarded.  But many of us who work with and for children appreciate what they do.  If  you would like to join these saints of adulthood, consider giving your time as a CASA.  CASA stands for “Court Appointed Special Advocate.”  They are there to help the court determine the best interests of a child in child welfare cases, but they usually end up making a lifelong relationship with a child who needs to make their own team. CASA has a national organization, but they operate on a local level.  If you go to their national website , you can locate an office near you.

Backing up a bit

When last I left you, dear 2.5 readers, I was getting ready to go to Austin, TX and as it turns out, I did.  It was great attending the annual NACC (National Association of Counsel for Children) Conference at the Hilton.  Of course, I stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn literally a block away and that was a lovely stay! It’s always a great thing to see what others are doing in their practices and what works.  I learned a number of good things.  It looks like the judiciary is really working to root out the biases they have – in a multi-cultural society like ours a very good thing.

The first evening, I decided to have dinner at a Champions restaurant – a local sports bar.  But since the Yanks were playing Texas and doing OK at the time, I figured this New Yawka should take her supper outside.  It was a lovely summer-like evening with a pleasant breeze and I got a great view of the people passing by and the city life.  I ended up  having a nice conversation with a young teacher who was here for another continuing education conference. We couldn’t have been more different in our philosophical and political outlook.  Yet we did find areas of agreement and managed to have an interesting conversation without calling each other names.  Amazing, isn’t it? Too bad our politicians and news pundits can’t do the same! Who knows? We may even end up friends on facebook:).

The first real day of the conference day was spent in break out sessions, learning how other jurisdictions handle the issues facing kids. The evening was spent knitting and watching the tube and going to bed early (I’m such an old lady!).  As the first plenary/breakfast sesson began, I met up with a personable fellow from Kentucky who works for the local department of social services.  He’s finishing his PhD, but still working as an attorney.  He shared a lot about his life, his kids and his partner, which was unusual for such a short conversation, but it didn’t seem weird at all.  Strangely enough, I don’t think I saw him for the rest of the conference! But I was happy to have met him.

On the last day of the conference, after finishing with the morning sessions and taking a little walk to the O.Henry museum (see picture), I did rent one of those little car thingies and visited a yarn shop not far from the hotel – Hill Country Weavers.  I got some Auracania cotton yarn for a shawl I’m working on (Aeolian from Knitty.com) and took it with me to knit on the plane! Whoot! Excitement for the week:)! The flights there and back were uneventful – my favorite kind! In addition to the young Republican from Texas, and the attorney from Kentucky (and another one all the way from South Padre Island, TX), I met a really nice couple on the flight there who were flying home after a two-week stay in Pittsburgh.

But it was nice to get home and back to my usual routine. Bells, choir, EfM, work, family, sunday and knitting.  When I got to the next choir practice, I found out I had been drafted in my absence to play flute for a couple of choir pieces! Yes:)! My flute playing must not have grossed Nancy out completely – I don’t care what reason, I’m just glad to be doing it. It’s been fun playing flute again, although I had to admit how rusty I’ve gotten.  Oh well, it’s called practicing:) and I have been doing a bunch of that to the detriment of my poor family’s ears.

On the knitting front, I have taken few pictures, except I have made a bit of progress on Nancy’s Westerwick cardigan.  It’s anybody’s guess if it will be ready for Christmas. We’ll see.

It seems like I am inundated with new projects:) Gee, don’t you hate when that happens?

🙂

Gotta go.  God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Unsettled and grateful

It’s a cloudy, threatening-to-be rainy Tuesday.  I’m caught up with paperwork for the office and have a few things to do in terms of readying myself (or my proxies) for Thursday’s hearings. The morning has been a flurry of phone calls about flights and hotel reservations and who is paying for what. It’s fine, that’s how life happens and it’s really OK.  Or perhaps better stated, let’s not get into the details of what I cannot control:)

 

Last night I stayed up late, chilling out, watching some tv, listening to a couple of knitting podcasts and working on the Westerwick cardigan for Nancy. Something has been brewing in my brain over the past week or so and finally at about 3 a.m. when I toddled up to bed (after falling asleep in the chair downstairs, LOL), that I had it all wrong.  I decided to be happy. And grateful.

Was it Abraham Lincoln who said that most folks are about as happy as they decide to be? I think (with a huge caveat) for the most part he was right.  I am so blessed.  I have this amazing, intelligent, interesting family – kids and kids-in-law –  who have grown up to be people I not only love, but actually LIKE:)! (Whether they return the favor may change from week to week is up for debate, LOL). My grandchildren are infinite sources of surprise and grace. I have a husband who is a good person and a wonderful father and grandfather. My extended family  (both John’s and mine) is filled with even more truly good, intelligent, funny and loving people. My church community is so dear to me; I get to make music with people who are far more talented and gifted than I and I learn something new all the time.  I have friends who care about me and my family.  I have a job, ferheavenssake(!), colleagues whom I respect and enjoy working with, and clients for whom I hope to make a difference.

 

So what in blazes would I have to complain about? Nothing! Whatever negatives there may be in my life can be more than overcome by all of the above. In spades.

 

Well, hopefully, I’ll find out about that trip in time to be able to go, LOL:) If not, that’s OK. I’ve got plenty I can do right here.  But just in case, I decided to pack this bunch of loveliness because, after all, why not start a new project or two when you have 42 already going on?

I’m hoping to use the light blue/grey Magic Garden Baby Cotton for Jared Flood’s Shale Baby Blanket.

Just something to do in the evenings in case no one is doing dinner as a group.  Well, I’d better get moving and get back to work, unsettled, but grateful.

 

God be with you ’til we meet again:)

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That’s what I’m talking about!

Of course I think he’s just perfect and don’t you dare tell me otherwise.  Never mind the sweater that Gram knit him is just a little to big.  He’ll grow into it (with lots of layers underneath). He’s obviously loving the attention from his Mommy:) as Daddy takes the picture! But like most toddlers, he’s raring to go and get into anything he can get his hands on.

Just had to share:)

Tonight I participated in a mediation and it went very well. Tomorrow I should find out the particulars for a trip to Austin, TX, get my work in order, and get ready for the trip (i.e. ironing and packing).  Please PLEASE let me get done in time to make it to bell practice – I’d really miss not having any music this week. (Spoiled am I?)

The big question is which knitting project to bring along for the evenings.  Ah I lead such an exciting life!

Wouldn’t have it any other way:)

God be with you ’til we meet again!

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Quietly working my way through Sunday

Last night was lovely. I saw the Concert Artists of Baltimore, with Edward Polochick and the orchestra.  They sang a relatively obscure work of Robert Schumann’s – the Missa Sacra.  It was a stellar performance by the singers (of whom Alison E and Diane L are friends – I’m so proud:)) and the instrumentalists as well.  Apparently this work was composed approximately two years before Herr Schumann was institutionalized for mental illness.  What a terrible waste! Thank God for meds today!

The second work we heard/saw was a Schumann Piano Concerto and another outstanding performance by Ann Schein of Peabody fame. She was amazing!

Then home, to bed and up for music and church this morning. I didn’t screw up too terribly badly with the flute, but I know I need to practice a lot more than I have been. Well, nobody shot me, so I guess it was ok. The choir started on a couple of Christmas pieces after the service and that’s always fun.

On the knitting front I forgot to post yesterday about a sweater for our grandson Johnnie – for his first birthday.  I was able to finish it in three days (one of the advantages of knitting for the small in size, LOL:)! I made some mods to the Sweater with Ribbed Yoke from Debbie Bliss’s book, Infant and Toddler knits. It should keep him warm AND the good news is, the Encore yarn is superwash, so it’s machine washable.  It’s done in leftover yarn from the Faux Cable Sage Pullover by Linda Romens I made for John three years ago for Christmas. So he’ll match his Pop:)

Not much else new to report. Back soon, until then, God be with you ’til we meet again:)

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And we’re baaaaack (again)!

Hello dear what now must be 1.1 readers, LOL! Life has just gotten in the way lately and I honestly don’t know where to begin. In the last two months, I have been busy with work and family and friends and church and music – all good things, thank goodness:)

Catching up:

Let’s see, my oldest brother, Dan is with us and we are glad to have him around! The grandgirls think he’s the best thing since sliced bananas and when he’s not here for whatever reason, they are always disappointed:)! Isn’t it funny how family can be? Dan and I haven’t lived in the same place for well over 34 years and, save a few minor adjustments (i.e. we are a LOT more polite to each other than we were as kids), it’s as comfortable as if we were still kids. Hopefully he feels the same way, LOL!

We learned our next grandchild will be a boy and he’s due on Valentine’s Day – will be joining an older, but still a baby, brother.

I’ve gained a ridiculous amount of weight and have resolved to do something about it.

Our two youngest have found really decent jobs with their own health insurance and everything and one of them is trying for a Fulbright scholarship to study anthropology as a graduate student abroad. (Fingers crossed!)

Another one of our adult kids is figuring out what the future holds (well aren’t we all come to think of it?)

We are getting ready for somebody-who-shall-remain-nameless’ 60th birthday next month.

It looks like “Aunt Vicki” may have been ordained – or is darn close to it!

In other words, on the home front, life, in all its mysteries, goes on.

On the work front, there are always uncertainties and of course I am concerned about that.  My clients seem to need more attention lately and I’ve got a pro bono case that is interesting and for which I hope to be of help. I’ve attended one conference this year that was interesting.  Had dinner with “the boss” whom I have always liked and now like even more. Have reconnected with friends who are colleagues and was able to help out a bit which always is nice. And am fairly certain I’m going to attend a conference in Austin, TX for a few days next week about child welfare – and am really psyched about it.

When I’ve been in court all day, I’ve taken the time to go outside and enjoy some of the sights of Towson – and of course a little knitting:)

The extracurriculars: Choir, Bell Choir, EfM, and volunteer activities – all are now in full swing. And I’ve added playing flute in the “Intergenerational Instrumental Ensemble” once a month which forces me to practice if only just a little bit:) I’m not particularly good, but it’s fun and it keeps me off the street:s) Choir is still my heart, and bell choir is a concentrated group of rogues who love music and enjoy the hilarity of our practice time! EfM is a challenge this year – it’s my last year (cannot believe I am in Year 4) and includes a great deal of philosophy, a subject I never really followed during my more formal years of education. Imagine presenting the philosophy of Immanuel Kant in 15 minutes – feel my pain?

I have had a lot of fun with knitting this summer – the Columbia Sip ‘n Knit had a lovely dinner at a lakeside near Savage Mill.  It was delightful and terrific to meet up with old friend and meet some new people:) It’s funny how we all come from so many different backgrounds, persuasions political and otherwise and yet share this crazy enjoyment of a crafty hobby:) We may disagree on a number of things, but we try our best and usually succeed in being respectful of each other.  It’s easy to call people names, to demonize them when you are writing an online diatribe or gathering in large groups (gang mentality) and screaming.  It’s a lot harder to do that when you are sitting quietly in the presence of another person, sharing common ground.  Maybe our country needs more of that. Now that EfM has started, I am limited to a few Wednesdays here and there and maybe an occasional Saturday, but most of my knitting is done solo these days.

There are a bunch of projects still on the needles of course:) This is the Brandywine Shawl by Rosemary (Romi) Hill.  It’s fairly easy to pick up when I’ve neglected it awhile, so I am hoping to finish it before Christmas.  Don’t know if it’s for me or someone else yet.

 

 

This is my version of the Westerwick Cardigan, pattern by Ann Feitelson from The Art of  Fair Isle Knitting. This will be for St. Johns’ favorite Music Director I hope in time for Christmas. I’m seven rows away from the end of the first pattern repeat and have at least three more to go for the body and then the sleeves and then finishing, so we shall see.  These are her colors and I think she might like it.  If any mutual friends see this, please don’t let her know. I would like it to be a surprise. Besides, this thing is taking forever and may not be done in time anyway!  It’s just my way of thanking her for all she does for us throughout the year.

I’m not using the yarn indicated in the pattern.  Instead, I’m using KnitPicks fingering weight yarn and it seems to be working well.  It’s wool, but it will not be as heavy as worsted weight would have made it. And again, it’s taking FOREVER!  How to keep from tangling the yarn? Keep it in sandwich sized baggies with the color written on the outside.  So far, it’s working and there are a LOT of color changes.

This scarf is a combination of stitch patterns (at the ends) from Maria Erlbacher’s Twisted Stitch Knitting (Schoolhouse Press) and my own haphazard mongo (a/k/a “big a$$ed”) cable pattern. Not sure if this is too “girlie” for a guy.  If not, it’s going to someone for Christmas. Maybe.

 

Willoughby, by Jared Flood, has had my attention since it came out in the first issue of St. Denis patterns. I don’t know yet for whom this will be.  I think time and circumstances will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

Celes, another Jared Flood original, is such a simple, yet elegant use of lace knitting, I just had to try it out.  Let’s see where it ends up.  I just know I will finish it.

 

 

 

Damask by Allison Green Will from the Twist Collective, is going to be a challenge.  Have just begun it, but will soldier on as I finish my projects.

 

 

Kadril, a lace scarf by Galina Khmeleva, also from the Twist Collective, is not yet begun, but it will definitely be something I complete in the next few months.  Have already picked out yarn for it.:)

 

 

 

One of Romi’s Seven Small Shawls, Celaeno is another shawl I will finish and I think this will be something for me. The blues in this yarn are lovely. Will have to wait to begin this one, though – too many things on the needles right now!

Well, I’d better get some work done.  There’s a project I need to finish that keeps me from helping out today cleaning the choir loft (sorry!) and I have to get some work done around the house too before going out tonight. I’m going with Nancy and Rennie to see a mutual friend, Diane, sing with the Concert Artists and to watch a piano concerto – all music by Schumann.  In the immortal words of Ina Garten, “How bad can that be?” 🙂

Stay well and be safe, fellow travelers of this fragile planet Earth, our “island home” and God be with you ’til we meet again.