Monday, August 18, 2014

2 + 2

Yesterday I blogged about my older son researching options for college. At dinner he brought up the topic. I take the fact that he is initiating such conversations as a great sign. He's thinking about possibilities. I am so happy to hear it. The more I step back the more he takes the reigns.

If I pushed and controlled, a child of mine might wind up on a certain good path. But this kid won't let that happen. He wants to control and determine his own path. I am glad for that. I would rather have an independent minded, self-determining son than a passive lemming who just takes orders from Mommy and Daddy. I would rather my son make his own choices and make his way even if it is not the most optimal thing that could have happened, such as if he did SAT prep he may score 100 points higher on that section of the test. Do what I recommend for following up on the internship request and maybe get it, or don't do what I say, give up, and definitely don't get it. Those are the kinds of choices I'm talking about.

My son asked if please, would we let him live at home while he earns an Associates Degree at the community college he already attends? We said of course! He was relieved and somehow thought that we'd not let him live here. I did correct him though, that if he stayed on his path that he could earn the Associates in just one additional calendar year, or in a year in a half, after high school graduation. Funny that he seemed surprised by that. He has four college classes done entering into his senior year. If he piled the classes up, he could get eight more finished before fall of 2015 as a non-matriculated dual credit student. These classes cost us only $80 which is for the college fees. The tuition is free. We do pay a tax annually on our property which funds the community college.

My son asked about transferring to a four year university after the Associates. Of course! Some allow this, but not all. I said he'd then go to college to start at the same time as his (local) best friend.

My son is not ready right at this minute to narrow down choices and submit an early action or early decision college application with an October 1 deadline.

With his August birthday I really should have held him back a grade. I saw no reason to hold him back as he was so bright. Yes he was not ready to read at age five years and zero months but he was super smart in other ways with a high verbal communication ability. Holding kids back a grade, to delay Kindergarten, even for homeschooling, needs to have a reason. I wish I had been encouraged to hold him back. Everyone I knew was a high achiever type A personality and wanted the best for their kids including early exposure to learning. Even relaxed learning we did with unschooling yielded results.

Now that my son has battled five new cases of Lyme Disease, had mono misdiagnosed for six months, is having health problems now which are still being diagnosed and medications being tried, things are different. The qEEG brain scan shows activity consistent with brain injury and ADHD inattentive type brain. (Whether the biological and behavioral changes are the result of brain injury vs. "just" ADHD is debatable but the symptoms are the same no matter the cause.) My son could use an extra year before leaving home to attend college full time living in a dorm. As of right now no feasible ideas for a gap year have been generated.

I want my son to go off to college when he is ready to do what he is supposed to be doing there. I don't want him going to just get away from here or to go party or to play video games 24/7. I want him to go to college to actually learn and to be mature enough to choose to attend class and to be able to manage his time wisely so he can get his schoolwork done on time. These kids with immature brains, the ADHD brains that need more time to mature and develop, could use an extra year or two, or more until they are ready to live on their own, manage their time wisely, make the right choices for decisions that will keep them safe and alive, and allow them the ability to discern between healthy social interaction and that which can damage or destroy them.








Sunday, August 17, 2014

Update on College Researching

I am stepping back more and more. With my older son I sense his need for independence and making his own decisions. He is so much like my brother and my brother-in-law, that they want to control everything and make their own decisions and make mistakes and learn by experience. There is no telling them, "Don't do that, this will happen and you don't want that!". They do it anyway then it happens just like was said and then they have a problem on their hands and maybe the next time they make a different choice. Or maybe it takes two or three times doing it the same way and having it go wrong multiple times. Well I am not saying my son will make a bad choice, I'm saying he needs to own this process.

In the grand scheme of things I feel that he is behind the eight ball now with regard to college admissions. He was so set on that one college with rolling admissions that begin in June that he didn't want to look at other schools. He refused to do college tours after tagging along with his girlfriend on two college tours (with us there also). He was so set on that first major idea that he didn't want to know about other options.

He is getting more and more interested and excited about computers. He wants to be self-employed. He has an idea for a new business. I think he would make an excellent entrepreneur. He is interested in the stock market also.

The pendulum has swung the other way and now he sees options. He formerly wanted only hot climates for college because he enjoys the sunny mild happy winters. Now he says he is open to going anywhere in the county. Oy vey. Oh, but not Alabama. He said last week when a piece of marketing mail came in, that Alabama is not a place he wants to go.

He has the big fat college books in his room and he has been looking at them on his own. He has continued to refuse to practice taking the SAT. He knows some big names but refuses to do what they require such as take SAT subject tests or get a higher SAT score. He is not yet opening his mind to schools he has never heard of.

Ideally he would like to start a company now and skip college altogether. He is rebelling against having to take this and that class for college graduation. He is so stubborn, it's unbelievable. It's one thing to have had an alternative homeschool education but another to not step in line when you are older and these degrees are required for a career you choose.

My response to all of this is to step back and let the chips fall where they may.

I have no clue if he will wind up doing one year at community college (which would result in the earning of an Associate's Degree one year after high school graduation) or what will happen.

What I do know is that as of right now he has no idea where he wants to attend and he is doing nothing to prep for college admissions. He could be filling out the common app already and staring in on those essays. But he is not.

I want him to ask for my help. The guidance I offer which to me is standard among homeschool parents and even schooled-kids' parents is being resisted.




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Son Ponders Options For College (Aviation Major)

Wouldn't it be cool to be a pilot and fly as your job? That's what my son was thinking.

Being a pilot is no big deal to me. I was raised in a lower middle class family, having come from parents who were raised in poverty. My two uncles entered the military after high school and both learned to fly there. One went on to be a partner in a small airport. He and his wife ran the place and lived there. I was around many small planes and he had free use of them. I tagged along on long fire patrol routes, in Maine. We routinely flew to a vacation spot in a landlocked lake, Chesuncook. It was no big deal to me, flying. My other uncle owns a Cessna and has an airstrip in his "yard" in northern Maine. If I said, "Let's go for a ride." we would jump into the plane and go wherever we wanted. My favorite is to fly over Mt. Kathadin.

A good kid I was friends with in high school attended FIT and still flies for United. He goes all over the world. I see possibilities.

My son asked for a college tour for aviation at FIT in Melbourne, Florida. They blew us away with the visit. Due to a delay with discharge from his college class camp we missed the counselor private session for the family. There was a group walking tour. They gave us discounted tickets for lunch at the cafeteria. We then met with a counselor for the aviation department. We had an hour of counseling including very realistic and blunt talk about the career and the program. My son was sternly warned to not get speeding tickets or a DUI or his piloting career would be over. We were pushed to get the FAA physical now and see if he passed. If at any time the FAA physical is flunked the person must change careers. You can read the list of excluded medical conditions online. That counselor said my son should try to get his private pilot's license at home during his senior year, to see if he really wants to fly. If I estimated correctly the flying time alone would cost at least $3K. We were all wondering how he could juggle that with his senior year academics and extra-curriculars including doing the Eagle project.

We learned how college works for aviation majors and they strongly suggest a minor since some flunk the physical. In order to get enough flying time to get a real job the student in their senior or junior year has to do at least 1000 flying hours. The easiest way to do that is to become a flight instructor. So the academics are juggled with working. There are different levels of pilot's licenses and they go in order.

After graduation, they said getting a job will be easy, there is a demand. However it is a seniority job, so there will be lean years at the start. Thanks to the seniority it does not pay to jump around to different employers, we were told.

We then had a two hour private tour of the facilities, hangar and airport with the head of the department.

After basically getting blown off by the college that we paid $4K for a summer college course program, the attention we received at their rival school was shocking. All of our questions were answered. I was impressed with the college and the aviation program.

After this visit my son said he didn't feel aviation was the career for him.

My son had not read their admissions requirements. They have strict homeschool requirements for many standardized tests (which is too late to start now) and want them to get a GED on top of it. The positive is they are open to transferring credits from dual credit college classes.

He never looked at the FAA medical exclusion list. If he had, he would have seen that he would have flunked the physical.

My son now has two other ideas for future careers. He is looking for a college that has both majors so he will have options.


Friday, August 15, 2014

Water Damage

Posting here may be sporadic for a while. Today water rained down from the ceilings and walls soaking furniture and runing floors.

In Texas builders put hot water heaters and air conditioner units in the attic. (Somebody please explain this to me as the logic eludes me. Why not put it in the garage? To save square footage so they don't need a utility area in the garage?)

Our hot water heater's Bradford White Icon gas valve (Honeywell) has a stainless steel part that our plumber says is a known problem, it breaks and water is then sprayed outward. It floods houses, essentially, when it fails. Our plumber has replaced over 200 of these faulty values all with related home flooding.

As I write this I am sitting with a loud roaring sound of fants and dehuidifiers. I do not need to state the high risk of mold, black mold, and mildew risk in Houston Texas.

Apparently this fall I will be spending time being a General Contractor as drywall gets replaced, walls are painted, the faux finish and tromp l'oeil is redone, as warped hardwood floors are fixed and carpet is removed and replaced. My son is pondering options for new wall colors. The leather living room furnitue set may or may not be ruined and the area rug may need replacement. Some of the walls ruined were just repainted and re-faux finished six months ago.

I am grateful that my photo albums were spared, since the wall next to that cabinet is the most damaged in the house.

We have a high deductible thanks to the state laws of Texas so the family trip to Italy in 2015 may not  happen.

Our insurance company is going to go after Bradford White - Honeywell. If they do pay we may have to wait three years for reimbursement of our deductible.

I'm busy and may miss some blog posts.

And I would love to know why this part has not been recalled yet.

We will be filing a complaint with the CPSC.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Amazon Smile & Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is when a website, blog, for profit company or nonprofit organization puts an affiliate link on their webpage. When you link through their link, put an item in your shopping cart and finalize the order within 24 hours the Associate gets a commission. You need only link through once, and multiple items that you add to your cart will all be credited to the Associate with the commission. Your purchases are anonymous. All the Associate sees is that on this date, this product was purchased for that price, and it tells the commission earned. Commissions vary by type of item, ranging from non-qualifying (i.e. free ebooks) to special incentive higher amounts(i.e. all video game headsets are 8%) or are priced by quantity of total items sold in one month (i.e. 4% for under 20 items, 5% for 21-40 items, etc.). Those are examples I made up myself.

I am an Amazon Associate. There are two links in my right sidebar just below the fold, scroll down just a bit and you will see them, under the BlogHer ad.

I thank those of you who buy through my link. I get Amazon gift cards and spend them on useful and educational things for my family.

Amazon Smile is a new program where you can select one nonprofit organization to get one half of one percent of your purchases donated to the charity. You set it up one time. You must buy through smile.amazon.com.

YOU CAN DO BOTH.

The process for Associates and Smile is:

Go to the site. Link through to Amazon via the Associates link. Put items in your cart. Then type smile.amazon.com into your browser and it switches you to Smile. Then finalize your order. Now both the Associate and the Smile recipient earn a commission.

The only way to use Smile is to pay via smile.amazon.com. If you have a charity selected but only shop in the regular amazon and pay in the regular amazon your Smile charity will not get any funds.

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So far with a nonprofit I work with, there has been confusion.

First, it is one half of one percent it is not 5%.

Second, as I just said, if you shop only at amazon.com the Smile charity gets nothing. You must link to smile.amazon.com before paying to give the charity the money.

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I find the new method confusing for users. People I know think every purchase on amazon gives the Smile charity a portion but they are never going to smile.amazon.com, so it does not work.

Also if you go directly to smile.amazon.com it may be easier than going through an Associate link but the only one "making out" is amazon. You now have cut out your favorite Associate and saved Amazon at least 4%.

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A nonprofit organization would be best off becoming an Amazon Associate **and doing Smile**, they would make more money. But its use depends on the user remembering and choosing to take five or ten seconds to go to the nonprofits' website, click through the link then put items in the cart and pay. If the user forgets the charity loses out. So to help your nonprofit the most the user has to be engaged and motivated to take a bit of time, just a little bit of time, to do two or three more screen steps in their shopping process.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Taking a Trip To New England

My husband offered first, although I wasn't taking non-action waiting for his permission. He asked if I felt I needed to go visit my mother to assess the situation with her mental health. He knew I was starting to itch for a visit home due to homesickness. We did say after the trip in January when it was single digits with snow and ice that we would all visit in August in order to have fun and prevent everyone getting homesick in autumn. But as other expenses accrued and we were busy doing other things the truth is I was the only one who wanted to visit again. (My husband recently had a business trip to The City and added some extra time to visit his elderly mother.)

To find a decent fare I had to go two weeks out and do odd flying times, mid-week to mid-week. I wish I could have had nine or ten days to tack on trips to Maine and Cape Cod just to get a brief whiff of the piney air and see some mountains or have my feet touch sand dunes and eat salt water taffy but I can't do it all.

I will miss my older son's first day at community college. He and I are not concerned as it is his fourth semester there (counting the mini-mester). It is his third semester driving himself there through the morning commute traffic. He already knows the drill about where to park and how to navigate himself to buy the textbook at the bookstore.

I have scheduled some fun as I realized that seven days spent just with my sick mother and busy father would be too stressful. In reading that book I have made progress using the technique over the phone. I made a plan to talk to my mother every day even though she was giving me one word answers and hanging up without saying goodbye which I first mistook for being hung up on. When I booked the trip I was thinking of the fun being a counterbalance to the hard part but now that progress is being made and the book is giving me hope I am looking forward to all parts of the trip.

The only thing I'll say is if the bed at my brothers sucks I am forking over the money for a hotel because the last time I stayed free at my parent's house I hurt my back that cost me two months of pain.



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reaction To Robin Williams' Death

I am not a celebrity worshipper or even a follower. I don't watch shows where they are interviewed nor do I read interviews about their lives. I knew Robin Williams was an addict but I had no clue about what stage of sobriety he was in or if he'd fallen off the wagon again. I did not know he suffered from clinical depression although his keen observation indicated he was deeply sensitive (related post The Highly Sensitive Person) and I wondered if some of his comedy sketches were part of a manic episode. When you have grown up with a mentally ill parent there are things you observe in others that you know are the symptoms.

As I shared last week something major is happening in our family with my mother. Her mental illness has once again caused perhaps the most major thing to happen in our family ever. I have been worrying and crying and reading about various laws for the situation. I am holding back with sharing the big thing so maybe what I am saying makes no sense.

My point is that yesterday when the news of Robin Williams' death hit the news people were shocked. I saw Williams the first time he appeared on TV on Laverne and Shirley. I watched Mork and Mindy each week as it aired live. I hung a poster of Williams' with rainbow suspenders in our attic playroom. I've seen almost every movie he's made. He's brilliant, insightful, and the funniest actor. One could argue that Jim Carrey is the funniest, well he's another who suffers with bipolar depression.

I did not cry over the death of Robin Williams because I have cried many times about my mother and others in my family who suffer and struggle. I have had my eye on raising my kids not on celebrity worship or following.

I think what people who are unfamiliar with mental illness are struggling with is the surprise and shock that someone they admired and loved to be entertained by is gone too soon by his own hand. People don't like the idea of suicide and they usually think it's a selfish act. They have no clue what it's like to know someone with depression or to feel it themselves. They can't grasp the idea that nothingness could be more peaceful than continuing life. Since they have never seen a person suffering with despair or stuck in patterns of "wrong thinking" they cannnot comprehend that sometimes decisions are made when a person is "not of right mind". Sometimes those decisions are about overspending money, gambling, cheating, not working on a healthy relationship with their spouse, saying and doing things that lead people to alienate them, divorce, bad choices for education or careers, alcoholism, drug addicion, and on and on.

If you know the destruction that mental illness, ADHD, and addiction can cause a person, if you have lived with people who struggle, then the death of Robin Williams may be a surprise to you but it should not turn your world upside down, because your world has already been turned upside down, many times in your life, and sometimes on a daily basis, and week after week, month after month, and year after year.

And one of the most powerless feelings a person can have is seeing someone they love suffereing with mental illness or addiction and not being able to do something to fix it all and make it normal, right and best for them. It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion that finally crashes.

When your senses are overstimulated too long about an issue such as mental illnesss, when you now the signs and symptoms and see it everywhere and you are concerned for this issue of suffering and problems related to it, hearing of a suicide of an enjoyed celebritty is just not that upsetting. What IS upsetting is seeing a mentally ill person do a violent act such as mass shootings, where innocent, unconntected people are killed or injured in the spree. Some say, "Why didn't they just kill themself and leave the strangers alone?"

I hope the suicide of Robin Williams opens the discussion about depression and mental illness and about addiction so that awareness is raised so that others can be guided for evaluation and treatment to improve their lives.