Amanda Hopper Writes

A writer's tale of living and working in the country.

Month: November 2014

I Am For The Child

Ususally when I go to court, I have knots in my stomach, dreading what crazy twist my current case will present while I wait for hours on an extremely hard bench. But yesterday?

I had the best seat in the world.

I am a CASA.  Never heard of it? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Fancy words for a simple idea: I am for the child.

I represent a child involved in a CPS case. I give them a voice in front of a judge. No one pays me, no one sways me.

And I frequently swim against the stream. Not because the small army of people involved in a CPS case work against the child, but because everyone else has a  job to do, adults to serve. I only think about one person- the child.

Yesterday I sat in a courtroom for a little girl who has been involved with CPS for 20 months, her whole life. Yesterday she was given a second chance, a new life. She was adopted by her amazing foster family.

Yesterday, the bang of the gavel on the block was like a door being closed. A promise being fulfilled.

Love wins.

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The Mom’s Guide to Field Trip Sanity

Try as I may, the words “We’re going to a museum!” never inspire quite the excitement I’m hoping for among my three boys. Oldest, a freshman, is finally at the stage where he actually enjoys learning outside the classroom. Youngest just likes car trips. Middle Son?

You’d think I was suggesting a root canal.

It’s not like we just started making museum treks, we’ve been taking the kids to historical places their entire lives. The key to keeping your sanity as you tug kids through museums?

Scavenger hunts and audio tours.

Every museum curator understands that kids and old breakable things don’t mix well. Remember, they deal with large school groups daily so your small family is no biggie. Most museums offer preprinted scavenger hunts. Want to ensure your kids do a good job of filling in the answers? Offer a small prize at the end. Lollipops are easy to carry in your purse. After all, everything else known to man lives in there, why not candy?

State and national parks also offer scavenger hunts, as well as geocaching and unit studies for teachers. Check out their websites and print out relevant worksheets and information before your visit.

After spending money on the entrance fee to a museum, the last thing you want to do is dish out more dough for an audio tour, right? I used to think like that. Until I was trudging around the grounds of the Hermitage in Nashville, Tennessee in 100 degree weather. I am positive I have less gray hair for spending the five dollars.

Many museums that offer audio tours have adult and child versions. The younger counterparts offer funny characters and anecdotes that will keep your child interested and engaged. Even the more mature audio tours help elementary age kiddos stayed tuned-in.

Ever notice how your reluctant reader opens a book, spies the small type and lack of pictures, then promptly slams the book closed? Those same children are not going to be willing to read every. single. word. posted under a museum display. The first word they encounter that is unpronounceable will undoubtedly destroy any interest they may have had, so let them explore. You’ll be surprised what those keen little eyes wills spy. It’s okay to skip displays or view them out of order. No matter what, your kids will come out knowing more than they did before.

Seeing and experiencing history teaches a child about the past much faster than reading about it in a book. Remember that children experience their surroundings as they learn how to navigate their world. If you ask a kid to describe what’s around them, they will inevitably use smells, sounds, sights, and even tastes (much to your dismay) to answer. History is much richer when learned this way, even for adults, so let your inner kid come out!

We spent Veteran’s Day at the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. The artifacts in the main hall are divided by north and south. The displays quickly show the economic differences between the armies.  The scavenger hunt is really interesting and kept the attention of our two youngest for over two hours. The clues sent them all over the museum searching for answers to the riddles. The riddles offered enough information to keep them from becoming frustrated while still requiring them to read the short descriptions of the artifacts. And they give lollipops to kids who turn in their scavenger hunt forms.

Allowing you to eat the ones in your purse:)

Some of our favorite field trips/trailer trips:

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San Jacinto Monument

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USS Texas

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Sam Houston Monument, those little figures in front of the bushes are my kids.

 

 

 

 

 

Real World Experience

I begged. I pleaded. I thought I had convinced Hubs that Saturday morning was the perfect day for sleeping in.

Until the gunshot shook the morning awake.

Most people would leap out of bed with shots ringing out across the countryside, but me? I threw my arm over my eyes and groaned, “Crud, he got one.”

I threw off the covers, cursing the first day of deer season with every word I know. Not because I’m not a fan of hunting season, but because I had a momentary lapse of support for my brilliant Hubs due to lack of sleep. Once I tugged on my shoes, stuffed my hair in a ball cap, lugged the body-sized cooler down from the attic and drove to the local gas station to procure the ice, I was practically jumping up and down for joy at Hubs’ perfect shot that took down a gorgeous doe.

You would have thought it was Christmas morning the way our boys bolted down the stairs, still on pulling on their pants, to witness the miracle of hunting on their own land. An experienced neighbor helped Hubs clean the deer while Oldest and Middle Son watched. Middle Son proclaimed that he deserved a full fledged man-card  because he helped clean the deer without throwing up.

That’s what we in the country like to call real world experience.

Hubs is still basking in the glow of Heroic Hunter, at least until everyone finds out that he only sat out in the near freezing temperatures for ten minutes before the doe walked right into his sights.

Here is the link for the picture of the deer.