Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Running for a Cause!

Please consider signing up or donating to World Concern's "Free Them" 5K/10K Fundraiser to fight human trafficking.  My whole family is signed up to run -- Sadie and Jason are tackling the 5K part, and I will grimly face the 10K.  I think it is in Fremont, so there will be hills

If you're interested at all in donating, here is a link to our family's fundraising page:

The Olawsky Family's World Concern "Free Them" Page

Thanks so much!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Like a Rag Doll

Yesterday evening at Safeway, we had finished loading our groceries into the car and I was returning the cart when a crunch of metal caused me and Jason to both look up.  A huge, old Ford truck was pulling quickly away from the Toyota Camry into which the driver had just backed.  Then, a woman was running across the parking lot, pushing her cart filled with groceries, screaming at the truck, "That's my car!  You hit my car!"  The truck continued to drive away, so the woman pushed her cart to the side and sped up after the truck, screaming the whole time, "You hit my car!  That's my car!"  I ran after her, and caught her grocery cart, pushed it out of the way to safety and started after her.  I guess I figured that, if the truck's driver didn't have the decency to stop at the moment he hit her car, he was not going to stop just because she chased after him.  I wanted to get close enough to see his license plate number so that I could help her file a police report for hit-and-run. 

The truck had to stop at the parking lot driveway to make a left turn out onto SE 140th, which is a fairly busy road in our neighborhood.  There was a car in front of it waiting also to turn, which allowed the woman to catch up to the truck.  She started beating on the passenger-side window, yelling repeatedly for the driver to stop, because he hit her car.  The car in front of the truck turned left onto the street.  Then, to my and everyone else's horror, the truck started to turn left, with the woman clinging onto the side window.  She managed to run a few steps with the truck, then, as it picked up speed, it began to drag her, and then -- Lord, have mercy and drive this vision from my mind -- she lost her grip and I saw her body bounce along the ground like a rag doll.  The truck sped off.

Thank God, she did not die.  Thank God, she did not lose consciousness.  Some good people on the other side of the street were able to drag her out of the road quickly.  She was cut up terribly -- flesh just torn from her legs and feet, blood pouring from her forehead and the back of her head.  Those of us on the Safeway-side began to stream over to offer what assistance we could, and to make sure that, when the police came, we were able to give our witness testimony.  Jason, on the other side in the parking lot, stood guard over her car and her shopping cart.  The poor woman was just crying and crying, "He hit my car . . . he hurt me . . . he hurt me . . . he hit my car . . . he is a bad man . . . he did not stop . . . oh, he hurt me . . ."  Someone found her cell phone and called her husband.  The firemen came, the sheriff came, police officers came. 

What I did not know at the time, but found out soon afterward, was that another man had just gotten into his car in the Safeway parking lot when the hit occurred.  As he watched the unbelievable scene unfold, he quickly sprang into action.  He turned right behind the truck onto 140th, stopped but a moment to help get the woman out of the road after she fell, then back into the driver's seat to follow that truck, cell phone in hand, so that the police were able to stop the truck driver within a half and hour.  "They got him," the sheriff apprised us with triumph; a cheer went up among the witnesses and bystanders.  The man who followed the truck came back at the end, to finish giving his report for the police.  Jason and I were able to shake his hand.  Hero.

The woman, whose name is Twee, had been reaching out a hand to me during the wait for her husband and police.  I grabbed her blood-soaked hand and held it gently, promising her that we were all there to help her and that none of us would think of leaving her.  I saw the cross necklace that she wore.  When I met her husband later, I told him to tell Twee that our family would be praying for her.  And so we have.

You may wonder why she was so tenacious in pursuing the man who hit her car.  Why, you may ask, would anyone put themselves at such risk, simply to avenge a cosmetic aberration?  Her husband had the key.  See, Twee was from another country -- somewhere in Asia, I did not find the specific one -- and she had had a very hard life of grinding poverty before coming to the States and marrying her husband.  This car that had been hit was her first new car -- a 2010 Camry with 26, 000 miles on it.  She had had it for only 4 weeks.  And so, I can only guess, when that man hit her car and drove off without any acknowledgement, it was a slap in her face rather than a dent in her trunk.  I imagine all the desperation and injustice of her youth came flooding back to her in that moment and every fibre within her cried out, "I will not be a victim again.  Not today.  Not ever." And I can understand that.

Please pray for Twee's speedy recovery.  And for justice to be served for the man who acted with no honor and almost took her life.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Happiest Show on TV

From 1997 through 2002, I had two recurring events around which I structured my schedule: church on Sundays and Dharma and Greg on Wednesday nights. Go ahead: mock and deride, if you will.  I don't care.  D&G was my favorite show back then in those work-full-time-go-to-school-full-time days, and it remains in my top three all-time favorites today. 

On a week that has seen inexplicable horror and unimaginable evil, it is good to revisit things like D&G that are pure happiness and light. The powers that be have only released one season to DVD in the U.S.; however, some very good souls have risked copyright infringement charges and who-knows-what-else to post further seasons on YouTube.  Huzzah!

Dharma Finkelstein and Greg Montgomery: not only the best-looking couple ever assembled in the sit-com labs, but also the most innately sweet.  If you have never seen the show, the premise is this: Dharma is a happy-go-lucky, new-agey chick raised by hippie parents in that part of San Francisco; Greg is a lawyer in the Justice Dept. from an old-money family in that part of San Francisco; they meet on BART and get married on that same day.  Chaos and hilarity ensue. While the two sets of parents and their culture and values clashes are certainly amusing, it is the chemistry and joy that the two stars (Jenna Elfman and Thomas Gibson) bring to their characters that just made this show must-see TV for me from the get-go.  Dharma was created, as was revealed in interviews on the first season's DVD set, to be the antidote for the unhappy, tightly-wound career woman of the 1990's who was miserable in her personal life.  They wanted to make a character who was simply happy with who she was, absolutely in love, and able to spread delightful sunshine to everyone in her day-to-day life.  I think they succeeded.  And Greg was the perfect complement. 

So, when my heart is crying and the world is dying, I hold on to Jesus, yes, and fall to my knees.  But, I also turn my radio to 98.1 KING FM and listen to the soothing, interesting awesomeness of Sean MacLean as he hosts hours of classical music.  Or, I read and read and read. Or, and definitely increasingly this week, I pull up YouTube on the old laptop and watch the Happiest Show on TV.

Monday, April 01, 2013

We Are Advancing Constantly

Sadie will start 6th Grade mathematics (Saxon) this  month.  She is still technically in 4th Grade.

When we chose to homeschool Sadie two years ago, it was in part so that we could incorporate things like Latin and Greek into our curriculum.  Even Catholic schools do not teach those subjects at Elementary levels anymore.  In part, too, was the idea of not missing a huge chunk of Sadie's childhood -- after three years of sending her off to school in the morning, I was feeling disconnected with the person she was becoming.  Some moms make great classroom moms and get totally involved with the school experience.  I am not one of those moms.  The last great part of the decision was finding a schedule that really works -- for that optimal (optare - "to wish") balance of academic vigor, life-enhancing experiences, and plenty of dreaming down-time. I think we are getting very close.

I have set up the school year as follows: In September, we officially start a new academic year.  This is so that, if Sadie ever goes back into a traditional school, she will be in sync with the school calendar.  But, she will be "in school" year-round.  We do three weeks on, one week off, from September through August, with four special times of the year when she can have two weeks off in a row.  That gives us a typical 36-week school year, with a good dose of field-tripping and goofing-off time thrown in.

Because we are eschewing the 3-month wasteland of summer break, in September there is no "waking up the summer-slumber mind and snapping it back into academic mode" month of remedial learning.  In the words of Patton (the movie, at least, if not the man), "we are advancing constantly." Even on her "off" weeks, Sadie needs to do a little math, a little Latin and Greek, and a little memory work (be it poetry or geography or both!). This is just to keep her awake.  I have tried to give her time with absolutely no schoolwork, and have found that, when we start again, she inevitably tries to claim that she has forgotten how to conjugate ambulo into pluperfect or how to subtract fractions. This is because she is a weasel. So, math and Latin and so on we do -- and, if she does not fuss, it takes less than an hour and she can go climb up a tree and commune with the birds, or whatnot.

Also, by adhering to this schedule, we are still able to be ready for testing at the end of May.  At first I was worried that our strung-out timeline would make Sadie only 3/4 of the way through her grade level by testing time.  I have found, though, that homeschooling allows us simply to get through more things quickly, as well as thoroughly.  So, we can finish a 4th Grade science curriculum in April, or US History in May.  And math is just something that spirals around anyway, with piecemeal additions of new concepts interwoven with constant repetition of old ones.  Sadie did very well on her tests last year; I know she will do the same this year.  And the NLE, starting in 5th Grade?  Piece of cake (fingers crossed/knocking wood)!

I never thought that I would advocate for year-round school.  I believe with all my heart that kids need lots and lots of dreaming alone time and robust playing time and time out of their seats and into the world.  But, I am pretty sure -- and I'll have to wait for the years to bear witness as to whether I am or not, ultimately -- that this mixture is just right.  At least, it seems to be working for our family.  The seamless advance from year-to-year in our various curricula just plain works.  Far be it from me to wish to sentence any child to more time in public school; but, for homeschoolers or nontraditional and private schools, this schedule is something to consider.