Saturday, May 04, 2013

The CAC....

Some of you will already know, that since moving to NW Arkansas, I have been working as a volunteer at the CAC...

What is the CAC? I hear you ask...

The CAC is the Children's Advocacy Center, and it is a non-profit organisation (that means it's a charity for my non-US readers) that works to help victims of child abuse. In most cases this is sexual abuse, and from what I am learning, a huge proportion of victims are under the age of 12...male and female...
When I sit and think about the statistics it makes me sick to the pit of my stomach, so I try not to sit and think...

I have had a interest in helping victims of abuse for a long time now. My Mum said that she thought it was a wonderful thing to do, but one that would incredibly difficult for me personally to switch off from. I knew what she meant when she said it. Before moving to the US, I worked as a Nursery Nurse in a private Day Nursery - I loved every one of the children I looked after there - even the challenging ones, sometimes I loved the challenging ones even more, simply because they were so challenging. I still stay in touch with several parents of children I used to care for, and I love seeing photos of how they are growing into wonderful little people, and hearing about things that they have achieved. I am still very attached to those children...

Being at the CAC is different though. I see lots of files and lots of names - especially at the moment while we are needing to move files into archives because there is not enough room in the overflowing filing cabinets for more cases. I do not read the files, it is not my place and it is not what I am there for....

I see beautiful young children come in and out of the CAC, and I say hello and sometimes we chat about this and that, and I am in awe at the resilience of each one of these children. They are victims of some pretty horrendous stuff, and yet here they are smiling and laughing and dealing with their issues the way adults are so often expected to and cannot. I am in awe of these children....Their strength and resilience amazes me....The work of the staff at the CAC amazes me...

What shocks me to the core though, is that these children have been abused in the first place! What kind of sick do you have to be to want to do such vile things to an innocent child? It is just beyond my comprehension....

The other thing that shocks me is that here in the US, which many people believe is the greatest nation on the planet - they do not teach children about this stuff in schools. There seems to be no safeguarding teaching in place at all? In England, that teeny tiny country that seems to amuse so many Americans, so much, child are taught about abuse from the moment they start school at 4½ years old. Before you ask, no they are not taught a class in how to avoid being abused. They have 'circle time' and during this time they may listen to a story about 'secrets' and how a good secret would be not telling Mummy what present you have bought her for her birthday next week, and how a bad secret is something that someone tells you to keep after doing something that makes you feel really uncomfortable. They may use circle time to talk about things that make us feel really uncomfortable and what we can do to stop them happening, they may talk about who to talk to if a child thinks something bad is happening to them or to someone they know....

It isn't rock science, and if a teeny little country like England can do it, I am damned sure a huge great enormous one like the US can too! It's about time people didn't just get sad about what is happening to children in our world, but got angry, and did something to stop it from happening. Child abusers are empowered by their ability to stay hidden, so really the only way to stop them from staying hidden is to educate our children about abuse and show them where they can go and who they can tell...

There is enough talk going on in the US about gun control - isn't it about time there was enough talk going on in the US about child abuse. It is one area where talk need not be cheap - where the ability to talk can actually make a difference...

Reading through this now, I can see that perhaps my Mum was right after all....I do find it incredibly difficult not to become too involved - but surely that is the point! People need to become too involved in order to help do something to make a change!

There are Child Advocacy Centers all across the US - Can you do something to help them raise awareness of child abuse in your area? The pinwheel has been adopted as the symbol of Awareness of Child Abuse, but I bet there are more people in this country who do not understand it as such than know what it means. Is there something you can do to help bring that awareness to others?

You don't need to do anything that involves donating money - you just need to help raise awareness about what is being done to our children and want it to stop!

You can find out more about the National Children's Advocacy Center - Here
and more about the CAC of Benton County - Here

Have a wonderful day



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekly Roundup....

Well this week has been another jet propelled one for me and no sooner did it start than here we are at Sunday again....

Tuesday saw another day at the Children's Advocacy Center where I am now volunteering 2 days a week. I hope that perhaps something 'paid' will come from it, but I know I can't bank on that happening so I am also keeping my eyes and ears open for anything suitable that may arise....
The wonderful thing about the CAC is that everyone who works there is there because they have a desire to help abused children - lets face it, you would have to be a really hard-faced person to take on that kind of job JUST for the pay packet, and the Advocates, Forensic Interviewers, Nurses and Admin staff see some very real tragedy on a daily basis. Also based at the CAC are Prosecuting Attorney's and State Police who work to ensure that the needs of each child and family are dealt with in one place without the need for endless interviews and questioning. It is an upsetting but soul lifting experience to be a part of on any level...

On Thursday I had to go and have my bloods done at the doctors office ready for my appointment next week. This was a real learning experience for me. I have had my blood taken for testing on numerous occasions - my Vit D and Hypothyroid problems make sure of that, but Thursday was the first time the nurses have really struggled to get any blood from me. "You're really dehydrated" she said "Nothing is coming".. I said "really...being dehydrated can stop the blow of blood?" I have never been told this before. I had to admit that I was not a big water drinker. I drank lots of coffee but that was about it, and because I was having the blood taken I had fasted as well which had only seen to amplify the problem. The nurse was really understanding, she admitted she was really bad about keeping fluid levels up as well, but was able to manage a huge glass of water before going to bed and another first thing in the morning. I have promised her that I will try and do the same, and hopefully have better flowing blood when I go again in 3 months. The result of my slow flowing blood was that they had to stab me 3 times in their attempts to get the 4 phials that were needed for the tests filled. IN the end they actually stuck a huge syringe into me and sucked the stuff out. Never again will I complain about bruising after giving blood - if you don;t drink enough fluids you are going to get bruised, no matter how good the Phlebotomist is. I now have arms that resemble what I imagine a heroin addict to have, and am reluctant to wear a t-shirt outside of the house in case anyone should suspect me of drug use... Severe lesson learned - DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

Talking of water - this week has also seen the cleaning of and filling of our hot tub. Neither S or myself have ever owned a hot tub before, and this one came with the house. It is a CalSpa 3 person tub and although not exactly new - The plate on it says it was made in 2007 - it looks pretty good! We did have to buy a new cover for it as the existing one had definitely seen better days and was all ripped and saggy. The new one, although expensive at $300 was well worth it, and should hopefully last for the life of the tub. Having scoured the hot tub with cleaner and made it all shiny, I finally filled it up on Friday and after an hour or so of filling the water was at a level where i could turn on the jets and test it out......There was a humming and gurgling sound and then a steady stream of disgusting limescale spewed forth out of every jet on it. It was totally gross! I had to start draining it again and vacuuming it to get rid of the scale. Then refill it and try again. The same thing happened, and I felt totally cheated and disheartened. I looked online for a solution and found one in the form of dishwasher powder and bleach. I threw the mixture into the pool and turned the jets to full and just walked away and left it to do its thing. S came home and I told him what had happened. I showed him the hot tub, and bless him he set to work running, emptying and refilling it another 3 times until finally we had acceptable lime free water. Yesterday he went off into town and came back with chlorinating stuff and everything we need to make the water usable. He measured it all out and put it into the tub, turned it on and left it to heat the water and do it's thing....

This morning at around 6.30am we got up and snuck out of the house and into the tub to enjoy the sunrise. It didn't matter that the sun comes up over the lake at the front of the house and the hot tub is on the deck at the back. We lay there in the bubbles watching little bats flying overhead in the last bit of half light before the sun was up and the birds were singing their little hearts out...
I feel relaxed, invigorated and ready to tackle the day....
I can see that the hot tub is going to be my new best friend....

I am ready to take on a new week - and what a week it is going to be - H is at the orthodontist tomorrow morning getting his braces redone as the old orthodontist in California completely screwed up his treatment. Tuesday is volunteer day at the CAC, Wednesday the boys have vaccinations in the morning, Thursday is free at the minute and Friday sees the annual CAC Glow Run for which I have offered to help out, so it will be a busy day of prep and then the Glow Run will start at 5pm and last for at least a couple of hours. On top of all that, the lovely Ed will be starting work on installing the new ensuite into the spare bedroom, we have firefighter training on Monday evening and Firefighter Air Evac training on Wednesday evening....

That hot tub is going to get lots of use this coming week....
Have a great one

Monday, April 08, 2013

Ice Hockey...Ice Hockey...Yeah...Yeah...Yeah...

I think it is fair to say that I have finally found a sport her in the US that I love every minute of.....
I tried American Football, but it is too 'stop/start' for my tastes and not a patch on my beloved Rugby Union....
I tried Baseball, but again, it took too long and I was bored within minutes....
I had high hopes for Basketball - after all it is a fast paced game, unlike the other two, but every time I sat down to watch a game on the TV, the team that was winning would suddenly start to lose and invariably lose really badly, so I felt like I was a jinx and had to give up....
My final hopes were pegged on Ice Hockey....
S used to play college Hockey and I was hoping that his love of it combined with the natural pace of the game would mean I could enjoy and appreciate it. We also hoped that youngest son, Handsome H, would find it interesting and may possibly show some interest in playing since my previously very sporty son has done practically nothing sport-wise since we moved to the US....

So a few weeks ago, S went online and got us all tickets to an Oklahoma City game, and yesterday was the day. Now Oklahoma City is not a quick 5 mins down the road from us - it is a massive 235 mile and almost 4 hour car journey from our home in NW Arkansas to Oklahoma City which strangely enough just happens to be in Oklahoma...lol


The OKC Barons stadium was great and really easy to find, and tickets were pretty cheap at $28 each compared to Professional team prices of $155 each. As it was a Sunday match, the stadium was no where near full. The Barons had also played on Friday night and from what I could gather this match had been packed with supporters. It wasn't as cold as I was expecting from an ice-rink. Hot Dogs and Soda's were $1 each and S's beer was only $2, so feeding the troops was a pretty cheap affair.

Just in case you don't know - as I didn't. An Ice Hockey match is an hour long, broken up into 3, 20 minute segments with a 15 minute break between each segment. Hockey teams have a pool of about 20 players, but only 5 players plus the goalie are on the ice at any one time. However, because the pace is so fast and furious, teams swap players in and out every couple of minutes or so without the need for play to be stopped. The basic rules are pretty simple - you are off-side if you are in front of the  puck, you can use any part of your body to stop a player from getting the puck but you may not deliberately trip him on the ice or use your stick to stop him. If you lose any equipment during play, you may not pick it up again until play has stopped. If you break your stick, you may not pick it up - a broken stick is seen as a weapon that can impale anther player. Fighting up to a certain point will be tolerated by the referees, of which there are 3 - a main ref and 2 side line guys. If a player is penalised he gets sent to the box and is excluded from play for 2 minutes - his position cannot be substituted by another player - his team must play with 1 man down for the duration of this period. For the team that retains all it's players, this period is known as a 'power play' because they have an obvious advantage. Just like in rugby union, the referee can see a penalty but can choose to play the 'advantage', if not advantage comes they can stop play and bring the players back to the original penalty side to re-start.

All in all we had a very long but really fantastic day. We have said that next time we will book a hotel for the night instead of driving for roughly 8 hours though, as that was a little crazy!

I didn't take my camera, but had attached a few photos I took with my phone for you all to see.
If you haven't watched a match before, I can highly recommend it - It was THE best fun!








Have a great day


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter & Happy Spring....

Wishing all my blogging buddies a truly wonderful Easter....
Spring is finally springing so let's enjoy it as much as we can


Have a wonderful weekend, and if you live in the UK, don't forget to change the clocks!