Tips for Teens from an almost 30 “girl”

On how to live a life well-spent and well thought-out, from the perspective of a 29-yr-old

friend poking my eye

friend poking my eye

In this order: Academics/career, then dating

ACADEMICS/CAREER

1)Calvin and Hobbes is awesome for many reasons, but it is actually a great place to find your PSAT words (Is that still what they are called, I wonder?) Anyways, I used to use lines from Calvin and Hobbes to get bonus points for finding PSAT words in English. If you can’t get points, you can at least increase your vocabulary with it and get some great laughs.

2) You are now in the age range where adults in your life expect you to start making decisions about your adult life-even though you are young and should still listen to their advice, make sure you are thinking through what you will want to prioritize in your life too. Some things to consider that I don’t think people always encourage young people to do: If you are thinking about what kind of career to get into (which you do have to consider sooner or later since what college courses you will take are largely decided by the career field you choose..), talk to people who are already in the career field to find out not only about the job and what schooling it took to get there, but also what their lifestyle looks like because of the job. Does the person you are interviewing have a family yet? Do you want to have a family? Do people in that particular career field work weekends, evenings, 40 hour weeks, or more like 60-hour weeks? Does it require travel often, and is that something you would feel okay with? this may not be a popular thing I am telling in the eyes of the parents’ of some teens because sometimes considering these things and trying for a career that would be more conducive to having time for a family might (or might not) mean less pay, or less prestige. Some parents might get a little carried away with that. Here is the point, though: Your future IS YOUR future, so pray about it, research, and talk to multiple people. If you are able to work part-time as a student in the career field you are considering, that is also a great way to find out behind the scenes information.

3) If and when you go to college, some advisors are not good at their jobs. Know ahead of time what classes are important for you to take (besides general education)

4) Speaking of general education, aka “gen eds”, it really is okay to take some of those at a different school if it is cheaper. Some people would rather go off and have a “college experience” and live somewhere different, etc right away. That was me. I don’t necessarily regret it although it would have saved some money, but I had a great time in my less busy years of college. (Clean, non-destructive fun, mind you.) A lot of people wouldn’t mind doing their genereal education classes at a “commuter college”, though.

5) This is both educational as well as dating-ish advice: If you have a test, but there’s also an enticing person you want to chat up the same evening/day…STUDY. Especially if you have a final the next day..Coming from someone who got a B…yes a B…in ART APPRECIATION..after flirting with some guy I’m most certainly not married to, never really dated and therefore is mostly a reminder that I got …a B in ART APPRECIATION (facepalm, to use slightly younger lingo) ha. Oh, and if you study and get a B in art appreciation, I’m not trying to be negative but I DID have an A (an easy A), and the lack of studying the night before the final resulted in my grade being brought down to a B.) So a good segue into the next section, which is….

DATING/FRIENDS/SPIRITUAL

I remember a leader at church suggesting that there isn’t much reason for teens to date at all, but I wouldn’t make the statement not to, personally; after all, my in-laws were highschool sweethearts and are still married after all these years. It can happen. The church leader was correct, though that statistically speaking, most people these days do not end up marrying who they start dating in highschool. I think this is mostly due to how many changes teens go through in their tastes, maybe beliefs, and directions in life (geographical and otherwise) Aside from this, though, even if you were to look into the future and know for certain your highschool girlfriend or boyfriend is the one you will marry, there are good reasons to do the following:

5) Spend most of your free time with your friends, rather than your girlfriend or boyfriend. This is not just old lady Natalie talking to you, but the teen Natalie as well. Back then, I could see the value in spending most of my time with friends and family during the teen years. They are the last that you will likely have to just hang out and do a lot of something and a lot of nothing (which can be just as much fun) with friends. Don’t panic, the twenty-something’s with children do still make time for friends so your life won’t be OVER when you have a family, but I will be honest and say that it is MUCH harder when you have a family and a job (or without one, often) to make time for friends. You will look back on your teen years and miss how easy it was to have with your friends-probably not as much your boyfriend or girlfriend, because you are either no longer together OR you married your bf or gf and see him/her everyday! When kids are sick or job schedules clash, you will appreciate how much time you spent with your friends in your teen years (and same goes for after teen years, too.)

6) If your parents are a little lax on rules for dating (Mine surely weren’t, but I know those parents are out there! Sometimes there are even you teens who get yourselves to church and parents have a completely different worldview. I know non church-goers may have strict dating rules for their children as well, but I’m talking to you kids who have to draw your own boundaries because your parents do not.) Have some boundaries of your own and get an adult and/or a friend to hold you accountable to these. (Boundaries as in how late you stay out, how long you are alone, what is and is not involved in your physical contact, etc.)

7) If you do want to date in highschool, or anytime, ever, a good rule of thumb is to see the person you are dating in different contexts: their family, their friends, your friends, school, churchgoer friends, non churchgoer friends..Someone can seem as sweet as can be one-on-one. Anyone can be fooled one-on-one, especially if you are attracted to someone.

8) If you are a Christian, don’t date someone who isn’t. The Bible says it,(2 Corinthians 6:14-“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”) and it does make sense. I’m afraid some people might think this means Christians who will not date non-Christians (or even those who don’t seem invested in their relationship with God-don’t read Scripture or pray, don’t attend church, don’t consider the Scripture when making life choices, etc.) think they are BETTER than those who are not Christians (or not very “invested Christians”, whatever you want to call it. Some of my friends would probably term it “religious”, so lets say maybe someone believes in God, but aren’t too sure or not concerned with how that plays out in their lives. They aren’t “religious.”..Christians-true to God’s Word-do NOT think they are BETTER. This is not why someone would choose to not date a non-Christian. It is about each others’ lives getting off-track because there isn’t a common goal. That is very important in marriage, whether people want to admit it or not. There will be compromise, resentment, and more compromise. And possibly guilt. Sometimes the other becomes a Christian and then both are on the same page and that is wonderful, but that is not what God calls us to do. Many in the Church refer to this “no-no” as “missionary dating.” Christians, don’t try to be a missionary in your dating life by dating someone hoping to win them to Christ because chances are, you will have a broken heart when it doesn’t work, and you will hurt the person you are dating as well. You aren’t in the business in changing who people are, God is. If they say they’re a Christian, that doesn’t mean you are right for each other, either. Use number 7 tip to help you determine how compatible you are.

So back to this “We don’t think we are better” deal as a sidebar..the Scripture teaches that there is none who is “good” (Romans 3:12), but it is only by God’s grace that Christians are forgiven their sins by accepting forgiveness and having a relationship with God through Christ, living their lives for his purpose. The decision to live for God, though, can be sidetracked if joined in such an intimate bond of marriage without your partner running the same race (1 Corinthians 9:14) as you. It only makes sense. And you may be thinking,

“Wait? Marriage? I’m just thinking about dating, I’m a teen!”…what’s the point in dating if you absolutely would not consider marrying this person, ever? That is the point of dating, otherwise it is a waste of time (sorry, but its true!).

So A) If you are a Christian wanting to follow God’s word on His design of marriage, don’t even consider dating someone who isn’t a Christian. B) Don’t date someone if you would immediately say “no” if you ask is it someone you could ever hypothetically marry someday.

I hope #8 was clear…by all means, if you have questions about what I meant or what the Bible says on the matter, by all means message me or Comment on the blog, whatever you feel comfortable with.

Undies, Bed-Training, and Therapeutic Lip Taping.. (some 2 yrs old and 2 months milestones)

UNDIES/POTTY TRAINING IN UNDIES
We are currently working on potty-training Ethan by having him wear underwear only and taking him potty VERY frequently. (every 30 minutes) He definitely knows WHEN he is wet but still seems like he is having a hard time knowing before that happens. He has signed “potty” once this week so I knew that he needed to go, however, he was already going as he signed this. I can tell he has made a little progress from staying dry for awhile, etc. so we will keep it up! For those trying this method I reccommend getting plain white snug briefs to be able to see when the accident starts immediately. We have borrowed some potty books and videos from the library to see how he takes to those and if they reinforce.

BED TRAINING
Amazingly, when I was frustrated and left the room one night to just let him fall asleep wherever..bed or floor, (I intended to check on him and transfer him later), he was asleep within minutes one night! And he STAYED in the bed with no supervison (other than listening on monitor) So I tried this the next night..and the next..and next. So now he is on his 5th night of being tired, but awake, then falling asleep on his own in his bed with no bars or anything holding him back. Just the mattress on the floor. We are so proud of him.

LIP TAPING
Ethan’s therapists suggested kinesiotape (I believe it is) for his lips to help with lip closure and strengthening which in turn is supposed to help his tongue not thrust out as much (or at all, is the goal.) He is wearing it 30 minutes at a time in his sessions so far. I caught a glimpse of him, and it was black tape that made it look like he had a goatee and moustache. So we will see how that goes! It is brand new so I really don’t have many thoughts on it yet.

cookie monster more alike than different
SPEECH/COMMUNICATION PROGRESS
1)Ethan has been talking more and has some new animal sounds: snake (“ss”) pig (“clearing throat type sound), cow (moo), wolf howling, dog barking (sometimes, sometimes he just bobs his head like he is barking haha) He has also said “Balloon” and “Kix”, as in the corn puff cereal. It is actually the fastest word he has learned to date!
2) telling others “Hi!” more frequently. He waves as well and it sounds like “Eeeeeeye” or “I!” (He approached a group of toddlers at the library train table last week and waved saying “Hi!” and it made me so proud. 🙂
3) Adding more ASL signs into his daily use all the time..We don’t necessarily sign anything new, but Ethan just starts doing signs he hadn’t done before like “apple” for example. I think its all been up there, and he knows whats what but will do a sign he saw on an episode of Signing Time a week ago. We do sign to him constantly as I mentioned in this posta but sometimes I know that I haven’t signed something awhile (like an obscure word such as balloon..not that obscure I guess, but I don’t typically say balloon daily) and he will do it suddenly when he sees a picture or something.

OTHER PROGRESS/COGNITIVE
Ethan has been able to follow some directions, such as ones in singsong or rhyming books such as Llama Llama Hoppity Hop. Oh how we love the Llama Llama books! Ethan is in the 2 year old class at church and gets to have lessons so we are happy for him to get to participate in that.

MEDICAL UPDATES
Ethan has been doing great but will have his thyroid levels checked again in a few months because one of his levels were high at his recent checkup with geneticist (blood draw that screens for several things is what he had done) The thyroglobulin is what was elevated. We will see. I have heard some kids do not have problems with their thyroid later, but some do after an elevated reading such as this. With a stretch of time with no major sickness or surgeries (after the tonsillectomy, that is)We have been enjoying having time outside, playing with his new baby cousin, letting Ethan have some time with other kids and adults in Sunday School and getting out to do things. I think I speak for both Ethan’s dad and myself when I say that we may always dread flu season (even though we LOVE the winter holiday season. Christmaaaas! haha) but we plan to let Ethan participate in Sunday School throughout the winter which is a first. As the time approaches, I’m sure we will get more nervous but he handled RSV last winter much better than he did the flu and pneumonia as an infant his first winter. So everybody go out and get a pumpkin or two, sure, but also get your flu shots!

Ethan is getting his first ophthalmology checkup this week, and although this may sound like an odd thing to be “routine”, it is actually recommended for kids with Down Syndrome to get their first exam at six MONTHS of age! We somehow missed that memo, so we are just now taking him to get his eyes checked! Kids with Down Syndrome can have strabismus (what some call a “wandering eye”), among other eye issues so a yearly exam is recommended for them. Some little ones just get glasses so we will find out. I will update with what a pediatric ophthalmology eye exam looks like, especially for a mostly preverbal child. It should be interesting.

Difficult Discussions

The following post was written by Ryan on social media after a story about a young couple having to say goodbye to their baby was released. It is not on the topic of Down Syndrome necessarily, but it offers some insights about end of life decisions which will effect all of us at some point.

“It is never easy having someone you love get sick, and then thinking that after a while modern medicine will surely keep them healthy or help them pull through. As a critical care nurse I am a little jaded towards modern medicine more so than most. I know that my previous statement may raise alarms in some people’s minds so let me explain what I mean.

Modern medicine from my point of view is both a blessing, and a curse. We can work hard to perform miracles and bring people back from death (or the point of death) and see them sometimes go home to live a few more years with their families. I have seen the opposite happen, and patients slowly and painfully deteriorate on ventilators until their is no hope, the heart simply gives out and the patient dies.

Often times families think that we can always keep a patient alive no matter their condition. They have open hostility to those medical professionals that would be the voice of truth and say this simply isn’t true. A quick google search will bring up results of post code blue (or cardiopulmonary arrest) mortality rates as reported in studies on the NLM website. You can read the full study here:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945517/

or the conclusion of the statistics here:
Conclusion:

In-hospital CPR for cardiopulmonary arrest was associated with 30.4% success at our center at the end of CPR but only 12% were alive at discharge. Duration of CPR >10 minutes was predictive of significantly decreased survival to discharge.

12% of people who have CPR performed survive in this particular study. 12 percent chance of walking out of the hospital alive after CPR; I have had one Doctor tell me that the chance of survival after cpr is usually less than 10%. There are so many factors that contribute to even this statistic such as comorbidities, current state of health (including the state of the patients hemodynamic stability), and many more.

As you can see that it is never the case that we can always save you in modern medicine. I am by no means saying that we should never ever try to save someones life, and quite the contrary. I am all for attempting to save someones life with a realistic and down to earth view of what can and cannot be done. Many times we try to act like God and save people who simply can’t be saved. An old LPN friend of mine once told me “When it is your time to go home, there is nothing on this Earth that will save you. Nothing.” So I say to all that read this be prepared. We medical professionsals will do all within our power to save you, but please understand that we can’t save everyone. When it is your time to go home it simply is your time to go. Please try to understand that when a Doctor says “I am sorry, there is nothing else we can do. Your loved one is not going to make it” it isn’t because we have given up, but we realize there is nothing left and your loved ones time has come.

The best thing that anyone can do for themselves is know that we are deeply and passionately driven to save lives, but we are also just as deeply and passionately driven to prevent needless suffering, and this is where my jaded attitude towards modern medicine needs to be checked. Many times we are driven to protect our patients from harm, and sometimes that includes modern medicine. It isn’t always appropriate to continue care of a patient, and try to understand it is never due to us wanting your loved one to not make it. It is simply that we don’t want to watch them suffer and also we don’t want to watch you suffer when all options have been depleted.

I am deeply passionate about what I do. I am a critical care RN. I have loads to learn, but one of the most important lessons I have learned over the past few years is to be passionate about my care not just for the patient but for the families. I attempt to utilize a holistic approach to my care and let my families as well as my patients understand that we are only here to help the patient and in doing so sometimes that requires letting them go.

There are many who would disagree with what this young couple has chosen to do. I have never faced the time when I had to make a decision a bout someone I love more deeply than any others around. I know that at some point in my life this is likely to happen for me or for Natalie making that choice about me.

I am thankful for this young couple’s view on what can and cannot be done. I ask that you join me in praying as the mourn the death of their child, and at the same time celebrate the life they were able to have with him.

Take this time to talk with your spouse, children, parents, and friends about what you expect should you become severely ill, have a wreck, or some other medical emergency. I promise you that it can happen unexpectedly and it is always helpful for you and your family to have a game plan. Talk about this important issue as now more than ever the line between meaningful life and a life where someone should never have remained is blurred; to often do we truly attempt to play God.