Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the oopsie daisy edition

Hey look! It's Tuesday and I'm actually writing this on the correct day! Don't get used to this, people. I'm not so reliable these days...

It's been a week. Here are some of the things pissing me off this round.


Tragedies and Speculation
There are few things in this world that the 24 hour media channels love more than a tragedy. Planes that disappear or crash seem to be their most favorite. I wish I was kidding.

Last week a Germanwings plane crashed in the French Alps. From minutes within the plane dropping off radar, the assumptions started coming in. Given the location, most people started to work from the assumption (this time a correct one) that there would be no survivors.

Almost as quickly, though, the media started to do what it does best: speculate.

About how and why the accident happened, whether terrorism was at play, whether it was intentional, etc. Once tiny bits of information about what was found on the recovered black box were leaked to the press, they took it and ran with it of course.

What always amazes me in these cases is that those reporting aren't so much reporting anymore as they are just guessing, and it seems to be a race to guess first, as though there is some prize out there looming for the person on a screen who correctly muses about the cause of the disaster.

There isn't.

And, last time I checked, there were the friends and families of over a hundred dead victims in mourning. Why can't we wait for official word on the cause? We can and we should.

Now that we have some idea of what may have happened and why, there is a whole new round of speculation about the co-pilot, his mental illness, whether people with depression are dangerous and on and on and on and on....

Bangs head on wall.

Stillbirth is not murder....but it is now....
Purvi Patel was approximately 23-25 weeks pregnant when she went into labor in 2013. The baby died within seconds of birth, she panicked and disposed of the body in a dumpster. She had hidden the pregnancy from friends and family because of a strong cultural disapproval of sex outside of marriage.

Bleeding profusely, she went to the emergency room. She initially denied having been pregnant, then admitted she was and told the doctors that the baby had died and that she'd put it in a dumpster.

She wasn't treated like a mother who'd lost a child to stillbirth, to severe prematurity, to miscarriage or whatever you want to categorize it as. No.

She was treated like a murderer.

She was just convicted on two charges in Indiana. The first, feticide, is for an act causing the death of a fetus. The second, wholly contradictory of the first, which assumes the child was not born, was child abuse in the form of neglect of a dependent.

The baby died within seconds of birth and was at a stage of gestation where survival would not have been certain even if she'd delivered at the most sophisticated hospital. Prosecutors used computer records that show she'd ordered drugs online that would induce an abortion, but toxicology reports demonstrate no evidence that she had taken anything.

There is no evidence she did anything to harm the pregnancy or the baby. She was convicted anyway.

The kicker? Abortion is legal in Indiana. 

Oooopsie...we just glorified eating disorders
The Chive ran a fluff piece on their site about radical body transformations, presumably to serve as inspiration for people to get in shape and lose weight.

Fine, whatever.

What isn't okay was the pictures they used.

Anne Marie Sengillo was one of the before and after examples they used, with pictures of her to show how "great" she looked after her transformation.

I'm not showing the pictures, and I'll tell you why.

The pictures, used without her knowledge or consent, were originally posted on Reddit to show what the stages of anorexia were like for her when she was going through her battle with the disease.

The Chive just took them and glorified an eating disorder. Whoops.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The 2015 Summer Reading Challenge List

Howdy. We're going into year 3 of this summer reading challenge, and this year I'm having to change things a little bit just because of how our summer is shaping up. There are several weeks where one or more of the kids will be gone, so we're working around all those schedules. We are also planning to skip one week which can be used to catch up if necessary. 



We're going into summer with a goal of 10 weeks of reading this time. Again, all books or stories chosen have been made into movies at least once. The kids have all given me input this time around as far as what they would like to read.

Fortunately, we already own most of these books, but I wanted to give anyone who wants to also participate a chance to get them or find them before summer begins. Many of the classics are available as ebooks for free download or to borrow from electronic libraries. I also tend to stalk the used book stores for the ones still missing in our collection. Libraries carry them all, but the timing may be difficult if you are going to try to keep pace with us as we go through the summer.

What I do is give you the list (and the week each book is assigned to) ahead of time. At the beginning of the week, I will remind you (via my Facebook page), which book we are reading. I encourage reading aloud, taking turns, depending on the ages and fluency of your children.

Two years ago, my oldest daughter took off like a rocket in her reading comprehension and level after the summer. Last year, my younger daughter did the same. This is an absolutely wonderful way to foster a love of reading.

At the end of each week, I will open up a discussion on the book on my page. We generally try to watch the films sometime during the weekend, prior to starting the next book. I will make information available on where to find the films for the lowest cost on my Facebook page as well.

In addition to this list, we will also be reading poetry by Emily Dickinson throughout the summer. 

Here is the 2015 list, dates are the Monday of the week we will begin each book.


June 1 ~ Grimms' Fairy Tales, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and The Frog Prince most likely, possibly more of them if we have time)

June 8 ~ Old Yeller, Fred Gipson

June 15 ~ Paper Towns, John Green (the film is set to be released in July) ***

June 22 ~ Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe (Cask of Amontillado, The Pit and The Pendulum, The Fall of the House of Usher, possibly more) ***

June 29 ~ break

July 6 ~ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint Exupěry

July 13 ~ The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

July 20 ~ Midsummer Night's Dream, MacBeth, Julius Ceasar, William Shakespeare

July 27 ~ Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl

August 3 ~ Night, Elie Wiesel

August 10 ~ Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury

*** These two weeks will be spent reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling with the younger kids instead of the other books

Friday, March 27, 2015

About this parenting thing...

I'm actually going to do it, you guys.

I'm actually going to write this book.



I spent quite a while outlining it yesterday and started on a few of the chapters.

I've been asked quite a few times to write a book on parenting, and so that's just what I'll do. My goal is to write a practical book with realistic advice for parents based on my years of experience and observation. It will be real and honest and funny, and hopefully, it will be useful.

Here's your chance to tell me what you wish you'd known when you started having your kids!

It's possible that I will start the book with pregnancy and go all the way through the teenage years, but I may opt to begin with birth rather than discussing all the pregnancy and childbirth related topics....unless you think that would be valuable information to include.

I was talking with a friend about this, and it's likely that the book will have a slight slant in the direction of gentle parenting, just since that is the way I lean.

My primary goal, though, is to avoid doing what most of the parenting books out there tend to do - preach. I'm not a preacher. I'm not ever going to tell you that one way is the right way. I'm not ever going to tell you that there is one way to raise a child.

Every parent is different.
Every child is different.
Every family unit is different.
Every situation is different.

I'm planning to share what we've learned over the years, what worked for us and what didn't and what we wish we had known.

Here are some of the topics I have been asked to talk specifically about:

- baby gear you actually need and everything you don't
- navigating public school when your child doesn't fit the mold
- parenting children with mental health concerns and being a parent with issues of my own
- realistic advice for nursing newborns
- adjusting to the second (or fifth...) baby
- sleep strategies
- making baby food
- documenting milestones/photography tips
- babywearing and cloth diapering
- working with reluctant readers
- tips to manage adhd
- talking to teenagers about the "hard stuff"
- fostering independence

Are there any other specific issues you'd like to read about?

AHHHHHH!!!

This is actually going to happen you guys.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Be The Change - A Guest Post by Kimmie Arnold

Every so often, I ask if there is anyone who would like to submit something here as a guest post. The following piece came from a fan and friend named Kimmie Arnold. She is passionate about this topic and I'm pretty sure that she would shout it from the rooftops if she could. 

In a message she sent me, she said this: My goal, my mission and my hope is to help be the change this world we live in needs.

She has a Facebook Page called Kimmie's Krochet Shop and plans to soon begin selling crocheted friendship bracelets to go along with her goal. Please check her out!




After plenty of observation on social media, news outlets and everyday life...I have come to the following conclusions:

1. There are a lot of really negative people in this world. 

Someone posts a cute or funny picture or video of their child or animal and I can guarantee that there will be numerous people who will in some way shape or form make a negative remark about how said parent/owner is abusing, neglecting or torturing their child/animal. Seriously, some people need to get a sense of humor. I think goodwill sells them...

2. Parenting a child of any age is difficult, trying, emotional and scary.

Babies do not come with owner's manuals and most of us are learning as we go. Offering advice when asked is AWESOME, it really does take a village to raise the future generation, but I've seen so many people be attacked for their parenting techniques it's INSANE. People need to learn to stop jumping to conclusions and judging other parents. People need to quit being so damn harsh.

No one is perfect, we will all make mistakes and not one person or child is living the same story as the next. We all struggle in some way whether it's emotionally, mentally or physically. Each and every person is one of a kind. Rather than judging the parent with the screaming child in the store try to understand them, help them or maybe even pray for them.

Seriously friends, I challenge you all to be the change this world needs. I challenge you to be more supportive and understanding of strangers you see in the store, at the park or any where else. Our society needs a HUGE make over and that can only happen if people are willing to stand up and make a difference! 

BE THE CHANGE!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off - The Indiana edition

I was going to add this to the list of the other things this week, but decided that it deserved its own post. As I did when Arizona passed similar legislation, I wanted to name names.

Legislate discrimination, I'll call you on it.

Governor Jan Brewer vetoed the bill in Arizona, but in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence has already said that he will sign it.

Awesome.

If you haven't heard, Indiana SB 101 would make it legal for business owners to refuse service to customers on the basis of religion. Written in the heavily GOP controlled Indiana State Senate, the bill passed the House yesterday.

Here are the elected House representatives who voted for SB 101.

Lloyd Arnold
Michael Aylesworth
Ron Bacon
Jim Baird
Robert Behning
Bruce Borders
Brian Bosma
Mike Braun
Tom Brown
Woody Burton
Martin Carbaugh
Bob Cherry
Tony Cook
Casey Cox
Wes Culver
Steve Davisson
Thomas Dermody
Dale DeVon
Bill Fine
William Friend
David Frizzell
Randy Frye
Doug Gutwein
Dick Hamm
Tim Harman
Bob Heaton
Christopher Judy
Mike Karickhoff
Eric Koch
Don Lehe
Dan Leonard
Jim Lucas
Kevin Mahan
Peggy Mayfield
Jud McMillin
Wendy McNamara
Doug Miller
Alan Morrison
Robert Morris
Sharon Negele
Curt Nisly
David Ober
Julie Olthoff
John Price
Rhonda Rhoads
Kathy Richardson
Donna Schaibley
Hal Slager
Ben Smaltz
Milo Smith
Edmund Soliday
Mike Speedy
Greg Steuerwald
Holli Sullivan
Jeff Thompson
Jerry Torr
Randy Truitt
Matt Ubelhor
Heath VanNatter
Thomas Washburne
Tim Wesco
Dennis Zent
Cindy Ziemke

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the I skipped a week again edition

Good lord, I have become such a flake. I completely missed writing this post last week, and didn't even realize that I'd skipped it for a few days afterwards.

I blame this energy sucker.


Seriously, though, it's fine. I highly doubt that I'll ever look back on this time in my life and regret that week where I forgot to bitch about first world problems. I would, however, be much more inclined to wish for another lazy morning hanging out with that guy.

It's all good.

Speaking of which, that guy...he's growing up entirely too fast for my taste. As I type this, he's sleeping. In his crib.

Ack.

At some point, he decided that he adores his crib. I have been putting him in at at night (well, the first part of the night anyhow) for a couple of weeks now since he's too big for the cradle. He doesn't cry or fuss at all, just sighs then rolls over and goes right to sleep. Today is the first time I put him in there for a nap, and he's snoozing.

This kid. Doesn't he realize that he's supposed to stay my snuggly little bean for as long as I want him to?

Apparently not.

Anyway.

I should write about some of the things pissing me off. Some of these are leftovers from last week, some of them are new. Off we go.

The Televised Town Hall Meetings
I just should stop attempting to watch any of the current events shows that run on weekend mornings. I used to live for this shit - get all riled up and yell at the tv. It used to be a fairly decent format to get a feeling for elected representatives and those who were running, to see them in a less structured environment where their real personalities and biases tend to show themselves a bit more. It used to be.

It appears that the 2016 Presidential race is already on, much to my dismay, and rather than have talking heads debating the pluses and minuses of potential candidates, more and more of these shows are utilizing the town hall format. I can't honestly tell you which channel it was, and it was either two weeks ago or three, but the town hall meeting that was on the television got me so pissed off that I got out of bed, shook my head at my husband and left the room.

He giggled, of course.

The topic of this town hall meeting was ISIS, the room filled with the prototypical Americans (or whatever this network deemed to be the average person), and the level of ignorance displayed was just mindblowing. People who have no qualms displaying their racism, their biases, their hatred of entire portions of the world, all playing out on television that, oh yeah by the way, gets televised anywhere. Seriously, people, this is why we have so many enemies out there.

This kind of television, in my opinion, is dangerous. It feeds the ignorance. It's not like they had someone there to sit in as the voice of reason, someone to point out the aggressions steeped in almost every major religion, someone to point out our role in the past, someone to remind people that there is a reason that intelligence is classified, someone to caution those with a microphone about the effect their words might have.

The average person isn't making decisions about international security for a reason.

Speaking of Presidential Elections...
Am I wrong to sort of want people to go on birther tangents with Ted Cruz too? I mean, I know it won't happen for a few reasons, but c'mon you guys....we could make it happen.

Just kidding.

Disclaimer: I do not support those who seek to try and disqualify people from running for the office of the President with asinine tactics like that, regardless of which party they belong to.

Damn high road.

Whatever.

I read something somewhere that said that if turnout was higher, Democrats would always win. So let's show up this time, you guys...or all the federal money that should be funneled into rebuilding bridges and roads will be used to build border fences and paranoia instead.

The Complicated Issue of Fetal Homicide
The tragic events that took place here last week have reopened this can of worms. In this state, a person cannot be charged with murder for the death of an unborn child, regardless of intent and manner of death. It's all twisted up in legalese because of personhood advocates and the abortion issue. 

Essentially, there is a push here to proclaim a fetus a person, and depending on the version of the movement, some would start that term application at conception. It's not part of some way to ensure that the law can go after people who murder babies like what happened last week, it's a way to try and prohibit abortion, even at the earliest gestations.

Why can't people be reasonable about this stuff? For the love.

A person isn't a person when it can't live independently of the mother. An unborn child killed in the last trimester is at the point where it could certainly have lived independently of the mother.

It's not as though there is a huge wave of women in their last trimester of pregnancy rushing out to get abortions. At that point in a pregnancy, the vast majority of terminations that ever happen are done purely for medical reasons anyway.

Anyway, my point is that it should not be considered all or nothing. A ball of cells in the early weeks is not equivalent to a 34 week fetus intentionally cut from the womb of its mother, but those who try and equate them are the ones making this such a muddy legal issue. They are, of course, turning around and trying to blame the pro-choice community for the issue.

Can we not do this??? Can we, for one second, think rationally about what laws make sense instead of trying to make some broad stroke point that defies logic? Can we stop fighting for a moment and realize that there is a mother mourning the death of her child at the hands of someone else, and that the idea that the only thing standing between her and a murder charge is arguments yelled from atop soapboxes?

If you cut a child out of another human being, it should be murder.

And we shouldn't even be talking about abortion.

The hearing has been pushed to later this week, presumably because they are still trying to decide what she can be charged with, and whether she can be charged with murder.

Hemophilia and Incest
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm going here.

An ABC show last week said that hemophilia is a "nasty byproduct of incest".

No. No it's not. What the hell?

It is an inherited disorder, passed down in the X (male) chromosome and runs in families consequently, but has nothing to do with incest.

Yes, I know that Secrets and Lies is a television show, a fictional one. Yes, I know that television is supposed to be entertaining and it isn't real. Yeah, I know.

But seriously, who approves this shit? Who at the network thought this was a good idea?

Signs that the Proposition process has gone off the rails...
One of the most interesting things about the state of California is the Proposition process written into the state Constitution. Giving ordinary citizens the right to draft laws that elected officials won't write, it has set the state up for many contentious legal issues in the past.

It's an extraordinary way for individuals to have a say in how they are governed, certainly.

What is going on right now, though, perhaps is a sign that there should be some kind of filter slapped on the process. Or something. At least a check for whether someone is trying to legalize murder. SOMETHING.

There is an attorney in California who has written a proposition that would make killing gay people legal.

Nope, you didn't read that wrong.

Due to the way the proposition process works, there is nothing that can be done to stop it, and it will likely be put to a vote if it can garner the necessary number of signatures to be put on the ballot.

Shakes head. Bangs head on keyboard. Throws stuff.

Monday, March 23, 2015

We Ain't There Yet, a guest post from anonymous

One of the most amazing things about doing what I do here is that other people trust me enough to tell their stories.

It's easily one of the most humbling aspects as well.

Today, I will share one of those stories with you all.

This story came to me from someone that I've come to know over the past few years. Someone that I've come to more than know, someone that I've come to love and respect deeply. 

In our society, we talk almost constantly about how difficult parenting is, we argue incessantly about whether it is or should be considered a job, we fight with each other over seemingly every single aspect of it and all it entails.

What we so often don't seem to realize while we're busy screaming at each other through our keyboards is that there are parents like the one who wrote this piece. Parents who can barely hold all the pieces of their lives together, who would give anything for a moment to argue with a stranger over something of small significance. Parents who need help from a system that just isn't designed for them. 

There are pieces of this story not included here that you may deem relevant, the full picture isn't presented here by any means. As for what that leaves you with, I'm not sure. I suppose (assume, in fact) that you will all draw your own conclusions about what you are reading, and that is human nature. Know, though, that this isn't the full picture and it's not your place to judge, nor is it mine...but we all need to realize that there are parents out there in this place. They are parents that you know and I know and they need help, they need support, they need shoulders to cry on and safe places to vent. 

With so much love and respect, her words. 


Nobody sees the mess behind these walls. I don't let them in. Not just a physical mess, that I have cleaned, the emotional mess, the tyranny, the tears. The yelling. Reserve the right to judge leave your butt hurt at the door, this is my life, not yours. You have your opinions that's fine. 

Keep them for just a moment please, we ain't there yet.

There are holes in my walls, knives are missing, I wear all my jewelry. 4 rings 1 necklace. The rest was stolen, sold, given away. There are no video games, anymore. Sorry no way to start a fire either. We were there for a minute, we ain't going back.

I buy my groceries a day at a time, or I'm feeding the neighbors while me and mine go hungry, everything thing I like in life is hidden in my car or my sister's away from me, I can't enjoy them before the disappear. Never carry cash, keep an eye on your purse. 

Watch the cat. He's an asshole

Yes I am quite guarded, unemotional. Unhappy. Sad. I own that, I've been through hell. In my days, I've survived being beaten drugged stabbed hated abandoned. I've dug my own grave. I walked away from all that, and then some. I have a tiara I wear it when I mop, why? Because I can. 

But this isn't about me. This is about him.

4'5" 94lbs and 9 years of full bodied mental illness. He's so sick. And I hate that. He's getting "better".

We ain't there yet.

He set fire to my house and killed his sister all in one week, and went right back to watching Blues Clues. 

He melts down and calms down with out any notice, there are no indicators or blinking lights alarms don't sound, he just goes rageangerviolencecursingcryingsobbingthrowingscreamingkickingpunchingsuicidethreatsattemptsvoicessayingkillkillkill.... 

Then. Calm.

Mommy I love you.

I love you too.

School calls, cops call, home from work,again. 

He told the neighbors I was gone for two weeks and that we had no food,lights running water and his sister made him sleep on the porch... Sigh.

What is wrong with you? Back to the Dr....

Oh the doctors, they say, "He'll grow out of this, it's a phase,he's a bit of a handful huh, try this pill, and this one and this and this and this and this and this and this..." 

We're getting there mom, we ain't there yet.

It's like I'm on my own survivor island, except THANK God we don't have a narrator and cameras following us around, that's reality tv. 

It's hard not to be annoyed, hurt angry and sad. It's even harder to see the good. I remember the good, his smile his giggle.

I remember, before.

I wish I could tell you that story. I wish I could stop being selfish about that time, but for now, just a few minutes longer I need that memory of his giggle to keep my heart from breaking completely. 

Now is nothing like that, we don't have 'good' days, we don't have trips to McDonald's, in fact his little brother has never seen the inside of one. If it can't be delivered or shoved through a window, take out is out of the question.

We stay inside, Windows shut. No-one open the door. Sshhhh he's sleeping. He's asleep. Let him sleep. It is rare. Yes, he sleeps sitting up sideways laying over the chair no he doesn't look comfortable but for now the demons have left the voices are hushed and he looks peaceful and sweet. For now he's done. 

Tomorrow will be different, tomorrow he'll throw desks and pull the white board from the wall at school, tomorrow, when the demons have rested he'll jump from a moving car, or lay down in traffic at rush hour. Tomorrow is a new fight. But tonight, now, I hear his laugh, I hear him sing "skidamerink a dink a dink skidamernk a doo I love you"...

We ain't there anymore.

Wake up, wake up it's time for school. Gotta get dressed, eat, brush, catch the bus. 

No.

Waaaaaffffles....Syrup or jelly? Both. Can I have peanut butter, like a taco?
Yes, clothes. Wear underwear today, that creeps the teacher out when you don't, and 2 socks...But I don't like them to touch me.
Your feet stink, wear socks.
Mom, I'm gonna have a good day. 3,2,1.....
I can't find my bag, my homework, my shoes, find my shoes.
I don't wear them where did you leave them.
I wanna run away, live in an abandoned house like a hobo and eat waffles and beans.
Hobos don't have waffles.
Then I'll eat beans.
I found your shoes and your homework, I got your bag, want another waffle hobo Bill?
No mom, the struggle is real.
Take your pills. 400mg seroquil 5mg abilify, that keeps the voices quiet, but it pisses off the demons. 

He made it to the bus. 12 minute ride to school, cup of coffee 8:04 phone rings, he punched the bus driver for taking his waffle...

The struggle indeed. 

He's currently tearing up the classroom. The other kids have been moved to the gym. 

Breathe.

Walking in I hear screaming, crying begging, and him. I see 6 very large men struggling to hold him down.

He sees me and settles, so quickly the men stumble from the quickness if his retreat and the amount of force they were using to hold him still. They all look at me. Little ol' me and wonder how I do it. 
With the raise of an eyebrow he stops.

Well?
Knees to his chest, hands over his face, breathless.
He took my waffle....

And what happened to the classroom? Forgot where you hid the extra waffles?
No, I got mad. I'm so mad.
You're also suspended. 
And I'm not exactly pleased.
Clean.
The meltdowns at home.
PTSD, ADHD, bipolar, ODD, and RADS, there are too many people in his head, he's frighteningly smart, strong. Manipulative. Mean. Slightly evil. 

Also sweet and funny kind hearted, and loving. 

We've been homeless, hungry and broke, circumstance didn't change his behavior. I've tried redirection, discipline, therapy, ignoring, giving choices taking privileges medication rewarding crying begging pleading nothing worked.

We ain't there yet.

So I sent him away. On Christmas eve. Because the 23 holes in my walls, the being on a first name basis with the police, almost getting fired from another job, possibly another eviction, the stress the panic, the not momming my other children, not sleeping not eating not anything-ing out of fear and anxiety and worry. Because criminal charges, because he'd go to jail, because he can't remember to put the lid on the peanut butter how's he gonna handle jail because he's small and can't fight because he doesn't know better because he does know better but won't do better. Because I can't anymore. Alone. I can't do the voices, they want me dead, I can't do small bathroom fires, I can't do neighbors yelling judging NOT UNDERSTANDING I can't do crazy irrational rantings finding mashed potatoes in the sink, knives in the toybox, hoarded food, rotten food, he's run out of schools that let him attend, people who have the patients to deal with him, medical options, medications, therapies, excuses to not drink.

I'm sober, completely sober, and a little dead inside but I can't cry and I can't drink, both same reason, I'm afraid I won't be able to stop. That's not what he needs, and I'm fairly sure he's gonna be less fun to be around inebriated. 

They told me today they wanna try to transition him home, and I'm scared. I miss him and want him home for selfish reasons, because I'm his mom, and I love him, I'd like to think I can live the life he deserves when he comes home, but we ain't there yet.

I'm not ready for him to come home, I'm not ready to fight,. Fight for him with him fight for sanity.

For now I can rest, actually sleep wear my tiara while I mop. I'm eating triple chocolate ice cream writing this I filled my refrigerator for the first time in years, I can take the kids to the grocery, and McDonald's.

But we ain't there yet.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcome to my brain

I have been feeling like I need to write almost constantly lately, which would be great if I was writing. I'm not most of the time because of the baby. He's teething and occasionally miserable these days. Between that and the reality that I live in my car shuttling kids around all day, I just don't get much time to sit here and peck away.

I'm giving myself 20 minutes today to get as much out as I can before I have to go do all the things.

ALL THE THINGS.

Which means also that I need to take a shower and put on pants and be presentable to the world and resist the urge to snarl at humans.


Right now, that's asking a lot.

Anyway, it's been a week around here. I was already in a weird place then all the horrible things happened that happened here in town and now I'm just numb.

As it always does, though, life goes on regardless of what else happens and even though tragedy struck here pretty profoundly this week, there are still things that need done because there are still things scheduled for this weekend.

That pesky life thing. Always going on and such.

Anyhow.

I'm moody about writing. I'll tell you why. Actually there are a few reasons.

The first is that it's still bizarre to me that complete strangers read what I write. It's cool and I love it almost all the time but there are times that it freaks me out a little bit.

I had someone from my fan page share a picture of one of my kids this week. It seems like there is a language barrier and some misunderstanding about who I am, but it is still creepy as hell. It makes me want to stop sharing pictures of my kids. Gah.

I went through and yanked a ton of old posts here about my kids too. Mostly because they are old posts and no one but me ever read them anyway, but also because I'm freaked out.

This internet is a strange place you guys.

I wrote about the local tragedies yesterday for a few reasons. The main reason is that it's just how I process stuff, and I was upset by the comments that I was seeing all over the place, the assumptions made about this city, the mental health piece that tends to get overlooked once something horrible happens. As it turns out, both of these events weren't exactly isolated, totally unpredictable things. There were warning signs, signs that people ignored, signs that should have thrown up red flags. That all makes it more tragic, I think because it decreases the element of chance. It's not just random violence if there are warnings it is coming.

We seriously need to do better.

Anyway, that post that I wrote yesterday...it did what the posts that I tend to write in response to emotional news stories do, and it went viral. Mildly.

I expressed sadness and frustration about that to my husband, about how I hate that the stories I write about the worst things that happen in our world seem to so often be the ones that are read by the most people. He made some comment about how maybe that was just my niche.

I write other things, people of Earth. I promise. You can read them too.

Sigh.

I don't want to be known as the bearer of bad news.

There are so many good things to share, so many good stories to tell. Today is apparently international happiness day, and it's the first day of Spring....so let's shower and put on pants and go outside, you guys.

Who is with me?

Hooray Spring!

Achoo.

Sorry....I'm allergic to outside. Bring some tissues.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When the tragedy is local and the horror is real

In the past 48 hours, there have been two horrific stories here locally in the news, the type of news stories that are too awful to believe that they could ever possibly be real.

The first, a story about a mentally disturbed man, off his medications and unhinged. His condition, a known problem, his child, already removed from his custody.

He killed his father, stabbed his mother, then killed himself.

The second, the story of a woman, 7 months pregnant, who went to a home here in town to pick up baby clothing in answer to a craigslist ad. Instead, she was beaten. Her child, cut from her womb. The woman who did this to her took the infant to the hospital, claiming to have had a miscarriage.

The baby did not survive. The mother underwent emergency surgery and is expected to recover. The suspect is in custody.

When tragedies like this happen, when stories that seem to come from the pages of a horror novel become reality, people so often have the same reactions.

What happened to this town? 
It's really gone downhill. 
Our society is ruined. 



Nothing happened to this town. Terrible things happen everywhere. Live anywhere long enough and something will happen there. It's just reality. I grew up in a place with a bad reputation, with a name that still to this day leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. That place never deserved that reputation. This town where I live now doesn't deserve one either.

These two tragic stories have far more to do with mental health than geography.

The first man, known to be bipolar as well as suffering from other conditions, known to be off his meds, known to be a danger to his own child. I don't know for sure, but I have to believe that his parents had done what they could to try and help him, not just recently but for as long as he struggled. They weren't protected here the way his child was. They slipped through the cracks of a broken system alongside their son.

The woman in the second case appears to have been pregnant last year. Web searches reveal baby registries online from late last year. It also appears that she had a young child die many years ago. It's all speculation at this point of course, but she appears to have been deeply mentally disturbed as well.

So many in the world of social media have condemned these two. The man who stabbed his parents is already dead at his own hands. The woman responsible for the assault and death of the baby is in police custody. Any help either of them should have received is too late at this point. None of that will bring the people who were killed back. Nothing will ever be able to stop the chain of events for a mother sitting in the hospital right now mourning the loss of her child.

Nothing will ever make that better.

Nothing.

I've seen so many people commenting on the news stories, calling her evil. Often the same people calling her such refuse to believe that mental illness could be the root of this.

It is easier for some to believe that she was possessed by the devil than that she was mentally unstable.

Why is that easier?

There is another aspect of that case in particular that is generating much discussion this morning. It's a legal issue, one that is brought up any time the child of a pregnant woman is killed here in this state.

Until and unless that child is first born alive prior to their death, it is impossible to charge the perpetrator with murder.

They can somehow be charged with child abuse resulting in death, but not with murder because of the nuances of the statute.

In this case, it is presumed that the suspect cut open the mother's abdomen and took the child in an attempt to pass it off as her own, with the intention to keep the baby alive. We don't know whether that child was born alive before it passed, though that detail will become public knowledge eventually, but we do know that the mother was estimated to have been 7 months pregnant.

A fetus at 7 months along can most certainly survive birth.

If the child had not been cut from its mother here, it would still be alive. If the suspect had not caused the death, the baby would still be here.

It seems a pretty clear case to me, and I assume that if and when it is determined that this infant took a breath, she will be charged with murder. The police are asking for cooperation from residents in the investigation, specifically asking if anyone else responded to her online ads. 

Our town is in mourning today. The clouds that hang heavy and low over the city weep with us.

Please don't poke fun at us, please don't mock these tragedies, please don't troll the comment sections, please don't.

Please.

We're all asking why right now. We're all looking for a reason.

And, as we've done in the past when the rain came down and tried to wash us away, we will come together and do what needs to be done. We will, I hope, use these tragedies as a foundation to build our mental health system more firmly upon.

Together.

As a town.

Together we mourn and we question and we hope.

Sending love and strength to the families and friends as they mourn these losses today.

Monday, March 16, 2015

So terribly accountable

His chest heaves with sighs every so often, as though he's letting me know that he isn't fully asleep. To say that this boy is taxing would be an understatement.

I'm typing this from the floor because I know that if I get up, if I walk past him, if I create even the slightest draft or shadow that crosses his body, he'll know. The eyes will be open, and the dance will begin all over again.

The dance that we do, him and I.

I'm tired, but it is a tired that I know well. It is the kind of tired that doesn't just seep into my eyelids, but into every ounce of my being. In the past week, we've transitioned him to the crib and there he sleeps for a good portion of the night.

He sleeps.

I, on the other hand, do what I do and listen for the sounds of his breathing on the monitor. I sleep, but it's more interrupted when he's in his crib than it ever is when he is beside me.

When I can smell the sweetness of his breath on my face, when I know that he is right there, I rest more soundly.

I have to adjust to this newest change, and the wisdom that comes from having done this so many times already tells me that I will.

I'm just not there yet.

I'm here. Leaned against the beanbag on the floor with the computer typing quietly so I don't wake him.

For reasons I don't fully understand, I was looking back through the archives of the blogs I don't make public. I don't know why I do this to myself, but I do it every so often.

Less and less as time marches forward, but still on occasion.

Perhaps it is a need deep within me to recognize just how far I've come, how much progress has been made, how horrid things truly were and that I survived them all. Perhaps.

Perhaps there are times that I wonder how I got here to this place in a world still with my family but without my parents, the world with this new demanding little boy dozing beside me.

Perhaps.

Perhaps instead it is this incessant need to relive the past periodically. To go back for reminders of what was. To reassure myself that I never was as crazy as I thought myself to be. To tell the voice inside my head that I really did the best I could with the means at my disposal. To confirm that the choices I made were the right ones, even and especially when they were impossibly difficult ones to make.

I know that I don't have to justify anything to anyone else, but sometimes I still have to justify it to myself.

I know that a significant part of it is the time of year.

When the daylight stretches out a bit longer with each day, I get the anxious feeling again. Unsettled is the only way to describe it. The reminders of things that happened, of how devastating they were and of how devastating they could have been surround me here, in this house.

I'm not the only one who bears the scars.

And this time of year beckons me, it pushes me outside, to even more reminders of what was and what could have been.

Memories that I've effectively blocked purely for self preservation, the very ones that I revisit through my own words when I go back in time.

The difference between the years past and this one is him.


This boy.

The one I never knew I'd meet someday but feel like I've known forever.

He was not here then, in all those years prior, but he is here now.  He needs me to stay present in this moment, away from the past that calls my name.

Children.

They do keep us so terribly accountable.

Hush now, sweet boy and rest those fluttering eyelids.

Mama is here, refusing to drag her shadows across the room.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I just solved the problem with the internet

Around 5:30 this morning, as the baby was nursing, I checked my email.



I rolled my eyes and laughed at one of the messages sitting in my inbox. The title of the email, the one that I didn't even bother opening was this:

It's OK Not To Like Pregnancy

Even that early in the morning, I cringed a little bit at the overuse of the capitalization here, about the fact that OK is not a word....I know that my grammar is atrocious, but seriously??? Whoever composed this email must get paid something to write this stuff. Do better. People like me are reading and rolling our eyes at you.

I digress.

I never opened the email for a few reasons, mostly because emails like this are dumb. They come from some list I was put on when I was pregnant, filled with clickbait for nervous new parents. The emails take them to sites designed to scare the shit out of them about some aspect of parenting then convince them that their lives will be super easy if they just buy this new miracle product.

And I'm not falling for it, because I'm an old veteran parent who knows that you truly don't need any of that shit. Get off my lawn.

What the email did do for me though, is create the inspiration for this blog post. So, there's that.

I do believe that this email has conjured up in my brain the cure for most of what ails the internet. Ready for this??? I'm about to drop some profound knowledge right up in here.

It's not the internet's job to make us feel better about ourselves, about our weight, about our lives, about our parenting...about anything.

We don't need the internet's permission to feel however we feel about anything.

I don't need this email to give me permission to not love every aspect of pregnancy. 

None of us need the internet's permission for anything. 

Seriously.

It's not like I got this email and breathed a deep sigh of relief that finally everything I was feeling was justified. 

It's not like I screamed out FINALLY!!!!! Ohthankgod they think this is okay!!!!!! I can get on with my life now. 

As a society, we have got to stop seeking approval from strangers online about how we live our lives. We have to stop expecting people to agree with us and tell us that our choices are good ones. We have to stop living in this bizarre universe where the opinions of a bunch of people we will never meet in real life somehow get to screw with our emotions.

Feel however you feel. 

Your feelings are justified, and you don't have to justify them to anyone. 

What if we all stopped that? If we just stopped? 

If, instead of taking the things that people say and write online personally, we just accepted that their opinions were theirs and don't affect us at all? 

If, instead of trying to seek validation for what we are doing in our lives as parents, as spouses, as men or women, as whatever else we are seeking validation for...we just lived?

I bet we could all get along a whole lot better online. 

Hey, it's an idea.

A pretty profound one for 5:30am, if I do say so myself.

Smooches.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the post racial America edition

I'm in a mood and there's a lot to cover. There's so much that there is no way I'm going to get to it all. So let's just see how this goes.


This week in post racial America...
There are so many people who like to pretend that racism is over, that everyone is equal, that the atrocities of the past are all back there in the past. Nope.

Nope. Nope. Nope.

The Justice Department's investigation into Ferguson revealed that...wait for it...the city has a pattern of predatory and discriminatory practices based on race. Shocking, right? Not so much.

Yet another police shooting of an unarmed young man has ignited racial tensions. This time, Tony Robinson is the name written on protest signs, and this time the location is strikingly different than Ferguson. Madison, Wisconsin is generally a progressive area with liberal views. Even still, the statistics paint a picture of disproportionate arrests, incarcerations and poverty.

The SAE chapter at the University of Oklahoma has had their ties with the school formally severed after a video was released this week. The song sung in the video, one that includes words of the worst variety, the ones you won't catch me ever typing out here. The video is as bad as you'd think and I'm not linking it here. If you want to watch it, it isn't hard to find. Initially all kinds of people affiliated with the fraternity tried to say that it was a one time deal, but....ummmm...they all seemed to know the words pretty well. Videos of prior times this particular song was sung have surfaced too. It isn't just this fraternity at this school either...stories are starting to trickle out about other chapters of this (and other fraternities) at other schools.

President Obama held the hand of Amelia Boynton Robinson as he walked across the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma over the weekend on the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. President Obama, the very man held up by those who claim that just because we have a black President means racism has ended, the very man routinely attacked in ways that white men in his position never have been, said this:


We just need to open our eyes and ears and hearts to know that this nation's racial history still casts its long shadow upon us. 

-- President Obama, March 7, 2015



Yes, Mr. President, yes it does. We still have a lot of work to do.

Things I won't do to people...
There is this trend lately on the internet where blog posts written purely for shock value are gaining traction. The more outlandish, the better. The more humiliating the story is, the most shares it gets. Hooray for pot stirring!

Not.

I won't write things like that for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I am not going to toss my kids or my friends or my husband under the bus for a few views. I'm not going to embarrass people here just for a few clicks.

Nope. Won't do it.

Guess I'll never be famous.

Sorrynotsorry.

Daylight Savings Time and PARCC testing
The outdated idea that is daylight savings time began this past Sunday at 2 a.m. Hooray.

It's a pain in the ass, for sure. Usually it means that we have a few rough mornings then get on with life.

This year, the powers that be at the school district decided that the Monday after the time change would be THE PERFECT TIME to introduce the brand new standardized testing program. Do these people even own a calendar???

Yes. Let's pick what is quite possibly the worst day of the year to initiate testing. That makes so much sense. (sarcasm)

As for the PARCC testing itself, I could write a damn book about all the things wrong with it. Instead, I'll make you a list. Because people can't get enough lists these days. (I'm looking at you, Buzzfeed)

1. Colorado alone is spending $36M on testing this year. $26M of that is going to Pearson directly. To one company. Tell me that doesn't send up some huge red flags. Tell me that this isn't about money. Tell me. I dare you.

2. Initially there were a lot more states on board with the PARCC testing. Many of them have backed out because of how bad the tests are already...but not Colorado. Awesomeness.

3. The tests are vague, the questions are confusing. The calculator given to kids for math is one they've never used before in an unfamiliar format.

4. All the tests have to be done on the computers. HUGE disadvantage to kids who don't have access to this kind of technology at home. Issues with kids who struggle with computer usage for any other reason. Creates scheduling nightmares because the schools only have a limited number of computers licensed with the software for the test (that we are paying a shitton of money to Pearson for)....leading to the testing period extending weeks or months so that all the kids can rotate through the labs and complete all the tests. So instead of having schedule irregularities for a few days...we're talking MONTHS of interference.

5. My older kids tell me the tests are confusing and strange. The younger ones are so nervous about them because of test anxiety that I'm going to have to do some major negotiations just to get them out of the car every day for the next 2 months.

6. The preliminary reports on the tests aren't looking favorable. Locally, a state senator took the test recently, only to be completely shocked with how difficult the test was. The software was confusing, the questions demanded work to be shown a particular way to receive credit and he questioned how the kids and teachers were supposed to navigate this system.  Awesome. Maybe this is proof that elected officials have no business telling schools how to teach and assess kids.

C-sections and placentas
Hang on, I'm going to throw some stuff. BRB.

Oooookay. So there is this movement underfoot to make c-sections more "gentle", which is great and all, but what we really need to do is work on actually reducing the c-section rate in the first place. We need to stop inducing mothers who don't need it. We need to let women go into labor on their own and we need to give their bodies time to do what they are supposed to do. We need to stop interfering so damn much in the process, trying to force it into some artificially constructed parameters. We need doctors who encourage women to attempt VBACs and doctors who are skilled at breech deliveries.

Surgery is not better. Period.

I've gone through both. My C-section sucked.

There will always be a percentage of deliveries that require c-sections for a variety of reasons including legitimate safety concerns, but that number is nowhere near 1/3.

Also, I've said this before and I'll say it again....if you have an issue with women consuming their placentas, keep it to yourself. No one is making you eat anything, they have their reasons for doing it, leave them alone. It's only considered "weird" because we have a "weird" idea that birth is sanitary and sterile here, we think we're better than most of the rest of the world, oh and we forget that we're mammals.

I ate my placenta. You want to attack me for that, come at me.

I dare you.

47 Senators pretending the President doesn't exist
To be honest, this one really deserves its own post, but I doubt that I will be able to get around to it, so I'm including it here just in case.

If you haven't heard, Senator Tom Cotton drafted an open letter to the leaders of Iran, signed by 46 other Republican Senators, basically saying that they questioned the validity of the weapons negotiations and reserve the right to undo any agreements that the President enters into with them once he's out of office.

In addition to just being a horrible idea, this is arguably an act of treason, albeit one that will likely never be prosecuted.

The President has the authority under the Constitution to negotiate with foreign officials. The Constitution has pretty specific limits on the right of Congress to interfere with that process, and the Logan Act specifically forbids the exact kind of interference this letter amounts to.

The legality of the letter is debatable, sure, but the larger issue here is the message this sends to the rest of the world, which is that we aren't presenting a unified front.

'Merica, where we believe our pissing matches are more important than international diplomacy.

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