Monday, March 31, 2008

Road bullies

I hate semi's. No offense to any of you who have family members who drive truck or may yourself. I'm sure you are courteous of others and it's gotta be a very consuming job. But I hate semi's.

I hate semi's in Wisconsin even worse. These kings of the road all too often put innocent people in danger with their "i'm bigger, move out of my way" attitude.

Today....... someone upstairs decided it was not the day for my son and I to die. Today I am blessed to be able to write this. An angel on the road saved our lives, literally.

We are in the midst of a big snowstorm. When I left to take Chris to the doctor it was raining a little, I knew the snow was coming but had hoped to be home before it got to icky. Unfortunately that didn't happen and as we walked into the clinic it was coming down like crazy.

We finishe the appt (went great if you were wondering) and started home, by now the roads were a mess of nasty slush. If you live in the great white north you know that sometimes that freezing slush is worse to drive in than a few inches of nice white fluff, you catch it wrong and it pushes your car this way and that and if you are behind someone you can't see past your windshield and hope for the best until the gap between you and the other car widens.

I get on the highway and fall into place with a line of cars, going about 40-50 mph depending on how clear the particular stretch we were on was. Again, if you live in the great white north you know what I am talking about. There is kind of this rolling caravan respect and you stick together, aside from the wayward speed hog who chances it and flies past everyone. Usually these are the idiots in trucks who think that 4 wheel drive makes them godlike. They are also usually the people you see a few miles up the road in the ditch and you drive past yelling "got there fast, didn't ya?!"

Anyway. So I'm about 4th in line in the little caravan and at the top of a small hill I see a semi on the side of the road with his flashers on. Up around here, we don't refer to these as "hazard lights" but rather "4-ways", just a little northern redneck trivia for ya. So like the good conciencous (murdered that word) drivers we are, our caravan slowly merges into the left lane. All except the white Cadillac in front of me who apparently decides the left lane looks rather nasty and she'd rather stay in the right lane and risk running down the truck driver who is changing his tire, or whatever it is they do when they sit on the side of the road like that.

So when it's my time to change lanes I make check my mirrors and blind spot and there is no one behind me on either side for quite a while. I make the merge and soon find myself passing the cadillac who has slowed down in the right lane. I get beside her and glance in my rearview and see.......

A very large grill in my back window. OH.... MY.... GOD. And it's getting closer, and closer and omg it's almost touching my bumper.

I'm stuck. I'm soo stuck. I have a black camry in front of me, a white cadillac beside me. I can't speed up, I can't change lanes, I can't slow down and this truck is literally trying to run me off the road. I speed up as everyone in front of me moves over to the right lane and my car starts the familiar "slush slide" and I realize I have to make a choice RIGHT NOW.

I can gun it and slide and hit whatever in an uncontrolled fashion. I can hit my brakes and get run over by the semi (mind you, I am not in my Suburban, I am in my tiny Saturn L200), or I can run the Cadillac off the road with a quick lane change into him.

The semi by this point is literally a couple inches from my bumper and we are about to go downhill. My eyes tear up and I whisper "I'm sorry Christian" as I grip the wheel about to try to drive controlled into the median at 45 mph. This is my only option. It won't hurt anyone else and the median looks fairly smoothe (hard to tell for sure with the snow).

Just as I'm about to glide the wheel gently to the left the angel in the white cadillac sees what's going on and in one smoothe motion she slams on her brakes and I instead jerk the wheel into the right lane. The semi doesn't look back as he screams past us both.

3 of us pull off the next ramp and the lady in the Cadillac is obviousely shaken. She walks over to my car and sees Christian sleeping in the back seat and says "OMG, and you had a child in the car too!" I thank her for quite literally saving our lives and we all go about our day.

Unfortunately I didn't get to report the semi. Calling the police or writing down his plate number would have put us in more danger and I wasn't about to do that.

So, I'm thanking my lucky stars right now. I never again want to be in that moment where I am making a choice that could kill myself and my child. I honestly had no way of knowing what was under the snow in that median, would we have rolled? very likely. BLAH!

Scary stuff.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weekends are for pictures! 3-28-08

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ok, all better

I just have those days sometimes where I sit on my pity pot for a while. Then, when that's no longer doing anything for me I eat a rediculous amount of chocolate and immerse myself into the atrocities of the world and the pity turns into pissed-off-edness and then that eventually settles into a bigger understanding of my world and my place in it.

Deep huh?

So anyway. What pulled me out of last night's slump was the recent school board referendum going on here. I know, It's silly that heated issues make me feel better....

So first the rererendum issue (what a stupid word, isn't it? I dunno it just rubs me funny) I will sadly admit that I don't understand all the big stupid words they use when they talk about this stuff, I think they make some of them up or something. But I do think I understand most of it on a basic level anyway so here goes.

Our school board very recently has been forced to make some hard choices. The school district is facing the same challenges school disctricts have faced since like, the beginning of time or something. Not enough money.

I personally feel like our school district has spent a lot of time getting themselves into the predicament (that's not right?) they are in right now, where the entire community is up in arms and houses are getting egged. Ok so I don't know of anyones house getting egged, but I thought I'd say it anyway.... (disclaimer: if anyone's house gets egged it was NOT me)

So. At the very basic level of this problem within our district, at least the way I see it, is a decline in enrollment. School officials adress this issue often citing declines in birth rates within the community and agressive marketing of nearby districts taking kids out of this district with open enrollment.

Granted there are lower birth rates. I mean the population of the United States as a whole is dwindling (hey, i'm doing my part people..... the rest of you need more kids) so although I don't know the numbers for this community in particular, I would have to concede that it is safe to agree that there are less children being born in this community nowadays.

But the issue that is often overlooked is that agressive marketing from other districts is not what is stealing our schools children away. A good school district speaks for itself and parents don't drive kids 20 miles to school because of agressive marketing, they drive their kids 30 miles to school because they want their children to go to good schools. If they had that in their own backyard, do you think they would choose to drive 30 miles everyday? I don't.

Our district is failing. Plain and simple. When my children began attending school here 9 years ago our elementary school was a SAGE school (look it up, i'm too tired to link) There were very small classrooms allowing children to get more individualized attention. A recent something I read from the principal of our elementary school stated that our largest classroom in the elementary is now 1:19. I think that is a bit low as one of my children's classroom has 24 students in it, one teacher...... my math aint that great but that isn't 1:19....... right? Anyway

So we pack these kids into classrooms like sardines and put this workload on the teachers. What happens? Well it's gotta be difficult teaching 24 (or 19) children by yourself, no? There aren't enough hours in the school day to be sure every child is understanding what they are taught. Which leads me to my next point.

No child left behind. There has long been an issue with this in our district because it doesn't give leniency for children in Special education. While I see the point in this, I mean a child with significant mental retardation just isn't going to learn algebra in a state or federally mandated timeframe. They aren't. Yet they deserve to be in school, they deserve to interact with other "non-impaired" peers. Well our school seems to have used this ideal about special education and No child left behind to make themselves look like the good guys.

Our district has an INSANE amount of children with IEP's in special education. Anytime a child may be learning a little differently, or at a slower curve than whoever arbitrarily decided they should be, they are tested and if they are found to be 25% behind they get a sticker slapped on their forehead and a tag in their file reading "learning disability". Honestly, in this small community if an outsider looked at the percentage of our student population with learning disabililties you would start testing the water, something is out of whack. What is going on in this community that so many of our children are learning disabled? It's alarming and I think we need Erin Brockovich in here to find out why our kids are all behind....

But wait. What isn't being looked at here? Is it really fair to say that these children have the problem? Who's problem is it? Could it be that these children really DON'T have anything wrong with their brains preventing them from learning in a regular classroom? Could it be that maybe the classrooms are failing THEM? Do I dare speak those words?

I think this is precisely the problem myself. When so many kids are failing I find it hard to beleive we have a community full of ignorant children. We need to look at the one common denominator (lol, a math term! woohoo!).... they all go to the same classrooms. But we wouldn't do that, we wouldn't question what is working. Putting all these children in special education is serving a great purpose for our school district. Not only is it giving them a "reason" for not meeting No child left behind standards, but each child in special education brings a nice chunk of federal money in every year all by themself. BONUS!

I think the proof is in the peanuts (what's that phrase?) our children in special education (and I know quite a few of them, since so many kids in this community are) are not thriving in these classrooms. They are remaining consistantly 2+ grade levels behind their peers. A lot of them dropping off further as the years go on. If it were working they would be moving ahead? no? Well no! We can't let them move ahead because then they would have to be removed and the district would lose the excuse and the money they provide!

Add to it some bad budgeting choices such as the gorgeous windows newly installed in the middle school a couple years ago, etc and you have quite a deficit of money being provided this school district. So what do you do?

Well, you could put a daycare into the school to use up the rooms that aren't being used because of declining enrollment (read as: packing kids into rooms like sardines), that would surely bring in some revenue. So we did that.

But there's STILL not enough money. What is a community to do? Raise taxes! That's it! But wait, that won't work because the property taxes in this community are already ginormous. And the taxpayers simply don't want to shell out more of their hard earned money to have the district throw it to the wind as they have in the past. So that won't work, can't raise taxes.

So, at the end of the day we have to cut programs and terminate staff. Ok, I get that. We need to do something. And there are definitely some school staff here that have forgotten why they are here, who have either lost their passion for teaching or who are so out of the loop with newer, more effective ways to teach that the they aren't do the kids much of a service. That would be GREAT. If we got ride of some of this dead weight we could improve our schools, bring our test scores up, and ultimately get more funding from the government! INGENIUS!

But no, lets not do that. That wouldn't work. These older teachers fit in with our "deal with everything internally" agenda. They don't speak up for the children, they don't cause us any trouble. So lets get rid of some of the staff members who care about our children instead...... because they are more likely to give us trouble.

So that's what we do. Our district likes the fact that it governs itself. That drugs, violence, etc are dealt with "internally" (brushed under the rug). We like having ultimate control over this community, and we certainly like to bitch and whine about other schools stealing our kids rather than admit to ourselves that the problem is with US, and not them.

It seems though that people in this community are finally saying we've had enough. School board members are resigning, school staff members are resigning, the people aren't happy. I will say that I understand that the school board is in a bit of a tough place. They have policies and laws and what-not to follow. But those board members have been in this a long time and have helped make most of the decisions that have led this district down this dangerous path....... and our children are paying the price.

Afterthought: To clarify, there are some older teachers in this district that DO care about the children and DO havve the passion, I didn't mean to insinuate that all the older teachers weren't doing a good job.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I'm having one of those evenings where I'm just not ok. I can't put my finger on it, maybe I'm getting sick and being run down is affecting me? Maybe it's because I have this wierd feeling that a dear friend of mine is on the verge of making some big mistakes? Maybe it's the blog post Hailey wrote tonight? I just can't pinpoint it.

But I'm kinda having a rough night. I'm having one of those "it's not fair" kinda nights. It's not fair that Alex died, that all these other dear children die. It's not fair and it's not right. I can think of a lot of people who waste their lives, who do nothing meaningful day to day and they get to do it. Why? Why are some people successfull in life and everything they touch turns to gold, and some of them work hard and get nowhere? Why?

Ugh, I need to pull out of this. I'm having an all out pity party

One by one

One by one they drop like flies, my family members. Once one stomach is finally able to keep down solids, another one decideds it cannot. So far Sunday was Shay, Monday was Nate, Tuesday was Jack, Tuesday afternoon was Chris, Wednesday was Craig, and today, Austin. Only 2 of us left and we both feel like we have a target on our heads at this point, never knowing when the urge to vomit will fun.

Enough about the sickies. I want to gloat about my dear, sweet, but still a pre-teen drama queen daughter. I have to say I have never seen Hailey so determined and so passionate as I have about Alexander's Heart. She asked me to make a site award for her and she has been spending time online (supervised of course!) looking at other blogs and finding ones that she feels are written by caring people and giving the award. I still don't know how to write html code for these things so she's attaching the thing to emails and sending it on to the recipient. She is just so in love with this, it makes her feel good and her self esteem has taken a huge jump.

Since Alex has died, she has had some struggles. It's hard to say what is a byproduct of his death, what is a byproduct of school (counting the days til the end of the year so we can homeschool and be done with that place!) and what is a byproduct of her just being a 12 year old girl. Whatever it is, we have definitely had some rougher times with her and it's nice to see that turning around and her sweet, caring nature shining through. After a few months of her not really being happy at all she is back to herself in a lot of ways.

One of the things it's nice to see again is her passion for running has come back. Her competitive spirit in this area has returned. Hailey is an excellent runner, she's fast and has a great deal of stamina. She is out there now running every day again and I couldn't be happier to see it.

I think giving her the responsibility of that website has made a world of difference in her life. Last night, for the first time in a while she actually took out her homework and completed it with no fuss. She is taking her responsibilities much more seriousely.

I can't even begin to tell you all how proud I am to be her mother. Alex's struggle and death weren't for naught, the lessons didn't go unlearned. My children will grow up to be better people for it and I can't wait to watch them do it. They all have such a caring spirit it brings tears to my eyes.

I am working on my "meet Hailey" blog post (remember i was introducing all the kids?) And hopefully when all the pukies leave my house I will have more time to devote to it. I also have about 100 pictures on my camera to go through and edit for this weeks "weekends are for pictures", I think you'll like them.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Ok, so I've actually procrastinated greatly in watching this movie. Not that I didn't think I'd like it, but because I knew it would just get me 10 kinds of pissed off and I need to be in a certain frame of mind to deal with that.

I'll first start off by saying to all of you who think Michael Moore is a lying dirtbag that while I do totally see that some of the things he says are twisted slightly for his own agenda, I do think the guy has the interest of the American people at heart with his documentaries and he has a lot more kahunas than most of us do in standing up for the little guy. If you are one of those who vehemently despises everything he is, I say to you, my friend....... grow some kahunas yourself and then talk to me, because I don't see you out there standing up for anything.

With that said I'll get to my own point.

The movie, oddly, didn't piss me off. It made me quite sad and ashamed to live in this country to be all honest. It all goes back to the "me me me" attitude. We seem to have some idiotic idea in this country that the people who happen to live in our own homes are the only ones we should be caring for and about. What happened to it taking a village to raise a child? When did the need for that go away? In many other countries, third world and very powerful countries alike, this adage still exists and is still practiced. When a child is born in many countries all of the elder women in the community will give of themselve and help the new mother and child. They cook for them, clean for them, usually for months on end. They do this without seeking anything in return. They do this because it was done for them, because taking care of the community is important for it's survival.

Why do we see ourselves as such different creatures? Why do we not care about our communities and each other? We say we do, sure. But when it comes down to it, we don't. If we did, we wouldn't have children without food and water when some of us have a surplus. We wouldn't have children who can't go to the doctor, or dentist.

Because if we cared, those of us with a little more would even the scales by giving to those of us with a little less.

I hear it said "well why should those people get a handout? They should be working hard to take care of their children that THEY brought into this world!"

Isn't that an ignorant statement! Most of these people DO work, and they work hard. Do you think the woman who works 3 waitressing jobs with a bad hip works less hard than you do? Do you think she's being lazier than you or somehow trying to buck the system and take advantage of someone? She works twice as hard and twice as many hours as some of us yet likely gets no health insurance, no sick pay, no vacation time, no 401k. Not to mention she makes under $3 per hour.

How can we look at this woman and say that she, for some reason doesn't deserve the medications to keep her alive? She should have gone to college and educated herself so she could have a higher paying job with benefits! You might say. If someone is struggling financially, it MUST be because they screwed up, right? So they should get themselves out of it.

Have you ever stopped think about that? Do you think that woman WANTS to bust her ass for $3 an hour? Do you think she doesn't spend every waking moment trying to figure out a way to get into a better job?

You hear it time and time again. "I'm so sick of people bucking the system and taking MY tax money!" How stupid and closed minded that statement is. We see things in black and white. You know what? This is shocking too.... those people PAY TAXES TOO! Most people on the food stamp, medicaid, WIC rolls work and pay the SAME percentage of their income to the tax man as you do! And you know, some of them have paid more in taxes than you have over the years! We think they just sit on their asses watching Oprah and eating bon bons that WE, the TAXPAYERS have to pay for.

We sure have humongous egos in this country. We take credit for a lot of things we don't do....

Most of us would have a FIT if we were asked to pay the fireman before he'd turn his hose on and save our home. We would have a FIT if we went to the public library and were told we had to pay before we could take a book home. We would most certainly have a fit if we were told that our children could not attend public school without tuition. There would be riots in the streets! Those things are a public RIGHT! We wouldn't dream of allowing our house to burn down if we didn't have a few hundred dollars in our pocket at the time. Yet we will let people, CHILDREN even, die preventable deaths because they can't pay. Where our our brains?

Most of us, if we were injured at work wouldn't hesitate to file for workman's comp or SSI. We pay into that for that reason, and we certainly don't look down on anyone who uses it. But we look down on the people who get food stamps because they lost their job. How does THAT make any sense? They paid into that program too, and now they are made to feel ashamed for using it?!

I'm sure most of us aren't so blatently obvious as to, when we hear of a 3 year old who died because her parents couldn't afford her medications, to say "oh, well that serves her right! Maybe her parents should have done something about it!" Most of us wouldn't have the audacity to say that. But we say it with our actions. We say it by signing petitions prohibiting lawmakers from raising our taxes, we say it in so many ways. And our children watch us to follow in our footsteps later on. They will grow up cold, distant, with little respect for human life too. Just like we taught them. How proud we will all be.

We don't really give much thought to people less fortunate than us. Either we shun them and assume that they have done something to be that way, or that they are lazy or something and that allows the comfort of sleeping at night having done nothing to help. Because if we convince ourselves they are the bad guy, we can feel good about not doing anything. Or we assume our tax dollars are enough to help and they should be happy we pay them. Or maybe we give to charity, or to the church. It's ok if we have 4 cars because we gave $100 to a charity last month. We've done the right thing, we've made god happy with our tithe, and now we can rest easy.

We need to even the balance. The haves should be helping the have-nots financially, the have-nots can then in turn gain self esteem and skills and soon, they are helping us too. But it's soo much easier to keep them repressed isn't it? It's so much nicer to feel better than somebody. Admit it, it feels good to pull up next to an old beat up car at a stop light and look down at your GPS system and think "gosh, I'm so glad I'm not that guy, he needs to get a clue"

Gosh yeah, that's nice. And don't pay any nevermind to the child dying of cancer because SOMEBODY will help her, right? I mean that's what welfare is for..... and I pay my taxes dammit!

Get with the program, stop living in your "me bubble" and do something. Our economy is in the toilet, gas prices are through the roof, the old people are starting to talk about the great depression again... tomorrow, you could lose your job. Tomorrow, your child could get diagnosed with a disease and the only possiblity to save him could be a treatment insurance won't pay for. You could lose your home trying to pay for it. You could be standing in line at the soup kitchen or the welfare office. You could be in a car accident and be unable to work.

I know this post is all over the place. I'm tired, everyone is sick here and I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated because some people just don't get it. Some people just don't care, or they care conditionally, or maybe they are just too stupid to see that human life is human life, I don't know. It's frustrating.

And I'm getting increasingly frustrated with it lately. I see Hailey, a 12 year old CHILD spending at least an hour after school every night returning emails and writing posts for Alexander's heart She has dedicated herself to this solely for the purpose of reaching out to children who need someone. She doesn't even think for a second that she should make any money for doing this, she doesn't think for a second that the little boy from Idaho who's dad died deserves anything less than she does. Yet the rest of us do. To her he's an equal, to us he's less than we are because he gets food stamps. But by golly, we can only hope that someday our children grow up with the values we've instilled in them. We can only hope they learn from us and maybe they can be the cold, self absorbed, narrow minded hedonists we always dreamed they would.......

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hope you all had a blessed Easter!

I know, I'm a few days late here. Sorry bout my lack of updates the past few days. Truth be told, I've been spending a lot of my time helping Hailey and her blog post writing and helping her figure out the logistics of this ginormous endeaver she is undertaking with Alexander's Heartwhich, since we have to register with the state to solicit donations includes writing bylaws and all that jazz for the application process. I've done it before with Bubba's Bears, so it's not really that it's difficult, it's just a bit more so when you are trying to explain everything to a 12 year old.

On top of that, some wretched virus has been floating around my house. It started Easter afternoon with Shaylin saying she didn't feel well, by bedtime she had vomited 3 or 4 times. Of course then Nate wakes up vomiting at 4am and proceeded to do so every 20 minutes or so until 9. Then last night Jack comes upstairs at 11pm and pukes all over the steps on his way. So yeah, that's fun. I'm hoping the rest of us don't catch it although that isn't looking good as from about 3-8 tonight I had the worst stomach spasms/cramps ever and I feel very drained now. Please please PLEASE don't let me puke. I would seriousely rather go through labor, unmedicated 15 or so more times than vomit, I hate it THAT much.

So, if I'm a bit absent the rest of this week now you know why. I took about 100 pictures at my moms farm last weekend so look for some of those this weekend.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

If this doesn't make you giggle...

I don't know what will.

An exerpt from my local police log

-Friday, March 7-1:51 a.m.- 29-1/2 Street caller advised he has a dead 70-year-old female scientist at his residence. He advised the scientist is gone, but her clothes are still there. Caller believes she shrunk away. There has been a group of 15 scientists at his residence, and they are all gone now too. Officer advised; subject will be going to bed shortly.

Now for the something big

Seriousely, I am so proud of my children. They have been through so much and to come out of it stil caring and putting others before themselves is something........ Gosh I am emotional today.

And it's all my daughter's fault haha.

As you know the original blog for Alex has been moved over here. But Alexander's heart is not gone my friends. It is better than ever. It is now Hailey's place on the web to work through her feelings, try to network with other bereaved children, and more.

She has decided to take the old random acts of kindness campaign a step further. She is collecting donations to fund her own kinddness campaign in Alex's memory. This was her idea after many months of trying to figure out how to direct her energy and feelings about Alex. She wants to give a little happiness to children who, like she was when her brother was ill and died, may really need a little gift of happiness. Her father and I have given her the first $100.00 to get started and she and her siblings are making a plan as to what they want to do. Each month they will take 100% of the donations and purchase gifts for children who otherwise woudln't have them. They would also like to use the money to travel to Ronald McDonald houses and help cook meals for the families as was done for us.

So. Get your butts over there and show her your support. She will be updating the blog with her feelings in her own words as well as things they are doing with the donations. I will be moderating comments and emails and securing the funds donated into a private account, she will be doing the rest.

Happy Easter Eve!

Stay tuned latery today for something big, BIG BIG. Something so beautiful it tears me up to think about it.....

Again I want to thank you all for participating in the Fluoride awareness contest. The response was more than I could have hoped for and there was a steady stream of people reading that post. You have no idea how much this means to me.

A few days ago I mentioned integrating Alex's site with this one. Yesterday I was able to get all the posts moved over here so you can peruse those under the labels "alexander's life" and "losing Alex". I hope the whole thing isn't too confusing. I am very excited to finally be putting my peices back together. It's been 2 long years of having kind of 2 separate parts of me and I feel more complete just having merged him and us in this way. He IS a part of this family and will always be and is a big part of who we all are.

You may have also noticed that this blog has taken a bit of a turn in personality. I'm sorry if you came here for the angry ranting posts because you will be seeing a lot less of them. Don't get me wrong, my passion is still there and I will definitely be posting when something strikes a nerve. I have never silenced my views and I never will but I'm trying to take a bit of a softer approach I guess. Or maybe not, who knows what will happen hehe.

I've got lots of things I'm working on, so don't be a stranger!

Friday, March 21, 2008

And the winner is....

Gotta add some suspense here. As if you haven't had enough with this post being late and all hehe.

I want to thank you all SO much for participating in this contest. The dangers of fluoride is an issue I am very passionate about and I am glad that so many of you took the time out of your week to help me spread the word so parents can make more informed choices about what they put into their children's bodies. So thank you!!!!!

Ok, with no further adeiu (i probably killed that eh?)

The winner of the $100.00 Walmart gift card is....

Karen M who's email address begins with

If this is you please email me @ asap. Your gift card will be emailed to you from as soon as I hear from you! You must email me from the email address listed above so I can verify it's you!

Happy Easter to all!

Weekends are for pictures! 3-22-08

Check back later tonight when I announce the winner of the $100 Walmart gift card!

For now, some photo fun.

Nate had his first shower this week. It started out like this...

But soon he warmed up . "Are you sure it's ok dad?"

"HA! dad you goofball"

"oh no! Mom's got the camera!"

Ok I'll smile for your picture. Then will you let us bathe in peace?

I couldn't resist.... Lookit those cottage cheese buns

Hailey took this pic from her camera and wanted me to post it hehe

"my diaper is cuter than yours"

On Sunday, which was Alex's 2nd angel-versary we went to the cemetary. I only got a couple shots because for some mysterious reason (ghosties?) my camera batter drained before my eyes.... ooooooooooeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooo (my lame attempt at spooky music)

Alex's site. The fun cloth flowers everwhere have a special meaning to us as well. One day while Alex was in the hospital a family who's child had died of a heart defect a year before brought one of these flowers to all the children in PICU with heart problems. I have the one they gave us on my headboard with Alex's things but every few months we buy more and update the ones at his site to keep it bright and happy. Nathan has some on his crib as well.

A close-up of his stone

Tigger. Tigger is very special because every Thursday night at the Ronald Mcdonald house we would play Bingo. It was a huge deal and the whole house showed up for it. One particular Thursday they had a big stuffed Eeyore and this Tigger. One of Hailey's little friends, Autumn won them both and knowing that we had hoped top win Tigger for Alex, was kind enough to give him her prize. Tigger has been at the cemetary since day one, watching over Alex much as he watched over him in his hospital bed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Our decision to be "quiver-full"

I have skated around this part of our lives for quite some time here. I know we have family members and even friends probably who may not understand or accept this decision for our family and I guess I've just not come out in the open with it because..... well this is something that Craig and I needed to work out for ourselves. It took a lot of time, prayer, discussions. I now feel very comfortable with the decision we have made regarding the size of our family and in such I no longer fear other people's reactions.

Who knew there was a name for it. The full quiver ..... belief (or whatever you want to call it, some people call it "mindset" and for me, it's not a mindset at all, it most definitely goes far beyond that). But in case you are unfamiliar with the term, people who choose to be Quiver-full basically believe that the word of God tells us quite clearly that our fertility should be left to him, and not us. There are many passages that reference this including:

Psalm 127:3-5
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;so are children of the youth.Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."

Genesis 1:28
And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

While it's true that God calls upon us to be stewards of our lives. There are good reasons to limit the amount of money, ministries, and even children we have. Every couple must work with God on the answers to these questions within their own family. The problem comes in when we decide, sometimes selfishly to limit the number of children we have based on our own worldly desires and fail to allow God into the conversation.

As far as my family, I use to have a very different idea of birth control than I do now. I had never really thought much about it as a matter of fact and began using birth control in various forms in high school just like everyone else I knew.

In early 2002 we were unexpectedly given a surprise. Our 5th pregnancy. We had been using birth control and had always thought that 4 would complete our family. Upon learning of this new addition on the way, we decided that since birth control didn't seem to work well for us, we would pursue a permenant form of sterilization. About 3 months into my pregnancy my husband had a vasectomy.

Our 5th little french fry, Jacksen blessed our family in September of that year and we couldn't be happier. In June of 2003 we bought our home and things really seemed to be right. Then, for some unexplainable reason that fall I started getting these tiny nigglings in my heart like someone was missing from our family. I explained it away and ignored it, never speaking a word of it to my husband and figuring it would go away. I mean at some point everyone is content with the size of their family right?

Over the course of the next 6-9 months though, those feelings grew rapidly and increasingly hard to ignore. That spring I brought the subject up to my husband who was anything but feeling the same way. We discussed the problem and realized that we both came from very different worlds on the issue. He didn't have much, if any, desire to have more children and by this time I couldn't sleep at night over it.

In June of 2004 we discussed it again. I told him how it was almost all consuming. That I didn't necessarily want another child but the feeling that we had done something horribly wrong by having the vasectomy wouldn't leave me. I didn't feel right in my heart and I had tried for such a long time to work it out and come to terms and all that jazz, but it was just getting stronger and stronger. I prayed every night for God to please just take this feeling from my heart, or to speak to my husbands because I couldn't live like this the rest of my life.

That November something changed in my husband's heart. I still to this day don't know all of his reasons , but he made the appointment to have the vasectomy reversed. It most certainly had something to do with the post vasectomy pain syndrome he had been dealing with, I'm sure it had something to do with the fact that this issue was causing an increasing rift in our marriage, and maybe it had something to do with God speaking to him as well.

He had the vasectomy reversal in December and decided that a 6th little blessing, God willing, would be a welcome addition to our family. We let the cards fall where they would, and within a few months were blessed with a positive pregnancy test.

As you know, our son was not healthy. At the time neither of us realized that this was the ultimate test of our faith and our strength and our ability to listen to God, for once. Alex's illness was a lesson in evaluating what we could and should have control of in our lives. It was a time of learning to let go, to relinquish control in areas we weren't qualified to direct. It didn't come easy, as change never does. There were times we prayed and begged God, and there were times we shunned him and went our own way. In the end, we learned that life and death aren't really our area of expertise, that God has been doing this for an eternity and as we trusted the doctors, who were more qualified than us to treat heart conditions we also learned to trust God.

The evening of our son's funeral my husband expressed to me his wish to have another child. I was quite surprised but shortly realized that I wanted some of that too. I knew we'd never replace Alex, but we could replace some things. We could replace the hope we had, the dreams we'd had, the expectations we had. We could no longer have those things with him, but we could with another baby. Not everyone agreed that it was the right thing for us, but for once we had a clear understanding. I akin the whole thing to the military, we were so broken down and our control issues, our egos, our selfishness stripped away that God could finally do the work he had been trying to...... he could finally get in and lead us where he wanted us to go.

We got pregnant right away with our Nathan. The pregnancy was anything but easy. It did replace those things we had hoped, but it also brought with it fear and sometimes sadness. It was then that we really learned to rely on God and his inate wisdom. We had nothing else to rely on. That pregnancy was built solely on trust with the Lord.

It wasn't until Nathan was born that we began to really think about what our plans would be as far as birth control. To be all honest in the early months we didn't really have a plan. We flip-flopped from being done with babies to being unsure about pretty much everything. We prayed a lot. God gave us our answer in the form of us realizing that there was really no form of birth control that suited us. At that time we didn't make a concious choice not to use birth control, we just simply didn't out of lack of a better option.

The more we prayed and listened and talked to each other and evaluated our life and our plans we learned that what we needed to do was actually pretty obvious. We realized that everything we had been through had been preparing us for this decision and God was just waiting for us to make it. It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of time but we came to the understanding that we had been through hell and back and to learn nothing from it would make Alex's life, and death, and all our struggles a moot point. God was showing us, very clearly that we needed to give him control of how many blessings he wanted for us.

We of course, had the worries. We aren't rich people, what if we couldn't provide for these children? What if we outgrew our home? We kind of took a deep breath and decided that the bible tells us that God provides, so we should allow him to do his part while we do ours. And then and there, things changed for our family.

God has provided. He gave us the means to add on to our home. He has helped Craig's job when the whole situation has been very rocky and uncertain. He has directed me in my career. When we started listening to him our world changed, became a lot less stressfull and more meaningful.

I would be lying if I said that there weren't times when the thought of having another child didnt' terrify us. But I soon redirect myself and understand that those times are times of our own selfishness and the control issues coming back into play. Nothing good can come of that and we soon settle back into worrying less, living more.

It has been 14 months (today!) since Nathan was born and we have not used any form of birth control aside from the natural child spacing we have acheived through extended breastfeeding (which is not a sure fire method! I warned ya!) We don't know if Craig's vasectomy reversal has scarred over, which sometimes happens and we don't want to know. If we were blessed with another child we would be thrilled and if not, we are thrilled with the family we have. It's so nice not to wonder anymore, are we denying a child? Should we do this or that? We just don't let it affect our lives and are much happier for it. Every night I pray that if God feels that we should have another child, I ask that he help me keep an open heart and mind and that he protect my health and provide for that child.

So, there you have it. Hopefully some questions have been answered for some of you. We value your support and understand that you may feel differently about the topic for you, or for us but we have made the decisions we have made based on some hard lessons learned and at this point we beleive this is what God wants for our family and so it is what we want for our family. We just ask you to respect that as much as we respect your decisions about your family size. I don't think badly of anyone who uses birth control as it is a personal decision between you, your husband, and God and God doesn't want the same thing for all of us.

I'm trying to figure out...

How to merge this blog and Alex's angel blog. For a couple reasons. The main reason being that I think I've been supporting my own denial of his death by keeping him, as bad as it sounds, as a separate person from the rest of us. Does that sound absolutely horrible? I'm sure it does. It's funny what these things will do to a person. I can't do that anymore. Alex's life and death are very much a part of who I am now and by keeping them separate I find I am losing him more and more.

Also, since I have my own fancy domain now I want to kind of umbrella all my stuff under that.

I don't want this blog to be all sad. But I do think it's important that I incorporate that part of my life here, if I want to be complete.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to do that. If you have any suggestions let me know.

And a reminder, you have until tomorrow night to enter to win the $100 Walmart gift card by promoting the dangers of fluoride.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

You asked for it

A few of you have emailed me asking if I could edit your photos or if you could purchase prints of my photos. While I refuse to think I'm that good at it, I'm honestly flattered.

After much deliberation......... bring it on. Until summer hits and I can get the kids outside having fun with my camera, I'm going to need a constant stream of photos to edit to keep up with my addiction so...

If you want your photos edited email me. I'll even edit them for free with your permission to add the finished products to my portfolio/flickr slideshow, you just pay for the prints. And hey, I'll even charge you less for prints than walmart (mine are better quality any darn way).

As far as buying prints of MY photos. I'm just gonna have to say no to that right now since almost all of my photos (until I get outside this summer) are of my children and to be quite honest it kind of gives me the heebie jeebies to think of my kids picture on some strangers wall. You understand. We can revisit this later on when I get some nice scenery shots of something, ok?


There's a post this morning already, so be sure to read it. Or not.

I figured since I am changing this blog a bit and concentrating more on my family, my children in particular...... that I should tell you a bit about them. They are all so very different and each have their endearing (or not) quirks about them. I can't imagine my life without any of them.

So, oldest to youngest. We'll be starting with


Austin has had the challenge of being born to parents who were ready to be anything but. I was 16 years old, his father 18 and we decided that we could be careless. Usually nothing good comes of that but this time something did.

Austin was born promptly on his due date. I started labor at 3:00am (oddly, my mother had a funny feeling that night at her 3rd shift job and came home at 3am) and he was born at 6:31 that evening. The most adorable thing, at 6 lbs 7 oz and 18 inches long. He came into this world screaming and that's pretty much what he did for the rest of his first day here on earth.

Austin and I spent an entire week bonding in the hospital due to me getting septic. We came home on Christmas eve and there life began.

Austin has always been the goofiest, silliest, most charming child you could meet. He has a smile that could melt the heart of the grinch and even as a toddler would often score us free meals or extras flashing that grin to waitresses. Although his father and I parted ways before he was born, he has been fortunate to always have a relationship with him, albeit sometimes a rocky one.

We knew Austin was going to give us a run for our money even as a toddler. He had a fascination with electricity. One time, when he was about 3 he cut the cord on my tv, causing a large POP and smoke to fill the room. He walked around for weeks saying "I blew up!". A few months later, he torched a truck in my moms microwave, starting her kitchen on fire. We quickly learned that electricity and Austin went together as well as electricity and water.

Austin has always been a bit of a challenge. His spunk and determination have given us much pride, and much stress. I remember when he was just a little french fry, he threw his shoes out the car window for no reason other than to do it. Then there was the time he lit a campfire on his bed.... There has rarely been a dull moment with Austin around.

To this day he can flash that smile and melt the heart of anyone around him. He has gotten himself out of much trouble with teachers, and everyone else with that grin. He struggles a bit in school because he's often distracted, yet he has a very creative mind and is an awesome sketch artist. He enjoys cooking and wants to pursue culinary school when he's older, which gives Craig much pride. He spends every other weekend and half the summer at his dads house, up by Lake Superior. He is now 14 years old and doing typical teenage things, video games, skateboarding, movies. He is a very intelligent person and loves to learn when the subject interests him.

Good morning

Well, I've had a really good response to the fluoride post contest (ok so I haven't named it) . You may be wondering why I'm keeping comments private for this contest. Well, that's not to cause you any stress my friends, it's simply because some of you don't want the sites you post at slathered right there in the open for any Tom, Dick, or Harry to visit. Not that I figure I have many Tom's, Dick's, or Harry's that frequent my blog, but just in case. It's for your privacy..... we all like privacy.

If you haven't done your part yet, please do. There's still plenty of time. I'm in no rush.

Moving on.........

Old man winter seems to be fighting to stay on here in the Northwoods. We got another......... way too many inches of snow night before last. I don't know the actual numbers, I try not to pay attention to that. That and gas prices. I make a point to never know what the gas prices are. It's senseless to dwell on. I rarely go anywhere and when I do it's almost always somewhere I have to be, so I need the gas and paying $1.99 for it or $5.00 isn't going to change that.

You see, here in the northwoods we don't really have much in the way of public transportation.... actually, we have none. I suppose if you really wanted to you could try to hop on the train that comes through town once a day, but I'm thinking you might end up in jail and quite frankly that doesn't sound like a good way to spend my time.

You could ride a bicycle. You'd get a lot of excersize (that spelling doesn't look right, someone tell me what's wrong with it) but it would probably take you about 16 hours to get from here to walmart on a bicycle. Ok, maybe not for everyone but keep in mind I'm going to have to get 6 kids there on a bicycle........ so that's a whole big added level of difficulty.

You could shop here in our little town. After all, we have a grocery store, FOUR gas stations, 16 or so bait shops (maybe not, but close), a bakery, even a family dollar. But honestly if you pay $5 a gallon for gas it's probably still cheaper to drive to walmart. Sad really.

You know, I forgot how I even got here............ oh yeah, snow. Gosh I'm not use to being up this early.

You know, now i'm not even interested in writing about snow. Oh hey, there's a sign of spring........ there's a hornet in my house. I better go get my pinesol, did you know pinesol will kill any bug in less than a minute? And your floor will have that one clean spot too! It's a bit more difficult when they are flying up around the light fixture like this guy is, but that light does need some attention........

Oh, and Angie, I just saw your comment. I use the same program, but X2 instead of X1. I honestly doubt there are many differences. A lot of it for me is just getting comfortable with layers and trying new things. I like to see what happens when I do wierd things, like clicking the skin smoother 4 times. Sometimes I really love the effect and then it becomes a routine. I know you know how to do the focal color so you have some experience with layers, it's really neat the things you can do with layers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My special friend

5 1/2 years ago a very special person came into my life. It was an out of the ordinary way to meet someone, a Yahoo chat room. But there she was, living 20 miles away from me and due to have her first baby just a couple days after I was due to have my 5th.

We didn't actually "meet" until our babies were 6 weeks old. We missed each other by a day at the hospital.

Our friendship has been probably the most challenging that i've had. I will never understand how I could be so connected to someone I hardly see. In a lot of ways, we barely know each other and in others, we've shared times that have bonded us on a deep emotional level.

One of those times was the illness and death of my son. I remember calling her that first night with the words "my baby might not live". Little did I know she would be the glue that kept my family together in the coming weeks and months.

When Alex was sick, there were many people I could call when things looked bleak. Every time I called her, she didn't just say "oh i'm sorry" she got in her vehicle and came running. Seeing her face appear gave me a sense of relief when I was feeling anything but. One phone call and she sat with us for many hours in a surgery waiting room providing us with distraction in a way only she could. One phone call was all it took for her to come and gather 5 scared children and scoop them off to her house while we underwent another surgery.

The Sunday before he passed was one of those days. I had gotten a call from the nurse that Alex was bruised from head to toe and wasn't responding to stimuli. Shortly after arriving at the hospital I called her and as she often did, she set her own priorities, and her family aside to come running to us. I remember, after a while asking her if she thought he was ok. I don't know why I asked, it wasn't like she was a doctor, nurse, or in any other way would know this information....... but at that moment, much like a child with it's mother I needed to hear those words from her.

On the day he died my family came, and so did she. She held that tiny, lifeless baby and cried along with us. Even though in her mind she had to be looking at him and reliving what could have been with her own son merely months before.

In the days that followed she was a near constant presence. Not in an overbearing way or anything. It was nice for me to have someone to remember with, as so many people had not had the opportunity to meet him or to spend time at the hospital. We laughed, we cried.... sometimes at the same time. She helped me to process what I was feeling and I didn't have to act around her...... when I laughed that was ok. When I walked around calling everyone a Bad Egg every 6 seconds she didn't think I needed therapy. She was just what I needed. During that time I felt like if I laughed or was happy, everyone would think I didn't miss him, didn't care. She didn't see me that way.

Now, I am normally not one to put my feelings in the open, I'm not one to accept help. She provided help when I was so broken down I didn't know how to ask for it. Her quiet acceptance got me through when all I would have wanted to do otherwise would have been to crawl in my bed, cuddle his picture, and die.

That's just how she is. So many times in the past 5 years I have wished that just once she would need ME. And in the past 2 years I have wished that somehow I could repay her. You see, she always puts everyone before herself. That's just how she is. She never lets on that she might be dealing with something inside that is breaking her spirit, because of this I have often struggled with knowing what to say, what to do. I wish for a second I could be half the person she is. I wish just once she would be able to call me and say "you know, I really need you right now". But that's not who she is and so I have never been sure what to do. I'm always afraid that I am overstepping my role if I am straightforward. I don't want to push myself into her life, her business.

She thinks that being perfect is this role she plays for the benefit of others. While it's true no one is perfect, she is what I beleive the epitome of a good person. There is never a question in her mind when someone else needs her, that is not an act, you can't fake that. I wish though, that she could show herself what she shows others.

So, I just want to say. And you know who you are. That I love you, I miss you........ I think about you every single day, and I want to give you back some of the love you showed me, if only I knew how.....

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fluoride dangers- revisited!

Because I feel this issue is SO important, not only am I revisiting it by bumping this post to the front from last year, but I am also going to issue a contest to get the word out about the dangers of fluoride.

Here's what you'll have to do. It's not hard or time consuming. Copy and past the link below:

on any public forum you choose. It could be your blog, your website, message boards you frequent, myspace, facebook, I'm not picky. Title your post creatively and to the point. DO NOT copy and paste the story, simply provide a link to this post. Then, come back here and comment on this post the url where I can find your link. The more places you post, the more chances you have to win! On Friday evening at 9pm central time I will draw a name randomly and the winner will be announced on this blog. Please use the url above, my blog is transitioning from a little crunchy to mom of many and this url is sure to work all over the web while we transition.

The prize is going to be an awesomely awesome $100.00 Walmart gift card, courtesy of moi. This issue is THAT important to me.

ETA: comments will be hidden for this contest.

Approximately half of the United States' drinking water supply is fluoridated in an attempt to reduce dental cavities in children. Thankfully the town I live in does not (as of now anyway, hopefully they keep thier senses) artificially fluoridate our drinking water. My children do not take fluoride rinses at school or receive fluoride treatments at the dentist office. In the past 4 years, since I have begun actively limiting the fluoride my children receive thier teeth have actually IMPROVED and none of them have had a cavity, without any other change in their dental routine.

Most Americans are unaware of the dangers of ingesting fluoride. Most dentists, physicians and scientists are even unaware of the dangers of fluoride. How many of us have actually taken the time to read up on it, just once?

Facts About Fluoride ~ Fluoride is NOT FDA APPROVED ~ According to Clinical Toxicology of Commercial Products, fluoride rated #2 on the toxicity scale, right under arsenic and above lead.

~ In the March 22, 1990 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, Mayo Clinic reported that fluoride increased hip fracture rate and bone fragility.

~A study by Procter and Gamble showed that as little as half the amount of fluoride used to fluoridate public water supplies resulted in a sizable and significant increase in genetic damage. ~Epidemiology research in the mid-1970's by the late Dr. Dean Burk, head of the cytochemistry division of the National Cancer Institute, indicated that 10,000 or more fluoridation-linked cancer deaths occur yearly in the United States.

~In 1989, the ability of fluoride to transform normal cells into cancer cells was confirmed by Argonne National Laboratories.

~ Since 1991, the New Jersey Department of Health found that the incidence of osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, was far higher in young men exposed to fluoridated water than in those who were not. ~In addition to the well documented toxic effects of fluoride, fluoride even at dosages of 1 part per million, found in artificially fluoridated water, can inhibit enzyme systems, damage the immune system, contribute to calcification of soft tissues, worsen arthritis and, cause dental fluorosis in children.

"The American Medical Association is NOT prepared to state that no harm will be done to any person by water fluoridation. The AMA has not carried out any research work, either long-term or short-term, regarding the possibility of any side effects." - Dr. Flanagan, Assistant Director of Environmental Health, American Medical Association.

"I am appalled at the prospect of using water as a vehicle for drugs. Fluoride is a corrosive poison that will produce serious effects on a long range basis. Any attempt to use water this way is deplorable." - Dr. Charles Gordon Heyd, Past President of the American Medical Association.
The fluoride used for water fluoridation does not have FDA approval and is considered by the FDA as an "unapproved drug".

And it's not just in the water or supplements. Did you know that if you have wheaties with milk, and a can of coke for breakfast you have injested 233% MORE fluoride than the standard 1ppm daily recommended dose? There's no getting away from it I'm afraid, it's in everything you eat and drink. The water sprayed on the crops contains fluoride, so does the fertilizer. The LEAST we can do is NOT put it in our bodies above and beyond what we are forced to take in already. But it saves our kids' teeth you say? WRONG

~In the largest U.S. study of fluoridation and tooth decay, United States Public Health Service dental records of over 39,000 school children, ages 5-17, from 84 areas around the United States showed that the number of decayed, missing, and filled teeth per child was virtually the same in fluoridated and non-fluoridated areas.

Dr. John Colquhoun, former Chief Dental Officer of the Department of Health for Auckland, New Zealand, investigated tooth decay statistics from about 60,000 12 to 13 year old children and showed that fluoridation had no significant effect on tooth decay rate.

But it's NATURALLY in the water you say?

So if it's a "natural" substance it can't be bad for you! WRONG. Fluoride is an environmental pollutant. It is a waste product of aluminum and fertilizer production. Prior to 1945, fluoride was responsible for many lawsuits against these industries. This fluoride destroyed crops and animals, leading to the lawsuits. The limited public view was that fluoride was an environmental pollutant that needed to be eliminated from the environment. As a result of clever public relations campaigns, fluoride was magically transformed from an environmental pollutant to an "essential nutrient necessary for producing healthy teeth." The science was poor, but the P.R. campaign was great. It became an American staple and Industries not only made millions from selling this environmental pollutant to water companies and toothpaste companies, but more importantly, it saved billions of dollars that would be required to clean up this environmental pollutant.

So, what can you do to protect yourself from fluoride? First, avoid fluoridated water. Boiling water removes chlorine, but concentrates fluoride. Water filters do not remove fluoride, unless there is a reverse osmosis component. Children should avoid fluoridated vitamins and fluoride treatments at the dentist. Everyone should avoid fluoridated toothpaste. Work on your legislators to get fluoride out of the water supplies. Buy a reverse osmosis system for filtering your drinking water. Do not allow your children to take fluoride supplements at home or at school. The next time you go to the dentist, copy and paste the below form and ask your dentist to sign it before you accept the prescription for fluoride or have it put on your teeth in the little tray. Please link others to this post and spread the word about the dangers of fluoride use!!!!



In my professional opinion as a currently licensed and practicing dentist in the state of ______________ the ingestion of supplements of hydrofluosilicic acid is safe, approved by the Food and Drug administration for ingestion and the American Medical Association for internal ingestion and I have disclosed all side effects to my patient. As a licensed dentist, under penalty of perjury under the laws of the state of ___________ I hereby certify that the above statement is true and correct.
__________________ print name and title clearly
__________________ Signature of licensed dentist
__________________ Date
__________________ State of licensure


You'll notice a few new things about this blog. I now have my own domain! From here on out the address to this blog will be please update your bookmarks. The old address, will still work, but you'll be happier if you update. Or maybe you won't who knows.

Also notice my new header. Purty eh? Isn't that a gorgeous family?

Why the changes? I've been doing some evolving in my life lately. The past couple of years have been a big period of transition. I am now more focused on my family and I felt my blog should reflect that. Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to be passionate about issues, but I'd much rather spend the jist of my time showing my readers the inside of a large family, connecting with other large families, and just plain showing off the 6 most adorable kids on the planet.

As you may have noticed I've been incorporating different things into this blog for a few weeks now, directed more toward my family and my life and that's the direction tI want this blog to go.... There are more exciting changes coming.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Weekends are for pictures! 3-16-08

School part 2

I don't want to give the impression that everytime my children get into trouble I go marching in and start yelling at school staff. If my child truley IS in the wrong, they will have to suffer the consequences, as is life. I do not bail them out or coddle them. BUT, when my child is in a situation that has obviousely escalated beyond what she can deal with I will not hesitate to stand up for her. Come what may.

Today is Alex's 2nd angel day. We are going to the cemetary for a bit and just kinda hanging out all day. So far it's been a lot easier than last year. I hope that's a good sign of things to come.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How much more can I take...

Before I go absolutely crazy with this school district. As some of you know we have been trying to just quietly bide our time for the rest of this school year before homeschooling next year. We have felt that it was best for everybody to give the kids this time to grow accustomed to the idea, let their friends know and what-not.

Well, all year Hailey has been having fairly mild issues with one school staff member. This staff member is an aide in her special education class where she recieves any additional help she may need in various subjects. She is in mainstream classrooms but goes to this class as a "resource" they call it.

Well. Something you should know about my Hailey is that she's a bit of an independant thinker. Sometimes she thinks outside the box, and sometimes she just runs the box over with a mack truck and we are all left curious as to how she figured whatever it was that she was working on out. Another thing that is very important to know about Hailey is that she, like her mother, doesn't just get a fire lit up under her ass sometimes........ it's a flame like pyrotechnics on the 4th of July. For the most part I adore this quality about her, but admittedly sometimes she's a little hot to handle.

So, earlier in the year she became interested in the Moon walk of the 60's. She spent hours researching it and came to the conclusion that she did not beleive it ever happened (and she wouldn't be the only person in the world to think that). Well, being proud of herself and her newfound information, she made a point to tell her teachers about it. All but one disagreed with her, one actually agreed with her.

Then there's the aide in question. She told Hailey that it did happen, point blank. When Hailey attempted to present her side of the debate she received a detention for non compliance. Granted, she probably did get a little heated and probably ranted and raved a bit (sounds familiar, doesn't it? like deja vu or something). But she was downright irate that this teacher did this and I was extremely dissapointed that her eagerness to learn something was quashed, after all, it's not easy to get a pre-teen so fired up about something that they want to learn everything there is to learn about it.

Through the rest of this year there have been various incidents with this aide. She and Hailey just obviousely have a huge clash of personality, at the same time I think they are very similar and that itself can cause tension. There have been issues here and there, back and forth, nothing real over the top but things that more than once made me question this woman's maturity level as she seemed all to willing to just revert to her own childhood and get into a match of "i know you are but what am I" types of behaviors.

Then came the "measuring cup" incident a couple months ago. One night Hailey brought math homework home. We worked with her for quite a while and she just wasn't grasping the work, fractions. (keep in mind she is a bit behind grade level, which is an issue for another day) They were trying to make her understand fractions using some sort of ruler....... honestly it confused even me. Finally I got out my measuring cups and showed her the fractions, 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup and so on. For the first time, it clicked and she finished the entire worksheet with very little help.

She takes the assignment back to class and was thrilled to get a great grade on it. The teacher (her main resource teacher) apparently asked her how she suddenly understood something that she had struggled with so terribly the day before and she told him, excitedly about the measuring cups. He told her that although the answers were correct she didn't complete the assignment in the right way and she would not be allowed to do it that way. This aide actually was teasing Hailey about it.

She was crushed, broken, and quite frankly gave up on math then and there. Now she doesn't complete her assignments and when asked why she says "I always do it wrong anyway". That was the point when homeschooling became more of a front line issue for our family, it had been on the back burner for years but now we had to seriousely consider what our options were.

Fast forward to last week. On Thursday Hailey returns from school and sits with me at the dining table and says "well, what do you want me to do?" I looked at her quizzically and asked her what she meant. She repeated her question. I stopped what I was doing and asked her what was up. "didn't they call you?" she asks? uh oh............

I told her no one called me and she burst into tears. She told me that she had been in gym and she and another girls stuff were in a pile and she picked up her stuff and put it in her gym bag and went to head to her next class. The other girl said that she couldn't find her shoe and Hailey (little fuzzy on this part) helped her look. The girl, who is known to be extremely EXTREMELY immature for her age (no offense or disrespect, but sadly, she speaks worse than most 4 year olds) went off the deep end and ran out saying Hailey stole her shoe.

Wouldn't you know it, this aide that seems to have a problem with Hailey as a person anyway was the person she found. The aide comes in and says to Hailey "give it up". Hailey, as anyone probably would if they were spoken to that way went on the defensive. Some words were exchanged and Hailey emptied her bag and the girls shoe was in there, inadvertantly picked up with the rests of the stuff in the bag. Keep in mind here people that I say SHOE, not plural. ONE SHOE.

So, the aide demands Hailey go to the principal's office because of the "obvious" theft. Hailey asked to call home, which I told her to do if she had a problem because they don't and because I can usually help calm her down when she gets that upset so it doesn't end worse than it needs to. The aide tells her she can't do that and Hailey grabs her stuff and heads to the principal's office. The aide at the time was standing in the doorway and Hailey bumped into her when she was on her way out the door. Hailey spent however long in the principal's office asking to call home, or for them to call me and they refused.

So upon hearing this from her I call the school and leave a message on the principal's voicemail to please call me back asap. About 20 minutes later he calls and asks me what Hailey's version of the story was. I tell him and he concurs that is in fact, what happened to the best of his knowledge as well. We discuss whether or not this was theft and agree that it was not because why would someone steal one shoe? One shoe that woudln't even fit them no less. It didn't add up or make sense to be called a theft. He tells me that the problem was the fact that Hailey got defensive and when she wasn't allowed to call home raised her voice at the aide and became very agitated and refused to handle the situation maturely. He asks me to please talk with her about this and figure out how she might apologize to the aide for bumping her in her haste to exit the classroom and I agree to do so. The entire situation, to my knowlege at that time was resolved.

Fast forward to Wednesday of the following week. Craig and I were shopping in town and my cell phone rings, it's the school number. I answer and Hailey is sobbing so hard into the phone I can barely understand her. I got enough out of her to hear that she had been given a detention for "hitting" the aide and that while she was in detention she overheard teachers talking about how she is a thief.

I arrive at the school 20 minutes later and the principal gets Hailey and we go to a conference room to talk while he waited outside the door. Hailey, her eyes swollen from crying told me that the principal had come to her right before lunch and instructed her to be in his office after she ate to serve detention for Thursdays incident. She did and while she was in detention she overheard one of her teachers in the office talking with another staff member. Whoever the other staff member was (Hailey at that time thought it might be the secretary but couldn't be sure) said "Hailey W stole so and so's shoes"

Hailey then busted out bawling and after her detention was finished asked the secretary to call home, she was told no that she had to tell her (secretary) what was wrong first. Hailey didn't want to discuss it and said that she just really needed to call her mom and was again told no. Hailey then went to the guidance counselor and asked to call home, by this time sobbing. She was at first told she could and when she went to dial the hang up button was pushed and she was told to go back to class. She went to choir class and couldn't participate as she was sobbing so hard. The choir teacher asked her what was wrong and she told him that she just really wished she could call her mom and he showed her to the phone and let her make the call.

The principal comes in and I asked him first why the detention now, I thought this was resolved last Thursday. He informed me that it had never, in fact been resolved. News to me! So then I address what Hailey overheard and he informs me that the secretary was not even in the office at that time. We addressed the phone call issue and I said that it's a very easy way to diffuse the situation, if she were allowed to just call home and calm down these things wouldnt' escalate. He told Hailey to go wait in the hall and I informed him that she would be remaining in the meeting, it was her right to do so since we were talking about her. He again told her to leave the room and I instructed her to sit down and she sat. He informed me that he beleived this all to be a control issue and that by allowing her to call home he was reinforcing the "tantrum". I asked him why then could she not be accomidated before the tantrum began? Generally if children's needs are met they won't HAVE tantrums. If we, as the adults, have the tools to diffuse the situation we should utilize those tools. I must come from a different school of thought than the average person but I don't see meeting a child's needs as giving in and when a child is sobbing uncontrollably in choir class, they are needing something. I also beleive that telling a child they can call and then hanging up the phone mid dial is nothing but bullying. Am I saying that children should just get everything they want just because they might have a melt down if they don't, definitely not but when the solution is simple and isn't hurting anyone and is only helping I don't see what witholding things accomplishes besides to BE a bully and to say "i'm the boss because I said so" I sometimes think I'm the only person on the planet that doesn't see children as these wretched creatures just trying to take something from us, to control us and to dominate us...... actually I see the opposite as true. These are things WE do to them and I'm not entirely sure where we came up with the idea that we were given that right. We should GUIDE children, yes but to demand they adhere to all of our wishes for no real reason than because we are bigger than they are? Doesn't make sense to me. Not for a minute. I think some people take the job of guiding children and turn it into something it isn't. If children are given GUIDANCE they will learn. If they are shown respect for thier needs and feelings they will learn to return it. If we tell them that they should listen to us without listening to them as well we surely can't expect them to understand it or why they ought to. If we were having this situation with another adult what would we do? If one of your co-workers were terribly upset and crying and asked to use your telephone would you let her? Of course you would. So why aren't children treated in this same way?

To be all honest I'm often baffled by this. When we have a baby it's pretty much a given that when that newborn cries you will try to figure out why it's crying and give it what it needs to make it content....... yes? It's a deep parental instict to do so and most of us don't look at our newborns as beasts who are being unrealistic and are throwing tantrums. We understand that crying is the way that their immature little selves know to communicate their needs, after all they aren't all grown up and haven't learned to talk. We don't punish them for crying, we don't make them wait for their food because they aren't being mature adults about the situation. That would be rediculous! But then as children get older we seem to forget all of this and deny our natural instincts. We decide at some point, rather arbitrarily, that they the didn't use to be selfish beasts, but now they are. We forget at some point that they aren't fully matured yet, it isn't a matter of not being guided or taught, it's because their brains simply are not ready for adult processing yet, as they shouldn't be. So when an older child uses the only way they can at that moment to make it known that they need something instead of attempting to meet that need, whatever it may be we get on some power trip and punish them for it. WHAT?!

He suggested to Hailey that she ought to, when she needed something, come to his office. She said that she's tried that and has had to wait for 2+ hours for him, missing class and getting nothing accomplished. He informed her that he had other situations to deal with, understandable. I conceded that obviousely that was not going to be the solution and that Hailey would be bringing her cell phone to school to keep in her pocket, turned OFF. We would all agree that she should go to him first but if that didn't pan out she could then call home and diffuse the situation the way she knew how.

We all left the meeting feeling discouraged but the situation just wasn't going to be resolved where everyone was happy.

So, I came home and emailed the teacher that was in the office and asked her what she could tell me about the situation in the office. I didn't want to put her on the spot and was very pleasant about it. She emailed me back that she wasn't aware of anything being said about Hailey but that she and the secretary were talking. (confirming that the secretary was in fact, in the office at that time after all) but that she would talk with Hailey about it at school the next day and see if we could get it resolved for her. Good enough. I never heard back from her.

So, Thursday Hailey returns home from school and says "mom, (the aide) is saying bad things about me to students). She was talking about me and I walked in and I said "I'm right HERE!" and she stopped. " I am sad to admit that at this point I began to doubt my daughter, for a second. I started to wonder if this may be a "everyone is out to get me" attitude.

Until the phone rang. It was a student in the school who called because she had been feeling bad all day that this aide had been saying in her class (which hailey is not in) that Hailey was a liar and a thief. She went on to tell me that this aide said that Hailey "pushed her across the room" and "stole so and so's shoes" and "lies". This student asked the aide what she meant and was apparently told that if she wanted to she could "dig up info and write hailey up" this student took this to mean that SHE as a student could file a complaint on Hailey for something, but she didn't know why she would want to do that and felt the need to tell me about it.

I pondered the idea and called another student that I knew was in that same class (again, not Hailey's class) and she said that yes, this aide frequently talked about Hailey and another classmate and today had been saying that Hailey stole so and so's shoes and was a liar".

I emailed that aide (since it was after school hours then) telling her the information that I had and that I was a bit alarmed that other children were coming to me with this information and didn't get a response as of yet.

Our school district quite frankly has never been that great. Many a parent has pulled their children out for various severe reasons. One child, a kindergartener at the time who's family I know well was forced to clean up someone else's urine a few years ago and to this day this woman drives her children 60 miles round trip to school in another city. Another child recently was ill and when he vomited in class was made to clean his own vomit, he was 5 years old as well. (the second story is hearsay, the first I know for a fact). A certain student has been expelled from this district THREE TIMES for violent acts, being caught with drugs, etc. He has been caught with drugs more than once, the one time the drugs magically vanished. Just to name a few. Unfortunately there aren't many options around here. There are no private schools, no charter schools. I really beleive we are at the breaking point.

Our school board members are resigning, staff cuts abound........ it's horrible. This district prefers to handle things "internally" and the local police comply with that and will not handle any situation that happens in school, criminal or otherwise unless contacted by the schoo to do so. Quite honestly I didn't beleive that either, until I called the police station about my son being threatened and was told I would have to deal with the principal instead. Dealing with everything "internally" seems to mean sweeping it under that old proverbial rug.

So, i'm angry, i'm hurt, and I feel guilty for subjecting my child to this type of situation. It's really sad when the adults act younger than the children and play games of gossip about teenage girls.

Speaking of the board and staff cuts. A reader asked me to adress my feelings on this issue and I will try to do so in the next couple of days. I have lots to say which isn't suprising!