Education Built on the Backs of Our Children

A man walks into a doctor’s office.  He sits down nervously in a chair and waits for the doctor to join him.  While he waits, he looks around the room at the accolades that the doctor has received.  His eyes finally land on the prominently framed Harvard Medical School Diploma.  Still a little nervous, but feeling a little more at ease, he smiles as the doctor walks in the room.  The doctor sits down and promptly describes the procedure that the man is having.  Once the doctor is done he asks, “Do you have any questions?”

Nervously the man asks, “How many times have you performed this procedure?”

The doctor replies back simply, “None.”

The man shifts uncomfortable in his chair and then says, “Well I guess someone always has to be the first, but you have assisted in this procedure in the past, right?”

The doctor shakes his head no.

“Observed?”

“No, but I have studied for many years and I understand the concepts of the operation.”

The man rises from his chair and slowly begins to back out of the room.  As he leaves he says to the doctor, “You can have all the fine training and be first in your class and understand the concepts, but if you have never even held a scalpel in your hand what makes you so sure you know how to make the first cut?”

No Child Left Behind, Common Core, in theory were good ideas for education, but the practicality of them not so much.  Part of the problem being that the lawmakers who pushed for these initiatives may or may not have studied education.  And even if they did study education never even stepped foot into a classroom, but are now passing legislation on something they have never even practiced.  Anyone who knows me personally already knows how upset I was over the confirmation of Betsey DeVos.  I value education greatly, but unfortunately took it for granted most of my life.  It wasn’t until this past year in which I really realized how lucky I was for the education I was given.

quote-Malala-Yousafzai-let-us-remember-one-book-one-pen-252607Somehow in the last decade the education battle has become more of a political charade than about the core principles.  Instead of looking at the foundation and really delving into the issues, politicians have used it as leverage for political gain.  Betsey DeVos is the most recent example of this.   If we put our political stance and agendas aside and really looked into what the proposed changes in our education system would do to our children, I have a hard time believing that the majority would agree with it.

One of the things that I find so interesting about the proposed initiative by Betsey DeVos is the voucher system.  Where in theory it sounds like a really great idea, I also think in theory having chocolate three times a day is a good idea until I get a stomach ache.  Here’s one of the things I cannot wrap my brain around.  We have a standard for education right now, a base line if you will, public schools.  Every child in the 50 states has the right to an education from Kindergarten (depending on your state it isn’t an actual requirement) or first grade through 12th grade.  Anything above and beyond that is the sole responsibility of the parent.  For example, both my children did preschool.  Where it isn’t necessary and its superfluous to the requirements needed to start school, I enrolled my children.  No one else helped foot the bill for it.   It was my decision to do it and I paid for it.  Whereas I think private education is a fine avenue if that is your choice, it shouldn’t be paid on the back of the taxpayer’s dollar if you decide to do that.  I understand that private education offers many times valuable structure and morals that many parents feel is lacking the public school system, but again that is above the standard that has been set and it shouldn’t be paid by the general public.

If you look at two districts that already have the voucher system in place, Milwaukee and Cleveland it is indisputable that the vouchers end up costing taxpayers more – for administration and to pay the costs of students not formerly served in public schools.

Milwaukee

By 1998-99, about 6,000 Milwaukee students received vouchers worth about $5,000 each for a total cost of about $29 million. This created a net loss of $22 million to the public schools. (“Tax Funding for Private School Alternatives: The Financial Impact on Milwaukee Public Schools and Taxpayers,” Institute for Wisconsin’s Future, 1998)

Cleveland

For 2000-02, 3,900 Cleveland students received vouchers worth about $2,250 each at a cost of about $9 million. Additional transportation and administrative costs bring the total up to more than $10 million

Green Bay Public Schools flirted with the idea of adopting a voucher system and through their analysis of the fiscal effect of private school voucher expansion they found the following figures to be true: If a voucher program came to GBAPS with 200 new voucher students, district taxpayers would pay an additional $1,231,080 in property taxes. With 500 voucher students, district taxpayers would pay an additional $3,131,972 in property taxes. As the number of private school voucher students increases, so will the additional property taxes for GBAPS taxpayers. Private school voucher expansion means property taxes will rise.

I find it interesting that a lot of the constituents who are proponents of the voucher system, are also the same people who want to cut down on other public services.  For example, without getting into a debate about Welfare, many of the voucher proponents seek to restrict and limit social welfare spending.  I have to agree, I do not want the benefits of Welfare to go to those who aren’t truly in need of it or are abusing it.  However, why are we so quick to crack the whip on that, but want to exceed the spending on education for those who want to send their children to private school?  If that isn’t excessive spending I do not know what is.

For those of you who don’t know exactly what the bill spells out, please see below.  This has been taken verbatim from Congress.gov

“Choices in Education Act of 2017

This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.

The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA’s geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.

To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must: (1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.

No Hungry Kids Act

The bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs. (In general, the rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children’s nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.)”

The No Hungry Kids Act suffers the price.  Where it is true that the bill does not repeal the no free lunch for kids who qualify, it does significantly impact the quality of the food that all of our kids would be getting if they bought or received a free lunch.  I have heard people comment, “that beggars can’t be choosers,” however that apathetic remark just shows how poorly we are looking at the bigger picture.  Where I might be able to provide quality meals for my family, others are just scraping by.  Now the one meal that they could count on that was good for their children might no longer be viable.

Henry Steele CommagerI just finished reading, “I am Malala.”  For those of you who don’t know who she is, she is a remarkable young woman who is mainly known for her human rights advocacy for education and for women in her native Swat Valley in Pakistan, where the local Taliban had at times banned girls from attending school. October 9, 2012 Malala was injured after a Taliban gunman attempted to murder her.  Malala at 17 years old became the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate.  Where I am in no means comparing our fight for better education with the plight that Malala and many other women around the world go through each day just to go to school, I feel it is important to remember that without change, progress can never be made.  Growth does not happen without change.

 

“School Vouchers”, http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/school-choice-vouchers.aspx, March 11, 2017.

Pons, Michael, “School Vouchers: The Emerging Track Record” http://www.nea.org/home/16970.htm, March 11, 2017.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Black and White, or Maybe It’s Gray

Sigh

“Mommy what’s wrong?”

“Nothing sweetie.  Why?”

“I heard you go like this (heavy breath)”

“Oh, mommy was just frustrated on what she was hearing on the radio.”

“What?  What happened?”

 Ugh, how do I explain this to him.

“Remember how you learned in school about Dr. King and all the things that he did?  What do you remember from that?”

“He was a man who said he we are all the same in the inside even if we looked different on the outside.”

“Right.  What does the mean to you?”

“That you should be friends with everyone and be nice no matter what a person looks like.”

“Right.  Well besides the color of a person’s skin there are a lot of things that makes people different.  Some people speak different languages.  You know how you are learning Spanish and sign language in school, some people speak that way all the time.  There are different religions.  You know how we go to church and learn about God and Jesus.”

“Yes! Jesus just had his birthday at Christmas.”

“Right.  Some people believe different things.  Mommy’s best friend growing up was from Pakistan and she practiced a religion called Islam.”

“What makes her religion different?”

“Well actually there are a lot of similarities, but I guess one of the biggest differences is we believe Jesus was the son of God, whereas she believed he was not.”

“Ok”

“Am I confusing you?”

“Kind of.  What does it matter if they are different?”

“Well that’s the point it doesn’t matter if we are different.  People in our country speak different languages, practice different religions, and are from different places in the world.  However, there is one thing that can make people different that our country does not accept.”

“What’s that?”

“Umm, ok if I confuse you please stop me.  You know how mommy and daddy are married?”

“Yes”

“Well I didn’t always know daddy.  I didn’t meet him until I was 19 years old, but we became friends, we fell in love, and eventually got married.   However, I have always known grandma and grandpa and I have always loved them very much, but it’s a different kind of love, but it is love just the same. “

“Ok”

“Well there are people who say that some kinds of love are wrong and should not be permitted.”

“But if it’s love, how can that be wrong?”

“Liam, from your lips to God’s ears.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind it’s a saying.  But you are right Liam and that is why mommy sighed.  She is sad that our country is trying to tell some people that their love is wrong?”

“And then they couldn’t get married!?!?!  Mommy I love weddings.”

differences

“I know you do. I want you to remember something, just because you don’t agree with something, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  Just because it might not be in your beliefs it doesn’t mean others shouldn’t be allowed to do it.  Growing up sometimes mommy would have what I like to call healthy debates with grandma and grandpa.  Sometimes I learned something and it made me think about it in a different way, but sometimes I just didn’t agree with them.  Do you know what grandma and grandpa did?”

“No what?”

“Nothing.  They never told me I was wrong.  They never told me to change my mind.  I never got in trouble for it.  They let me form my own opinion.  Sometimes we agreed, sometimes we didn’t.   I want you to remember that too.  You are allowed to think and believe whatever you like as long as you are not hurting anyone else. Capeesh?”

“Capeesh.  Mommy?”

“Yes Liam.”

“Can you put on “Uptown Girl?”

“Yes Liam.”

10 Things You Should Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

I know a few women right now who are pregnant.  It is such an exciting time for them.  I think back to that time and smile.  However, I also do remember the incredible things people eCard_twins-300x210said to me.  At the time it took everything in my power to not either be offended, cry, yell or do all three.  Now when I think about it, I think people were actually trying to either help or show interest, but it just came out the wrong way.  With that said I came up with my “favorite” 10 things people said to me when I was pregnant.

  1. Are you afraid your cats are going to smother your baby in its sleep?

Well, I am now!   In all honesty Ringo twice jumped into the crib at the same time Liam was in there and the one time he jumped right back out.  The second time he curled up and went to sleep.  I am probably going to get blasted for this, but I thought it was so cute I took a few pictures of it.  I then removed Ringo from the crib.  He never did it again.

  1. Wow, you are huge. I can’t believe you still have another 2 months to go.

Thanks for reminding me on how big and uncomfortable I am.  Also I appreciate you pointing out that I still have another 60 days of this in which I will inevitably get larger and more uncomfortable.

    8.  You look awful! Are you ok?

No, no I am not ok.  I have not been able to hold anything down for 5 months.  I spend most of my time hanging over a toilet bowl.   But thank you for confirming what I feared.  I look as bad as I feel.

  1. Why are you going back to work? Surely you can afford to stay home?

Well, I am so glad you have an insight on my family’s finances and what we can afford.  The truth is yes I need to go back and furthermore, I want to go back to work.

  1. It’s about time

I waited for almost five years after getting married to have a baby.  For the first two years after I got married people were constantly asking me when we were going to have a baby.  Every time I was sick or had a headache someone asked if I was pregnant.  When I finally was pregnant I had one woman say to me, “It’s about time.”

  1. You know breastfeeding is better, right? No judgment.

Umm, that sounds like judgment to me.  It always made people slightly uncomfortable when I told them I had postpartum depression after Liam, so with Ava it was suggested that I try to take some things off the table that gave me stress in my last pregnancy.  Breastfeeding had been a huge issue for me.  Still I had one person say to me, “Well you could at least try.”

  1. Did you plan it?

I was always taken aback by the number of people who were basically asking me, were we not being careful and are now having an unplanned pregnancy.  I got this only once with Liam, but several people asked me when I was pregnant with Ava.  I feel bad for the one person who had asked me, as they got me on a particularly raw day and I snapped back, “No it wasn’t planned, thank you for reminding me.”  (Of course that wasn’t true, but I was tired of hearing it)

  1. Two babies under two. How are you going to manage it?  What were you thinking?

Well for starters I was thinking people weren’t going to be so rude, but the truth is I wanted my kids close together.  I didn’t want to get through the sleepless night, diapers, and whatnot and then start all over again.  I figured we were already in the trenches let’s just plow through it.  I am not going to lie it was really, really hard in the beginning, but I am so glad we did.  Liam and Ava are very close.

  1. Enjoy your sleep now because when the baby comes you won’t be getting any?

Alright first of all who is sleeping at 9 months pregnant?  Really?!  Between the back aches, the impossibility to find a comfortable spot, and every ten minutes you feel like you have to pee, sleeping is not happening.  Also, the idea that you can stock pile sleep so when the baby comes it will help you, blows my mind.

  1. How much weight did you gain?  I only gained 15lbs.  Did your doctor say you are ok?  How are going to lose all the weight?

I mean, I am not sure which one to hit first.  If asking a woman what her weight is not acceptable, why would you think its ok to do so when she is pregnant?  Good for you and you 15lb weight gain.  I hate you, but good for you.  I plan to lose the weight on a strict diet of never sleeping or eating or what some would call being a parent.  The truth is each time I had to work hard to lose the weight.  It didn’t just fall off for me, but no pain no gain.

Good luck mommas.  Don’t let it get to you and if you can laugh it off.

Bathroom wars

A few weeks ago I had an afternoon that was just with my son. After finishing our lunch in the food court I decided I needed to use the restroom before we moved on to our next destination.  I was pretty familiar with this mall, however it was apparent that they had just recently done renovations.  In the past there used to be a family bathroom, which I never used to give much thought to, but now as a mother I find it a necessity.  To my surprise however in the renovations done to the bathrooms the family bathroom was no longer there.  I had a fleeting moment of, “What’s too old to bring your son in the woman’s bathroom?” but quickly pushed it out as I was completely uncomfortable with the thought of Liam waiting outside the bathroom for me.  This mall in general was very popular with high foot traffic and this was lunch time so it was even busier.

1401x788-42-25816125I held Liam’s hand as we entered the ladies bathroom and there was a line.  He was excited I had just bought him a balloon shaped like Spiderman so he was completely engaged with that.  I heard a woman say, “Oh you are one of those,” but I didn’t really pay much attention at the time as I didn’t think it was directed to me.  A stall emptied and I brought Liam in.  At home we had instilled a privacy rule as Liam and Ava had been notorious for busting in on anyone who was in the bathroom.  Liam closed his eyes without me saying a word (to be quite honest I hadn’t given it much thought), and he said, “Mommy I am giving you privacy.”  I smiled and thought how considerate that was.  I quickly went and then we left the stall.  I directed Liam over to the sinks to wash my hands and that’s when it happened.

A woman came up to me and said, “So you are one of those.”  Completely dumbfounded by what she was talking about I said “One of who?”  She replied back, “Making a political statement by bringing your son into the opposite sex’s bathroom.”

In split seconds I felt like my whole body was on fire.  I was so angry I felt like I was shaking.  I must have given off some impressions because Liam asked, “Mommy are you ok?”

I don’t often get like that, but when I do I rarely hold back, and this case was no different.  “If by one of those you mean, a mother who would do or say anything to protect her five year old child, then yes I am one of those.  I have no political agenda I am trying to make, except being a good mother.  And by the way, if I had left my son outside to wait for me, I bet you anything you would be the first one to say, where’s his parent?  How dare you!”

I was so flustered, angered, and oddly mortified I grabbed Liam’s hand and stormed out of the bathroom.  It wasn’t until we got to the car and Liam asked me, “Mommy did I so something wrong,” that I realized he didn’t understand what was going on.  As I placed him in his car seat I tried to explain to him what had happened and he had done nothing wrong.  Just as I was backing out of the parking spot he said to me, “But mommy I don’t get it.  If the rooms (he called the stalls rooms) have doors why does it matter.  At home we all use the same bathroom and we shut the door.  How is it different?”

And while I again I am not trying to make any political statement in this entry, Liam does have a point.  I struggled to come up with an answer and yet nothing in my mind sufficed.  I think either side of this whole bathroom wars would have a response to his question, but me I am just mom.  I am just looking out for what’s best for him and always will.

Abstaining The Loudest Voice Of All

“Silence is a true friend who never betrays.” – Confucius

“Silence is the sleep that nourishes wisdom.” – Francis Bacon

The discussion of politics makes me very uncomfortable.  People always have a strong feelings about it (as they should).  However, since this year is an election year those strong feelings have turned from heated debates, to downright contempt.  There are no longer discussions, but yelling matches and no one is really listening to what the other side is saying.

Debates once was a time to showcase your true beliefs and platform, have now become the match of who can avoid a questions more, yell louder, deflect an answer, and name calling.  It quite frankly plays out like a classroom brawl, where the teacher never gets any answers, and at times has no control of the classroom.

Growing up I had always heard voting is making your voice being heard.  It was a right that should be valued and not disregarded easily.  I was lucky I turned 18 in an election year and was able to cast my very first ballot.  It was very exciting to me.  This year however I feel very different.  Honestly, to say I dislike the candidates would be an understatement.  They all scare me for very different reasons and it is for that reason that this year I have decided not to vote.  I have heard people say things like, vote for the lesser of two evils, but that doesn’t make much sense to me.  In my mind that’s like saying would you like a stomach flu for four days or five days?  In the end they both are really bad, and by day four you are probably already dehydrated, so what’s another day?  On top of the fact that I really am not sure who is the lesser of two evils.  Of course this is my opinion and in time when instead of listening and respecting other opinions even if they do not align with ours, we ridicule and tear people down.

Ot5ed3330312339403ebfc15f938eed0fahers would argue if I do not vote then I have no right to complain about the outcome or what happens thereafter.  But isn’t abstaining at times a much louder voice then saying anything at all?  Sometimes being quiet can speak volumes among all of the rancor around you.  I am sure I will be in the minority of not voting, but imagine what message it would send if this year’s poll turnout was a record low?  “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”  – Abraham Lincoln

8d09dcbe2da8dd63907857971bd84ecbWhen I first came to this consensus in my mind I thought I might be the only one thinking this way.  However, in the last several months the memes that have infiltrated the internet have pointed out that I am not alone.  When I finally decided to write this blog entry and looked for graphics, my options were endless.  I was speaking with a girlfriend this past weekend in regards to this very topic.  She like me was very dissatisfied by our candidate options.  She posed an option that I wrestled with in my head for a while.  She mention that in November she might vote for one candidate purely for the fact that if he got in, he probably would not be able to get any of his initiatives to pass.  I had never thought of it that way and was intrigued by the idea.  Sadly, have we become a nation who votes for a candidate in pure hope that he will fail?

I think about Liam and Ava and what I hope for them in the future.  I hope for future elections we have stronger, more capable, experienced candidates.  I hope as a nation we no longer look to prize celebrity over intellect.  I hope as a nation we look for more moderate solutions instead of extremes.  I hope as nation we can be honest with ourselves and logically pick someone who really could make a profound effect on this nation in a positive way.  I hope…

Swiper the Fox

So for some time now my son has had a little nickname that we have given him of Swiper.  This derived from a character on Dora the Explorer who takes things from people.  Liam on a somewhat regular basis tries to swipe any lingering desserts on the table.  Ava has fell victim to this many times as she doesn’t eat them as quickly as he does.

A few nights ago in the madness of what I call dinnertime I was cleaning up in the kitchen when Liam said, ” Look Ava I am having the last bite of ice cream,” as he scooped up the last bite and put it in his mouth.  Irritated I slammed my hand down on the counter and yelled, “Liam!”  I couldn’t believe he did it again.  He stole Ava’s last bite of ice cream and was taunting her about it again.  Liam froze, his eyes bulging out at me.  He finally in a shaky voice replied, “Mommy this was my ice cream.”  Now I froze completely stunned.  I quickly replayed in my head the last five minutes of dinner and to my horror realized Ava had an ice pop and Liam had ice cream, he indeed did not steal her dessert.  Complete and utter remorse and self-deprecation washed over me.  At this point Liam’s lower lip was quivering and I felt horrible.  I quickly rushed to him and scooped him up in my lap.  I apologized profusely to him and tried to explain to him why I jumped to the conclusion I had.  As he calmed down in my arms a heavy albatross grew around my neck.

A little while later while Will and I were finishing cleaning up the kitchen I was discussing my plans for our garden and how we needed to go to Lowes the next day to pick up some materials.  Liam interjected into the conversation how he wanted to be with me tomorrow and just me for some mommy and Liam time.  My heart melted and I felt a little better about what had passed thinking that he had forgiven me.  Will and I quickly came up with an idea that when we got to Lowes we would split up, so Will would take Ava and I would take Liam to pick up the items.

The next day Liam, Ava, and I got in the car to meet Will at Lowes after he got out of school.  As we were pulling out of the driveway Liam said, “Now remember Ava you will go with daddy and I am going to go with mommy.”  Ava said, “No why don’t we all go together.”  Liam said, “No we can’t. I have to make mommy feel better about her mistake.” That is when my ears perked up.  Mistake, what mistake?  Today had been a relatively low conflict day.  “Liam what mistake did I make?” I asked.  “Remember yesterday mommy when you yelled at me because you thought I stole Ava’s dessert.  I knew you felt bad and you were hurting so I wanted to make it better.”

12305814_10208286065415264_490324964_nI could not believe what I was hearing.  For a moment I was completely shocked, but I had to shake myself out of that as we were driving down the road.  I was in awe on how insightful and thoughtful and empathetic Liam had been.  Even now as I type this out it astonishes me how forgiving and loving he was.  It’s unbelievable how sometimes the littlest actions, the simplest words can have the most profound impact.  Liam in that split second reminded me on how as wonderful and great, grand gestures are sometimes, it’s the purest, smallest moments that can have the lasting effect.

 

 

 

April Fools

1910209_154024821671_6591091_n14 years ago tomorrow my husband and I went on our first date.  I try to think back to that day, but it’s fuzzy in feeling and blurry in memory.  I do know I was very nervous, but excited at the same time.  If only I knew then that date would turn into the man who:

said, “I love you.”

who held my hand and calmed me during my worse semester of college.

who watched every performance I was in, in my college performance of, “The Glass Menagerie.”

who cheered and clapped when I graduated college.

who bent on one knee and asked me to marry him.

who responded with, “I guess we need to get serious about buying a house,” when I said I wanted to start a family.

who didn’t even blink when I brought two stray cats and a rescue dog into our home.

who was all in when I decided to be a surrogate.

who responded by saying, “I am not sure how we will do it, but we will make it work,” when I told him I did not want to go back to my former employer.

who said, “Take the job,” when I said I found a job that I liked, but it was a huge pay cut.

who said, “I will help you study for the GREs,” when I said I want to get m12283107_10208297833629462_1258260469_ny MBA.

It is for all those reasons and more, that when I think back to fourteen years ago even though it is fuzzy and blurry in my memory, I can’t help but get a little giddy.  One date, one evening, one choice led me to where I am today.  A happy, successful, fulfilled, loved wife, mother, and woman.

Mommy Is Going to Get a Bookbag

For some time now I have debated about going back to school.  My husband and I have had many talks about it, but in the end I have always decided not to go back.  Primarily because I was…am….too afraid of missing something with my kids.  Even so, there has been this gnawing ache in me to go back.  Quite frankly I have wanted to go back since I graduated.  Now twelve years later nothing has changed except that I am older.

I look at my sister-in-law and my cousin who are both young mothers and are in school.  They amaze me how they juggle it and make it work.  The funny thing is I think no matter what, if you really want something, you make it work, and you find the time.   I know it isn’t going to be easy.  I am not going to be able to snap my fingers and poof have more time, but I do think if it is important to make it happen.  I know that there have been times I missed things with my kids.  I didn’t get to see Liam give his first love in preschool the handmade card he made for her (but I did sit with him the night before while he made it).  I did not get to see Ava at her dress rehearsal for her recital last year (but I took her to every class, picture, and was there for the day of the recital).   I will always have time for the extra hug before I run out the door in the morning.  I will always be late to work to miss my kid’s holiday performance at school.   In the end the important thing is that I am always there for them.  Every night my husband and I end the night with our kids saying how much we love them and no matter what we will always love them.

MEME.jpgI know I can give myself the easy out on why not to go back to school and it would it be a valid excuse.  But here in lies the problem.  I want my kids to see their mom as a happy, fulfilled, ambitious, hardworking mom.   It took me a long time career wise to be in a place that I can say I am happy.  And while everyone’s definition is different on what fulfills them and drives them, for me it’s going to back to school.  So this momma in the next year besides writing in her blog, selling her Avon, going to work, and soaking up every moment with my kids and husband, will also be studying for the GRE’s.   No more excuses.  It’s time to hit the books.

 

 

 

Get Checked!

I sit here tonight writing about something I openly admit that I know nothing about.  I could type out statistics and spout out facts, but you can Google them yourself.  And although I have never personally gone through it, I doubt anyone would argue with me when I say, “Cancer Sucks.”

There are people in our lives that impact us good and bad.  Sometimes the other person is aware of their influence on our lives, other times not so much.

I went to a small college in the Hudson Valley region of New York.   It was small enough that even though you might not personally know every person, you do recognize their face.  This blog is in particular about one girl who was a grade below me.  She actually was in lot of my now husband’s classes.  She always had a smile on her face.  Even though I did not know her very well it was apparent how friendly, caring, and nice of person she was.  I look back at that time in college and wish now that we had been closer.  I know I would have been a better person then if we had been.

However, I am a better person now because of her.  Because of the wonderful age of social media that we live in today we are friends on Facebook.  I have traveled along her journey through breast cancer.  She is the epitome of courageous, strong, persistent, inspiring, and amazing.  Her honesty in her posts put a face to all of the statistics you read regarding breast cancer.  It is hard not to laugh and cry with her during her triumphs and her bumps in the road.  Her infectious smile and her beautiful family have captivated an audience who are all cheering for her on the sidelines.

While many would take this opportunity to worry about themselves she went a step further and became involved in a beautiful PSA video about getting checked regularly.  I have posted it below.  I urge you to watch it.  While none of us know what the future has in store for any of us, I can guarantee you this, the light the she shines and her fabulousness is and will continue to change lives.

Blood On Our Hands

I don’t normally start out like this, but since I recently had a very unpleasant experience I have decided for this blog entry I would add the following disclaimer.

Disclaimer:  We all come from different walks of life and we all have our different views on things.  But if we can just take a moment to listen to the “opposing side” and truly listen to them, we might get further in our own path when we understand where the other side is coming from.  Different opinions are what makes the world go around.  We don’t have to agree with them, but we should respect them.

I grew up in a conservative home.  My father hunted.  He literally put food on the table.  He still does.  With that being said it’s quite apparent that he owns a gun.  As a child, teenager, adult, I never saw the guns just lying about.  My father when he had to clean it would be downstairs out of sight.  To this day I still do not know how to get into his locker where he keeps them.  My father was and still is the epitome of responsibility.  He understands the awesome power and responsibility that comes with owning a gun.  If all gun owners were like my father the epidemic that is running rapid in our nation would not exist.

Unfortunately, not all people are as responsible.  Not all people obtain their guns in a legal way.  Not all people understand the sheer magnitude of what owning a gun means.

I support the Second Amendment.  I believe that those who are capable, law abiding citizens, if they so chose should be able to own a gun. However, I do believe we need stricter laws in gun control.  I have been ridiculed in the past saying that if I believe this way then I do not support the Second Amendment.  I am not sure when it happened, but our nation has become an all or nothing nation.  If you are liberal you have to be 100% liberal with no wavering conservative views. If you do, you are a traitor.  If you are conservative, but you don’t believe in the death penalty, you are an idiot and discounted as a conservative.  Just because you support something does not mean that you don’t see the possibility for change.  I support the Second Amendment, but it needs to be revised.

Our forefathers when they wrote the Constitution wrote it based on the world they knew at the time.   Schools, churches, movie theaters (didn’t even exist) had never been shot up.  Slavery was not illegal.  Mind you the thirteenth amendment (Abolishes slavery) did not occur until 1865.  Yet when the conversation comes up in regards to gun control somehow all extremes come out to play and the life that has already been taken from our world no longer matters.
A month ago I was at a holiday party at a friend’s house with my husband.  The host said to me in conversation regarding this, “If Newtown did not change anything, nothing will.”  At the time I nodded my head and agreed with him.  However, in the past several weeks that statement has ecNewtown--Sandy-Hook-memorial-2-jpghoed in my head.  If killing 20 children at the mere age of 6 and 7 and 6 adults did not get our nation to do anything, nothing will.  At this point we are all guilty.  We all have blood on our hands.  Each and every shooting that occurs in which we made no attempt to change it, is our fault too.

I am not ignorant in thinking that if we pass some stricter gun laws our problems would be solved and there would be no more shootings.  Of course there would still be the outliers.  Just like there are outliers in other illegal activity.  We have laws against stealing, many of us have home security, but that doesn’t stop some to attempt robbery.  But it does deter many.

Recently legislation has been placed to undo “No Child Left Behind”.  It was an education debacle for the simple fact that not every child is the same.  Not every child learns the same way, will achieve the same heights, and go the same path.  In a similar regard not every person is emotionally and mentally capable of pulling a trigger.  I am not even touching those who are mentally or emotionally impaired.  I am talking about the average Joe or me, who in the moment of crisis would not effectively be able to load, point, or shoot a gun.  It’s just not in me to do.  However, somehow the answer to this gun epidemic, is guns for everyone.  This mentality of a one size fits all, lays the burden on the innocent while the criminals can have their free for all.

My son will start Kindergarten in the fall.  I have many mixed emotions about this.  I am excited, happy, sad (where did my baby go?).  I have one more emotion that I have yet to express to anyone.  Not even my husband.  Fear.  I am not so naive to think that where I live in rural suburbia the possibility of a school shooting could never happen.  And although I do not let this fear run my life it has quietly crept into my thoughts and dreams when I have a least expected it.   It’s funny (not really) my parents would have never dreamed to have that kind of worry when I went to school.   And yet somehow we have accepted the fact that our kindergartens not only should learn fire drills, but also lock down drills in case of a shooting.  We have accepted this.  We have changed our lives because of this, and yet we refuse to change our laws.

You might not agree with me.  You might not like my opinion.  I am not asking you to.  But the next time you hear about the latest shooting (because it will happen again) ask yourself this, in what other problematic issue out there today; the solution is to add more fuel to the fire?

“Out, damned spot! Out, I say!—One, two. Why, then, ’tis time to do ’t. Hell is murky!—Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him”  Lady MacBeth ~MacBeth