It Has to Stop

I am an ex teacher. I taught for a decade in Michigan public schools. There are so many reasons why I stopped teaching, some reasons more profound than others. But one of the issues that I always had as a teacher was having to train on active shooter drills.

When I was a child in school, I remember doing tornado drills and cold war drills. I remember doing fire drills. Active shooter? What is that? Fast forward a few decades and boom, now we worry about someone coming into a school and killing students and teachers.

I was teaching high school when Sandy Hook happened. I worked in a predominantly at risk school with many ESL learners and a large population of special education students. Sandy Hook tore me apart and I remember my kids wanting to talk about it. So we did. We talked about what we had to do when there was an active shooter drill. What my responsibility was to them. I told them that I was there to protect them at all cost. That if I had to I would take a bullet to protect them because they were my kids. Then one of my boys piped up. He said that they wouldn’t leave me behind. They would shove me out a window.

I shouldn’t have to talk to my kids about these things ever. I should be able to teach them Shakespeare and WWII and they can go home happy at the end of the day. Why am I talking about bullets and dying. This is not what I signed up for when I went to college. There was no college 101 on active shooters. It jarred my mind that there was something seriously wrong. Fast forward a few years…

I went to teach at another school, a larger one taking a position with more responsibility teaching middle school. I had a classroom that was not used for a long time and had a strange set up. It was a regular room but there were two singular bathrooms on one side of the room separated with a large wall, both with heavy locking doors. Now I had done active shooter drills before for years but this one hit different. When we did the drill, I locked and closed all my doors. Turned off the lights. What I did not know and came to find out was I was to lock my kids (I had about 10 in a class) in the two bathrooms and shut the doors. These were extremely tiny bathrooms that would make it difficult to fit in there. But we did it all while the admin and police department went through banging on doors. I realized I had no windows in my room, no way to escape if needed. No way to get my kids out. This was horrible. Why was this reality? Why are these a part of my school year?

I quit teaching in 2015. I have not been back. I homeschool my daughter who is neurodivergent. I think about how she would react in one of these drills. Scared of the dark and lack of security. Not knowing why or how to be completely quiet. I worry about other students that are special needs in these schools. Possibly being some of the easily targeted because of their special needs. It destroys me. Schools should be safe havens for students and teachers. A place of learning. Not if you are scared someone will walk in with a gun. Nope. Its torture. For every parent, not knowing if their child will come home that day. What in the actual hell?

Bottom line is that something has to change. These people that we elect and put in office need to do something for these children. It has to stop. I will be sending emails to my reps today reminding them that they need to do something. They need to be active about this. Or they will not be reelected. I’m not going to vote for someone that is going to stand by and watch all this shit happen and do nothing. I feel shame for my country and what we are.

So, take some time today. Call, write, picket. If you are an influencer on social media, make noise and a lot of it. And the huge one, when it is time to vote, vote the assholes out of office who are more worried about making a dollar then their responsibilities taking care of the people (children) in their communities.

It has to STOP…

Mama Knows Best

There are so many things that we as moms endure that are hard. So damn hard. And yet, we still show up every day doing the best we can for our kids.

When my kiddo was born, I knew right out the gate that something was different about her. I had her sent to nursery the first night so I could have some sleep after 27 hours of labor that ended up in a horrible c-section. In the morning when they brought her in they said all she did all night was cry. She never slept. I was perplexed at the idea that a just born baby didn’t sleep for 6 hours, yet there was nothing medically wrong. When we got home, it was very much the same. She never slept. And the advice started to come from all directions that maybe she had acid reflux, maybe it was a milk intolerance, maybe she had gas, and the list went on and on. I knew that those were not the issues.

From six months to a year she would not nap. She had to be in the car or you had to hold her the whole time. Even if it wasn’t nap time and you set her down she screamed murder. Now most people just said that I should snuggle her more or sleep train her. That wasn’t it, there was something more to it.

She was never happy, she was never content. I didn’t take her into a store until she was 18 months old because all she did was scream. She screamed constantly and never slept. She was up at 3 am every day and gave up naps completely so she was in bed by 6 pm. Most nights we were so exhausted after working all day we went to bed at 7 pm. People in our families and friends had a hard time understanding this; we valued sleep and this was the time that we needed to sleep so we went to bed when the sun was shining and woke up in the middle of the night.

Also she was very particular about toys. She was very repetitive with the same toys. Same activities over and over. She didn’t really start talking until she was 2 1/2 and at the same time also decided to potty train herself. She didn’t really follow directions well. She got easily confused She was very smart and academically had her colors and shapes all memorized. No form of consequence affected her when it came to discipline. She was always hitting and for a while biting. But she still didn’t sleep. We were managing well enough at home but our friends and families couldn’t understand that we were not going out or attending events because her bedtime was 6 pm and I wasn’t going to deal with the shit the next day after having to get up at 3 am. Nope.

Preschool age was a nightmare. She didn’t sleep for 8 months. I almost had a nervous breakdown. She never napped. She was volatile; hitting, slapping, biting, damaging objects. She was never happy. I took her to doctors and they just kept saying it was a phase. That there was nothing I could do all the while I knew that it was not a phase.

Now we are here today. After years of everything we have finally got an answer. She has autism.

We are seeing therapists, we are getting on the list for the best OT in our area, we are also going to do a school of choice for her to go to a school with teachers that are trained and educated more in the autism arena. But it took me 8 years for someone to listen to me and to be taken seriously that something was different. That she wasn’t like the rest. There are still many things that her and I have to work through, independently and together, but we have the resources to help us and for that I am thankful. Here is my take away and gift to speak: Mamas, always trust your instinct.

I had a friend (who is no longer a friend) who always told me that I should ignore my daughter. Let her cry it out. That she was manipulating me. That she was just being a kid and I needed to stop being so dramatic. Then one day, randomly, she told me that the reason that she couldn’t be my friend was because I didn’t give her time. I wouldn’t go out with her or come over because we went to bed too early. She then said that she couldn’t handle how out of it I was. I never realized it until now that I was so happy that I NEVER listened to her advice or anyone else’s. That I listened to what MY family needed. That I fought to find a way to help all of us to get through this journey. This “friend” doesn’t know that my kiddo was diagnosed with autism. But boy oh boy does she look like an ass for all that shit she said. Mamas, don’t ever let someone try to tell you that you are crazy or don’t know what you are talking about. Or that there is nothing wrong. You know those babies best. You know. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you don’t.

*April is autism awareness month

Its a Bit Deep and Heavy

This is a double headed blog post. Its heavy and it is deep. Its so sad and concerning, yet it is so important to be said.

To begin, my uncle passed away this weekend. He was not in the best of health. He had a heart issue, was overweight, didn’t eat well. Generally he did not take the best care of himself. But the one thing that hits hard is that he refused a Covid vaccine. He said that Covid was a hoax. It isn’t real. He refused the vaccine, masks, social distancing. Didn’t do all the things that he could have to prevent Covid. He got Covid and now he is dead. Granted, not getting vaccinated was his choice. He had a right to decide what was “best” for himself, but he didn’t think about how his actions of not getting a vaccine would affect others around him, short or long term. The consequences of spreading the virus to others who were vulnerable, those who had preexisting conditions. The emotional hurt, frustration or pain of others. We had to break the news to my grandmother in the nursing home and that was one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever seen. There is a chance that maybe, just maybe, had he gotten the vaccine, wore the masks, and realized that this isn’t some joke, he may have bought himself a little more time and would have died peacefully in his sleep later down the road instead of being hooked up to countless machines in a medically induced coma completely void of the environment around him.

I believe in science. I believe in medicine. I believe that vaccines work. I mean how else would small pox have been eradicated? I believe that the Covid vaccines are the best way to stop severe illness from happening and protecting those more vulnerable. I implore anyone who has not gotten the vaccine, please do not let your ego, pride, or the endless misinformation stop you from getting one.

The second iceberg is this; I was inside the nursing home yesterday, in the wing my grandmother is in. It was 10am and she was supposed to have breakfast at 8, so her food was 2 hours late. She filled out her meal card for breakfast which included toast with jam, bacon and a fruit cup. She got plain toast (no butter) and a small glass of juice and that was it. Her water cup was empty, no one had filled it as of noon when we left. There was only one CNA that I saw in her wing the whole time and one dietary aide. That’s it. One CNA for about 24 residents. How in the world is that legal? And they think these residents are getting quality care? And for the almost $10,000 a month in room and board you think that they could at least give her butter with her toast.

So with that, please make sure if you have a loved one in a nursing home, go see them. Bring them goodies and gadgets. Make sure that they have a warm blanket or something cozy. If not, think of making a donation to a home to give some of the residents a little cheer this holiday. I will continue to yell at the top of my lungs until someone at the state level listens to what I am telling them about the care in the nursing homes, but in the meantime, I might try to spread some holiday cheer for those who need it a little more than me.

Let’s just say that we need to make better choices. Think about others more than ourselves. Bring back kindness. I know it is out there, we just have to make it happen.

Vaccine Where?

My husband is considered an essential worker. He cannot get a covid vaccine unless his employer contacts a vaccine clinic that will allow him to get vaccinated. That phone call was made 11 days ago and we have heard nothing about him getting his appointment for his vaccination.

My doctor called me on Friday for some lab results. She asked me if I wanted a Covid vaccine. I said yes. I am not an essential worker and I have no health issues. (Mind you as of April 5th, Michigan was open to all people 16 and over to get vaccines.). I have an appointment this week. Monday I called the office to see if I could get my husband an appointment and they said no. That unless he has medical issues he cant have one. So I questioned the receptionist and asked her how come I was able to get one. She says I was lucky.

Here is what it coming down to. Michigan opened it up to all people over 16 to get a vaccine if they wanted one. The issue is they are not allowing those people to get them, only in designated clinics. So, one clinic will allow anyone to have a vaccine and the one 2 blocks down the road will not. So explain to my why we bothered opening the vaccines up to all people if it will be weeks or months before they will be allowed to get them because we are still vaccinating those who are more vulnerable? Just keep the vaccine eligibility closed until you can actually vaccinate those people. Because all it does is piss a bunch of people off.

As of this morning it seems as though all but three places in our area locally are vaccinating people over 16 with no medical conditions. The wait lists for these clinics are huge. And last week my county declared a state of emergency for covid cases. So, where are all the vaccines?? I’m going to stay hopeful that we will get a call for him sooner rather than later, and this applies for many of my family members as well. I also hope that others that are looking for vaccines also have good luck at getting their speedily without a hitch. We have got to get this pandemic under control, asap.

Is That How We Treat Our Elderly?

My grandmother is 85. She has her mind. On some days her body is failing her. Sometimes it works. She has been in and out of the hospital and 3 different nursing homes in the last 6 months all related to complications of medical issues that generally come with older age.

It’s been hard though. With the pandemic and the savagery that has torn through nursing homes, it hasn’t been easy to get in to see her. You can only call or peer through a window. It’s not just the same. She is vaccinated and for that I am happy.

The problem that has come up, something that I have never truly realized, is that nursing homes have gone somewhat rogue since they went into lockdown. It seems as though they are not following the rules and laws as they should, making sure that the residents are properly cared for. That they are treated with kindness and respected as individuals. Because families are not able to go in and visit, these nursing homes are getting way with things they shouldn’t.

I have talked with directors of nursing, charge nurses, and administrators to know avail. I have also been completely ignored. It’s been impossible at times to talk with my grandmother. The staff doesn’t communicate about her care. They don’t even read her chart to find out what she needs for medical or diet.

There has also been the awful side of it. Things I would rather not type. If any of you have dealt with nursing homes, you understand the ugly side. Bottom line is I got tired of no one listening. So I started speaking up. I’m tired of being quiet. I have been emailing senators. I have been putting things on social media. It’s disgusting how our elderly are treated.

Our elderly population regardless of their physical or mental condition should be treated with respect, kindness and compassion at the time of need whether in nursing homes, assisted living or in-home care. They have the right to be taken care of properly in a medical aspect, given hot, nutritious meals and allowed proper personal hygiene. Some of the facilities are asking for $5,000 a month and they give a wedge of cabbage for dinner. Or give you cold pancakes for breakfast. Sometimes they say mean, cruel or rude things to the elderly. They don’t give them water. The don’t toilet them in a proper and timely matter. They won’t give you pain management and they wont let you call your family for days on end. Is this really how we treat our elderly?

Most elderly that I know have worked and paid taxes. They have raised a family and paid their dues to the community. They have been law abiding citizen doing their due diligence in voting and stopping for school buses. And this is how we treat them. When they are tired and frail. When they feel hopeless and insecure. When they feel lonely and scared. This is how we treat them.

Nursing homes all over the country, not just in my home of Michigan, need to be more accountable. They need to work harder. States need to have agencies do more surprise check ins. They need to look at how residents are treated and have those conversations. Laws need to change about elder care. The elderly need to be given a list of their rights and ask questions if they don’t understand without fear of disapproval or dismissal from the staff. The list goes on and on. Something needs to be done. Our elder communities deserve better. They deserve more. A. Lot. More.

What Would You Do??

What would you do? There is a woman named Mary. Mary was physically assaulted by another woman named Jane. Mary pressed charges on Jane but Jane got a slap on the hand and cited with a misdemeanor. Mary has found out that Jane is an elementary teacher that is set to teach her child in the next school year. Mary does not want contact with Jane and does not want her child having contact with Jane. The issue was brought up to the school, principals and superintendent. They are refusing to do anything or help with the situation initially saying the assault was made up until a police report was brought forth. They are supporting Jane and saying she has gone through a lot but has made changes in her life. They said the only thing they can do is maybe stick Mary’s child in the office with the sick kids during the time she would be in Jane’s class. Make Mary’s child do computer work for an hour. Otherwise she HAS to be in Jane’s class because there is no where else for Mary’s child to go in a school of +500. So, should Mary fight for her child to attend her home school or find another school to go to? What should Mary do?

The Virtual Tidal Wave

This is the school year of all school years.  I am exhausted and we have not even started school.  Well we have but not really.  Confused?  Me too.

Our school district in Michigan had us set to begin on August 25th.  The district plans were to allow students and parents to decide if they wanted virtual school or F2F.  My family chose virtual as I am a certified teacher and have actually taught in the school district that my daughter attends.  We did not start school on the 25th because we didn’t have computers or teachers.  Now, as of today, we have a teacher (thankfully it is the same teacher that she had last year so the relationship is already there) and a computer, but we still have no classwork.

Apparently, the program that we are supposed to be using has become so overloaded that it is slow and is taking more time to import all of the student data in it to begin.  We were supposed to have logins for our classes today, which now they say will be Friday, and I think it will be next Tuesday.

I was also surprised to find out that our district has 41% of students doing virtual classes and some nearby districts, it is only 14%.  I wonder why there is such a large discrepancy?

I am not in a panic for my daughter to start because there are things that we can do at home or outside to bring the learning to her.  We work on telling time and reading.  We talk about plants and how they grow.  We do a little math while baking something.  There are always things that can be done that can allow the connections and build the knowledge.

All of this has been a huge learning curve.  Not only for teachers but for parents, grandparents, kids, bus drivers and more.  There are things that I am pleased about and some things not so much.  But this is the first time that virtual learning on such a massive scale has ever happened.

I wonder what it would look like if this was happening and there was no internet to do virtual school.  How would learning be handled?  What would be happening in the schools?  How would parents handle it?

Hmmm…

Well, Aren’t We Entitled

I was scrolling through the news, and I know it is something that I shouldn’t be doing but, ya know, you have to stay informed.  I came across an article on CNN explaining how there was a school in Indiana where parents KNOWINGLY sent their child to school with a pending Covid-19 test.  And guess what?  It came back positive!!!

I prayed a lot, talked to myself, wrote in my journal…you name it, I did it to figure out what to do with my daughter for this school year.  She loves her school, her teachers and her friends.  I am well acquainted with the school because I had taught in the district in the past.  I wanted her to go back to school. But I was extremely hesitant to say the least.

Our district released a plan that is offering face-to-face (F2F) school and virtual.  I have decided to take the virtual option.

Now here is the thing.

There are all different kinds of families with all different circumstances.  And they will have to choose the option that is best suited for them.  You do you. I get it.

What I am not okay with is this exorbitant level of entitlement.  It makes me gag quite frankly.

What in the name of _____ would make you think (as a parent) that it would be a good idea to send the kid to school with a pending Covid test?  Your entitlement?  Your need for wanting your individualism more than what is good for the whole?  Your a psycho?

This goes back to why I cannot send my daughter to school in good conscience.  I have no control over what other parents do.

Parents send kids to school sick all the time.  What is going to make this pandemic situation any different?  Just a roll of the dice on whether that cough Bobby has had for a week is Covid or a regular cold?  Just to see what happens.  Nah.

But this time its different.  Sending a child to school ill this time around could be potentially lethal not only for the peers but for those who staff the school.  If a teacher gets Covid, how is he/she going to get a sub?  Subs are hard to come by as it is.

I cannot send my daughter to school knowing that she could carry this illness to others.  I cannot send her knowing that there are parents out there that wont keep their sick kids home.  I cannot send my daughter because the school may get lax in their sanitation protocols and the cleanliness wont be effective in preventing the spread.  Kids wont keep masks on.  Kids will be too distracted.  Teachers will be overwhelmed.  Social distancing wont be maintained.

I cannot control what others do.  But I can control what goes on in my home.  Because I am looking out for the good of the whole.  Not just my family but other families, teachers and students.  I am making my choice for others too.  Because it seems to be the best thing to do.

Whatever you choose to do as a family, however your kids go back to school, make sure that you as a parent have a plan.  Have a plan how to handle illness, extra curricular activities, play dates (if you allow it).  Because of all these decision have an impact on the whole, not just you. And if we ever plan to get the heck out of this, we need to start looking at it as a whole and not just you vs me.

 

 

 

 

To School or Not?

The last eight weeks in quarantine have been magical and disastrous all at the same time.  It has been really hard.  The emotions are high and all over the place.  There are so many options and none at all.  There has been all the time in the world and not enough.  So many dishes to do and the never ending laundry.  As well as the end of school and the beginning of virtual classes.

I think for parents, working or not, the dismissal of school was a difficult thing to deal with.  No one had ever been through this type of thing before.  A pandemic, what is that?  Everyone to do virtual learning?  Pssshhhhhh…

My daughter took it pretty hard when she realized that she couldn’t go back to school.  Initially she thought of it similar to Christmas break.  But then the governor came on the media and said that she was closing the schools for the remainder of the year.  That is heart breaking to a child who is so attached to the routine and her teachers, all of her wonderful friends.  Her school district has been amazing about making the transition to online teaching, with Zoom meetings and activities that the students can do at home.  They have worked around the technology and the internet issues along with making sure that kids still have access to meals.  They really have done an excellent job under the circumstances.  I applaud them.

My question is what now?

We all know that schools are giant germ factories.  Between the colds, stomach bugs, flu, hand foot and mouth, head lice, (the list keeps going) it is a nightmare trying to get families through those months where kids spend more time inside transferring germs than they do outside playing.  It seems like as soon as a kid gets over one illness, they are getting something else.  And the poor teachers getting sick right along with them.  I always feel the struggle more because my daughter has virus induced asthma.  She gets sick, her asthma can run wild.  Not cool.  I also know littles that have juvenile diabetes, heart issues, or just super weak immune systems.  These sick months the kids encounter are extra hard for them and can lead to devastating consequences if the illness gets out of control.

Here is my problem…do I allow my daughter to go back to school if it reopens or keep her home and home school her?  I have asked teachers that I know along with my daughter’s teacher what they have heard about next year.  I get conflicting stories; some say there will be regular school (no changes) then others say that there may be a hybrid model where only half the kids go at a time and there are virtual classes for the others.

I think that if the school has any common sense, they will have a plan in place as soon as possible knowing that if there is a change to the schedule, parents need to make accommodations.  But that is not the only issue.  These are the smoking guns for me:

1-the cleaning of the school

2-parents that give no shits and send their kids to school sick anyway

1-The cleaning of the school is huge for me because I know they do not clean it very well.  How do I know this?  I worked there.  Yes, I worked in this school district for a few years and the same custodial staff that was there then is there now, and most of them do not clean well at all.  The custodial staff only tidy up common areas; they don’t sanitize anything except lunch tables and bathrooms.  But most times the bathrooms will be out of TP and hand soap so I don’t know what help that is.  Also, they do not clean/sanitize tables, chairs, or desks in the classrooms themselves, the teachers have to do that on their own.  Like they don’t have enough on their plate as it is.  I have never seen any of them clean a door knob or drawer handle.  I just don’t think with the limited staff they have they will not be able to adequately SANITIZE all the things necessary.

Also, just a little tid bit to this, my daughter is not allowed to wash her hands at the necessary times.  The only time she can wash her hands is if she uses the bathroom, well if there is soap. They do not allow her to wash her hands before she eats (breakfast and lunch), after she eats, or after recess.  She is only allowed hand sanitizer.  Now I know hand sanitizer is helpful in those situations when you are in a bind and don’t have access to wash your hands, but guess what, they have those things at school.  She should be able to wash her little fingers before she eats. Aaannnnddd, I have worked with my daughter for years on washing hands and how to properly do it.  She knows what to do and does it well, so I would like her to use soap and water. Ya feel me?

2-I have watched this time and time again where parents send their kids to school sick just to be called by the office 30 minutes later telling the parent to come get their kids.  Or a parent that was told to come get their sick child from school and they don’t show up for 2 hours.  Um, no.  Sorry.  School is not your babysitter, no matter how much you think it is.  School is not your daycare provider.  If your kid is sick and is contagious, they need to stay home.  Most schools, especially elementary schools have sick policies that parents should follow.  Now do some parents let their kids go to school sick and have no clue, sure.  It happens.  But as an educator, I have watched so many people send kids to school with them coughing all over the place and snot running down their face only to get multiple other kids (and families) sick.  Not cool.  So I am sure a kid that has COVID-19 symptoms will just be sent to school to give it to other kids because their parents found it to inconvenient to keep them home.

I so badly want my daughter to have her school experiences and see her friends, but I want it done SMART.  I want the school to follow through, and I don’t have enough faith in them that rules will be followed and proper sanitation will take place.  I want parents to be responsible and accountable for making sure that they are also following policies and procedures keeping their children home when sick.  Unfortunately, I just don’t know in a building with hundreds of kids, this is even possible.

I think that it comes down to every family doing what works best for them.  Whether it is regular school or switching to all online classes or home-school, you have to do what is right. You do you.  You have to have true peace of mind that you are making the right choice.  No parent should feel bad for making that choice when they feel it was the best.  And I am ok with their choice and respect that.  I just hope that they will respect mine.

Food

Sometimes it is really hard for me to find food that I can eat. I have been following a completely gluten free diet for more than 2 years now and strictly limit how I consume dairy and eggs. For health reasons that are beyond my understanding, I avoid these foods because the havoc that happens to my body after eating these items are horrible. With that being said, it can be rather difficult to find food that I like and that tastes great.

Now I have my staples that I eat that get me through, but sometimes I long for food of my past. Like doughnuts. Or cinnamon rolls. It can be challenging. So there are times where I go to the best place-Pinterest. Sometimes I need to find something new to eat and it is my go to. Now, I am sure many of you hop on there, find something you like and make it only to find that the recipe was completely messed up. Been there. Too many times. So I thought that I would periodically share some of my fav recipes from Pinterest that are legit and work well. Along with sharing any modifications to them.

Original link: https://pin.it/sqlvisxfk46jjw

I came across this recipe a while ago from kirbiecravings.com and it is so amazing. I have a hard time finding gluten free cookie recipes that don’t call for a bazillion eggs. This recipe only calls for one egg. I can handle that as long as I don’t eat the whole batch. And they are naturally gluten free since there is no flour in them and they take care of a sweet tooth. Now my husband likes to bake more than I do, so I let him try these out and they are amazing. He made them once with almond butter and once with peanut butter; both were very good. But I did find that peanut butter was a bit too sweet. And you could use any butter you wanted to and they would be great. We also did notice that the description for the size of the cookies yielded huge cookies so the second time around we made them smaller. They were just the right size.

Ingredients to make the cookies are:

1 egg

1 cup almond butter (or what ever you like)

1tsp baking soda

1 cup coconut sugar

3/4 cup chocolate chips

*mix cookie dough thoroughly

Preheat oven to 350. Please remember ovens will cook differently based on elevation where you live. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1 tablespoon sized balls of dough on the lined baking sheet. Place cookies in oven and cook for 18-20 minutes. The recipe says to cook for 10 minutes but the cookies where no where done at that time. We also noticed that when the cookies were just done, they started to collapse a bit in the oven. Take them out. These cookies can be a little over done because they will have more chew to them the next day. Also it is so so so important to leave them on the baking sheet to completely cool to room temperature.

These cookies are easy and so tasty. Next time that sweet tooth strikes, give these a try.