Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Friday, October 31, 2008

Everyone isn't following politics?

Everyone doesn't follow politics. That was the cold hard reality that I had to face tonight. I dressed my husband up for trick or treating as "Joe the Plumber". Then I proudly introduced him at each of the houses. And to my dismay and horror... only two people got the joke. DOH!!!



James Dobson, of Focus on the Family, is a hugely influential Christian leader. His opinions are embarrassingly judgmental though. His political letters to his followers are extremely fear-based. (And I've also come to disagree with his discipline advice too). This blog does a great job of addressing one of Dobson's recent, outrageous letters.

This part in particular resounded with me:

"You make a mistake when you assume that younger Christians don’t care as much as you about the sanctity of life. They do care—very much—but they have a more consistent ethic of life. Both broader and deeper, it is inclusive of abortion, but also of the many other assaults on human life and dignity. For the new generation, poverty, hunger, and disease are also life issues; creation care is a life issue; genocide, torture, the death penalty, and human rights are life issues; war is a life issue. What happens to poor children after they are born is also a life issue."

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

We went to a political rally yesterday

Yesterday I brought Brandon to a Democratic rally in New Hampshire. It was a small affair for supporters, to get us psyched up about volunteering in the last week. It was free, but by ticket only. Yeah I'm special like that. (OK. really I'm on their email list and I just jumped on the opportunity). Brandon and I have committed to walking door to door in NH to remind supporters to vote.

The keynote speaker was Hillary Clinton. When she walked in the room it was electrifying. I got goosebumps. Isn't it funny what a 180 I've done? Growing up a dittohead, in the conservative camp, where Hillary was (is) vilified as a scary, evil woman. What was her crime? Her crime was sticking her nose into politics while in the unelected position of First Lady. She headed up the healthcare reform proposal. Oh, how my life would be so much better if she had achieved her goal of Universal Healthcare. How many of my friends and patients would not be going without medicine right now if that legislation had passed. But here we are still fighting for it. And I will continue to fight for universal healthcare until it becomes law.

The rally was in half of a high school gym, curtained off, transforming it to a more formal atmosphere. The rally opened with scripture and prayer which I thought was cool. Then the pledge of allegence. Then some motivating speeches about getting out the vote. I was pumped up. If you know me IRL you know how exuberant I can be. Political rallys are exactly my kind of thing. I can hoot and holler all I want. Between speakers they played upbeat music like "It's a beautiful day" and "Aint no stopping us now". I danced in place with Saphira.

I was standing in the back (still only twenty feet from the stage!). Saphira was antsy so I attmepted to breastfeed her and a mother with a young girl asked me if she could help me find a seat, because she wanted me to be comfortable breastfeeding. I was really touched by her show of support, but I declined. Saphira wasn't interested anyway. By the end of the rally, during Hillary Clinton's speech, Saphira had me in the back of the gym, playing with the water fountain. Sigh. The things we mothers do for our kids.

Jean Shaheen is running for Senate. She was onstage with Hillary. We are pumped about taking the majority in Congress too. I was struck, however, at the distinct difference in the stage presence between Jean Shaheen and Hillary Clinton. I guess there really is a certain je ne sais quois that successful politicians have.

Hillary gave an invigerating speech. She pointed out that when Bill Clinton left office the budget was balanced and we had a surpluss. This is a huge issue for me. Economic sensibility is supposed to be a Republican virtue!! But the facts are they are more irresponsible with budgeting than Democrats!! They left me no choice but to leave the party!! (I found this quote online that sums it up for me: "not only have the Republicans played the religious right for suckers, they’ve also played the fiscal conservatives too.") One thing that Hillary said that meant a lot to me was she apologized to the young people for the mess we've been given. And even though, in my opinion, she did everything to prevent this mess, I appreciated that someone recognized what an economic mess my generation has been given. But, like, every generation before us, we take what we're given and we fight the good fight.

And I pass the torch to my son, who has been following me to all these political events, soaking up my knowledge and effervescence, and who will one day form his own political opinion, cast his own vote, and maybe even run for office himself.


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Give us this day our daily bread

The days before payday (biweekly) we often live on faith alone. It has given me an opportunity to live out my beliefs in a real way. I get to pray "give us this day our daily bread" and really mean it. I get to see God provide in miraculous ways. To wake up and think: "OK we have three days til payday and no money and no food" and then see how God provides this and that and three days later we've all eaten and we haven't run out of gas -it's faith building. I have two favorite incidents. Last week, we had one more day left before payday. It was the middle of the night and Brandon and I were cleaning the house. I emptied an old box of food someone had given us and there on the bottom was a little envelope with ten dollars in it! The timing of it couldn't have been more perfect. We rejoiced. And since we had already come up with food for ourselves, we wrote a little note for his Dad to take it to work with him so he could buy himself a good lunch for once. Timmy was moved. My other favorite incident was when we spent our last dollar on a bucket of KFC chicken for dinner and -I didn't see it with my own eyes, but Timmy and one of our kids swears that the bucket was empty and then one more piece miraculously appeared. God is good.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Skip the Rotavirus vaccine!!!

My first three babies never got as sick as Saphira did after her shots. She got a really high fever. And when I talked to my other friends with new babies they all reported high fevers after shots too! One even went to the emergency room and her baby went into seizures!! :( Out of curiosity, I looked back at the 2004 immunization list to see what the difference is. It was Rotavirus (which, if you remember, was briefly offered between Brandon and Wolfie and then was pulled off the market because it caused bowel intussusception.) This recipe seems like it could stand to be pulled from the market and fine tuned also.

Yesterday was Saphira's six month shots and I passed on the Rotavirus (and flu). Guess what? No fever. So I am fairly certain that the rotavirus vaccine is causing all of these high fevers. Brain frying is an unacceptable risk/outcome of this vaccine in my opinion. My son, Brandon, had the deadly strain of Rotavirus. I KNOW what the risks of it are. He caught if from a girl who became so dehydrated she was hospitalized. The only reason he wasn't also, was that he breastfed for comfort so he had a continuous source of hydration. It was horrible. But it was managable. And I would rather risk that than guarantee my baby a severely high fever.

Ironically, I am the biggest vaccine defender amongst my online friends. The anti-vaccine crowd is pretty serious now days and I regularly take them on in debates. But for this shot-they're right. Don't sign for it! Don't give it to your baby!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Local man charged with animal cruelty

A local man caught a squirrel, bashed it against a tree to kill it and then cooked it with a blow torch to eat it. He never got to enjoy his meal though because a neighbor called the police and he was arrested for animal cruelty. I'm mostly annoyed, and slightly furious that he was arrested for this. Has our society become so removed from the process of food production that we don't see that this is no different than how we get our double cheeseburgers? I am inclined to find out when his court date is and show up in support of him.

The local response on the online newspaper is mostly hateful. Prejudiced people are using this as an opportunity to bash immigrants. However, the two (non-local) blogs that picked up on this story had a more favorable response to the man. Here are some of my favorite quotes.

"His real crime was in not spreading the wealth around. That squirrel could have fed 2, maybe 3 people, easy."

"The slippery slope towards Switzerland where it is now illegal to besmirch the dignity of a plant."

"Next thing you know, people will be prosecuted for using rat traps, even if they don’t eat what they catch.

"Squirrels are actually legal game in Massachusetts to licensed hunters. Squirrel season opens Saturday."

"I'm still trying to deal with the idea of a "squirrel season".

"Chasing small animals is supposed to be good training for football fumble recovery."

"Furthermore the squirrel expects to be eaten. That's why he's running away."

"I would be a little worried about eating a squirrel that I could catch by hand. That is a sick squirrel."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

How I would do standardized testing

It has come to my attention, while homeschooling Brandon, that he does not know some basic math skills. Like multiplying and dividing large numbers. This is not a dumb kid. And his 3rd and 4th grade teacher was very good. And the curriculum wasn't horrible. And there are strict standardized testing implemented in our state (MCAS) that is supposed to monitor everyone's progress. So... So... what the hell went wrong?!

Well, I have an opinion on the standardized testing that could solve this problem. Right now it's a HUGE LONG test, that takes days on end, even weeks, to take. It covers a huge range of topics and concepts. There are two major flaws with this method of testing. First, the broad spectrum of subjects is so huge, the teacher's end up spending the entire year "teaching to the test" and never delving into what interests them or where their expertise lie. What a waste of their talents!

And second of all, in the case of student's like my son, missing basic skills are never identified!! So, while we might find out that he is "not proficient" in math- we never exactly find out what he can't do (though it does show what kind of math problem he gets wrong-like geometry). In my proposed solution the MCAS is pared down to about a half an hour per grade level. The teacher's know exactly what is on the test. A sixth grade test will look like this:

1 question multiplying three digit numbers
1 question dividing four digit numbers
1 question asking the child to find a percentage of a three digit number.
1 spelling word from this list of thirty...
1 sentence in which the child must write the proper form of "there, their, they're"
1 sentence in which the child must use quotation marks in their proper form
1 paragraph essay on a surprise topic with only two grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes allowed.

And it is pass/fail. You have to pass every question to pass the test. They can retake it numerous times, but the school gets penalized for every attempt. This way, no student is ever lacking in a basic skill. If they don't know the difference between "there" and "their" they will get question five wrong and they can get tutored on that subject until they understand the difference.

No, it will not produce well rounded, intelligent, amazing, inspired students. That is the job of the teacher! But it will make sure that "no child gets left behind", which IS the point of the test!!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Urban farming

In Milwaukee Wisconsin there is a hugely successful urban farm. It's very inspiring to me because it's in the heart of the city. It's creator, Will Allen, a former NFL player, is surely a genius. In fact, he is only the second farmer to ever win the $500,000 MacArthur Fellows Grant. And with that grant he is going to turn the farm into a five story energy independent farm. This is the stuff of the future!! Feeding enormous amounts of people on small acerage. Sustainable living in the city. He uses compost and worms and fishes and all the latest research to produce high quality produce. I would love to participate in the intensive internship available to those wanting to start a similar project in other cities. Will Allen is my hero.


Documenting more of my brilliant child

Yes, another obnoxious proud parent blog posting... (feel free to skip this)

OK. My Saphira. She is SO SMART!!!!

Yesterday we were at a relative's house and a viscous dog was barking outside as the kids were heading out. I grabbed my three year old neice and pulled her inside real quick because I couldn't tell if the dog was loose or not. I had Saphira in my other arm. Later that night it was hot inside so I took her to the porch to breastfeed. In the background that same dog barked. Normally my baby is able to follow my cues. If I'm not scared, she won't be scared. But this time she wouldn't accept my reassurance. She looked around alarmingly until I brought her in. I was amazed and thought that this was surely advanced behavior for her age.

So I googled it and sure enough I found the following milestones listed under 10-12 months:
"Able to interpret the emotional expression of familiar adults"
and fear is listed as a newly learned emotion.

Saphira is only six months though. (Proud pause) Yes. My daughter has a high EQ. I guess that shouldn't surprise me though, since that is a stregnth of both her father and I.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

The latest in nursing school

We're learning how to interpret ECG's in school and today it all started to click for me and I'm loving it!!

"That squiggly line means A-fib and the patient needs coumadin and a cardioversion.
That squiggly line means a first degree heart block with no treatment necessary."

And as graduation nears I'm starting to give thought to my first nursing job and right now I'm leaning towards ER nurse. I love the thought of all the excitement and actually saving people's lives. I want to work in a major medical center, not a dinky local hospital that med flights off all the interesting patients. I'm thinking of applying in January as a tech. so that I can get experience before all the responsibility of the RN license. If I do end up pursuing that it will be an adorable "happily ever after" movie moment that day I walk in as an ER nurse because I spent about ten years of my life adoringly watching ER every Thursday (even making it a point to turn it on after giving birth to Brandon and Wolfie).


Wednesday, October 08, 2008


The number of homeless families in Massachusetts has skyrocketed because of this economy. You can officially count us as one of them now too. We went to the Dept. of Transitional Assistance and got placed last week. It costs about $500 a month to heat a home this winter. That's just more than your average lower class family can afford. We're happy here in our little motel room. It has a nice back yard and a big window. Everyone here compliments me on how well behaved my kids are, but mostly they're probably noticing Brandon. He's become a very polite, decent young man in the recent months. (I credit the time we spend together in homeschool). I cook and do laundry at relatives' houses. And I drive Wolfie to school and still go to nursing school myself, so my life is still pretty normal. Timmy is still working. We're saving for a mini-van and our own place (because right now the whole family doesn't fit in our car *legally*). I am slightly obsessed with the economy at the moment. I guess it was the perfect storm: reading that book (Maxed Out), our own family being unable to sustain itself, then the bailout and subsequent stock market drop. I watch economy discussions on CNN constantly. And there is this thing called "Gold Parties", which is like a tupperware party of the 21st century. I totally want to save up for the kit and start doing them. But instead of selling the gold back to the bank I'll hoard it for that upcoming Great Depression Numero Dos.

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