Trying to raise my kids the best I can

Sunday, February 28, 2010

My brother's wedding!

My lil bro, Dave, got married yesterday, to Jackie. I'm so happy for them. I love her.

It was a big event. The stress of it all sent me into a swift bipolar cycle. Manic the first half of the day, depressed the second half of the day. It's fascinating to observe it, from a neutral standpoint. Actually, it helps me a lot, to know, logically, that these emotions aren't driven from the circumstances- as it feels- but rather- from my brain chemistry. All morning, I ran around the house like a mad woman, getting everyone ready. There was so much to do. During the depressive phase I cried twice. Once, when Jackie was walking down the isle and I was so touched that even though her father isn't alive, her brother was walking her down the isle. And the second time was at the reception out of frustration as I was pretty much set up to fail as a DJ. The background on this is that I've got years of experience DJing bar mitzvahs. My Dad got this awesome ipod professional mixer and I picked about 300 songs for me to play from. And my brother wanted us to play about 80 of his favorites. So it was supposed to be all set. But the second ipod didn't have my songs programmed on it!!!! I don't know if it was somehow overlooked in all the pre-wedding madness or if I was intentionally sabotaged because my brother only wanted me to play "his songs". I don't even want to know. But the result was that I couldn't play anyone's requests. I couldn't even play anything appropriate, which meant I looked like an idiot DJ. The second ipod had the most random stuff on it but when you DJ you need to go back and forth so I was pulling my hair out trying to find something appropriate to go to every other song. And there was no headset, which means you're basically going into it blindfolded. You can't tell how the beats are going to mix. And that's if you're lucky and know what the song sounds like. I didn't know how to cue the songs or light up the screen to see the song countdown- that part I'll take the blame for- I should have familiarized myself with the equipment. It was a nightmare. I finally broke down and walked away and just let my husband take over.

The rest of the wedding was nice though. My (other) sister in law- Jen made the wedding cake and oh my gosh, you would never know it wasn't professional. It was absolutely amazing.

I bought two edible arrangements, which is my guilty pleasure. I absolutely love those things but they are soooo expensive. My brother's wedding was a great excuse to splurge on them. They went incredibly fast. I didn't even get a chance to really admire them. When I looked up they were picked over. But I'm really happy they were enjoyed. That made it worth it.

The day before the wedding I was picking out a new pair of shoes. As I perused the isles, I, of course, thought of my philosophy that high heels are a form of oppression on women and I debated whether it would be hypocritical of me to get a (short) high heel because I did want to look very pretty. And I tried it on and decided that as long as it was decently comfortable, it would not compromise my morals much.

Weeelll, what I didn't realize was that a seven second walk on carpeting does NOT even REMOTELY equivocate seven hours of walking on hardwood floor. My feet were killing me. I have blisters on my toes. The balls of my feet hurt. And I couldn't walk any faster than a snails pace. It was awful! My impassioned belief in the evils of high heels have been renewed and as I drifted off to sleep last night and woke this morning I was designing in my head comfortable beautiful shoes for women. It can't be that hard to come up with!!!!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review

I just read another great book Called "Scared Silent: When the one you love becomes the one you fear" by Mildred Muhammad. This is the story of the wife of the DC sniper. Remember him? Did you know that whole attack was domestic violence motivated? He was going to kill his wife and then get away with it because it would be blamed on the mysterious sniper. This is a great book in describing how a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence. I also feel like I got to know Mildred well, as a human being. I have a lot of sympathy for her and I feel like we would make good friends. If she lived near me I would hang out with her.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If I were a 7th grade health teacher

I'll have a bachelors degree by this December. All I'd need after that is to pass the teacher's exam and I could teach here in Massachusetts. Sometimes I fantasize about teaching 7th grade health class. I have it all mapped out what I'd do...
On the first day I'd give this inspiring speech that would include the lines:

"If I inspire one of you to become a health professional when you grow up, I will have done my job.
If I inspire one of you to breastfeed your child (or support your partner in doing so) than I will have done my job.
If I teach just one of you the memorization techniques to help you succeed in school, than I will have done my job
If I have inspired one of you to read non-fiction books on a regular basis, than I will have done my job".

I would also say that there is no reason that everyone can't get an A in my class. There is nothing I won't test them on that I won't first teach thoroughly. And there will be very little homework- just one or two projects throughout the year.

For discipline I would give them two warnings and then a detention. And be very consistent.

For classroom set up I'd position the desks in a circle to be conducive to discussion. Sometimes I'd change it up just to keep it interesting: a standard grid. Squares of four all facing each other.

Posters on the wall with informative messages about subjects like getting tested for the sickle sell anemia carrier trait (unless I'm in a white-suburb school), and the benefits of breastfeeding, etc.

Every Monday we would learn a new list of vocabulary. We'd spend the whole class coming up with associations for every word so that everyone learns how to memorize and everyone walks out of class prepared for the quiz on Friday. We'll learn things like the names of all the bones and muscles in the body.

Every Wednesday will be a free reading day. You walk in silently and pick up your book and begin reading to yourself. I'll have a sign in sheet where you write what book you're reading and what page you are on. Maybe I'll have bean bags set up for that day. I'll have a huge collection of interesting books related to health and body for them to choose from. See list at bottom.
On these reading days I will take aside five or six students- one at a time and talk to them about their life just to get to know them better, no ulterior motive. I thought, for their privacy, and so we don't disturb the reading students, we could sit side by side on the computer and IM each other. They could practice their writing and typing skills that way too. Plus, maybe for shy kids it would be a good way to coax them out of their shell.

Friday we'll have a quiz on the vocabulary we learned on Monday. One of the quizes I am most excited about is "name that microbe" in which I buy all these little stuffed animals in the shape of cells and you have to name them. How cute is that?! There would, of course, be midterm and final exam recaps of all the vocabulary words.

Once a week we'd discuss health stories in the news. STD rates or gay right legislation or a new medical breakthrough or the ethics of cloning- whatever comes up.

If there is a texbookt that is well written that I'd like to cover I would photocopy it for the kids, read it aloud in class and have them highlight the important stuff. Then they'll each read one highlighted section aloud to the class and there would be a quiz on it the next day. Then all papers would be turned in for my "scrap paper" pile. Teaching recycling too.

Another skill that I think is uber important and undertaught is the ability to cook nutritious, dirt-cheap meals. So, in my class, each day, one student will cook a small pot of rice (on a plugged in, single burner) and beans. And then it will be available for anyone to eat during class.

Some of the many, many books I'd have on my bookshelves for their free choice reading Wednesdays:

Product Image Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities with Nutrition
Last Dance
Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs

Medical Mysteries And Doctor Detectives (Spotlight Books)

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

The State of Haiti

My dear friend, Djougine, went back to her home country of Haiti to visit family, bring help, and record the wreckage. Here are some of the pictures she took.

She said this is the living conditions of most people in Port au Prince.
I thought this was beautiful. A scene of beauty and serenity in a country of so much pain and destruction.
I like how this one shows that even if you still have a house, the structural integrity is just ruined. No one is unscathed on this island.

This is the best picture of them all. These people aren't in line for a hand out. They are in line to give their tithes and offerings at church. Praise God!!

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

News Stories You Might Not Read

I'm following two important news stories that won't get much coverage.

Mass Deportation
The first is a policy in Thailand that is set to take affect February 28th which will result in the deportation of potentially thousands of Cambodians, Laos, and Myanmars. The Thai cabinet passed a resolution that would extend work permits of migrants for two years, provided they submit biographical information to their home government. On it's face, this seems somewhat reasonable, but the result- a mass deportation of impoverished people, back to unstable countries- is inhumane and will cause uncountable hardships. I will be watching this. It's the sort of situation that makes me sad that I am not yet rich, because, if this goes through, there will need to be some serious safety nets in place to prevent considerable human suffering.

Faked Research
As a medical scientist, this absolutely infuriates me. This dude fabricated research in some or all of the 21 articles published since 1996. Pfizer is behind this. Which doesn't surprise me. If you recall, I made a list of the four most evil corporations back in October of last year and Pfizer was number 2. This guy could get ten years in jail for this. A part of me thinks that isn't nearly enough. But another part of me thinks that I am displacing my anger against the whole industry onto this one man. The way the pharmaceutical industry is influencing healthcare in this country (world?) is immoral. It is the same problem as corporation influence in politics. I'm not sure which is worse. (Maybe it is equal).

In a related story
, the Lancet withdrew the research paper that started the whole autism/vaccine link controversy.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Immigrants: the final frontier of prejudice

I am passionate about having mercy on immigrants. It always seemed quite strange to me that Christians can be so cruel and prideful about immigrant policies. They even use the same lines to justify their xenophobia that they do to justify their homophobia. "I have nothing against immigrants. I have immigrant friends. I love them as a person. I just want them to follow the rule of law". Bull shit. The rule of law is unmerciful. I am not claiming to know the "perfect policy" in regards to balancing the needs of current citizens and the desperate needs of immigrants. Certainly, I don't expect my society to conform to Christian standards. But I myself, DO conform to Christian standards. And my God asks me to put my life on the line for others. And to give them my coat as well, if they ask for my shirt.

Congress is working on a bill introduced by Senator Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) - HR4321. (Can't forget that number!) You can read the summary here. It is fair. It makes positive changes in our immigration law. I am pleased with it. Recently, in my state, a bill was defeated that was proposed to give illegal immigrant children in-state tuition rates. But this federal law change would require it. Yeay. As well as many many other modifications. Most of them small changes- increases in numbers of green cards, that sort of thing. I love the last line that says that money should be provided to have larger swearing-in ceremonies on the Fourth of July. That's great.

I am copying a letter to the editor in the Philedelphia Daily News. It was beautifully written and I agree 100%

I'm writing to clarify the significance of what happened and to address the long-standing misconception of the immigrant community and immigration reform.

Attendees including Indonesian-, Cambodian- and Latino-Americans encouraged support of HR 4321. Testimony came from people who have been living in South Philly for more than 25 years, a pastor, owners of businesses and homes, and people who work more than one job.

Most important, all of these people have been contributing members of their South Philly communities. They all support and love their family, friends and neighbors.

The only difference is that these folks were not born here. Under current immigration legislation. . .

* A woman is facing permanent separation from her son. She has been living and managing a business in South Philly with her family for more than two decades. Her son, who came here as a refugee with his family, may be deported for an offense he served time for more than a decade ago. * A man who came to the U.S. legally hasn't seen his children or wife for years due to the backlogging of their immigration papers.

* A young and hardworking man who is providing for his family silently accepts great risks. He is vulnerable to violence due to racism and misunderstanding but cannot call the police. He knows that contact with police could lead to deportation, and then instability and poverty for his family.

Immigration reform is about far more than jobs and legalization. It is about family, humanity and giving people the validity they deserve. Jobs provide food and shelter to family and children. Legalization acknowledges the rights and the hard work of our neighbors.

HR 4321 offers family unity, not family separation due to old and outdated laws that need to be changed.

Mia-lia Kiernan, Philadelphia

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Glass Castle

This book is uh-mazing. Every page makes my eyes bug out or jaw drop or laugh out loud. The irony of this post next to the previous one is not lost on me. The extreme opposite of yesterdays rant. The stuff that would make parents now a days skin crawl. The girl's parents in this memoir are... how to describe it? Neglectful, chaotic, brilliant, and in their own demented way loving. These people are a gold mine of psychiatric diagnoses: bipolar, RAD, substance abuse, childhood trauma, hoarding, AsPD, possibly ADD; all rolled up into one. Or in this case, two. At the same time brilliant and creative- which absolutely goes hand in hand with mental illness. I love the testament to unschooling. The kids are so smart and educated with the spottiest of public school education.

The first half of the book I enjoyed the tales of craziness. But by the end I was left quite disturbed and angry. Maybe the earlier memories were cemented more romantically in the head of an innocent young girl, but as she grew up, she saw her life for what it was. Or maybe life really did just get worse. It's hard to say.

I love how she records a college classroom conversation in which she theorizes on some homeless people's motivation. The professor got indignant and asked her, rudely, how she would know. And at the time she didn't want to discuss her past, so she said "point taken". But in the end, she had the ultimate comeback. The truth is out, professor. Now who's the expert on homelessness and who's the rude judgmental professor?

No matter how it left me, I highly recommend this book. I'm going to start reading it to Brandon tonight.

Thank you, Beth, for giving me the book!

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Child Psychology on: Play

One of my pet peeves is the obsession with "child obesity" coupled with the blindness to the cause. You should see all the ads on the kids channels with the message of "get out and play". The root cause, let me tell you, is this societal obsession with protecting children. The fear of strangers. The fear of injury. (And in turn, even if you don't fear all those things, the fear of social services if you don't conform to societal norms). Children cannot play outside freely, unsupervised anymore! When I was in kindergarten I used to walk home without a grown up. Now, that isn't even an option.

I'll go even deeper into this. I know not only the cause. I also know the cause of the cause! The reason society has become so obsessed is that the population rate is in decline! Sure, the immigrants are keeping it above replacement level, but in the white suburbs- especially here in the Northeast, we are definitely below replacement level. And when that happens we become more protective of the next generation. Fewer eggs in our baskets. More to lose if something happens to them. God intended us to have about seven kids. (Given the years of fertility each woman has). When we fall away from God's plan we reap the rewards. One of which is... in a strange turn of events... child obesity.

Makes me want to move to a rural area and let my children run free. But I love the city. So that's not really an option. Right now anyway.

I found a psychology web site that is in tune with the needs and problems of this generation. It emphasizes free play and unschooling type ideas. Thumbs up to Peter Gray, the Boston College Professor for getting this right.

Two days after writing this I saw the headline that Michelle Obama has chosen childhood obesity as her pet project. I'm actually quite happy about that. It's not the topic that makes me role my eyes, it's the ineffective methods of fighting it. I like her goals though:
  • improved school nutrition
  • better labeling of high-calorie foods and drinks
  • support for farmers’ markets
  • a coordinated education campaign to help moms and dads instill good eating habits
More power to her! I would love to see a massive campaign to get kids to drink water instead of milk and juice. I think that could make a huge difference. Too bad that's not on her list. That's too controversial though. The dairy industry would throw a massive fit. And WIC would have to be turned on it's head. Too much trouble. But if she wanted to make a real difference, that's what I recommend. :)

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Tuesday, February 09, 2010

What would Scooby Do?

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Thursday, February 04, 2010

mystery solved. ER rant

Eight years ago I called 911 because of severe flu like symptoms. What happened next was a nightmare because the EMT's just blew off my symptoms, really treated me like I was acting like a baby- and then because my house was a mess took my babies. (It was a mess because I was a single mom who had been sick for three days!!!!!) It was totally illegal. They were supposed to call social workers. And, by the way, the social workers immediately gave me back my kids and told me I should sue!!!

At the hospital, I was also treated with disdain, because they assumed I was some sort of neglectful mother. It was awful. I literally fought with them to give me a drug test because I wanted to prove, in case it was ever suspected, that I was NOT on drugs, I was genuinely sick.

Anyway, one of the mysteries from that visit, is that during the time that I spent alone in the little ER room, I had a spell of severe restlessness. I just couldn't get comfortable! It was awful. Much worse than it sounds. It was like a severe pain- only not actual pain, if that makes sense. I never knew what was wrong. And the nurses never checked on me so they had no idea.

In my nursing class right now (I'm working on my bachelors) we are talking about trauma and one of the symptoms of hypoxia (low oxygen to the brain) is restlessness! Mystery solved! I was hypoxic. Now why I was hypoxic is still a bit of a mystery. I could have been dehydrated. Or maybe my blood sugar dropped dangerously low. Or experiencing acidosis. I don't know. Whatever it was, my body corrected it in about a half hour. If I was dehydrated, I don't know, maybe it squeezed some water out of my urine, or something? If I was hypoglycemic, maybe my liver or muscles released some glucose. If I was acidic, my kidneys produced bicarbonate. Could it have been septic shock? I doubt my body could have overcome that in such a short period.

Very weird.

But, once again, I am pissed that the ER failed me. If the nurses were doing their job monitoring me they could have diagnosed me and treated me.

One of the other times the ER failed me was when I went to the ER with a severe breast infection and they sent me home telling me I "had the flu". grrrrrr. That was a doctor fail. Not a nurse fail.

For the record: I know it's called the "Emergency Department" but I still use the term ER because that's what the public knows it as.

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Monday, February 01, 2010

Save some money on Valentines Day

I have done you all a favor by creating Valentines Day Cards for you to print and give to your friends, thus saving you money.

Inside: The Cullens would like to invite you to a delicious red Valentines Day party. Please shower before you come.

Front: Jacob has a Valentine's Day message just for you
Inside: I love ayooooooooooh!

Front: Who got Bella the better Valentines Day present, Jacob or Edward?
Inside: Edward. He read her mind and got her what she was hoping for.

Inside: Happy Bellatines Day!

Alternative Inside: Swan to be my Valentine?

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cute story about Dimitri

The other day, Dimitri (five years old) had ten, one dollar bills saved up. I was going through my wallet and there was a ten dollar bill. He commented that he never had a ten dollar bill before. I said we could trade. He thought long and hard about it. He really struggled with the decision and then finally decided that he would make the trade. I gave him the ten and he gave me a one. And I said he had to give me all ten of his dollars. He was flabbergasted: "no way!" and called off the deal. It was so funny how he was so undecided about trading a ONE dollar bill for a ten.

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