4 Years Post #SandyHook

403600_561568960535815_1444315002_nToday is the four year anniversary since the horrific events that happened in Sandy Hook CT, a small town in the south western part of the state. A town that is home to beloved family and that we have frequented every single Christmas season since I was a child. Twenty young children, six educators, and the perpetrators own mother were killed in cold blood on this very day four years ago. Children who were just a year older than my own son at the time.

It was a huge blow to that small town. I saw the memorials just weeks after it occurred. I’ve been inside the church where many of the funeral services were held following that day. That is a town and a community that was shaken to its core and it resonated out to an entire nation. I remember exactly where I was when I heard what happened and sat and watched the events unfold. I even kept my own children home from school the next day there was school because there had been a threat made in our town after this happened and I just didn’t want to take any chances.

There are so many conspiracy theories about what occurred on that day. Every time I hear one my heart breaks for the families who are being told they are all liars. My oldest daughter started a Facebook page for one of the victims shortly after this happened because she needed a way to grieve. She didn’t know him, but just seeing his picture she felt a connection. The boy reminded her of her brother. The reality of it all was very hard for her. She doesn’t post to the page these days. However, she has me as a co-owner of the page and it does frequently get the conspiracy theorists on the page. Just a few short weeks ago I had to delete a post from someone who linked to a conspiracy site and cursed out the father of this boy.

As angry as the conspiracy theories make me, I’m equally upset with the exploitation that has been done to these families. Somehow Sandy Hook has become the poster child for gun control. If we had gun control this wouldn’t have happened. Serious question here, how so? Because it was a high powered rifle? Well, guess what? At that time in the state of CT there were gun control laws against high powered weapons. The person who owned that gun did own it legally because it was purchased prior to the laws going into affect. She did have to register the gun. The shooter was prevented from purchasing his own gun prior to the events. While yes, he got the gun he used from his own home the owner of the gun had a legal right to own those guns. There was no reason for her not to own those guns or have them in the home. There’s no law that we could ever put into effect that would have taken those guns out of HER possession without violating the constitution. As much as I would love to say those children would be here today if we had stricter gun control laws I just don’t see how.

The shooter could not legally purchase a gun. His only option was to steal it. Gun control couldn’t stop what happened four years ago, it didn’t stop what happened four years ago.

Over the summer I got to see a little more up close and personal what our mental health system is like. A family member of mine was suicidal. He ended up voluntarily checking himself into the hospital and as of right now he’s going much better than he was even with multiple things he has had to deal with. One of those things being that after being discharged from the hospital after his little over a week stay he was put out on the streets. His stay in the hospital was longer than most on that floor, but he was discharged with a lot of outpatient things which made it impossible for him to hold down a job. And he couldn’t get into a homeless shelter. He didn’t have money to stay in a hotel and unfortunately I had no room for him to stay. If this is how we support people who are in such a fragile state, then we have a whole lot to work on there. If people have to choose between their mental health and a roof over their head, then I would say that’s a far bigger concern and in all honesty in the case of Sandy Hook is the area that was what failed the most in our system, not gun control.

Maybe our country could use more gun control, but I would have to argue that Sandy Hook is not the example of that failure. I personally would much rather see us putting efforts into mental health and putting supports in place in that area if we’re going to look at the events that happened at Sandy Hook as an indicator of what we could do better. Just my thoughts and experiences on the matter.

Make America Great Again

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since the whole election circus of 2016 began I have been looking forward to it all just being over. Although, I suppose there’s never going to be an end to any of the madness that surrounds what happens in this day and age and I highly expect it’s because we have created this generation of entitled cry babies. Young college students in their hoity-toity expensive colleges that are likely being paid for by federal dollars in many cases who are too “distraught” to do much of anything I guess except burn a flag. Young mothers railing on Twitter and Facebook about #notmypresident as if that somehow makes the president elect any less the president of the United States. Guess what people, in all my years of voting not a single person I wanted to be president became president and I never ONCE was brought to tears or unable to function in life after an election because our country elected a president I didn’t want. And yes, two times over I said Obama was like a slick used car salesman and I could not vote for him because of that. He did not disappoint there in the slick used car salesman, by the way.

Now look, I get in this country we have the right to express ourselves. We can even burn our flag in protest if we want to and not get in trouble for it. You don’t have to respect the flag of our country at all. However, you better think long and hard about what you’re doing and what you’re saying when you do disrespect that flag like that. This isn’t about a president elect, that flag has a long history of people fighting for our freedoms and people who deserve to be respected for their service. People who deserve to be honored. People who put their lives on the line for everything that that flag stands for. One presidential election and a man who hasn’t even made any policies is honestly no reason to burn a flag. Admittedly I can’t think of any reason to burn a flag, but I sure as hell don’t think this is it.

So when President Elect Trump voiced his concerns of the flag burning, I got it. He’s angry. Half of this country is angry at the complete and utter disrespect an entire generation of people have been and continue to show to our country and everything it was founded on. Make America great again rang true to many people because when you look around today what we see is just not great. It’s not the America we grew up in. I’m not saying I’m a Trump supporter or that I even voted for Trump, but what I am saying is this is not the vision our forefathers had. And no, this has nothing to do with immigrants, black lives, gay and lesbians, that is not the problem. The problem is an entire generation of self entitled brats who don’t know how to lose and when they finally have something that doesn’t go their way they have to throw a temper tantrum about it.

Mike Rowe Speaks Eloquent Truths

Make no mistake about it, that’s exactly what’s happening here. Quite frankly Mike Rowe of the show Dirty Jobs really said it best on his Facebook post here. I am going to quote him, but I urge you to go read it all for yourself and watch the attached video as it is important to what else I have to say. Mike Rowe has this to say about the flag burning:

Last night on the tee-vee, as I flicked back and forth between my most trusted sources of cable news, I saw a number a college students setting fire to the American flag. Some of the students said they were “angry.” Others said they were “disgusted.” But many others were anxious to explain why they had become “fearful” of the American Flag. Interesting.

At Hampshire College, The President, Jonathan Lash, has actually removed the flag from his campus, in response to students who expressed “fear and discomfort” when confronted by the sight of Old Glory. He offered this explanation: “Removing the flag permanently from our campus will better enable us to focus our efforts on addressing racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and behaviors.”

As I dropped one of those giant round ice cubes into a tumbler of Whistle Pig, I couldn’t help but wonder if President Lash was unaware that billions of people around the world are routinely subjected to horrific levels of racism, misogyny, and bigotry that far exceed any injustice in modern-day America. Furthermore, I was curious to know if President Lash really believed that removing our flag is a better way to assuage the fears of his frightened students, than simply educating them about the undeniable fact that no country on the planet affords its citizens more liberty than this one? Finally, I found myself wondering as to why the President of Hampshire College would allow his students to pay for their tuition with federal dollars – federal dollars provided by the same government whose flag was no longer suitable to fly at his school.

Here’s the problem. Tuition at Hampshire College is about $60,000 a year. That’s not a problem because it’s expensive – it’s a problem because 85% of Hampshire students qualify for some form of federal financial aid. http://bit.ly/2gsZxnk.

That means that We the People are enabling schools like Hampshire to sell a liberal arts degree for approximately $250,000. With $1.3 trillion dollars of student debt currently on the books, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to hear a more persuasive argument from those who will happily take money from a country whose flag they despise.

I turned the channel, and watched another group of students dance around another pile of burning flags at another expensive university. I couldn’t tell where they were, but occurred to me that wherever they were – it probably wasn’t a trade school. To my knowledge, no one has ever burned a flag at a trade school.

I wonder why that is?

I have no idea, but the thought reminded me that I had yet to post Episode 11 of Hot Under the Blue Collar. It features a graduate from one of those schools – a guy named Scott. Scott studied to be an electrician, and his comments, though not nearly as expensive as Daniel’s, are far more… illuminating?

Carry on,
and don’t play with matches.
Mike

Technical Schools

This I feel is a nice Segway into my thoughts on technical schools. If you know anything about Mike Rowe it’s that he is a great champion for those so called menial jobs that those people sitting in this hoity-toity colleges couldn’t be bothered to waste their time with. Now don’t get me (or Mike Rowe for that matter) wrong. Colleges have their place. I have a Senior in high school who is college bound. She just might be at a hoity-toity college this time next year and it’s totally what’s right for her.

We tell our children they can be and do anything they want and then we force them to go to college. From an early age my middle daughter had said she wanted to be a “hair cutting girl”. And I never did discourage that. After all when I was around 5 I was going to drive a tow truck, it was going to be blue. My parents encouraged me. Ultimately I did grow out of that, my middle daughter however did not. Even once she began school she still wanted to be a “hair cutting girl”. And school did not come as easy to her as it did her older sister. So from an early age I figured college might not be her path, she really might be on the path to being a “hair cutting girl”. By 5th grade when asked what she wanted to do when she grew up she usually replied with, “I want to be a hairdresser to the stars.” Yes, she had big dreams and aspirations.

As a matter of fact as the years have gone on my now 14 year old daughter has planned out her entire life. She knew she wanted to get into a local technical high school and study Cosmetology, she’d get out of high school and start cutting hair for a few years and save up money for college, go to school while still cutting hair and get her business degree, and then open her own salon. She’s 14 people, she has been talking about this for years now. How many college bound students have their life figured out like that?

She did get into the technical high school. They make them try out all the trades as freshman before making their choice. Her life may not be going exactly as planned, there’s a good possibility that she will not go into Cosmetology, it could be HVAC or Electrical even at this point. Yet her plan still is to come out of high school, begin working in her trade and then down the road go to college for business and open her own business. She might find she doesn’t need college, but whatever, she’s coming out of high school with a skill and employable and it’s costing me and her practically nothing. Okay, yes she has class dues I have to pay every year and I did have to buy her school uniforms and I’ll probably have to buy her some tool kit or something along the way, but at most this is going to be $1000 over four years of high school. Not $30,000 a year or more for college. At 18 she will be employable in a trade.

This Is What America Needs

We want jobs? Well, they’re out there. We need to stop telling our children that they aren’t going to be happy doing manual labor for the rest of their lives. Yeah, we want better for our kids than what we had, but don’t we also want them to be happy? Since my daughter entered this technical high school she has never been happier than she is right now. Honestly, if she could continue doing all of her favorite trades she probably would. The biggest struggle for her has been picking her favorite trade.

I never thought she’d be interested in HVAC or Electrical. Honestly, she didn’t think she would either. She’s the only girl in her grade interested in HVAC. She’s kind of a hot commodity in HVAC. Day one, her teacher told her because she’s female she has a good chance of being employed. And she also has a good chance of making more money than her college bound sister.

And you know what, those kids at that high school work very hard. They are doing a full four years of high school in half the time because the other half of the time they’re learning their trade. And they are doing this because they want to. When my daughter was applying at this high school they made it very clear what things would be like. Mind you this school has been in existence for a very long time doing things exactly this way. There are many very successful graduates who have been working in their trade. This is not a school for the “bad” kids who couldn’t hack it in a regular high school. This is a school for highly motivated individuals who want to be successful. They don’t have the time to burn flags or cry because the person they voted for didn’t become the president. They are too busy making a living or at least learning something so they can make a living someday.

My hope for America is that people wake up. That they remember what this country was founded on. That those jobs that are beneath so many people and believed to not be the path to happy get filled with people who are willing to stop crying and whining about all of the perceived injustices in their very protected and sheltered little lives. There are real problems in this world and our President Elect, as faulted as he may be, is the least of those problems.

No one is going to do for you, you have got to do for yourself. We live in the greatest and freest country in this world where we have many choices and rights. Burning flags and crying #notmypresident is a sad and pathetic way to spend that time which is not making any difference in your life or the lives of those around you. If you want to make this world a better place to be, then we all collectively need to become the hard working Americans that this country was founded on. Regardless of who the president is or isn’t. You want better pay? Learn a trade! Stop protesting in front of McDonald’s for a living wage. You know what the answer is to raising minimum wage? Finding ways to do it with less people. You know what happens if you learn a trade? You will work hard, yes, but you also might find yourself having pride in the work that you did and guess what? You’ll also be making a living wage while doing it.

I Want More Technical High Schools

It’s shocking to me that not every high school students has the same opportunities that my daughter has. We need more of this. We need less people seeking degrees they’re never going to use racking up mountains of student debt. Technical high schools are not for everyone, working in the trades is not for everyone, but it is and always will be a necessity to have people who are trained to fix your plumbing, keep the lights on, keep your car running, keep the house and business temperatures regulated correctly, and to cut and style people’s hair. These things are just never going to go away. And the more people who want to be trained to do these things the better. The more opportunities to train people to do these things the better. And the more people who do not look down on manual labor as being something that any buffoon can do the better. I know for sure the projects my daughter has come home from school with have not been something that just anybody can do. I love how her mind works and I admire her for putting in the effort and doing her very best. She has found her passion and her calling all because of a technical high school and I think that’s amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything more as a mother.

So, not that our president or president elect read my little ol’ blog here, but if they did happen to stumble across this and read this far what I would hope they get out of this more than anything is the way to creating jobs is to train people to do the jobs that are already out there. Technical high schools and post high school trade schools are a wonderful start to making America great again. And the rest of you people, wake up. You want America to be great, then stop your crying and whining about every little thing and get up and work hard. That’s what we’re lacking in this country today. That work ethic that we were founded on.

The Loophole in DUI Laws in the State of CT

I know I said I wasn’t going to post anymore about the DUI driver who completely totaled our car last week to the tune of over $7500. Our insurance adjuster actually told us what he could actually see that needed to be fixed on the car was actually $7800, but the value of the car was only $7500. The speed limit on my street is 25 miles per hour. There is a stop sign that he had to have blown through just one house up from our house to hit the car, push it up on the curb and do over $8000 worth of damage to the car. He set off his own airbags which you have to be going at speeds of at least 35 mph. He had to be well exceeding that. And that’s part of what has me so mad.

This isn’t his first arrest for DUI though. Three years ago when he was just 18 he was arrested for DUI. And here’s where I get very irate, and this is at our judicial system. We went to court yesterday and spoke to a victims advocate to see what we could do here. She explained that we cannot get restitution because that would be only for any out of pocket expenses we incurred like if we weren’t going to get our deductible back or if there were medical injuries. Our lost wages mean nothing in the eyes of the law and making this kid pay for his crime. The real kicker of all of this is that there is a program that they offer to offenders that basically gives them a free pass for a first offense. As a matter of fact, for 10 years after a first offense. When this kid was arrested for the same thing in 2013 he ended up with no record. He took some drug and alcohol class, did a little community service, kept his nose clean for probably 2 years and then was free in the eyes of the law. It was like his first offense never happened. Which means that this is considered his first offense and it means that what he’s facing is a 6 month suspended sentence, either 48 hours in jail or 100 hours of community service, and 18 months probation. He will have to go to a drug and alcohol treatment program and listen to a 1 person victim impact statement and pay a $500 fine. He caused over $8000 of damage to us alone, to the city he caused who knows how much damage to fix the fire hydrant he hit, and he put our entire neighborhood in danger by hitting that fire hydrant and putting it out of commission for nearly a week until the city fixed it.

Okay, yes, this is on his record. His license should be suspended for 1 year. Perhaps he’ll have to put one of those breathalyzer devices in his car to prevent him from starting his car if he’s drunk. However, if they viewed this as it truly his, his 2nd offense then he would be facing 120 days in jail. What I want to know is why is the state of CT allowing someone who potentially could have killed someone the opportunity to have no record and a free pass on a first offense? I get that people make mistakes and should be given the opportunity to make it right. And yes, he was a young 18 year old kid whose brain is not fully developed the first time he did this. But given the nature of his crime he should have had to face the consequences back then. Maybe then he wouldn’t have done this to us if he had. He could have killed someone that night. I would imagine this is something he does quite frequently actually. It just so happened that this was the night he got caught and this was the night that he changed everything for us.

Driving while under the influence is a serious crime which has serious impact on people. So why are we coddling these people? Why are we giving them an opportunity to not have something on their record? Why are they not being forced to answer to people they have harmed? Honestly, I don’t even care if he pays us everything we’re out because of this. I just want him to be beholden to us for something. For him to realize that his actions have consequences and they go well beyond his own little world. Yes, we could sue him civilly and probably even get punitive damages, but there’s nothing much that will force him to pay and we’ll be out even more money at the end of the day. You almost have to sustain physical injury to get something. If we had sustained an injury then the judge would make him pay restitution. However, damaging property to the tune of over $8000 while being reckless you get a slap on the wrist.

This kid has another thing coming if he thinks that we will not be making sure he does do some jail time, even if it is only the 48 hours. Maybe that’s the wake-up call he needs, but truth be told I think it’s going to take a lot more. He will have to listen to what I have to say because I will be given the chance to write and read a victim impact statement. I doubt what I have to say will get through to him, but this is all I have right now since the state of CT cares more about making sure that the perpetrator of potentially deadly crimes gets a freebie than protecting the innocent people who were just relaxing on a Saturday evening inside their home. Something has got to change. These concessions being made to potential murders is not right. It scares me to be out there not knowing who else is out there with a free pass, it’s scary knowing that my oldest is about to get her driver’s license and is going to be out there driving along side someone who got a free pass. More of our time is now being taken up and consumed by this for who knows how long and at the end of the day justice is not being served.

Why We Should Support Technical High Schools

14188362_10153665149107653_5650818534286878485_oYou know how last week I brought up how this is the year of lasts with my oldest? Well, it’s also a year of firsts with my middle daughter. She started high school this year. She has not followed in her big sister’s foot steps in any sense of the word. Which is great, she needs to follow her own path. For middle school she attended a magnet school and when it came time for high school she chose to apply at a technical high school.  And she advocated for herself and her capability to handle the school and its curriculum. She was accepted and had loved every bit of school so far, especially the trade portion.

A few months ago when she started trying out the trades her school has to offer I posted about her progress on my personal Facebook page. I was slightly surprised by one so called friend’s reaction to this school, although I guess not really. And of course poking the bear probably isn’t a good idea, but she ended up unfriending me on Facebook. Of course I also received a lot more people who were really impressed with this opportunity that she was getting who wished that there was something similar where they lived. I didn’t even realize that Technical high schools were not a common thing. Honestly, I don’t know why they’re not. Lets face it, college is not for everyone. Yes, my oldest is doing college applications as we speak and I also went to college. College is important in this day and age, but it’s not necessary for everyone. We need people who can do the trades. And let me tell you my middle daughter has a pretty solid plan that I don’t think most 14 year old’s can say that they have. If she chooses her top trade she’ll work in it for a while and then go to college for business and eventually open her own business doing her trade. The fact that she will be able to get work in a trade right out of high school and therefore will be able to pay for her college education when she’s ready to is extremely admiral. She likely will not have large debts. I know I’m probably a tad biased as her mother and all, but that’s one smart cookie if I do say so myself.

So let me explain to you what has been happening for the past several weeks and why that so called friend objected to this method of teaching so much. So because my daughter is not only going to come out of high school ready to get a license in her trade, but she also has to complete the same amount of high school work that a typical high school student would do. Basically, her academic work which normally she would have 180 days to complete she has to do in 90 days. She will be doing 2 weeks of academics and 2 weeks of trades. Now, as a freshman they want the students to have a taste of each of the trades they offer, so they go through what’s called an exploratory phase. My daughter has already made it through the first phase where she did every single trade for two days each and then chose her top four of all those trades. She did receive a grade in each of her trades. The grade was more or less a participation grade which will be used in determining if she can ultimately get into her trade of choice. It makes sense because they can’t have too many students in one trade so they need a way to determine who’s best suited to get into their trade of choice.

My daughter is now in the 2nd phase of the exploratory program. She chose her top four, was placed into her top three and is now spending four days in each of her top three trades. Once this is done by the beginning of December she will then choose the trade that she will be learning for the rest of her time in this school. This has been such a great experience for her. It’s a challenge, but she’s loving every second of it. And she has been shocked to learn which trades she had the most interest in. Things that she never considered as possible career paths for her she’s now trying out to see if it’s something she wants to do.

Academics, which have generally in the past been difficult for her she doesn’t mind so much because every two weeks she knows she gets to go work in the trades. She actually continues working on her math and reading while in the trades. She continues to advocate for herself and her education in this school and she’s enjoying every second of being there. If I had my way I would have every state have a program just like this one. It’s not for everyone, but I know it works. I know alma mateurs of the school my daughter attends. Past graduates from decades ago who own their own business and have been working in their trade since graduation. If that’s not a glowing recommendation for this school and its model then I don’t know what is.

I don’t know that I’ll ever truly understand why that so called Facebook friend couldn’t see that this school model has its benefits and can be good for some students. I do understand her distaste for the fact that academics have to be completed in half the time. Things move quickly, yes, but we’re not talking about cramming stuff down students throats. They are coming out of high school employable and in areas that are highly needed. All of this is without cost. They are not racking up tons of debt to end up working some minimum wage job. This is why it’s important to support technical high schools everywhere. Every high school student who believes they will want to go into a trade after graduation and not go into college should have this opportunity that my daughter is receiving. College is not for everyone.

Presidential Election 2016: The Case for a Non-Career Politician Candidate

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The presidential election is only a few days away. This is not a plea for voters, or even an endorsement of either candidate. The truth of the matter I could never tell someone to vote. It’s a right, not an obligation and voting should not be forced on anyone. And in all honesty when it comes to the candidates I feel you all who are struggling with who to vote for. It feels like a vote is really just a vote for who you might believe to be the lesser of two evils, but in all honesty I think the problem with this election is that we feel neither candidate is actually qualified for the position of office.

I am not a political person at all. We don’t discuss politics in our home. A few weeks ago my five year old daughter noticed the political signs in the yard of our next door neighbor while we were waiting for the bus. She began asking about who our next president was going to be and who was going to run our lives now. I was amazed that she knew what those signs were let alone who the president was, who she calls Obaba. A little concerned that she thinks is job is to run our lives though, but she’s five, when I was her age I thought boy babies came from dads and girl babies came from mom, I now know that’s not true. If she’s 15 and still thinks the president runs our lives then I might be concerned. Or maybe it’s surprisingly true to an extent or will be ten years from now. Lets hope that’s not where we’re heading.

Anyways, what’s on my mind today is Trump. The pinnacle of opening mouth and inserting foot right there. The man has no filter and if I were going to arm chair diagnose him I would have to say he’s a classic narcissist. Which I know makes this whole election that much more puzzling. You have to wonder how did it get this far though. The list of accusations against this man is quite long. I’m guessing all of the skeletons in his closet have been exposed, but then again he wasn’t squeaky clean looking when he began running for president to begin with. Honestly, judging by both candidates I’m willing to bet most of us aren’t expecting squeaky clean for presidential candidates these days. It sure would be nice if we didn’t have to choose between two possible felons for president though.

I digress though. How does someone who’s so into himself and so seemingly awful become a presidential candidate in 2016? Well, I think the answer is quite simple. We want something different. We want someone who’s not a career politician. The idea of making America great again is appealing. When I first heard about Trump running for president I was intrigued. I was wondering if it would be anything like when Ronald Regan ran for president. Someone who was not a career politician. I was very young during his two terms as president and don’t get me wrong,  I’m not saying Trump is Regan, I’m just saying that sometimes we get to a point where career politicians are just not working. Now perhaps Trump isn’t the answer to that not a career politician problem and I imagine a lot of the people who are still standing behind him likely are people who have a hard time admitting they were wrong about him. Or maybe, they really truly still believe that anyone who’s not a career politician is just better than Hillary. Faults and all.

Whatever happens on Tuesday, one things for sure, it’s going to be interesting. Honestly, if the president’s job is to run our lives like my 5 year old thinks, then no matter who becomes president I think we’re in trouble. I see an impeachment in our future as well. If Hillary wins then all I can hope for is that she’ll keep her nose clean and do what’s best. If Trump becomes president I can only hope that he can figure out a way to set his ego aside and hire people to advise him in politics and actually listen to them.  I don’t have much faith in either candidate to follow through on any campaign promises or in being able to do what’s best.

I wish everyone luck in this election in making a choice in who to vote for or to possibly not vote at all. Follow what you think is best when casting or perhaps not casting your vote. We will see where the chips all land on Wednesday, or maybe not. I guess it will depend how close this election ends up being.

Gina Crosley-Corcoran Thinks Cancer Is Easier Than Graduate School

I kid you not folks. Gina Crosley-Corcoran, aka The Feminist Breeder, has found the final ten weeks of her master degree program to be so hard that she actually thinks and said she is jealous of people who have Cancer. Because apparently constantly throwing up, not eating, having harsh chemicals forced into your body causing all sorts of nasty symptoms, losing your hair, being in danger of going out in public and catching everything you come into contact with because the drugs you take to fight off your Cancer so you can hopefully have some shot of actually living have rendered your immune system incompetent, is just far more desirable than getting an education. When you put it like that I guess what’s there not to be jealous of?

Here were her words on the matter:

Gina Crosley-Corcoran

The Feminist BreederI cannot tell you how many awful times I have been jealous of someone diagnosed with cancer lately.

When Gina got called on her epic insensitivity towards anyone and everyone affected by Cancer her response was what she always does, to ban and delete. But then she took it one step further. Because people just wouldn’t let it go she had to make a statement. Most people would offer up an apology for their terribly insensitive statement. But no, not Gina because Gina of course is the only one whose feelings actually matter. She had this to say:

TFB Cancer

The Feminist Breeder Please ignore all the ableist pieces of shit commenting on this thread. They already caused one person to delete her comment (which took my reply along with it.) I suffer a well known and well documented anxiety and depressive disorder and anyone who lives in that daily hell knows that extra stressors like school can make a person feel like death is a relief. But keep attacking me for my feelings you stupid little trolls. I’ll keep deleting your asshole comments.

Do you got that all of you people who have either had Cancer, have Cancer, or have lost someone to Cancer, you’re ableist pieces of shit. And just a bunch of trolls. Never mind that they once were fans of yours, possibly even paying blog readers. They called you on your nonsense and you called them names.

And how dare you blame your mental illness. You hurt people. You know, like people you claim have hurt you causing you to cry yourself to sleep at night for simple offenses like sharing a picture on Facebook that you yourself posted publicly on Facebook. Are you so gone from reality that you can’t see that being jealous of Cancer patients is the lowest of the low? If that’s the case Gina, then I have a suggestion for you. Shut down your page, take a sabbatical from school, and check yourself inpatient into a psychiatric hospital. If your depression and anxiety have made you lose that much sight on things, then don’t continue to add to your stressors by posting every single detail of your life on the internet. You are hurting yourself, you are hurting your followers, and sadly the ones suffering the most are your children.

If you can’t see it yourself and your husband refuses to see it, then perhaps your school would like to step in here. So how about it University of Illinois? You have a student by her own admission here is so stressed out by her course load that she thinks having Cancer is preferable to having to sit through another class. Will you take this cry for help seriously? **Note: before Gina begins accusing me of stalking her and spreading personal information about her, the only reason I know the school she attends is because she herself posted publicly what school she attends.

But have no fear Gina, those words which the original commenter deleted ::cough:: it was you ::cough, cough:: are not lost forever. They are circulating around the internet, just like here with your name attached, to show you for exactly who you are. So maybe places like the Uzazi Village won’t be duped into working with someone who cares so little about anyone, but herself. What a stain you put on the record of the companies and organizations you come into contact with. It’s a real crying shame the suffering you cause.

You think it’s our job to stand up and speak out against hurtful words against women and people of color, right Gina Crosley-Corcoran? Well, I agree, except I think it’s our job to speak out against the hurtful words said towards all people. And since Cancer doesn’t care about race, gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or socioeconomic background, then I would say your words were the biggest injustice we should speak out against. And then to try to scapegoat the whole thing by using your mental illness? Really Gina, that’s just lower than low.

I have a family member who likes to excuse his hurtful behavior towards me by blaming his mental illness. I won’t let him pull that on me so I damn as sure am not going to let you get away with it. The thing is that even at his lowest point my family member has only ever hurled personal insults that were directed towards me and me alone in the name of mental illness. I don’t even think he would have the audacity to say what you have said about Cancer, and if he did then blame his mental illness for saying it and not once apologize for it.

You’re playing a dangerous game here Gina and I implore you to get help. And if you won’t help yourself, then I implore someone in your life to get it for you. You can start by taking the internet away.

Why I Stand by Nepal’s Prinsha Shrestha For Miss Earth 2014

10814092_10152420892516078_894204050_nHi all! My friend Lidia Rozdilsky had asked me if she could post about her support of a beauty queen, who she has been working with for the past several months, on my Facebook page. I said sure go for it and hey while you’re at it would you like to write a guest post for my blog about her? She accepted.
But before we get to her post I want to tell you why I agreed to this when there’s so much negativity surrounding beauty pageants. I must admit I’ve never been a huge fan. I don’t think they should be demonized. If a young woman wants to join a beauty pageant, then she should. It’s just not for me. If my daughters expressed interest in beauty pageant I would support them. And honestly, I have learned a lot from Lidia over the last few months about beauty pageants. It’s not about “dumb” girls for lack of a better term who all they have going for them is they look good in a swimsuit. That’s not the case at all. These are very intelligent and philanthropic girls who in most cases get involved in pageantry to create a better life for themselves, but even for those in their community. We might not see that as much here in America, but these girls earn scholarships for college and a platform for which to do fundraising and to raise awareness to important issues which are important to them. And it’s important that we support this if we truly want to support women and feminism.
Shocking, isn’t it? A beauty pageant supports feminism. It does though. These girls are using their platform to activate change. It’s more than just the ceremony. So please take a moment to read about what Lidia has to share about this Miss Earth candidate, Prinsha Shrestha and then tell me this isn’t important.

Without further ado…

10748814_10152420892711078_1189727411_nWhat do load shedding, the internet, and a beauty queen, have in common: a winning poll, you might not guess. Looking at the latest unofficial updates from Miss Earth polls I am stunned and amazed: stunned that amidst electricity rationing and internet penetration of only 29% the Nepalis have come in droves to support online their home candidate, and moreover that the candidate is a young 22-year-old young woman with a tiara, a shining smile, and a heart as big as the soaring hills of the Himalayas.

10808314_10152420892051078_1533022114_nI first met Prinsha Shrestha during the coronation dinner for Miss Nepal 2014. I had lined up to help myself to the delicious food when the 6-year-old daughter managed to get away and when I went after her to retrieve her she was holding the hand of one of the winners. “Mama, do you know that this girl never sat down and stood the whole time on high heels. She talked to everyone, mama, and did not get anything to eat. Mama, can she come to our house, pleaaaase” my little Sophie pleaded. In the coming weeks, “that girl,” along with her two sister beauty queens, would come to us many times as I became their mentor and Prinsha became my daughter’s idol.

I have told Prinsha that I would save my praises for when she lands in the Philippines. At times, I would have a feeling that in class I was a hybrid between Cruella Deville and a blue alien from Avatar, introducing concept after concept, format after format, expecting her to perform gracefully and confidently, and then repeat things that she had done well again for further reinforcement.

One of the qualities that still amazes me about Prinsha is her ability to endure criticism, looking for the grain of constructiveness in a barrage of expectations I would hurl her way, and come seemingly unscathed at the other end after I have exhausted all I had to say “to make things better.” I desperately tried to convince her that she needs more “alone” time in order to improve her concentration, failing myself to realize, and now in retrospect, that she gets her vitality from the things she does not only WITH others but FOR others: from supporting a marathon benefitting cancer patients to teaching Nepali women self defense moves.

I have long stopped being impressed with intelligence in its conventional sense because my humble experience as a human being has taught me that it is not smart people that this world is lacking but moral people, engaged in the welfare of others rather than concerned with their own interest. Having known Prinsha for over six months, I, along with many who know her, can attest to the fact that she is one of those people. I am also pleased that she represents Nepal at Miss Earth Pageant 2014, a forum that emphasizes both social engagement and intelligence, where I am sure she shines brightly.

As of today, several major commercial organizations have come in support of the women from their country and therefore have brought them a landslide of votes. Vote for our contestant, they say. Yet all these entities have failed to tell me why, exactly that should be the case? Has their candidate held the hand of a trafficking victim giving her hope, has she excelled in skills and knowledge, and has she served others endlessly. Because Prinsha Shrestha has done all of these things, and I, along with countless others whose only voting power is at the tips of their fingers, are telling you so.

Dear well wishers and supporters of Prinsha (for she calls you that, and not fans). The Beauty for a Cause prize is not Prisha’s opportunity to shine but YOURS. Yours to prove to the rest of the world that just because a talented woman comes from a small, developing country does not mean that she does not stand a chance against places with big sashes, big populations, and mighty supporters. But more importantly that the Nepalis and those outside Nepal who support Prinsha value and celebrate a new type of femininity, one full of grace and finesse, coupled with competence, confidence, and string character. And you can do that by:

Sharing Prinsha’s profile on your page: https://ph.celebrity.yahoo.com/news/miss-earth-2014–miss-nepal-prinsha-shrestha-161224443.html

2. Adding @YahooPH #MissEarth2014 in the title
10811644_10152420892206078_746855560_n
Every vote counts whether you wish to share her profile once or hundreds of times. It means that you support not just a fellow Nepali but one that is capable of impressing anyone on behalf of the beautiful land of the Himalayas. As an Outsider living in Nepal, one day I will leave this beautiful land, and within a few years there would hardly be a memory of me and my family. But there will always be a picture of a girl with a tiara who is growing into becoming a leader, a mentor, an intellectual, and a human resource ready to improve the lives of others in a country that desperately needs such acts. I support not only this particular person but this type of person for the benefit if all. Do you?
Thank you for sharing Lidia. Now doesn’t this sound like a girl with true brains, beauty, and an amazing amount of personal convictions?

War Against Women, or War Against Men

boysYou have probably seen that campaign out there “Woman Against Feminism”. And it’s shocking, right? Shocking that a woman wouldn’t want equality. But you see that’s not what it’s about, at least not to me. Because you see I am against modern day feminism, but I’m not against feminism. I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t do something just because I’m a woman and I most certainly don’t want my daughter’s being told that.

I’m 35 years old, going on 36. My mother (who might hate me for telling you all this) was born in the 50′s. And back then it was still mostly believed that girls didn’t belong in the boardroom unless maybe she was a secretary. Her father (my grandfather) felt that she was going to stay home and raise babies, so despite the fact that she was good in school and had the smarts, my grandfather said no when it was recommended that she take college prep courses. And that was the times. So my mom, as wonderful and smart as she is didn’t go to college. She took a few college courses when I was older, but that was it. She even helps my dad in his college courses.

I don’t know if my mother holds any resentment towards her father for that or not. I do know that she never ever let me think that I couldn’t be and do whatever I wanted to. College was more of an expectation for me growing up. So I had some amazing opportunities and while I didn’t finish college and I do stay home and take care of babies, I do know that the fact that I got to go to college was not only because my mother refused to let me believe that all I could ever amount to was a wife and mother, but because some great feminist women paved that road for me. They fought to be treated as equals.

And guess what, it worked! But the pendulum has swung too far. Here in America college classrooms are filled with more girls than boys. We are seeing more and more women in the boardroom running things. In my own work the majority of the people are women. We did it, we have the right to vote and we have the right to work or stay home. It’s very much accepted. And before you go telling me, but Monica there’s still a wage gap, we have to fix that. No, no there isn’t. Because the thing is if you look at what women do and what men do in a field it’s just not the same because at the end of the day we might be equal to men, but we’re not the same as men and our interests don’t lie in the same place as men do. So the work we might be doing in the same field as men is different. I made the choice to stay home. Truth be told I can and actually now do make more money than my husband. I wanted to be a stay at home mom all of these years, therefore making my husband the “bread winner”.

Boys And Girls Are Different

Men and women are different. It’s something that is so plainly obvious when you look at children. I am the mother of 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. My son is surrounded by girls and yet he’s absolutely nothing like us. He has been playing with Barbies and baby dolls since before he could talk or even walk for that matter. And he just plays with them different than his sisters. And from day one if you gave him the choice of a doll or a block, hands down he would pick the block. Cars and tools and mechanical stuff, that’s where it’s at for him. His sisters like cars, especially his little sister because she wants to be just like her big brother. They even like guns, but when it comes down to it if my girls had a choice between a doll and a matchbox car, they would choose the doll.

Not because I have forced these toys on them. I believe very much in there’s no such thing as “boy” toys and “girl” toys. Every child is going to have his/her preference, but it’s a fact, boys just gravitate more towards the building things and the mechanical things. Girls gravitate more towards the baby dolls and kitchen stuff. Does that mean they can’t or won’t ever play with the other more typical boy or girl toys for lack of a better term? No, of course not.

My youngest comes home with reports about what she did at school everyday. She’s 3 and in preschool. Almost everyday she has played in the kitchen. I ask her if she’ll try something else, one day she told me she’d go to the Lego station and she did. But when asked what she liked best, it was kitchen. She likes Legos. She likes them better with her brother I think.

Boys and girls are different. Men and women are different. This isn’t a bad thing, but we do need to recognize these differences and the place we need to most recognize these difference is in school.

I watched this brilliant video of a talk a woman by the name of Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers gave about the war against boys a few years ago at a law school event. I’ll share the video below so you can watch it too, and I really recommend you do because it was brilliant. Our sons are getting the shaft here people.

With all of these women’s action groups fighting about things we are now taking everything from our boys and giving it all to the girls. And it has become so bad that now we are seeing that more girls than boys are in the maths and science fields. And there’s a very large gap in achievement between boys and girls in reading and writing.

I see it with my own kids. My girls want to please the teacher, but my son he’s already losing interest. He’s 6 and in the 1st grade. And I can’t say that his teachers are failing him, because they most certainly are not. But society as a whole is failing my boy and every boy out there. There are more opportunities for girls. Classrooms are geared towards the girls. My son at 6 years old likes 3 things about school. Lunch, recess, and gym. I kid you not, on Wednesday and Thursday mornings I convince him to get up and get ready for school because it’s a gym day, the two days of the week he looks forward to at school.

I want him to stay interested and I am sure teachers are doing whatever they can within the curriculum to keep those boys interest and attention on task, but when the curriculum is geared towards girls, then there’s only so much one can do. There has to be balance. We can’t allow our boys to fall through the cracks because some feminists today think there’s still some war against women.

Equality

A man can’t put his hands on a woman because he’s stronger than her, but we’re equal. A man shouldn’t open a door for a woman because he’s stronger than her, but we’re equal. A man should provide for his family and pitch in with household chores, but we’re equal. How confusing is this for our sons?

And don’t get me wrong, no man should ever put his hands on a woman in anger, but no woman should put her hands on a man in anger either.

Men should open doors for women, not because women are weak, but out of respect and women should graciously accept this kind gesture and not assume that there is an implication of I’m better than you.

Men should provide for their children and help out, but that might mean women have to let go a little control and allow a man to do things his way without fear of being critiqued because it’s not the way we think it should be done.

Instead of assuming that every slightly negative thing that happens in a woman’s life is simply because she’s a woman, lets give boys and men the benefit of the doubt. They deserve an education just as much as girls do and they deserve to be treated with respect. We don’t need to train them to be like girls, we need to show them how to be gentlemen.

Lets understand that men and women, boys and girls are not the same and that’s okay. There are things women can do that men can’t and there are things men can do that women can’t.

The woman against feminism isn’t against the original premise of feminism, but we’re going to come full circle here at the rate we’re going. And that’s no better for us as a society.

I Want My Son…

…to grow up to be whatever he wants to be.

…to be a gentleman.

…to be loved and respected by a woman who sees value in everything he has to offer.

…to get an education.

…to be happy.

I want all of the same for my daughters. I hope they can get it.

Watch this video, then tell me do you think we are doing right by our boys?

Tips For Surviving Planning And Placement Team (PPT) Meetings

PPT

Image courtesy of Supertrooper / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tis the season for PPT’s (Planning and Placement Team) and creating student’s IEP’s (Individual Education Plans) for next year.  I currently have 3 children with IEP’s.  And while I am far from an expert on the entire process and each of my children’s IEP’s are for minor reasons and mostly one area of struggling where they need extra support in, I do know the whole PPT meeting can be very stressful.  Especially when school and parents don’t see eye to eye on what’s best for the child.

I just went to my middle daughter’s PPT meeting.  All went well, they did make some changes, but they were ones I did agree would be helpful in her making steps towards growing.  It hasn’t always been this simple with our meetings for her though.

Over the years I have learned some things that make things go more smoothly.  Mostly it’s going to come down to a parent’s attitude.  If you walk into those meetings ready to fight, then it’s not going to go so well.  Now, you shouldn’t be a push over.  If there’s anything you disagree with you have every right to simply say I need some time to think about this and discuss it with other people.  You don’t have to sign something just because they tell you this is what’s best.  The operative word in PPT is the T for team.  You are a very important part of the team, but you are not the only part.  You have to take into consideration the recommendations of some of the experts around you, but you also need to make yourself heard as a team member, but you can’t do that if you have proven to be unreasonable.  So here are some tips to help win over the team of educators and to help you feel less like it’s them against you.

How To Have A Successful PPT

  1. Bring treats. Bake up some muffins or cookies or bring some fresh fruit to share with the team.  They have likely been sitting in a conference room for meeting after meeting and would likely welcome a sweet treat.
  2. Don’t go alone.  If you feel that your emotions might get the better of you (completely understandable), then have an advocate with you.  There are specific advocates who are well versed in the laws, but it doesn’t have to be a professional.  It could be your spouse or a friend who has been through it before, but if you are concerned about rights violations, then it might behoove you to seek out a professional advocate.
  3. Get on the same page with whoever you bring with you.  If you think you might lose your cool in the meeting, then make sure your partner is ready to step in because the last thing you want to do is make anyone think you are not listening.
  4. Avoid publicly speaking about any gripes you have with the school.  Facebook, twitter, your blog, you don’t want to put something out there that the school can find and bring into the meeting to say you’re adversarial and are not interested in what’s best for your child.  And you’re just interested in attacking the school.  As stressful as things might be and as much as you feel you have to gripe or you need to get this out to help others going through the same thing in the long run it’s just not going to be helpful for your child.  If you need to gripe do it in private with your spouse or a trusted friend.  Trust me on this, it’s really hard to come back from something like that.
  5. Don’t make threats.  Again, you are a team, supposed to be working together for your child.  Making threats towards the other members of the team is counterproductive.  If laws are being violated consult a lawyer, but don’t threaten the team with lawsuits unless you know you are prepared to follow through with one.  At that point communication would be coming from your attorney anyway.

You need to do everything you possibly can to not be adversarial in these meetings.  You need to be a strong advocate for your child, but part of advocacy is listening.  So be a good advocate for your child and keep your feelings in check when discussing your wants and needs for your child.  Once those communication barriers have been broken it’s really hard to build them back up.

How do you make it through PPT’s?

Live #BelowTheLine 2014 Is Done

Live below the line 2014Last week my oldest daughter and I spent the week eating only $1.50 worth of food and drink a day for five days.  This was my 3rd year doing it and my daughter’s 2nd year doing it.  It ended up being a little more difficult this year than last year.  I don’t know if it was because I decided to do it last minute and didn’t psych myself up for it enough or it was a particularly stressful week which required chocolate which I couldn’t have.

But I am proud to say we lasted the 5 days.  To my knowledge both of us succeeded in the challenge of only eating and drinking $1.50 worth of food and drink in spite of whatever temptations were thrown in our faces.

We raised some money, we could do better and you can still donate.  I hope we raised awareness if nothing else.  Honestly, the most important thing for me to get out of this is that my children understand how lucky we are.  That there are people in this world who do get by on so much less than we do.  I am pretty sure my oldest gets it and even my middle daughter understands what an enormous difficulty it must be to survive on so little.

I do still hope people will be inspired none the less to donate to this worthy cause.  No one should have to go to bed hungry and wake up hungry and continue through their day that way.  We have so much that we take for granted.  Meanwhile there are people in this world who see no end in sight to their poverty. And not because they are lazy or not trying to improve their lives, but simply because of where they were born.  There’s no choice in the matter and no way out and no hand up unless those of us who can give them that leg up.

I chose Care to be the charity that gets donations because I believe in what they are doing.  They started out creating Care packages for people in war-torn Europe, but now they give women and children the education and long lasting solutions needed to end poverty for them.  This isn’t simply providing food for people who are hungry.  Because as you know you can give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.  The money raised is going to improve people’s access to nutrition, healthcare, economic opportunity, and education in 84 impoverished countries.  They will be given the tools needed to overcome the challenges of the life they were born into for the rest of their life.  Sounds pretty fantastic to me, how about you?

Will you be making a donation to Care in my name?  The site is secure and it’s so simple to do, any amount will help.  Just go here and you can make a difference in the lives of thousands of people.