“Mom and Dad…”

When those words wake me out of a dead sleep, panic instantly races through my body. Maybe it was just a dream.  But no, because next I hear…

“…Andy’s throwing up.”

Oh yeah, people. It’s not a dream–it’s a nightmare.

“Where is he?” I asked laying foot after foot on the floor.

“In the bathroom,” Sam reported.

Jeff jumps out of bed too and I ask if he made it to the bathroom before he threw up.

“No,” Sam says and then I see Jeff coming back in to the room with his shirt pulled up over his nose. He confirms he didn’t make it to the bathroom.

It was much worse than I could have imagined in that split second. But, I guess in retrospect, it could always be even worse.

There was only one way to tackle this job (and no, I did not stop to take a selfie in the middle of the clean up; this is the next day).

2015-03-11 17.45.57

Ugh. The worst. I felt so bad for him, though. He kept saying, “I’m sorry, Mom.” I kept telling him—through the mask—that it was okay and I knew he couldn’t help it. He was running a little fever and was white as a ghost.

This was a Monday night. Just the day before, Andy’s little buddy was over. They were playing outside in the nice weather. They came in for a little break and I asked his friend how his sporting event was over the weekend.

“I didn’t do so good,” he said, “I was throwing up all day.” That ‘all day’ he was referring to was like, yesterday day–like 12 hours ago. He adds some details to the story that he threw up six times and the next thing I know, I hear Jeff from the other room say, “Okay, everybody get outside,” and he made them go back out. We both looked at each other and were like, dude, WTF, not cool.

About 20 minutes later, I discovered the kid’s shoes and asked where they were. One of mine responded by saying they were upstairs in Andy’s room playing Legos. I freaked and made them come downstairs and go outside. Andy argued with me a bit but I was insistent.

Andy came back in alone and asked why they couldn’t play inside. Besides the obvious (that we have been inside for six months and the sun was finally out), I told him that his friend said he had been sick and he shouldn’t be around other people for at least 24 hours after being sick—he was just sick like 10 hours ago. Not cool.

So not cool that a mere 30 hours later, I had a puking kid.   Thankfully, no one else in the house caught it (I am telling you, that mask is the bomb) but I want you to know I kept my kid home from school for two days until he was fever free for at least 24 hours. Come on, people. No one likes sick kids. Play along and keep your kids home and away from others until they are no longer contagious. Even if they are bugging the crap out of you and want to go play with friends…just say no!


I have to rant here for a second. I need to grab a megaphone, stand on a soapbox and let everyone know this thing that has been weighing heavy on my mind. Are you ready? Please listen, people:

Crime is everywhere.

Sorry, it’s true. We all wish it wasn’t…but it is.

You are not excluded, exempt from the opportunity of crime; you are not living in a safe area. There is no such thing. Safe is a state of mind; it’s a feeling. It is not a measure of crime in an area; that is a crime rate.

My husband accidentally left his police radio on yesterday after he came home from his shift. He usually turns it off and puts it on the charger, but he must have forgotten. As I walked up the stairs and turned in to our room to make the bed with fresh sheets out of the dryer, I heard voices. I thought I must have left the television on from earlier, but it was the radio.

It was about 3:30 in the afternoon on a Sunday and man, things were hoppin’ on North District. incomplete 9-1-1 call with no answer on call-back, serving a warrant at a run down motel and a suspect that fled a domestic but was caught in the next jurisdiction. A traffic stop, an accident, an alarm at a business and then a call to check on the welfare of a person: a man wondering the street in red shorts who was disoriented.

Next, a dispatcher called out two cars to respond to a man pacing on the sidewalk waving a gun in response to a domestic disturbance. Cars were on their way, but soon dispatch reported the woman who called in had lost sight of him but confirmed he was armed. Shortly after, there was a call out for a K9 unit.

I recently saw a post on Facebook with a mother ranting about how sad she was because her son had worked so hard and saved up his money for so long only to have is truck stolen out of his own driveway. He was warming it up in the driveway on a cold morning and someone stole it. All the comments were about how terrible that was, how sad, what is this world teaching him, etc. My comment would have imply been, “dumbshit.”

I don’t care where you live. Did you know there are people who literally drive around looking for people who practically open the door to crime? Cars running, garage doors open, laptops in plain view on backseats. Get smart, people. Don’t give them the opportunity.

A few weeks ago, I saw someone on television talking about a recent rash of home invasions in their neighborhood. “This has always been a safe neighborhood,” she said. But the truth is, it hasn’t been. No place is safe. It means people felt safe until they were violated. Now they feel unsafe. Crime rates would indicate that neighborhood has always had crime; it just didn’t affect the people who had a perceived feeling of safety.

Crime is happening all around you—all the time. Sometimes it starts at one intersection and ends at another; crime bleeds. You perceive yourself safe, but trust me, sometimes just blocks away something bad is happening and you might never know about it (by design, which perpetuates your feeling of safety). When that happens, you just got lucky that it didn’t bleed to where you are. We are all vulnerable; no one place is safe but you may feel safer in one place or another.

Criminals can drive, walk, bike, take a bus, whatever to where there is something worth stealing. That means the criminal is mobile—looking for people who make mistakes because they believe they are exempt. People are vulnerable when they mistake safe for a measure instead of a feeling. The measure is a crime rate; safe is a feeling.

You need to know that random acts of violence are very rare. What is more common is random crime: theft, burglary, armed robbery. Do everything you can to avoid inviting those crimes in to your life. Check your surroundings, leave lights on, lock your doors even when you are home, don’t leave your car running, get an alarm or a dog, don’t leave your garage open and for the love of God, don’t walk to your single-white-female ass to your car alone on a dark street at 2:30AM.

I ruined the end of a perfectly good date night on Saturday with a fight about a piece of thread on the floor.

Just as we were leaving for our night out, the boys said they wanted to spend the night at a neighbor friend’s house. But they clearly had some details to work out, so I told them to text me later and tell me what they decided. I checked my phone during intermission and saw a text that said, “we are all spending the night.” That meant we were free! We could stay out later and would be returning to an empty house.

When we finally got in the car to head home, we were both shocked that it was almost 11PM. I went to make my coffee for the next morning and realized the sink was still full of dishes and there was a pan full of macaroni and cheese on the stove.

“Someone didn’t put the leftover mac & cheese in the fridge,” I yelled out to Jeff.

“Oh, that was me” he said.

“And the dishes…?” I asked, knowing the answer. The sink was literally overflowing with dishes. Not necessarily dishes that required hand washing, but dishes that needed to be moved to the dishwasher.

I couldn’t do them; it was too late and I was too tired. I left it—all of it, including the now ruined mac & cheese—for the morning.

I was mad.

We both head upstairs and I start the argument by harping on the dishes. See, I had been out most of the day with a friend; Jeff was home with the boys. Indeed, he was doing laundry and did make a quick run to Kroger for me to pick up about 10 items. But, other than that, he was home.

“I didn’t have time. I was really busy today.”

I couldn’t let it go. He was insistent that his day was crazy busy but I knew what he had to do (and had done) that day and it just wasn’t adding up that he wouldn’t have three minutes to move dishes to the dishwasher after cleaning up breakfast and lunch with the boys.

I continued to argue about it. He continued to defend himself. I continued to go over and over his day, quizzing him on just which part was too busy for the dishes. I really projected the, “I do way more than that on any given day. Somehow I manage to get it all done” vibe. Okay, maybe I didn’t just project that vibe—maybe I used words very similar to those to try to get my point across.

“Well, congratulations. But it’s not a competition,” he snapped back at me.

I wouldn’t –I couldn’t—let it go; I wasn’t done with it. Finally, he looked up and asked me why I was continuing to argue about this when he had already apologized.

Kidless night ruined.

I crawled in bed and gave it some thought as I drifted off. I realized the source of my frustration and anger actually happened a few days ago.

There had been a piece of thread on our bathroom floor. We have what we refer to as a “one-butt” master bathroom. I point out the size of the room only to illustrate the fact that anyone in the bathroom would have seen the thread on the floor. We have a natural colored tile on the floor and the thread was dark, almost like an army green. At one point, I thought it might be a long blade of grass but then decided that was next to impossible given the fact that it was February in Indiana.

I looked at it, and left it. I do these stupid things every once in a while…just to see…to see how long it takes someone else in the house to pick them up. I am always disappointed in the results.

About two days later, the thread was still there. “Oh, no worries, I got it” I said when he was close enough to hear and picked up the thread, tossing it in the trash.

We laughed and of course he made a joke out of it, saying he “saved it for me” because he knows how much I enjoy organizing and picking up things.

I laughed too, but there was a real point in there for me. A real sense of being under-appreciated and almost taken advantage of for my high need for keeping things organized and tidy.

The dishes were just like the thread: another thing that had been left for me.

I fell asleep and when I woke up in the morning, I apologized and told Jeff that I was angry because I feel under-appreciated. I pointed out how hard I work to keep things on track, organized and tidy around here and sometimes, I just want the same in return.

This got me thinking about our division of labor around the house. Here’s a pretty solid breakdown: Jeff

What’s the division of labor look like at your house? Do you feel your hard work is adequately acknowledged? Do you feel appreciated?


I got in trouble this morning for an email I sent to a client. I just couldn’t help myself when I fired off the email that started a shit-storm last night. I was gently reminded that if I was even the slightest bit emotional when I wrote the email, I probably shouldn’t have sent it. Agreed. I probably shouldn’t have.

But, it’s just such a pet peeve of mine—people failing to take any personal responsibility for their role in an error. Sure, I take responsibility for my part, but…(silence).

To deflect my attention from this recent exchange, I thought I would share some of my other pet peeves.

People who don’t make eye contact

Just so you know, when you walk by me, so close if we extended our arms our hands would touch, and don’t make eye contact, it makes me feel completely disconnected. Look up, look over, and smile dammit. Okay, you don’t even have to smile-nod, blink, something to just acknowledge another living breathing person is near. Sometimes (you know, that “special time” of the month) I have to restrain myself from calling them out on it, waving my hands and yelling, “HELLO.” I bet one day I will.


Is the ground seriously your personal trash can? This one really gets me. It’s just gross. Who does that?!? I do call out to those people, I don’t even try to restrain myself.

Photographs by “photographers” with bad lighting exposure

You know the thing about digital photography? I mean, it’s good and bad, but digital photography has made everyone a “photographer.” But photography is an art form and requires practice and study. My skin crawls when people post their recent family photo session by a “photographer” on Facebook and I see disgraceful lighting.

Stickers on glass and plastic

For the love of God, someone with the patience to do so please remove these from everything everywhere! Including those people who let their kids put stickers all over their car windows.

People who mess up the traffic laws

That is so nice you are letting me turn left in front of you (since you are turning right) but there are rules so we all have the same expectation and right now, you are fucking with those rules.

When you are listening to a song and someone then wants to play their iPod

“Oh I love this song!” and everyone’s jamming out and dancing. “Okay, now I am going to play a song” and someone hijacks the DJ spot, unhooks your ipod, hooks up theirs, shuffles through the songs that they thought would be so great, skipping through them without playing a full one, searching for something super cool. “Nevermind, I just lost my groove.” #partyfail


I mean the kind who cannot even handle you uttering the word fart. The kind that tell their kids to call it a wee wee or a dinky or refer to poop as bowl movements. Come on people, potty humor is funny and if you don’t think so, I am not sure we can be friends. And I am not sure we can be friends if you have to refer to a blow job as fellatio.

Logos created with word art

I think that sums it up. Such a missed opportunity to create a statement with a logo. Graphic design is an actual profession for a reason: because Word Art sucks.Document1

When the buttons don’t match the noise

This drives me IN-SANE. You know when you go to the gas station and push the buttons to answer the questions it asks you before you can pump? OMG I cannot stand it when the beeps don’t match the speed in which I push the buttons. I feel like I might die when I push, push, push then beep. Beep. Beep.

Clipping nails

I don’t think I have to expound on this one. And, I just need to say…it is ALWAYS a man doing it. I have never seen a woman whip out nail clippers at a conference or in a meeting. I have never heard that familiar sound only to turn around and see a woman driving the nail-clipping-ship. What is wrong with men that they think this is okay? Don’t worry, I am training my boys that the only acceptable place to trim nails is in the bathroom. Period.

Artwork hung too high or too low

Really? Google it, people. Artwork should always be hung at 57” (average human eye height) on center. That means the center of the picture or artwork or whatever you are hanging should be at 57”. Now, I give a lot of leeway on this because our houses aren’t galleries. But, sometimes I just can’t even look.

You’re welcome.

When I was growing up, trouble on the horizon in our household usually meant a trip to a therapist. There was family therapy, individual therapy, group therapy (for some members of my family) and marriage counseling for my parents (which in the end was not enough to save their marriage).

Sounds intense, but it really wasn’t. It taught me to ask for help from an outsider when I was struggling through a difficult time. It taught me that sometimes when we are blaming others, what we really need is a mirror. It taught me that successful relationships require a level of conscious effort and downright self-discipline.

To be in a successful relationship, you can’t just do whatever the hell you want, say whatever the hell you want and go wherever the hell you want. And, this means all kinds of relationships, not just for spouses. These were important lessons for me during those difficult teen years about even how to co-exist with my parents—or with anyone for that matter.

For someone who has never been to therapy, you probably envision therapy all wrong. It’s usually not like it looks on TV.

A good therapist doesn’t tell you what to do.

A good therapist asks the right questions. Answering those questions leads you to determine what you should do—and most importantly what you want to do.

A good therapist get you to see inside yourself, identify your responsibility in a situation and help you figure out how you can change to get the outcome you desire.

A good therapist sets up a scenario where you are able to have an important and honest conversation with yourself in an environment free of judgment and with nothing to prove.

I have learned some important lessons in my life from good therapists. Here are a few that I still go to on a regular basis:

Try to pick up the pen.

Early on in our marriage, we were working through some issues that, at the time, seemed pretty serious and I am sure they were to my late-20-year-old self. But now, going on 18 years of marriage and three kids later, they don’t seem very serious but resolving them no doubt created an important foundation of respect and honesty in our marriage. It was my husband’s first experience with therapy and he was, at best, dubious of the situation; therapy was not part of his family’s milieu.

Our therapist was an older man and in fact, preparing for retirement. I have mentioned him in a blog post before as he is the one who helped me see the errors in my ways in creating a parent-child dynamic with my spouse. He held up that mirror for me early on in my marriage and changed our path—forever.

In particular, I remember one session where we agreed to both “try” to improve our approach or behavior, or something that was the issue at hand. He wasn’t satisfied with our commitment to “try” to improve.

Don set a pen down on his desk and asked my husband, “try to pick up that pen.” And so, Jeff picked up the pen. “No,” Don responded. He didn’t say pick it up—he said try to pick it up. Jeff picked it up again. Again, Don responded that he had directed him to try to pick up the pen—not pick it up. I tried and had the same result.

The lesson was there is no trying: you either do it or you don’t. Life is not about trying. If you simply try, you will never achieve the result you desire—or need.

Why did you fall in love?

This lesson was also courtesy of Don. We had returned with new issues. I was frustrated and feeling overwhelmed. I felt like my husband never did anything to help out. He was always off having fun and I was stuck doing all the work. He made a joke of everything and never took anything seriously. We had issues with our extended families. He played all kinds of sports and was never home. The list went on and on…and probably on.

Finally, Don looked at me and asked, “Why did you fall in love with him?”

I responded, without missing a beat, that he was so fun and had the best sense of humor. He was always making me laugh and he had such an easy-going approach to life (which was a great balance to my high stress approach). I was attracted to the fact that he came from such a traditional family, which was so different than mine, he was so funny and I loved that he was so social and did fun things. He helped me relax and encouraged me to try things I had never done before.

Don waited for me to finish and said nothing, just looked at me.

“What?” I wondered.

He asked me if I listened to what I just said.

And then, I realized what I had said.

All the reasons I had fallen in love with my husband were now the very things I was in his office complaining about. I had turned “easy going” into lazy. I had turned “great sense of humor” into he never took anything seriously. See how I did that? I had flipped everything I loved in to all things that annoyed me.

My husband hadn’t changed, I had. It was time to refocus on why I fell in love with him in the first place.

When you raise the white flag, raise it high enough for people to really see it.

Don eventually retired and a few years later, when we found ourselves in another negative pattern and we sought counseling again. This time, the therapist was a woman. I was kind of excited because I thought maybe she would be on my side a little more, but unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work like that.

This was probably the roughest patch in our marriage so far—at least for me. We had three kids age four and under and my husband was assigned to middle shift, which on our police department was 1:00PM to 10:00PM. Things were picking up with my consulting business and I was still trying to do it all—and the bottom line was I was (and continue to be) a terrible twilight hour single mother.

I was done—like DONE done—by 5:30PM or so; out of patience, out of energy, out of everything. But there I was, alone with three tired and cranky kids. I needed to feed them, sometimes take them to activities and bathe them, read to them and get them in bed. And, once I got them in bed, the routine sometimes continued while I attempted to get them to stay in bed.


I know, look at those cute little boys in that picture. But, this period of parenting, for me, involved a lot of yelling and sometimes even tears (mine, theirs, ours). I couldn’t do it and I wasn’t doing it successfully. My husband was still new enough on the department that he couldn’t get the shift we wanted—or more like the shift we needed for our young family.

My breaking point was one night at a T-ball game at the Y. Our oldest was playing T-ball for the first time. It was a beautiful late summer night and that little four year old was excited to get his pants stained with dirt for the first time on the field.

I had the foresight to bathe and put the baby in his pajamas, thinking I would nurse him as I watched the game. I grabbed a camp chair and some snacks for the toddler and we headed out. I pulled the car into the grassy field like the rest of the parents and found a spot among a virtual sea of mini vans and SUVs.

As soon as the car stopped, seat belts were unbuckled and the van door flew open and everyone one wanted out at the same second. I loaded up with the diaper bag, snacks, camp chair, the baby out of his seat, dug up the baseball glove and gave orders to stay by me while we found the right field.

In a flash, the toddler was running toward the mud puddle in the drainage ditch leaving only a cloud of dust in his wake. The baby was screaming and squirming and this only ‘encouraged’ my milk. And the oldest, well…I couldn’t find his field.

Finally, I found a group of red shirts and sent my oldest over to join in, hoping it was his team. I found a spot on the sidelines with the other parents, set up my chair and got the baby situated to nurse. As soon as the shirt went up, his hands were waiving and his legs started kicking with excitement. When he latched on, his gulps of warm milk were audible even on the noisy ball field.

I listened to the conversations around me and never felt more alone.

I scanned the field for my middle child from my chair with the nursing baby. Finally, I spotted him. Still in the drainage ditch, covered in mud. I gave up, right then and there—I was raising the white flag.

As the game wraps up, I realize I never even saw my son up to bat. I decided that was it; no more sports until my husband’s shift changed and he could be home in the evenings. I couldn’t do it. Period.

Harder than accepting this point was coming to it and admitting it, admitting it was too much for me. I wanted desperately to be able to do it, to be able to succeed at doing it like I wanted to, like I had envisioned doing it, like I thought it should be done. But I couldn’t.

I remember when I finally went back to school to finish my degree I told my dad that I just didn’t think I could work full time and go to school full time.

“That’s okay,” he said.

“But,” I protested, “People do it all the time.”

And he reassured me some people can, some people can’t. I needed to just be okay with the fact that I couldn’t. Here I was again: I needed to be okay with the fact that I just couldn’t. I needed to raise the white flag high enough that my partner understood I simply couldn’t do it. It wasn’t that I was unwilling or angry about it, I just was not wired to do “this” one part of life the way my situation was forcing me to. We had to make a change. And we did.

I have three more favorite lessons I learned from therapists and I will share those in a future post. But until then, I hope these help you understand that we need help to get things right—but most of all we need help understanding what we are doing wrong. Only then can we make things right. And I am far from perfect here and often have to be reminded of these lessons myself–most often by my spouse but sometimes by my internal voice that reminds me I can change the paths I am on if I don’t like them.

A good therapist provides that mirror for you to look and consider what your responsibility might be in a challenging period or relationship.

Find one. What are you afraid of? The right one can help, I promise.

The other day I suggested to my husband that he sign up for Trunk Club.  He seems to always struggle with shopping and I am growing tired of his gray sweater with blue shirt uniform.  I sometimes pick up a few items up for him when I am shopping, but I haven’t been out shopping in eons–or at least not at a store that also carries menswear.

I thought perhaps Trunk Club would give him the opportunity to really discover his style without having to pick things out himself.  Plus, it would allow him to try things on at home and get my feedback (which he likes to have with clothes) without me having to go out shopping with him.  I really don’t like shopping (for me or for anyone else), can you tell?

He agreed to try and signed up.  He created a profile and entered all of his measurements.  Then, I found out this is what he used as his profile picture.


There was an urgent voicemail from his stylist the other day. “Hi, this is [insert name] and I am your Trunk Club stylist. I just really wanted to chat for a few minutes to learn more about your personal style. I am excited to start shopping for you!”

Yes, I am sure she is excited to start shopping for him…and his cat.



A picture snapped a few minutes after this one hangs in a frame on the wall of my bedroom.

Scan 4 copy

“I remember that!” Sam always insists.

“Sam, you were a baby. There is no way you actually remember that.” I respond.

“I do. That’s when my penis got pinched in that chair,” Sam always says.

“No, it’s not,” I reply, fulfilling our usual back and forth routine. “Your penis never got pinched in a chair. That has never happened to you—ever.”

“Yeah, it did on that trip. You told me.” He insists.

“I never told you that—ever. You made it up.”

In fact, he just walked in the room and I told him I was writing a blog post about him and pointed to the picture.

“Oh, about the time my balls got pinched in that chair?”

“NO!” I repeated—again, “That never happened!”

Each time I remind him that he was crying in the picture because he had sand on his hand…at the beach (imagine that, sand at the beach). More specifically, he was crying because at that age, Sam had perfected ruining every moment our family enjoyed.

What I remember from that day is my determination to get a picture of Sam sitting with Phillip in that chair. I would not take “no” for an answer. Sensing my strong desire to make him do something that was not his idea, Sam threw a fit. He didn’t take well to direction when he was a toddler. Sam was, well…a difficult child to say the least.

Over time, he has created his story about what he believes to have happened in this picture. He misremembered this story and it has become his truth.

I mean, it happens. Elizabeth Loftus, a professor of psychology and social behavior at University of California Irvine School of Law was on Here & Now the other day talking about the Brian Williams issue. She affirmed that in fact we can, “visualize things, we can draw inferences of what could of happened or might have happened and sometimes those visualizations can get converted into something that feels like a genuine memory.”

Haven’t you ever heard someone tell a story and realize they are telling your story but claiming it as their own? Like maybe your spouse is telling a story at dinner with another couple and says something like, “…and then I said…” and you think—wait, you didn’t say that—I did! It happens, people.

I am sure it has happened to me. And, like Brian Williams, I am sure I have inadvertently told stories that belonged to those near me as my own. I feel like my blog posts have been sort of depressing lately, but here I am again thinking about the crazy way our society has become so polarized.

When I was watching the Grammy’s, I couldn’t believe that Chris Brown was nominated and then not 10 minutes later there was a piece raising awareness for domestic violence. Or, what about sports figures who get away with outrageous behavior and still make millions (no sport ignored and no criminal behavior exempted—domestic violence, gun charges, fighting, intimidation, sexual assault, you name it).

Brian Williams was in a life-threatening scenario, covering the war. He watched another copter get shot down. I mean, he can’t really report that he shit his pants (although Al Roker has reported this before) as he watched in horror. I don’t know…I am not saying Brian Williams was right in what he did, but I don’t think he did anything with intention. I don’t think it was malicious behavior or designed to insult anyone or diminish the efforts of those who were actually shot down.  I think it just, well..can happen. Kind of like sharting. Just ask Al.

Getting quiet time to think is a challenge for most of us, but it’s a necessity for me to maintain my sanity. That’s one of the gifts that rediscovering exercise has given me: a time each day to close out the world and focus on only the sounds I choose to listen to through my ear buds. A private one-way conversation that often sparks extended internal thought and sometimes leads to great external conversations.

Sometimes I don’t even use ear buds and just listen to my own thoughts, but that’s mostly when I am outside and want to hear the sounds around me. At the gym, I almost always listen to podcasts. And, those podcasts are usually NPR programs including my favorites like On Being and of course, This American Life.

On Saturday, I found myself listening to the February 6th program of This American Life entitled “Cops See It Differently, Part One.” There I was on the treadmill, shaking my fist, mouthing, “YES!” to several points of this program and I want to share the most important parts with you in case you are not able to listen to the full show (which, I would highly recommend you do).

I think that one of the most concerning things about my response to this show is how happy I was that someone actually took the time to even consider the other side, to really give pause and think about how difficult this job is and how complicated police work can be. I think I even let out a audible, “Thank you,” when I heard Ira Glass open the show by saying:

For so long now, there’s been this conversation or debate– I don’t know what you want to call this– about policing and race and people being targeted, and whenever it comes up, it seems to split very quickly into a kind of my side versus your side sort of thing.

 In these last few months, we’ve been talking about this stuff amongst ourselves here on the radio show staff and researching and reporting in different parts of the country, and we have found some things that surprised us about policing and how complicated and difficult it is, and about how hard it is to sort out the part that race and racism play in all kinds of incidents, and we found ways that racism seems undeniable.

Read More →

I have been volunteering for an afterschool support program at my son’s middle school. Designed to eliminate the thousands of missing assignments each year, the program places students in an afterschool working detention. They receive the missing assignments and must complete them that day (or continue to come to the program until all assignments are complete).

Before they are even assigned to the afterschool program, they receive three chances to turn the work in using a graduated warning system that includes notifying parents called infractions. So, it takes THREE infractions to get a referral to the afterschool program. Last week, we had 70+ middle school students stay after to complete missing assignments. This boggles my mind.

The whole reason I volunteered here is that at one point last term, my middle schooler had accumulated 17 missing assignments. Yep, 17. I worked with him to get caught up by first printing off a list of all missing assignment. He had to talk to each teacher about the missing work and find out how to get caught up. Then, I emailed each teacher and told him/her know that all the work would be completed but I did not expect my son to get any credit for the work; this wasn’t about the points, it was about turning in the work. Finally, we created a special folder that he was to take out every day in each class to help him stay organized and deliver completed work to the teacher.

So, when I heard about this upcoming afterschool program, it seemed like a good opportunity to give back. Plus, I was halfway thinking my son would be in there from time to time so might as well volunteer. But, I am happy to report he has yet to have a missing assignment this term!

I was prepared to help the other middle schoolers with their assignments as I often help my son with a learning disability at night. But there were many things that I wasn’t prepared for.

One is the sheer number of boys verses girls. Now, I should have known this intuitively. But I live in the world of boys and sometimes forget: boys clearly struggle with organization and self-discipline more than girls. On an average day, boys out number girls 4:1.

Another is the physical size of some of the kids in middle school. I mean they are like men including phantom mustaches. It’s kind of freaky. I come from the land of late bloomers.

But the biggest surprise of all is the complete disrespect these kids have for, well, anyone and anything—including themselves. It’s extremely discouraging and given the current discussions about public education, it’s important to take note of this.

I am not a good macro thinker. There are lots of problems in the world that are just too big and complex for me. I don’t even like thinking about them; they are overwhelming and include things like health care, crime, and poverty. And of course, add public education to the list. It’s a huge, multi-faceted and complex challenge intertwined with lots of those other issues listed above. There is no easy fix; there is no single solution.

But here is one thing I do know for sure. The toolbox is empty.

Schools are expected to do more…and more…and more with less. Less money, less autonomy to meet the needs of their unique student body, less investment in human capital and less concern for the people they are producing (and growing concern for the student’s performance on standardized tests).

The kind of disrespect I have seen by these kids—some as young as sixth grade—persists because it is allowed to persist at home and at school. We cannot control what goes on home. And, home plays a big part in shaping kids. But, look at what else schools cannot control about home and have been asked to do: breakfast, dental care, health care, and more. A few years ago I played tennis with a school nurse working in a public school system in Marion County. She had just been transferred to a high school and was lamenting that she had to learn how to do pelvic exams. Yes, students in the school would be coming to her for pelvic exams.

School provides lots of things that have nothing to do with reading, writing and math. Why not invest in making sure the kids who need it most all get the one thing that might be missing: positive attention from someone who believes in them.

After a particularly difficult afterschool session the other day, I saw a friend from one of my parents of special needs kiddos groups had a post that said, “kids who need attention must ask for it loudest.” I know those kids. They are longing for attention and they don’t know how to ask. There is hope for them, but not for much longer. And, the tricky thing about finding an adult who believes in them is that’s not always enough, right? Two people can tell you the same thing, but there is something about the way one of them says it to you that you listen, you believe. So, kids need to have lots of adults in their life who are positive and caring until they find that one that clicks for them.

I don’t know what the solution is but it has to have something to do with more money to hire more people. Not necessarily teachers. In fact the burden has become so great on teachers they rarely teach anymore. Just as a recently retired teacher and they will tell you how much education has changed in recent years.

The thing is…these kids, they need someone to call them on the clue phone—fast.

While there are many, many things about kids that I don’t blame parents for, blatant disrespect for adults, strangers and authority is one thing I do blame on parents. And, I blame our legislators who keep education spending flat and play political games instead of focus on really addressing some serious problems in our schools. I mean, you don’t need to be inside these schools long to see these real problems. Making rules and regulations from a comfy office is easy; implementing them with boots on the ground is incredibly difficult.

It makes me sad because, as I said to one kid the other day, you do not get what you want in life by being rude to people. You don’t. Life is hard and that kind of attitude only makes it harder—not easier, not better—just harder. I wish the school had more hands on deck to surround these kids with adults who believe. Especially these days because all the adults who believe are currently preoccupied with preparing students for the 12 hour-long state standardized test. The toolbox is empty. I wish passing test scores led to a full toolbox, but it just leads to more tests.


Update on the funk: 35 days until spring and 245 miles to go to meet my goal.

Remember the post where I talked about why I wanted to leave Facebook? Well, here is another reason I should get off of Facebook that wasn’t in that post. But first the backstory.

About six years ago, I realized my obsessive and compulsive thoughts and behaviors coupled with significant anxiety had progressed to the level where they were often controlling my life. I avoided situations because of scenarios that I played out in my head that didn’t even exist. I refused to do things that probably would have turned out fine and would have been fun for my kids just because my fear was stronger than my ability to be rational.

I went to a psychiatrist who really helped me understand what I was dealing with and to put together a plan of treatment. The treatment included finding an SSRI that would help reduce my symptoms to the point where they stopped interfering with my life. Now, I rely on the magic of pharmacology to help me keep these thoughts in check. But, in times of stress or when some of the triggers present themselves, I can still have trouble really being in control of my thoughts and behaviors.

And here’s the thing. I KNOW these thoughts and behaviors are not rational. Intellectually, I know my thought process and what I believe might actually happen is flawed. But, I cannot help it and often cannot stop it on my own.

Someone might say, “Just don’t think about [whatever I am obsessing about].”


Or they pull out “[Whatever I am obsessing about] is just silly.”

No, it could really happen. I know it could. I mean, easily—it could.

And sometimes, in a last-ditch effort to help you move on, “So what, we will deal with [whatever I am obsessing about] when and if it happens.”

But how? I mean, how would we ever deal with it? What would I do? I don’t think I could survive.

There is no talking me down, no changing my opinion, I am rooted in my belief about these thoughts and they represented my personal truths. And, they are extremely loud in my head and won’t be ignored. But, I still know they are not always rational.

Then, when the OCD comes for a visit, it brings its favorite aunt that smells like mothballs: anxiety. This provides a physical response to the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Depending on how overwhelmed or fearful I am, those responses could be shaking, light headedness, stomach cramps and almost always noise in my head that makes listening to ambient noises almost painful. And, by ambient in this situation, I mean it can sometimes be difficult for me to hold a conversation with someone, especially my chattering children.

For example in my recent post about how I flew on a plane after 13 years, the morning we were leaving for the airport my husband was unloading the dishwasher and the clanging of the dishes was as loud as the crushing metal in a car accident that was happening right next to my ear.

Now, honestly most of the time these days I am just fine. And hopefully, you don’t even notice some of these odd behaviors. But certain things throw me in to an OCD/Anxiety state and the number one thing that does it: germs. Yep. Germs. And, I know—oh, the irony, I have THREE boys—it’s impossible to avoid germs around here. They are practically one giant walking germ.

Sometimes I can shrug it off but other times, I get so worried about damn germs. Facebook can often trigger a response when I start to see several posts of people lamenting about sickness. Germs.  Germs spreading.  Germs clustering, attacking a school or a whole family after a get-together. And some of those people’s kids go to school with my kids. Some of those people work with my husband or me. Some of those people are our family. It all freaks me out.  I mean, I love you and all but…germs.

The thoughts start and I worry. When did I see them last? What do they have, what’s wrong with them? Who was I with? What did we do? When am I scheduled to see them next and will they be over it by then and not contagious? What if I get this? Did I wash my hands?

But one thing I know for sure is the answer is always yes.  Yes, I washed my hands.