Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow Science Fun: Preschool Edition

My daughter is in preschool this year. This is her first and last year in preschool. We wanted to get her in last year, but E was in the afternoon Kindergarten program so it wasn't possible. Unless we figured out teleporting, it just wasn't happening. So we waited until E was in school full days and got A in the four year old program. Part of the program is that each parent needs to fullfill parent helper days in order to keep the class going for the day as they need to follow adult to child ratios like in a daycare. So today was one of my turns. I have seven days in all.

I don't mind parent helper day as it helps me get some one on one time with A. I have no distractions such as cleaning, the computer, work, etc., just time with A. She loves it, although she doesn't listen very well to the teacher sometimes because she is too busy looking for me. I got a call on Monday night while I was at work letting me know it was science day and to wear something warm because we were going outside. My husband laughed at me, and I dreaded today. I normally don't mind the cold, I'm a Winnipegger and by January you're pretty much climatized. But we have been spoiled these last few winters, and this winter Mother Nature is kicking our tuckus' bringing us a real Manitoba winter for a change. Meaning we are up to our eyeballs with -31.C to -39.C windchills. Brrrrrr. I was not looking forward to today at all.

Once bundled up in toques, scarves, snowsuits, and boots we were more than ready to tackle that frigid winter air. First we went to Snow Island, if you used your imagination it could look like this:

(Google Images)

It was a plot of land, in the bus loop that has three spruce trees and lots of space. The kids go there first stop after leaving the warm air of the school, watching for buses and cars. Once there we get to touch the snow, feel the air. Then, we go exploring. Has someone been here? How do we know? And so on. The kids found some small hills, boulders, footprints, an inukshuk and what looked like a ditch made by a dinosaur tail! The children were asked to make their own inukshuk to let people know they had been there and then were asked to gather containers of snow and put in a giant container. These containers full of snow were to be brought inside after the outing.

After the containers were filled, everyone was asked if they wanted to go on another adventure. We walked to a giant hill that everyone could climb and slide down. The kids had a blast! Two pictures and a few slides later we were on our way back inside. The South wind was angry and we could tell on the way back to the school. Once inside we had hot chocolate and marshmallows. The kids then put their snow into small cups and had a sheet to perdict what would happen to the snow in their cups. They all guessed it would melt into water, their cups would show how much water would be left behind by next class, in two days. The kids got to play with the remaining snow, analyzing it, and then it was time to go. Everyone had a blast including this Winnipegger whose gone soft in the last few years.

Today totally reminded me of my younger years, and scenes like this:

(Google Images)

Families together in the snow. No one seems worried about the cold. It was just the way I remember it. Just plain fun and the cold didn't touch you until you hit the warm air of the building on the way in. I may have been the Grinch about parent helper day all the way up to getting to the classroom, but I walked away with heart of fun three sizes bigger.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Bitch: Teachers and The No Child Left Behind Plan

Ugh. Gaah! I want to pull my hair out.

Let me state this first. I don't hate teachers. In fact, I admire them. There is a reason I could never homeschool, because I couldn't deal with whiney, mouthy shits with their "I'm entitled to the moon" bullshit attitudes. (Yes, I love my children, but this generation thinks if they blink they should get whatever they desire. My fault, but mine are no different, trying to change this.) I couldn't deal with parents who sit there and bitch at me because little Johnny failed English in grade 9 because the education system pushed him through school due to the No Child Left Behind plan the government said was a such a great idea. They don't care that little Johnny is illiterate, they just don't want him to feel embarrassed because he's kept a grade behind while his friends move on ahead. He might be bullied. Really? Um, here's some real life logic for you, if little Johnny is illiterate and it's discovered when he's older, those are the ones you should be afraid of bullying him, not some kid in grade 3. From experience, Middle School is the melting pot of hate.

What also doesn't fly with me with this whole No Child Left Behind plan is that it doesn't help little Johnny or little Emily prepare for how the real world is going to treat them. The real world couldn't care less what excuse older Johnny or older Emily comes up with for showing up late to work if they show up at all. The real world couldn't care less if Johnny's teachers gave him all A's if it doesn't show in his practical work that he can do the job he wants. The real world couldn't care less if Emily forgot her media project for work on her table at home. The point is that it wasn't there for the investors meeting, now they lost their investors and need to start again. Emily lost millions for her company, they could toss her if they wish, for any reason they wish. Funny how the real world works, eh? We don't get to make excuses for poor decisions and still pass go. In the adult world we are expected, and rightly so, to be accountable for ALL of our actions, not just the ones we want to take credit for. Our schools are helping to raise whole generations of children. A wise teacher once told me, "We are not raising children, we are raising young adults." Children have none to little consequences and everyone holds their hands. Adults live in the world of sharks and they need to be self-sufficient and problem solvers in order to survive.

Now on to today. Last week the science teacher called about my son. I called her back today. He's at a 59% in Science going in to the exams. He missed a lab, and now he's not living up to his full potential. But these kids have to email their labs in and then bring in the hard copy the next day if they forgot it at home. So my kid emailed it but forgot the second part. This was in December. How does this help anyone now? It's January 15th. She's so concerened about his mark so she tells me a month after the lab is due and can no longer be handed in? That sounds more than a bit backwards to me. She went on to say how he needs to study hard for exams and there is free peer tutoring available until then, as he needs a good mark on the exam to pass. Exams are in two weeks. How does this help anyone now? I didn't question it, as this was not the first time this has happened. Not with this teacher, last year it was the electronics teacher. (My son refused to go back into electronics after that session strictly because of the teacher. Pretty sad he had to stop doing something he was interested in because of a teacher.) Seriously, does anyone else see what's wrong with this picture? I should be preventing something from happening, not trying to do damage control after the fact. It doesn't teach my son anything and all it does is waste 10 minutes of my time on the phone when I could be doing something else. Once she heard my answer to her, she became curt in her conversation with me.

My answer was this. "I'm not going to argue with my son, he knows how he learns" (In regards to her saying that if he does the science review and hands it in he'll get marks and he said no. In more words of course). "I don't know if you know, but he was bullied for a good four years. Finally, this year it's settled down and his marks have improved immensely. I talk about his potential, but I feel that his marks are showing he is finally trying. (He was practically failing every course the last four years.)So, if he fails from not doing his work, the onus is on him. I can only do so much. But I won't be sending him to Summer School and he'll be held back while his friends go on. C'est la vie." Then she tried to get me off the phone. Well, if you don't like the answer you might get, don't call me. I'm pretty old school. You don't do your shit, you end up behind. You fall behind far enough, there is not going to be anyone there to hold your hand and make it all better. You'll be making up the time again next year and graduate a year behind from your friends. I had to go through it, and there is nothing wrong with anyone going through it. The things in life are not there for you because you deserve it for just being you. They are there for you when you work for it. Without working for it, life is just a big department store and you are a permanent window shopper. I don't want my child to be a window shopper. He has more potential than that. Alas, I see I am the only one to teach my child this, as the school system believes the perfect system is us all sitting in a circle singing "kumbaya" until high school and reality smacks these kids in the face.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Resolution Time 2013

Well Bishes! We made it! We survived the Mayan calendar predictions of a Dec. 21, 2012 apocolypse. Aren't we bloody fantastic! Okay, so in all reality it was the modern day man's interpretation of the Mayan calendar. I'm beginning to think that is all life is, you're interpretation of it. Which life you are living is your interpretation of how great or shitty it is. In truth, my life is pretty damn good, it's my disorder that helps bring out and sometimes define the shittiness of it. All I can do is put up my dukes and beat the fucker back where it belongs, leaving it to cower in the darkest corner so I can have a happier perception of the life God has given me.

(Google Images)

So here we are. New year, new Mayan cycle, new life, which leads to the yearly Resolution Rush. I did a resolution post last year. I needed to go back to it to see what I kept, ditched, and so forth. Yeah, that was short, I only had one resolution. I didn't ditch it, but I didn't make it to my goal either. I think I would have, if it wasn't for a slight problem. Long story short, I lost 30lbs by April or May. I was well on my way, until I started doubling over in pain. At first it was random, but when I tried to lose more weight, it got worse. I went to my doctor and after tests they found a cyst on my ovary. So I gave up the healthy eating and went on to gaining back 5lbs to help ease the now chronic pain. Four months after my consultation with the surgeon I had my surgery. I love how I feel now! Getting used to not cringing when I anticipate pain for some things, relieved I no longer feel it. I'm almost all healed inside too. Anyways, another post I'm sure. Post op checkup is next week. So during recovery as it was during Christmas I said screw it and just let myself enjoy the holidays. Enjoy I did. I gained back half of that 30lbs. So a fail? Yes, and no. A total fail would have been if nothing was wrong medically and I just gave up because of whatever the reason was. This was a necessary evil. Okay, munching on all that holiday goodness, no, but the rest was. In the end, last years resolution was a partial success. Go me! Because of this I'm feeling more confident in my resolution keeping abilities. So here is my new list for 2013.

1. Lose this weight.

My goal is to lose the full 50lbs that I wanted to lose last year. If I lose more bonus! But the main goal is 50.

2. Make healthy eating a lifestyle.

Poop on the diets. I want this to translate into good healthy eating choices for my kids.

3. Pay off most of my debt, and get more into savings.

We aren't bad, but we have gained about double the debt in seven years together than we had when we first got married. I'm not counting the mortgage on our home or the loan for the new van. I'm talking the other debt from just poor money management. We did things like spend $400 on each kid in 2011 for Christmas. We went into debt for Christmas? WTF?! Yeah, this year was more manageable, we went in with a budget and a list and that was all they got. We landed at maybe $100. per kid and didn't use the CC to pay for it. I'll keep some notes on what goes on throughout the year, see where we end up on Dec. 31/2013

4. Design and finish at least 3 quilts for the littles by years end. Princess Unicorn for A, Herobrine from Minecraft for E, and Monkeys for L. (L walks around making monkey noises all the time. It's really cute)

5. No clue. I'm thinking it should be something about my novel or my business, or making myself a better parent, yet these things shouldn't be given a date on when to start. It should be an everyday growth thing. Especially when it comes to hubby and kids.

Well I think I"ll end it with four things. They are going to take time and patience and focus. So far I'm eating better and down 2 lbs this week from January 1, 2013. We have brought down some debt by at least $1,000 and put myself on a spending cut unless it's business related. And that would be for special orders. I have also been more consistent about using a meal plan and have been shopping accordingly. It's not easy by any means, but what in life is? So, what is your resolution and are you planning on sticking with it? What have you started with so far? Did you start some of your resolutions near the end of 2012 like I did? Or did you wait for January 1st?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Down The Rabbit Hole/ Through The Looking Glass

I wanted my first post of the year to be a Happy New Year/ Resolution post.  I'm putting that off for an issue that is near and dear to me.  Well not so much dear, in fact, I think the issue is a complete asshole and wish it would just fuck off out of my life.  However, this was the hand I was dealt.  I cannot run from it, as then I would be running from myself.  I have been hesitant about sharing this part of myself. Once it is out there it can change everything.  It can affect my job.  I'm hoping it doesn't.  Here it goes.

I haven't slept well for a good month.  The last two weeks have been hell with insomnia.  The doctor told me that my hormones would be out of wack for a bit after my surgery to remove my cyst.  I had no idea how much it would affect, or what it could affect, including my disorder.  I am not sure if I'm going to say which disorder it is yet.  I'm not sure it matters, what is important to me is that mental health is misunderstood, even by the community that is put in place to help.

I went for years undiagnosed, struggling every moment of every day to understand why I wasn't like anyone else.  I even admitted myself into a hospital to help as a teen.  Finally in 2003, frustrated with the pain in myself and the pain I could see I was causing my family I attempted suicide.  I really didn't want to die, I just wanted the pain to end.  The pain for my family, and I wanted answers for myself.  My child was at daycare, I called my mother calming to pick him up from there at the end of the day.  She asked me why, out of character for me (at the time I spent many days yelling and hanging up on her and others), I said calmly, "because".  I said good-bye, hung up and began methodically taking one pill at a time.  Music cranked, tears rolling down my face, praying to God that somebody save me from myself and help me because I really didn't want to die.  Praying for the pain for myself and those around me to end.  God answered my prayer.  I usually kept my door locked.  I don't know if I left it unlocked or my mother had a spare key.  I don't even know how on earth they got in the building.  I never asked.  All I know is I was fading fast on the couch and my parents came swooping in.  I think my Dad was yelling at me.  I somehow got to the car and into the hospital.  Then came the chalk, sitting in a room waiting for a shrink and feeling numb.  My son was safe, that's all I cared about.  I was settled into a room and then passed out.

That month in the hospital I found out a lot.   Learning about my disorder.  It had a name.  Everything I felt was justified.  I wasn't crazy, I was sick.  Everyone in my life (exception of my parents), up to that point, lied to me.  The hospital I stayed at years before, blamed everything on my parents, but I saw a report where they had diagnosed me.  This is how I learned more about myself, mental illness and the broken system that supports it.

I am better now in the sense that my life is better to those who see in.  I am better in the sense that I have had a lot of help since 2003, a lot of support, and learned to continue to rely on myself and God to help me stay focused and living as close to the life I dream of as I can.  My real dream is to live disorder free.  It's not going to happen.  So I struggle.  Day in and day out.  This year has been particularly bad.  Depression comes with my disorder, although finally it's more seasonal than constant.  I think that is a combination of God, my supportive husband and family and medication.  I'm not sleeping, and when I do I'm haunted by dreams that feel so real I'm left exhausted by morning.  Still I have children that need me.  My children and my husband are now the reason I fight, the reason I'm writing this.  Alone, I don't even think God could keep me going.  I'm pretty sure I'd give into everything this disorder is and be a hermit or dead.

So here I am fighting.  Fighting alone.  I don't need to fight this hard.  I spend most days "faking" it.  I pretend I'm okay and happy for my kids (it doesn't always work as it's an exhausting process mentally). I pretend life is okay, that I don't fight the need to hide in my bed and get up in the morning.  That I don't fight those urges to cut when I feel sad or disappointed in myself.  That I don't spend most of my days angry at myself for not living up to my own expectations.  Forget everyone else's, mine are much higher and I don't meet those.  Maybe a small moment here or there, but those mean nothing.  I need all the time perfection.  So why am I fighting alone?  Why am I not seeing a counsellor?  Or a shrink?  Why indeed.  This is where the reason for me writing is.  I just needed you to see where I am, how I got here.

Two years ago I saw a shrink through my old doctor to get into a program that is only offered at one hospital in the city.  Most counsellors, etc, do not have any experience dealing with people with my disorder.  They think we are faking it and manipulating things in order to get attention.  Oh how they are wrong.  Some do manipulate for sure.  Especially in the beginning.  I know I did, it was the only way I knew to get someone to see something was wrong, that I needed help.  I learned over time and living with my husband that there are different ways to deal with things. Manipulation only breeds loneliness, hurt, and definately doesn't get you the help you want.  This book here is a good recommendation for everyone, not just those with a mental disorder like mine.  One of the important things in the book is being honest with yourself.

Back to the shrink.  He told me that I didn't have any symptoms of the disorder.  That I was too articulate, and that as a person gets older (early to late 30's), the symptoms reduce and we essentially heal ourselves.  I wanted to jump up and smack that guy upside the head.  I wanted to scream and yell and act like a loon.  I wanted him to see what I was really feeling inside.  The pain and confusion and chaos that I fought daily to be free from.  But I didn't.  Why?  Here's why.  I have come too far from the person I described in the beginning of the post.  The person I am now is from amazing support from my family and friends.  I have fought and still fight all parts of this every single day to keep what I have built.  I have a steady job that I absolutely love and that brings me a sense of purpose and satisfaction.  Proud of myself.  Doing that job enables me to give myself validation and doesn't require me to look for it from outside sources.  Which then leads to impulsive and destructive behaviour.  My children, they bring something to my life that I cannot describe.  My husband brings me the mindset to have me see the big picture, drawing myself out of myself.  God is my rock, my go to guy when my pain is so big that nothing else in this world can keep me grounded.  I have spent all these years learning on my own how to ground myself in this life, to not let this disorder take over.  But, because I have fought with the tools I have discovered at different points in my life, some better than others, and I don't manipulate and act like a "crazy" person I am denied the help I know I need to give me that quality of life I have been searching for.

This is the common theme and problem in our mental health system.  If I say I am sick, I'm too sane to be sick enough to require help that cannot be perscibed in pill form.  If I keep down a job and am happy doing that job, I am not sick enough to require help.  If I have a family life where my husband isn't beating me or I'm not beating him and my children, I am not sick enough to require help.  If I am articulate and know myself enough to know what I need to get better, I am not sick enough to require help.  I need to be the person I was in 2003.  The crazed, uncontrollable person that could barely hold a job.  The person that in the year after her diagnosis spent so much time angry that she jeopardized her job on many occassions.  The person who spent many days being so scared of people seeing the monster inside that she acted crazy and did things to push them away.  I simply cannot be that person anymore just to get help.  I simply cannot lose my job, and my children, just so the doctors can see that I really do need this particular program to help.  I NEED them to listen to me and hear my words.  To help me when I say, I need help.  I did the research and found this is the best way for me to finally deal with this and live with a good quality of life.  I DON"T need a doctor to tell me that in order to get the help I want I need to act crazy and do something to end up in the hospital where they can admit me and then help me.  Yes, they do tell you this, because they know it's the only way to get the help you want and need.

The health system needs an overhaul.  There are better uses for our Fire/Paramedic services than transporting people to hospital for overdoses, or other related measures.  There are better uses for our ER's than making people wait on someone who OD'd just to get the help they know they need.  Our doctors need to be looking after really sick people, than wasting time pumping stomachs or working on deep cuts, etc., due to wanting, needing psychological help.  But until the health system smartens up, people like me will continue to tax our resources, essentially stealing them from others.  The health system claims people with mental health issues are manipulative.  I agree, we can be, some are just because it's their nature, many are because the health system has made us this way.  I still need help, I'm living down this rabbit hole mostly in my time at home because I'm busy behind the looking glass in order to function at work and in my daily life.  However, I refuse to lose everything just to get it the way the health system says I can have it.  I'll find a way, I've been doing it so far.  I just have to continue to fight every single step.

I want to take the time out right now to say that it wasn't the people I worked with that I didn't like.  The chaos playing out in my head and how my relationships were in my past made me like that.  I didn't have the tools at the time to not get involved in work drama, or sometimes cause it.  It is what caused me to walk into work and then walk right back out some days.  I should have been fired somewhere in those 3.5yrs.  My coworkers knew I was a single mom and they helped me out by keeping me on and sort of accepting me even if they didn't like the behaviour and a couple of times I left them in a lurch.  Whether they know it or not, they were my teachers to help me in my future jobs.  My last one and the one I'm in.  I'm thankful for those coworkers.  Every last one of them.

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