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I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Well, I Certainly Didn't Expect THAT to Happen...

Who knew that getting cut off AGAIN in the parking lot would inspire a blog that 70,000 people would read?

My biggest blog before this was over 3,000 on when the principal took the crayons out of my daughter's 1st grade classroom because coloring was not part of the Core Curriculum.  That got me a call from a Crayola executive.  She was on vacation in Italy and was horrified. 

But this... who knew?

I got an enormous amount of feedback from people- overwhelmingly positive.

I did want to address some of the issues, however, that were brought up.

First, I do not in any circumstance think that schools are overfunded.  I thought that was fairly clear when I pointed out that we have the lowest per pupil funding in the country.

I do think money is mismanaged, the budgeting process is archaic and the funding formula in need of a major do over.

I should clarify that this is my opinion.  Which I did in my initial post:

So I have some opinions that no one wants to address when discussing the biggest issue CCSD faces...
Disclosure: These are simply MY opinions. It's not based on anything other than my thoughts. It's what blogs are about. Of course, that part DIDN'T go viral.  But again, I didn't know...I would have included it in the actual blog...

Second, I'm not sorry if my assessment of SOME parents was mean.

I'm not.

I didn't say I was perfect.  I even said I'd met a LOT of fantastic parents. 

But hey, if you're the parent that's constantly pulling into the Do Not Enter entrance during drop off, I hope you were a little offended.  I mean it.  Please stop doing it.  It's dangerous.

The sign is there for a reason.  Follow the rules.

And I should be upfront, I DO say something to people.  To their faces. I have asked people who are talking during concerts to please be quiet so I can hear.

And I say it nicely.

And well, you can guess how that goes.

People think I'm far more flexible than I am based on what they tell me to do to myself.

If you're my friend and you start going on and on about how a teacher sucks and I don't think so, I can assure you already know that I will stop you and tell you why I back the teacher if I do.  Or if I think the issue is your kid.... I'm not exactly shy about it.  I'm polite, but I do speak up. 

I blow my horn at U-Turners.  They think I'm #1!

But I have to say, I was a little surprised how defensive some parents could be.

My favorite part was to stumble onto some online boards where they were trashing me about trashing people online (gotta love the irony).  I don't remember saying anything about specific people.... I do think a lot of people saw themselves in the blog and took offense.

I get it, as parents, we screw up.

But the whole flipping point of the blog was I like CCtSD and I'm tired of people trashing them.  Especially the people who have no idea what they are talking about. I think in spite of the ridiculous obstacles they are forced to overcome, my kids are having not just a good experience, but a GREAT experience.

My friend moved here from NY 2 years ago and asked me my honest opinion before she moved.  I said there are issues but if you're engaged and stay engaged, there are some exciting programs.  For elementary schools, it's hit or miss.  I wish that wasn't the case, but it's true.  I also told her the district was fairly flexible about moving schools.  They moved and her kids are in a fantastic elementary school.  When her mother, a retired principal visited and volunteered at the school, she was amazed at the GATE program and the school over all.  I know she came in with doubts-- she was honestly impressed.  My mom,  a retired teacher, spent time volunteering in my kids' kindergarten classroom (the one with the alleged 'lazy' teacher-- who is one of the most amazing teachers ever).  She told me that she only wished her school had had the staff.  The teacher was the type of teacher she had dreamed of being.

Both of those compliments are huge from people who know.

And like I said, we've had a not wonderful experience here and there.

But overall, we're good.

I've stepped up to participate in the business community partnership program for more than 20 years.

I participated in the community program to update the sex education curriculum.  If you remember that, it completely blew up for the district because a couple of people didn't understand the materials, distributed materials-- against the agreement we had signed-  and the rumors started that CCSD wanted to teach kindergartners about masturbating.

(Which OBVIOUSLY any non-moron knows they weren't.  If you're a pre-school/early education teacher, you know that sometimes little kids like to touch themselves in public.  Not all.  But some.  My mom had a little girl in her classthat let's just say had an issue with that.  So it happens. 

The bullet point was to start, early, about appropriate and inappropriate self-touch.  As in, it is not appropriate to adjust or touch your personal areas in public.

Crazy talk, right?)

So I'm not simply some silly mom going off on other parents.

I've been fighting the fight to make things better for a loooong time- well before I even had kids.

Really.  I have.

Which is why the sudden popularity of this blog surprised me.

I honestly did not realize I was the only person in the room who was willing to just say it.

But the best part, by far, was seeing the teachers, administrators  and support staff, take a deep sigh and and say "Thank you-- I thought it was just me."

I feel like my little blog gave them an opportunity to join together and know it's not all them- because society has suddenly started making educators the enemy and I just don't get it.

The educator I'm married to is sitting next to me writing lessons plans and a study guide.

He's not the enemy.

My kids are busy studying and working on school projects that are thoughtful and helping them learn.

Last night we had a band parent meeting and I was in a room full of parents excited to help (and I was the one who was late and texted friends to buy the fundraiser coupon book during the meeting). 

I saw the kids working together learning skills that will follow them off the band field for life.

Maybe CCSD doesn't rank at the top of any list, but to me and my family, it's been pretty fantastic.

THAT'S what I wanted to say.

Oh -and-


Friday, August 17, 2018

What's Wrong with Clark County Schools

Last night we had our daughter's open house at her middle school.  This morning I dropped my son off at the bus hub for high school.

Both experiences reinforced my views that I had shared with a friend earlier in the week on what is wrong with the Clark County (NV) School District.

My friend is in a position of influence and was genuinely interested in what I thought as a parent of a CCSD students, spouse of a teacher and a long time volunteer with the district.

I said very simply I thought there were three main issues:

1) Poor fiscal management at the top. 
2) Classroom size is ridiculous.
3) You can't fix stupid.

The first one has to do with the district's assertion that there is a $68 million shortage- as if they did not receive every penny of funding they requested-- and then some.  Then they try to blame the teacher pay raises, which they agreed to in negotiations and an arbitrator reinforced.  Since my background is in labor relations, I am baffled that EVERY SINGLE YEAR there is an issue with them actually paying out the raises that they agreed to in collective bargaining.  Every year there is a lawsuit.  Every year, the district loses.  Then they blame the teachers for the shortage.  Or the legislature. 

The truth is, they have consistently mismanaged funds and they cannot seem to keep a CFO.  I don't think people are stealing money or anything like that.  I think the state's funding methods are odd and not working.  I think the district needs to review how they allocate funds and how they then manage those budgets. I think they need to honor the contracts they negotiate.

This constant year to year "crisis" is getting old  We have not been in a recession for nearly a decade.  We have the lowest funding per pupil in the country.

Get it together.  It's your job. 

The second one is baffling.  My daughter's 7th grade accelerated history class has 41 students.  Elementary classes are routinely over 35 students.  When my husband taught high school, one year he didn't have enough desks or textbooks if everyone showed up.  That's what happens when you have 60+ students assigned to your class.

I don't think it takes a PhD in education to determine that a high teacher:pupil ratio is bad.  It's why US News and World Reports uses it as a ranking criteria in colleges.  You don't see private schools bragging on their brochures about crowded classrooms.  But according to CCSD, classroom size is not important.

Well, if you shove an extra 10 kids into each class, for every 3 teachers, you save 1 therefore reducing labor costs by 25%-- that's their logic.

Or, MAYBE, you could make an accurate budget and request the appropriate funding so that class size stayed under 30 for elementary and at 30-35 for middle and high school.

Because then teachers wouldn't have 200 students and 400+ parents to manage.

Then the teachers wouldn't quit or walk out.  Or more importantly, that might allow the teachers to, I don't know... what's the word... teach?

If you essentially have a full schedule with 40 kids per class, how on earth are you supposed to be able to grade projects and papers?  It forces teachers to resort to worksheets and "bubble" testing- less thinking required from the students. It becomes more about memorization and less about education.

There will always be great teachers who manage.  But the giant classroom sizes really impacts the average teacher-- they COULD be great, but they can't if they spend their day on classroom management.

Every teacher I've spoken with says they'd be far more happier with smaller classes than a significant pay raise.  They'd be happy with simple cost of living adjustments if they weren't being forced to manage classrooms that are out of control.  In fact, reducing classroom sizes by 20% is a pay raise- since they are buying supplies and working more hours to keep up.

But this last one- you can't fix stupid-- that's what is the biggest issue facing the district in my opinion.

Because there are a LOT of great things about the district.  International award winning robotics programs.  Top notch vocational schools.  A performing arts school that is extraordinary and has produced successful alumni too numerous to list.  Nationally ranked varsity quiz. 

My son's high school had TWENTY THREE national merit scholars last year. 

Not bad for the worst school district in the country.  And that was one high school out of more than 20 in the district.

The problem with the low test scores (and why on earth every kid is forced to take the ACT, I have no clue) is that Las Vegas is the dumbest major city in the US.

We are.

I LOVE my city.  I don't think everyone is dumb, but on a quantifiable scale- which is how we rate schools- we have the lowest high school graduation rates and the lowest college education rates out of any major city.

We ain't the smartest population.

Last night at open house, my daughter's teachers were amazing.  They are dedicated.  They are passionate.  They are well spoken.  They are organized.  They are intelligent.

There was not ONE bad teacher in the mix.

My son went to the same middle school and he had one mediocre teacher the entire time.

These people are crazy good educators.  Thumbs up to the principal, too.  He brings them in, gives them a positive work environment and lets them teach.  He is constantly sharpening the saw and trying to improve things. 

So great teacher, great principal, great facilities--

But the parents.  Now most of them that were at Open House are on it. 

Go to a concert.  Parents talking.  Parents texting.  People just getting up and leaving during concerts- completely unconcerned about those around them.

The parking lot is the biggest tell tale.

Those no U Turn signs apparently don't apply.  Let alone the speed limit signs.  Or the crosswalk.

The Do Not Enter - Exit Only?  Well, only losers like me bother to follow those rules.

My son stopped riding his bicycle to school after almost getting hit 3 days in a row from people doing U turns.

This morning dropping off my son, a woman tried to U turn into a parking spot.  Another parent coming the other way, unaware that this was her intent (because who tries to pull into a spot from the opposite direction) pulled into the spot.  Rather than stopping the turn, she continued it, blocking the entire street both ways.  People were trying to get their kids to the bus.

Turn signals are optional, too.

So when you are working with stupid parents who have no regard for simple rules- what exactly is the school district supposed to do?


Please, explain to me.

When my daughter was in kindergarten, we were on the playground before school and talking about the "homework" they get.  The teacher gave us a packet every Monday with 5 worksheets to review with our child every night and turn in on Friday.  Some were simple projects like "Count 10 objects"- nothing crazy. It was about 10 minutes every day as a review of what she was covering in the classroom.  It wasn't even graded-- the kids got a sticker for turning it in.

One mother commented that she hadn't understood a page and I was explaining what we had done.  Another mom chimed in and said "I don't do any of that bullshit with my kid.  They should be doing everything in class.  I don't have time for that.  It's not my job to teach my kid.  That's hers."

I'm not kidding.

And another parent standing there agreed.

Stupid homework.  Who does that?


As a parent, it absolutely IS my job to teach my kid. 

As a parent, it absolutely IS my job to support the teacher.

Time and time again I hear that-- all this bullshit they want parents to do... who has time for that crap... lazy teachers...

You can't fix that.

"I don't have time to read to my kid every night.  I'm tired."

Well, suck it up, Buttercup, pull out a book and read a story to your kid every single night before bed.  It helps them learn language.  It bonds you.  It's your job. 

And if you're working late or too tired, do it in the morning.

You've got 15 minutes.

You do.

This isn't a rich person vs. poor person thing either.  I know wealthy families that treat their kids like accessory items and don't spend a minute with them.  I know poor families that are all about school and doing what the teacher says.  My husband taught in an at-risk school for years and said some of the poorest parents were the hardest on the kids "What do you mean you talked back to Mr. Bean?"  He said he had to be careful about conferences because either the parents didn't care or they cared too much and about smacked the kid in the conference! 

But you can't make a parent parent.

You can't fix a kid who thinks learning and rules and all the things that make society function "is dumb." 

I cringe when people talk about how they don't need math.  They have a calculator.

This is how people get ripped off.  You do need to understand math.

So I sat there and told my friend that CCSD's biggest issue is the fact that they are dealing with a populace that doesn't value education or see it as a need.

And it seems to be getting worse.

There is no way to combat it.  You don't take on Mom and Dad who think learning a second language is a waste of time (it's not.)  Or that the Bill of Rights is liberal propaganda. (it's the Bill of Rights)  Or that geometry is useless (which explains their inability to park). Or that a No U Turn sign doesn't apply to them (because that's just wrong.)

THAT is the biggest issue facing the district.

I don't think parents are any dumber or smarter than when I was a kid.  I don't.  The morons were around then, too. 

In Las Vegas, we statistically have a fairly large percentage of morons.  It's a city of second chances.  It's also one of the things I love about it here-- anyone willing to work can get a break. 

So asking a district to make educating children of people who place very little value ON education as a whole (again, based on statistics)-- I'm not sure how you are supposed to do it.

I know cramming 40+ in a classroom isn't helping and not every teacher is great-- but you can't teach someone who is unwilling to learn.

I think the magnets schools offer an out to those families who do place importance on education.  It's unfortunate that not every student gets in.

I wish I knew how to fix this. 

The school district is far from perfect-- as is any district- but I get so tired of them getting blamed for being terrible.  There are some great teachers, great parents and most importantly great students here.  I know this.  I've met them.  They are just as smart as any kid from a private school.  My son will graduate having taken Calculus III.  In order for my daughter to get into the arts academy, she will have to put together a professional portfolio.  A real one.

It's not all bad.  In fact, there is far more that's good.

But when parents don't make education a priority, you can't expect the school to fix it. They are already trying to feed the kids, dress the kids and in their spare time, teach them.

There's only so many hours in the day.

CCSD Fine Arts Program Leader

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Advice to recent high school grads....

This may seem a little late, but I remember the summer after high school graduation-- it was fun.  Your last fling with your high school friends.  Party after party celebrating yourselves-- you made it through.  Now life begins.

This is when you really need advice-- adulthood closing in around you.  You're either leaving or everyone around you is.

Here's the only advice you need.

Be you.

That's it.

Just be you.  You might not think you know who this "you" is -- adults LOVE to tell teenagers how much they don't know.

But you do.

You know you.

You know if you like mushrooms on pizza or not.  You know right from wrong.

You do. 

You don't know a lot about "stuff"- the importance of paying bills and the mundane aspects of life.  You probably haven't traveled much.  You probably haven't ventured much outside your faith or any faith.  You probably haven't kissed too many people- or any.

That's all "stuff."  It will help shape you and it's important.

But you do know you.

You know if you'd rather spend the night reading a book or raging at a party.  You know if you like to do both. 

Parents and adults are AWESOME at giving useless advice based on their bad choices. 

Here are some of the worst pieces of advice I've heard- and all of them coming from a place of love.

Go to College or You'll Never Go
Total and complete bs.

"Skip years" are a thing now.  I took one.  I applied to college, deferred admission and spent a year as an exchange student in Ecuador. Life changer.

I know that if I had gone to college right after high school, I would have burned out and probably dropped out.  I took a semester off as it was. I have a number of friends who never went back after burning out.

Some people go straight to college and nail it.  I think having an education is priceless.  If you're that person, go for it.  But if you're ambivalent, that's okay.   You know you.  Have a plan, though.  Parents like plans.

I don't think "college" is for everyone.  I also think that some students- especially people like myself who were focused on grades, work, etc.- need a break from academia.

I had a plan to make sure I returned.  And I remember when I almost took a turn off that plan and my boss at the bar where I worked told me in a profanity laced, grossly impactful tirade to get my happy ass to Cornell and get the hell out of there.  There was more to the tirade and I remember it almost verbatim, but thank you, Shirley.  I owe you. 

There's a difference between being scared- even after I spent a year in a country where I didn't speak the language I was still terrified the day my dad dropped me off at college-- but if your gut is saying "Hey, I have no idea what I want to do..."  then see if you can stay at home, work in a field that you're interested in working for a career-- maybe take a class or two online or at a regional school- or if you can't get a paying job in the field, find a paying job and do a free internship. 

This is the time in your life to try things.

You're 18.  You're not supposed to. know what you want to spend your life doing.

If You Go to College, Study a Field with Career Options

This one drives me nuts.

Go to college to get an education.  To learn to think.  To learn to learn.  To study things that broaden your mind and show you the world. 

Don't study accounting because it offers a good career.  Study accounting because you enjoy it.  You think that's not real?  I LOVED my accounting classes.  I only had to take 1 in college- I took 3.  We exist.  I loved how everything balanced out.  It's like art to me.

Don't let anyone tell you you won't be able to get a job out of college.  If you're looking for a job, go to a tech school. I don't mean that as a slam to tech schools, either-- they are great for training you to do a specific job.  If you know what you want to do, it's a fantastic choice.   There's a shortage of tradespeople as well- plumbing, electrical work, welding- they pay extremely well.  If you want a good job that's a far better choice than a degree in "business" which will get you nothing. 

Also, newsflash- very few people work in the fields that they study.  Obviously, if you want to go to medical school, you need to take certain courses.  But I know art history majors who manage investment portfolios or are political activists.  Graduate school is when you narrow it down.  But undergrad?  Study everything.  Learn as much as you can.  Meet people.  It's all part of the process.

I know so many people that are in careers that they hate because they checked a box at 17 when they applied to college. 

Plus, most of the jobs you'll be doing don't even exist yet.  Learn to think and you can do anything.

Again, be you.  

These are the Best Days of your Life

Total crap. 

I remember sitting at my graduation- beautiful day- and speaker after speaker talked about how these memories are our best ones... the great times we had...

And I thought "I hope this isn't the best it gets because I'm screwed..."

I hope you enjoyed high school.  For some people, they did peak.  But once you leave that building anything that you were is the past and you have a blank slate for the rest of your life.  It's why graduation is called commencement- it's the beginning, not an end.

I drove to the Quiki-Mart after graduation, got a slushie and went home.  I went to a few, not many graduation parties, hung out with my boyfriend and worked over the summer.  I have stayed in touch with quite a few people from high school, but honestly, only a handful know anything about my real life-- and they aren't the ones I thought I'd stay in touch with.  Most of them became close friends after high school.  Except my friend Marvin.  We've been close since kindergarten and if I ever ran for public office, I'd have to pay him off because of that...

My life got infinitely better after graduation.  I met people from all over the world.  I saw new places.  I tried new things.  I owned my life.  It's empowering, scary and consequential.  But it's my own unique path.  I'm not someone's child or some box that someone put me in because I had a certain test score in 2nd grade.  No one cares about who you were- they care about who you are. 

I enjoyed high school.  I joke that I stayed in touch with my teachers more than people from my class, but I have no animosity or hang ups about it.  I even got crap about it from my friends in college "Wait- you LIKED high school??"  I did.  But it was Chapter 1 in what I hope is a long a novel.  I picked up some good tools and had a good foundation, but it's a part, not the entirety of me.

Now you get to be the real you.  And it's really cool.

The Choices You Make Now Will Impact your Life
Tattoos, committing felonies and having kids, yes.  The rest.. meh.  Even a failed marriage can be overcome.  Bad credit only lasts7 years. 

This is the best time to screw up big.  Because you ALWAYS have time for a do over.  Try a career you want.  It's not like there's a time line or a finish line you have to reach. You want to write?  Write.  You want to be in a rock band?  Go for it.  It's a lot easier now than when you're 35 with kids and a mortgage.

You hate your job?  Find another one.  You don't need to stay 2 years to prove anything.  You never get those 2 years back. 

I had a friend say she thought it was cool that I didn't care what anyone ever thought about my decisions.

I remember thinking "How odd that anyone would... it's my life.  Hmmm...."

So in short, just be you.  Develop your beliefs.  Live your life.  Follow that internal compass.  Listen to yourself.

You're going to mess it up.  You will.  And you'll get up, roll your eyes at all the people that said "I told you so" and get on with it.

Congratulations on Chapter 1-The Childhood.

May your next chapters be filled with love, adventure and friendship.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Mom Jokes

Last night I had the opportunity to go see 2 VERY funny women do a comedy show. Even better, it was with 2 of my friends- one who I met through Gymboree.

Mommy humor- is there truly anything funnier than being a mother?


You grow a human in your uterus.  Your body morphs.  You feed them out of your boobs.  They spit on you.  They pee and poop on you.  They hate you.  They love you.  They roll their eyes at you.  They hug you.

It's all over the place.

If you can't find the humor in it, you really shouldn't do it.

And husbands... I'm not going to lie... being a dad is nothing like being a mom.  When we leave the house, he grabs the keys and gets in the car.  I, on the other hand, make sure everything is locked, do a quick scan for all the items everyone has forgotten (water bottles, backpacks, wallets, sunglasses), put the dogs in the kennels, turn off the lights, set the alarm and then get in the car to a round of "We're going to be late and it's your fault..."

In general, I have a really good husband who is not flawless.  After 18 years together, I would like to add that I have learned that I, in fact, am not flawless.

But like motherhood, marriage without humor would be a disaster.

I get the jokes.

I think I've blogged about my frustration with the "dumb husband" jokes getting old.  Or I've started a blog on it, then my husband would do something dumb and I would delete it.  I stopped watching "Everyone Loves Raymond" after the second season because honestly, it got old.  How dumb was the wife for staying with him?  I get that it's a sitcom, but "The Middle" is just as funny and the dad isn't an idiot.  Not that I was a fan of the dingbat housewife roles-- but it seemed to go too far for awhile.  Now it seems to have come back to the middle (see what I did with that?)

ANYHOW, the comedians last night, were hilarious.  They self-mocked.  They joked about mom bods.  Married sex. Being perpetually tired.

I laughed a lot.

But there were parts that bothered me that I would have laughed at a few years ago-- which is about how much older I am than the comedians.

It's the mommy drinking jokes.

I'm not a big drinker.  I have been drunk- it's been fun.  I have a few friends from college with whom every story starts "So we were drinking..."

I'm also very good at fake drinking.  You may have been out with me and THOUGHT I was drunk, but I wasn't.  I can nurse a drink for hours.  I can't drink more than 2 glasses of wine and I don't think I've ever finished a beer.  I don't like carbonated beverages.  Really.  Except ginger ale-- which works great, because it looks like a cocktail.

But honestly, after about 25, I don't drink much. I'm usually the designated driver.  I'm completely fine with that.

I don't care if other people around me drink.  I think it loosens them up.  I love a good glass of wine with a meal or to share with friends.

I think a lot of people are nicer with a cocktail or two in them.

When I first had my son, I was surprised at the number of play dates that involved cocktails for the adults.  At first, it was kinda fun- I based the quality of the play dates on the quality of the margaritas.

I never had more than one because of driving.

I assumed the people that would have more than one had a higher tolerance.

But as I've gotten older, I noticed that some of my friends developed serious drinking problems.  I guess with the opioid crisis, alcoholism isn't a concern.

I had a close friend where it was part of ending the friendship.  I was worried and reached out to her husband.  Her husband was relieved because he had thought the same thing.  He did everything he could to make her life easier, thinking it would stop- less stress, etc.  Her drinking continued to escalate and eventually, I pulled the plug on the friendship.  It was subtle.  She was clearly day drinking.  Her behavior had made the friendship challenging and with 2 kids, a business and a recession, I didn't need anyone else's worries.  It wasn't healthy for my family. 

She's not the only friend I've watched spiral. 

I was surprised when another friend recently told me about how bad her drinking had gotten.  She stopped completely.  I had had no idea.  She was almost embarrassed.  I thought it was awesome that she realized it.

I think alcoholism among women is more serious than people realize.  The pressure to be perfect- to be an internet mom.  To look perfect.  To have instagram perfect lives. Grabbing a glass of wine to relax becomes a habit.  Then a need.  Then it increases.

It makes me sad.

My husband and I started doing "Wine O'Clock" and we both realized that it didn't matter what we drank, we enjoyed the time together at the end of the day.  Sometimes it's wine, sometimes we have a cocktail (very Mad Men of us) and sometimes we have ice water.  We also started having morning coffee together while he's on summer break.  Coming from families with histories of alcoholism, we wanted to be careful that it was about the time we spent together, not the alcohol.

I get that the comedians were joking as they sloshed their wine during their skit- they weren't drinking much (if anything)- but the image of the mommy wino is a real thing.

It's becoming ingrained in our culture, too.  It's funny.  It's cool.  The GIANT wine glasses that go on sale for Mothers' Day.

So I guess my point isn't to lecture on drinking, it's to keep an eye out for your friends.

If they joke about "needing" a glass of wine, make sure they are joking.

Motherhood can be exhausting.  Women tend to compare themselves to each other.  No one sees the moments people don't post.

Real life isn't social media.  It's not a competition.

But just be aware.  Your friend may be struggling more than you know.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

I Just Didn't Think it was Funny

I'm a nerd.  As a kid I liked watching the White House Correspondents Dinner.

I did. 

It took my favorite things- humor, writing & politics and rolled them into a fancy event.  I loved watching the Presidents TRY to make a joke.  I liked how they could laugh at themselves.  I like how they could take being laughed at and still shake hands and smile.

I usually think Michelle Wolf is hilarious.

But I didn't at the WHCD.

I know most of us snowflakes find it ironic that the people hurling insults at us constantly find it hard to laugh at themselves.

Watch Fox News for a few hours.  You'd lose your sense of humor, too.

I get that the same people who called Michelle Obama all kinds of names for wanting kids to have healthy options at restaurants and to move more are upset that we joke about Melania's aversion to touching her husband.  I get that what we laugh at is real and they made up stuff.

Or posted memes of President Obama being lynched.

And poor Malia-- one game of beer pong and she's a lush.

I hate the obvious hypocrisy, too.

Firing the chaplain for saying to remember the poor?  Wow. 

The inaugural crowd- I mean, c'mon, there are photographs.  Lots of  photographs.  And yes, it rained.  God did NOT turn it into a beautiful day for Trump.  It rained. 

I don't know how Jim Acosta hasn't stood up and just shouted "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU ARE LYING!  LIAR! LIAR!  DRESS ON FIRE!" at Sarah Sanders.

So I don't like the administration.  I like Michelle Wolf.

What's my issue?

It wasn't funny to me.

It just wasn't.

It was like the mean, pretty cheerleader making fun of the gawky band kid and thinking they were too dumb to get it.

Oh wait- that was my life.

So yes, I'm a little sensitive about it.

I get that the POTUS mocks people.  I cringed when after making fun of Rubio's sweating & his ears during the Republican debates he turned to Ted Cruz and said "What are you laughing at?  No one likes you- you don't have any friends!"

I never thought I'd have any compassion for EITHER of those men, but I did.

And it seemed like nothing more than a bully.

I don't know if I necessarily thing that's a bad thing.

Or I should say I didn't think it was a bad thing-- but it was. 

Because the WHCD is not only a roast, it's a time to lay down the swords and have a fun night.  The humor is usually self-deprecating as well as sarcastic against political enemies.

Her comments reminded me of Trump at the Al Smith Charity dinner. 

I didn't like them then and I don't like them now.

I happened to agree with her comments on most things.  I loved the "How Broke is He?" bit.  Spot on. But did I laugh?  No.

I loved that she tore into the press for the role that they played in the election.

But it didn't help.  It made things worse.

When Rubio mocked Trump's hands after months of being insulted by Trump-- it backfired.  Horribly.

For whatever reason, Trump is like that obnoxious relative that gets a Get Out of Jail free card for being rude at every family event because "well, that's just how he is... you can't change him."

I'm sick of people like that.

And dishing it back never works.


And again, maybe because I'm fat and don't know how to put on makeup that I'm a little protective of Sarah Sanders. I miss her bright patterned dresses because I wear them, too.  I've watched her slowly diminish before our eyes, falling into the back drop- plain clothes, losing weight-- and please don't get me wrong- I think she supports a lot of what I do not.  And if she didn't, she should quit.  Fox will give her a show.  At the rate that their hosts are leaving, she can even start with a good time slot. She has options and she chooses to say so she must believe in what she's doing.

But joke about her needing glasses.  Or joke about all the people she's had to deal with in her short tenure.  Joke that she's related to Bernie.

Or maybe the reason I didn't laugh is because it's not Michelle Wolf that wasn't funny, it's that I can't find anything funny about this administration.

One of my Republican friends is over the chaos and she said "Who is against clean air & clean water?  What is wrong with them?"

I look at the world my children are going to have to deal with.  It frightens me.  I have friends whose families could be torn apart because of a broken immigration system.  Classrooms are packed and they want to divert more money to private schools.  Friends who are deployed didn't get paid because they aren't hiring people to process payments because it's silly overhead. 

So maybe after all it wasn't Michelle Wolf that wasn't funny, it's that Trump is not a laughing matter.

At least not to me.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

These Kids Today....

I'm not posting anything on Facebook about the shooting in Florida because I can't have another discussion on gun control.  I'll comment but I'm not posting memes, opinions, nada.  I will vote and testify on behalf of legislation. But social media...

I can't.

It doesn't seem to make much difference to those folks who are dug in that ANY gun legislation is the equivalent of Big Brother taking their guns.

But what I will happily defend, with every ounce of my soul are "kids today."

Leave. Them. Alone.


You know who is raising the kids today?  My generation.  And you know who raised us?  The senior citizens.

So if you're complaining about parents and kids- look in the mirror.

First and foremost-- and I'm going to go to internet universal anger font- CAPS-

Just stop.

It was not great.  Racism was awful.  We just watched "Wonder" this weekend- fantastic movie.  The oldest daughter in the film has a boyfriend.  She was white and he was black.  It wasn't even a topic or mentioned and my children didn't think a thing about it. That's awesome.

When "Jungle Fever" came out, everyone about crapped their pants.  The "Jefferson's" upstairs neighbors who were a mixed race couple were the butt of jokes.  They couldn't even find a biracial actress to play the daughter.

My kids' classes are diverse.  There are kids of every race, every mix-- and they talk about it.  It's not the white blind comment of "I don't notice color"- it's the complete embracing of the fact that their friends are different.  They think it's neat that they celebrate different holidays or celebrate holidays differently.

And sexism.  While things aren't great, women are running for office in record numbers.  It's discussed and talked about.  Women have choices- to have a family, to not have a family, to stay at home with their children or to work. 

And on the flip side of that, I have friends who are stay at home dads.  My dad and I were close and I remember that being unusual when he went on field trips as a "Room Mom."  Now, my husband is extremely involved in our children's lives.  Far more than his father was in his life.  He changed diapers.  If the kids are sick we both decide who has the busier day and needs to go in.  He's taken them to the orthodontist, the doctor, picks them up from school.  And he's not the only dad doing this.

Which brings me to my next issue...

They weren't.  At all.

And if you're old and crabby, all I can say is look at your kids.  Are they all that great?  Are they self supporting?  And they happily married?  Are they good parents?  Because if they aren't, newsflash... maybe it was you.

Crappy parents have been around for years and years and years.

Parents today are held to ridiculous standards.  We are required to monitor our child 24/7 in a truly crazy world of electronics and the internet.

My parents pretty much said "Be home when the street lights start coming on."

Kids drank.  They partied.  They did drugs.

No one thought to blame their parents for it, though.

Helicopter parents?  That was a thing back in the 70s and 80s.  I remember kids bringing in their science fair projects and I would think "They are morons... they didn't do that.." or 4-H projects.. give me a break.  And the kids like me who did do their own projects would sit there and think how much it sucked.

Or the kids who made teams because their parents interfered....

Nothing has changed.

Except the one thing I will give you.... see the next section...

Teachers had more authority.  They weren't being told what to teach in a minute by minute "script."

Schools weren't worried about getting sued.

Schools were funded and they had smaller classrooms so teachers got to know the students.

We had recess so the ADHD kids could get that energy out.  It also gave us time for socializing which clearly based on Facebook conversations is a lost art.

And if I think pressure is worse on parents these days-- the pressure on teachers is tenfold.  They are responsible for not only teaching the materials, but ensuring a stress free work environment


What. The. Living. Heck.

No.  Just no.

I don't want loaded weapons in my kids' classrooms.  You don't think a kid might grab that from a teacher?!?!  You don't think a teacher might snap and shoot a kid?!?! 

I wouldn't want a SWAT officer teaching Calculus and I don't want the Calculus teacher trying to be a sharpshooter.

So teachers- let's leave them alone.

Oh and yes, I'm married to one.

And yes, I'm a parent to 2 really awesome kids.

They are kids who say please and thank you. They are kids who complete their own projects.  They are good students and good friends. 

And I am a very average parent.  My kids are great because I have a great mother in law.  They are great because they see my husband and I work together as a team.  They are great because they've had great teachers. They are great because they have access to things I didn't through the internet.  They are great because they were born great and I've simply tried really hard not to screw it up.

I see them every day.  I see my children's friends.  They are smart and kind and open minded and passionate.  I see my husband's students- some who come from absolute poverty- and how hard they work in a world that is fighting them every step of the way. 

Kids graduate from high school and minimum wage hasn't increased since 2009- almost a decade.  It costs $100,000 to attend a 4 year public university- what kid can pay for that?  There are no summer jobs that can pay for that.  Your summer job mowing lawns might have covered tuition 30 years ago, but aside from internet bitcoin hacker, they don't have a chance of being able to pay their own tuition.

They graduate buried in debt- with jobs paying ridiculously low wages- then they get trashed for having to live at home.


The kids I saw on TV the past week prove my point.  They are strong.  They are brave. They are informed.

They are the future and it makes me happy.

If you think everything sucks now and kids suck and parents suck my final thoughts for you are:


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Composting, the InstaPot, Air Fryers & Other Online Fighting Topics

In an era of today's great political divide, surprisingly, the most vicious debates that I've seen firsthand online have been over Air Fryers, Composting and the InstaPot.

I'm not kidding you.

My VERY strong political beliefs aside, these battles have been far more vicious than anything political.

To a point that it's hilarious.

I like to garden. A lot.  In fact, I have been gardening since I was 7 or 8 years old.  I grew up in a rural community and was in 4-H.  I have friends who are farmers.  I can tell the difference between the smell of cow manure and horse manure - as I like to joke, I know my shit.

When we moved into our new house about 3 years ago, I was putting in my new garden and I thought "Hey- I should use Facebook for something other than posting memes..." and I joined a local gardening group.

Now, if you're not a produce gardener, I should tell you that the it is NOT a homogeneous group.  You might think we are a bunch of hippies getting back to our roots. This is not true.  There are also a lot of "prepper" type people who are living off the grid or trying to do so.  There are also a lot of immigrants who always gardened in their home countries and it's part of who they are.  There are people with health issues.  There are people like me who are hobbyists and simply like growing things.

I would argue that we all have  a bit of the off gridder in us, if we were really honest, but that's a blog for another day.

You might also assume that people who grow things are patient.  Because it takes patience to grow things.

This also would be a wrong assumption.

I assumed the forum would be a great place to exchange ideas and techniques.  It was a nice reprieve from the online hatred the presidential election was spewing.  And for the most part, it is an awesome group.

Expect for when the "experts" drop in.

In gardening, there are people called Master Gardeners who take extensive coursework in growing in their specific zone.  These people actually ARE experts.  We have quite a few in the group.  Or we did... they may have run away, I'm not sure.

These are not the experts to whom I am referring.

I am referencing the people who think they are experts.  They are not open to ANY other ideas except for their own.  Which makes me wonder why they would join a group- oh wait- they join to share their brilliance with the rest of us.

In this group, we have gone fisticuff over things like USING REGULAR UNFILTERED WATER ON ONE'S GARDEN!  Gasp!  The horror.  In order to grow anything, you MUST have a filtration system.

Um.... no.

There are plenty of reasons to have a filtration system.  It absolutely is better for microbes.  No doubt.  However, you can grown a healthy garden using regular old water.  You need to amend the soil.  You'll probably need to replace it at some point.  But it is NOT a tragedy to not want to spend hundreds of dollars on a system so you can grow a few tomato plants.

Also, I use corrugated metal for my garden beds.  Without getting too sciencey on you, it actually stays cool in the summer and helps my soil stay cool & moist- a big deal in the desert southwest.  I bought them because they look really cool.  I also have been having an enormous amount of success with them.

Yes.  Really.  I have.  Honest.

But no- that's impossible because metal gets hot and I'm lying.  Or so the experts say.  So I post pictures of my garden.  It's a fluke.

Hey, maybe.  Or maybe it's science.  Physics actually.

But the debate on the composting was the best.

I'm not even sure how it started, but it did.  I started reading about 100 comments into the Great Compost Debate of 2016.  It got mean.  It got nasty.

And I'm just sitting there, reading, cracking up, laughing my ass off.

The temperature of the compost.  The content.  How much water to add.  When to use a starter. 

People were arguing over rotting garbage techniques.

Grown adults acting like 3 year olds towards people they've never met.

It was funny yet sad.

Around that same time, I joined an InstaPot group because- and don't hurt me- I had one and didn't like it.  I have a Breville that is waaaaay better, but everyone raved about these things so they went on a super sale at Amazon and I thought I'd try it.  My opinion was not swayed.

So I go to this group.  The recipes people were posting left me baffled- I mean, I can roast a chicken in an hour and 15 minutes.  It wasn't any faster.  But I would read and keep my comments to myself.

And then one day, it happened.

A woman named Angela posted something like "I've had my InstaPot for a few months and I honestly don't like it.  Am I missing something?"

Sweet. Baby. Jesus. 


After someone posted "Why would you join this group if you don't like it?!?!"

To which she replied: "To see if I was missing something... "

And I added: "You're not alone.  That's why I'm here.  I still don't get it...I think it's great for maybe people who didn't normally cook. I'm not into slow cookers either."

Which was hatespeak.  I had now insulted them.

Most of the people that I know that think the InstaPot is the be all, end all, really hated cooking and this seems to inspire them.  Not all, but most.  Also, I do not like pot roast.  Ever.  No matter how tender.

I then said I could grill chicken breasts, make rice and steam veggies in 30 minutes- so pressure cooking something in 90 minutes wasn't really "faster."

Well, call me a wizard but that was an impossible feat and poor Angela and I were burned at the stake.

Of course, I'm cracking up at the illiterate insults being thrown at me.

So I left that group.

A few days ago my amazing Breville Smart Oven died and I replaced it with the newer version that includes an air fryer.  I went to a group to get some recipes.  (I promise, I don't work for Breville- I just happen to LOVE their products.).

Within 2 days, the same thing happened.  A woman asked a pretty innocent question and someone tossed back a snarky answer.  And downward it spiraled.

Online bullying at its best.

Over a kitchen appliance.

It's utterly and completely ridiculous.

I can't imagine that any of these people would behave this way in the real world.  I've met people in our gardening group over the past few years and they are always amazed that I'm the same person online (a bit less quick witted... I have more time to write funny things) as I am offline.

But seriously people- if you're fighting with people online over the benefits of an InstaPot and calling them names for not loving it- get a life.  Truly.  Log out.  Talk to some real people.  Breathe.

I don't anticipate staying in the Air Fryer group any longer either.

The gardening group has done a great job booting the nasty people out.  Their purpose is to encourage others to garden- preferably organic, but it's okay if you don't have the time to do that.  It's ALL better than commercial produce and it's fun.

So before you start typing a 15 minute response to someone you've never met because they don't like a design you do, a team you do or whatever you are disagreeing about- stop.

Does it really matter?  What is your end game?  To make some new mother who hasn't slept in a month feel like crap because her baby won't sleep through the night?  To convince them that the Steelers are the greatest team ever?  To make yourself feel better?

Type and then before you hit post- delete it.

Making fun of other people online, taunting, bullying, being an ass-- the world needs less of that.

If there's nothing positive to your comments, don't make them.

Don't be the jerk that always interrupted class in high school.

Be an adult.  Walk away.

Because here's the thing- YOU'RE NEVER GOING TO SEE THIS PEOPLE.

I comment on Twitter to politicians quite a bit- and while it is snarky, I include data in my response.  They are public figures.  They put themselves out there for feedback.  I'm never mean, vicious or personal.

But I don't attack people who comment.  Because I don't know them and I'm pretty sure it doesn't change their minds or values.

So maybe if everyone could have a resolution this year, it would be to stop the online bullying crap.  The snarkiness.  Be a little nicer online.

The interwebz was once a giant library of shared ideas. 

We should at least try. 

You might even learn a thing or two.