Mean Mom: middle school edition

In a few short months, my oldest daughter will graduate from elementary school and become a middle schooler. (Hold me.) In addition to all the perennial challenges of the junior high years—hormones, mean girls, a larger school, kids who party—we must figure out how to navigate social media and smart phones.

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How I prefer she spend her time. Outside, playing badminton.

For the first time in my parenting, I cannot look to my parents’ model or that of my wise friends with older kids. Even five years ago, smart phones were far less ubiquitous than they are today. My cabinet cannot help me here because when their daughters were in middle school, flip phones were socially acceptable. Snapchat hadn’t been invented.  Today, 50% of kids have smart phones in 6th grade and 90% have them by 8th grade.

Continue reading “Mean Mom: middle school edition”

Why I’m for school choice, as a special needs parent

With the revelation a year ago that our twin daughters have dyslexia, we joined the millions across the country who are parenting children with learning disabilities. We now know that our kids have special needs, and we must navigate the education system accordingly.

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The first day of kindergarten

We were shocked to discover that our public school could not help us with dyslexia. They were not even aware of the signs. For almost two years, we asked “Why are the girls having so much trouble learning to read? Why is this going so slowly and so painfully?” Neither their kindergarten nor their first grade teacher had answers. They told us to just keep working at home while they worked at school, and it would eventually click. It never clicked. In first grade, the girls started seeing the school reading specialist several times a week. We asked her, too. All she could point to was their anxiety about reading.

Finally, I grew suspicious and googled symptoms of dyslexia. The girls were textbook cases. An outside evaluation later confirmed this. Why had the teachers at school not seen this? As I talked with them about it, I learned that they had not been trained to spot dyslexia. Not even the reading specialist. How could this be? Research indicates that up to 15% of the population may be dyslexic, and yet public school teachers have not been trained to spot the signs? Even if only 5% of schoolchildren are dyslexic, that still adds up to 2.5 million children this year. Continue reading “Why I’m for school choice, as a special needs parent”

On Christmas shopping

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I’m making my money do extra work this Christmas. Instead of focusing only on finding good prices, I’m trying to shop in a way that supports things I value. I’m doing this in three ways:

I’m paying money for good writing. Few people want to pay for writing now, even though we continue to need quality thinking expressed well. To counter that trend, I have made sure to purchase both books and subscriptions as gifts this year. I want excellent writers to continue being able to make a living. Continue reading “On Christmas shopping”

Book give-away: how to fix America’s problems

America has a number of problems. Despite what he insists, Donald Trump does not know how to solve them.

I recently discovered a book that contains answers to a handful of our national issues. It unveils how to lower rates of asthma and obesity, how to decrease auto fatalities, how to pull kids away from computers and TVs, how to situate the elderly so they can thrive without assistance late into their lives, how to draw young people and new talent into struggling cities, how to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and how to increase interaction between the poor and the upper classes.

What book could answer all these questions? What single solution could possibly address all these issues?

Continue reading “Book give-away: how to fix America’s problems”

How to look out for all the kids, not just your own

My first grade twins took a field trip yesterday to a metro-park. The plan was to spend the whole day outside, where the class would “observe signs of wildlife and visit farm animals.” In January. In the upper midwest.

We received detailed instructions from the teacher on how to dress our kids–in two pairs of socks, turtlenecks, long underwear, snow pants, waterproof boots, etc. As I was preparing my kids’ clothes the night before, I realized that not every child in their class would likely arrive at school adequately equipped for the long, cold day ahead. There are children in their class who do not seem to own snow pants and who are often without gloves and hats.

Continue reading “How to look out for all the kids, not just your own”

Living Local

Much has been written on the importance of buying local.  From shopping at farmers markets to joining local farm share programs to buying “a quarter” of a nearby cow, we are learning to buy our food from producers within a certain mile radius of our homes.  This is major progress for both our diets and our society.

I want to encourage us to not only buy local, but also to live local.  Imagine confining our weekly activities to within a five mile radius of our homes.  My philosophy is that the more often we do something, the closer to our homes it should be.

For instance, recreation.  Why do the traveling hockey league when you can do the local park and rec league? Continue reading “Living Local”

Sewing My Net (or Why I’ll Probably Never Have a Mudroom)

In my experience, everyone has one dominant value that drives most of their choices.  For some, frugality is the value that guides their decision-making.  For others, it is convenience and efficiency.  For many, it is the desire to get the very best for their kids.  Yes, most of us also have secondary and tertiary values that also influence the choices we make, but I think most of us have a gut instinct that is heavily influenced by one dominant value, maybe two.

My highest value, the one that drives my decisions, is relationships.  In everything I do I want there to be a relational payoff.  Questions like Will I meet people who I will be able to see again?, Does this activity embed me further in existing relationships?, Does this choice tap into my existing network and deepen or grow it?  and How can I match up my friends and acquaintances with each other? drive my choices.  Of course, these questions are usually informing my choices at a subconscious level.  I am acting according to my value of relationships without even realizing it.

For my husband, the dominant value is honoring the earth.   Continue reading “Sewing My Net (or Why I’ll Probably Never Have a Mudroom)”