Teenagers These Days: rantings of a scribbling woman

I’ve got a stack of ninth grade English class essays in front of me that I just started reading. I’m down to the last five and am learning so much about my students. It’s perfect that we plan for this essay the first six weeks because for the kids who actually do the essay (an autobiographical narrative), it does teach me much about why they are the way they are.

But this year, I am especially sad by what I am reading. Sure, the bad grammar and elementary vocabulary is depressing, but more importantly, it’s the stories. I asked my students to write about a time in their life that was monumental or that signified a turning point for them, a moment which in some ways defined who they were or why they were who they were. This year, I’ve read some stories that make my heart break. Stories of drug addicted mothers, foster care, abusive fathers, and gang deaths. Stories of abandonment and a desperate need for love.

Sometimes I think I will have to read these essays over and over again when I want to get mad at my students for not being what I think they should be. Yes, they should try hard. Yes, they should keep getting back up when they fall and reach their goals. But lets face it, where are they going to learn that from? The home is the most important environment these kids have and most of them are broken. In the town I teach in, divorce is common; drug use, gang violence, poverty, alcoholism, child abuse, sexual activity, and illiteracy is a norm. And then to make that worse, they have all the radio stations and the movies teaching them that indulging in sex, drugs, violence, and greed for money is a normal and expected way to live and will fill their life with joy.

Meanwhile we have politicians, judges, and other American citizens pointing their fingers at the education system and screaming out that we are the ones who failed their children. Now I am not saying that our education system doesn’t need work. Believe me, this NCLB bologna is ridiculous and only leaving more kids behind but we could be amazing at what we do, and I still feel we’d have a problem. Why? Because how can I expect a 14-year-old teenager to pass his classes and his state exams at proficiency level when he lives in a home with 10 other people including his drunk father and his mother who works three jobs to support him and his best friend just died in a gang shooting, and he himself is being pressured by all the violence in his neighborhood to join a gang too so he can have protection and he can’t read very well because no one read to him when he was a child and meanwhile he wants money because all the music he listens to and movies he watches and commercials he zones in on tell him that money will give him everything he wants and right now school doesn’t seem like its going to work out for him, but selling drugs could give him some instant cash so…….

Do you understand what I am saying? No, not all of my kids are gang members, but many of them come from everything just short of that. I’ve got a 14 year old girl who is pregnant, another student who is living alone in a 1 bedroom room he rents while working 2 jobs and going to high school so he can live the American dream. I’ve got another student who is so proud right now because his mom has been clean from meth for 10 months and he thinks she finally kicked the habit so they can be a family again.

This is what our society has left for our grandchildren. I wasn’t here 50 years ago, but from what my parents tell me and my grandparents, this wasn’t the norm then. This wasn’t the problem with education then. So what is different?

I think greed and an overall indulging and condoning of immorality has corrupted this world in a way it hasn’t seen since Sodom and Gomorrah or the times of Noah.

So now what to do?

So many of my student’s writing is so poor despite my scaffolding, I will have to give them a D or an F on their essay, but what I really want to do is give them a big hug and tell them that despite what has happened to them, they are actually doing really well. And I will for many of them. I’ll give them their grade because I can’t fuel the system by just pushing these kids a long, but I will love them the whole time I set the standard high. And I will encourage and support them as they try to learn (or not) the skills I am instructed to teach them.

What else can I do?

It’s not just the education system that needs to be changed people. It is everything. Its turning off that song on the radio that glamorizes sex and drugs no matter how much we just like the beat because if we all did, the radio station would stop playing it and that would be that many fewer kids being indoctrinated to believe that way of life is normal and good. It’s about going to marriage counseling and being true to our vows to our husbands or wives even if we aren’t in love anymore because that is what marriage is about and that is what our kids need. It’s about teaching our kids to find joy in giving rather than just taking. It’s about going to the library if we can’t afford to buy books and checking out one bedtime book to read to our kids even if we really want to watch that lame reality TV show instead. It’s about teaching our kids that they can have some self-control and not have sex even if the world tells them they should. It’s about sacrificing our own selfish desires for the better of others. Can we do this? Honestly, I know of only one way we can all transform…..and you all know my stance on that. But it is a condition of the heart. And that condition is something I don’t think will change for better anytime soon.

So in the meantime, I will continue to love these kids. And hope and pray that we all survive the future that they will bring on this world when they become our next voters and leaders of this country.

The Lifestyle and Connotation of “Single Mom” or “Single Dad”

When MIke and I did the Kanan trade-off yesterday so common to parents who have split up, I began sharing with him about my shopping experience at the mall. As I had mentioned in a previous post, I used to be a very fashionable and self-absorbed person, but that has changed since I’ve had Kanan and found the Lord. I went on to tell Mike that there were so many cute clothes that I wanted but those clothes didn’t fit my lifestyle anymore. Its not like I’m running around in sweats or anything. I still wear cute clothes, just not clothes that are meant for a 23 year old woman without kids. Short shorts? Not when you have a toddler you are constantly chasing and are constantly bending over to pick him up or kiss his booboos. Satin, sliver-of-midriff baring peasant blouses for 80 bucks at BEBE? Not if you go out on the town like once every six months and don’t have anything scheduled in the short run. It felt wrong to spend 80 dollars on a shirt I’d wear like once this year when I could buy 4 shirts I could wear a dozen times each. I suppose if my income were greater that shirt would be different, but that goes back to being a “single” mom.

I said to Mike—“I’m a single mother. Those clothes don’t fit my lifestyle anymore.” Okay, fine, those clothes wouldn’t fit the lifestyle of many mothers regardless of her singledom or not, but that is what I said, and in the end, that is not the main point of this blog. The main point of this blog is Mike’s response. Mike then said, “you are not a single mom. Being a single mom implies Kanan has a dead-beat father who is not around.” To which I answered, “No. Single mother means Dad and Mom aren’t together anymore.” He thought about it a minute and said he never thought of himself as a single father and still doesn’t see it that way.  

So now I am wondering, when you, my beloved readers, hear the words “single mother” or “single father,” what do you automatically assume? Every word comes with the baggage of connotation associated with it. But do all “single moms” and “single dads” come with the same baggage? Do we live in a world with so many “deadbeat” mothers and fathers that they have tainted the very word “single parent?” In a world where divorce rates are at 50 percent and illegitimate children are prevalent, aren’t there more people like MIke and I—decent people who are not together anymore, but share equal custody of our children? Should there be a new word for folks like us? And finally, am I being too prude about the lifestyle of a single mom? Should I be buying sexy 80 dollar shirts I couldn’t wear for 6 months, or wear it anyway while I’m grocery shopping or at the park?

As much as it humbles me to even have to be writing this post given my values have changed, I am eager for an answer. Regardless, I am a walking contradiction to what I believe is the only way a family should be made and living proof that any other way increases the likelyhood of a broken family and broken hearts.To me, I am a single mother, for a lack of a more accurate word. I wish I weren’t. I never thought I would be. And if I could turn things around and have done things the right way, I would. But with God’s grace, I pray he turn lemons into lemonade and I won’t have to be one forever. And if I am one forever, that he change my heart so that I am content with it, regardless of the baggage that came with it.

RIP Ryan Gaxiola

At the age of 28, I never plan for people my age to die anytime soon. Regardless, it does happen, and yet it still is surprising. I’ve known my friend Ryan since I moved to Alta Loma in the 6th grade and he teased me on the bus for my leggings because he thought they looked like long underwear. He was my bestfriend’s first love and my first love’s best friend. We had our good moments and even had falling outs. Yet we remained friends as we grew up even though we didn’t spend time together as much after high school. I went to his beautiful wedding in 2002 and watched his marriage to his high school sweetheart. Mike and I double dated with them a couple of times before they moved to Wisconsin in 2006. And we talked once more a few months ago over the phone. He was very happy in his life and I felt joyful with him.

I do not know how he died last Saturday, and will hopefully find out tomorrow. But no matter how, it is a tragedy. He was 28. He was newly married. He had just moved to Wisconsin to start his happy life with his wife. And now he is dead. It just isn’t fair.

I will go to the memorial this Saturday and cry with his father Frank, mother Elane, sister Janelle, and his wife Jenny. I don’t feel sorry for myself but rather weep for his poor family. As a mother, I can imagine what Elane must be feeling to see her son go before she did. As a sister, I can imagine what his big sister Janelle must be feeling to say good bye to her baby brother. And even though I am not a wife, I know what it is like to be madly in love. And to lose the man Jenny has devoted her life to….well, I pray that she stay strong. And I also weep for his son Grant, who is about twelve years old now and already has lost his father.

Ryan will be loved and missed by many. He was always a kid and a goofball. Someone who knew how to live and brought smiles to the faces of all who knew him. And his untimely death will always remind me to let all who I love know I love them everyday—and to stop putting things off until tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come. Life just works that way whether or not we understand why, right?

Rest in peace my friend. May your life and death teach us all how to live.

Can Children Cure Vanity and Build Our Character?

One thing I can say about having child is that he definitely humbles the selfish, self glorifying facets of me. Any body who has known me for years will tell you that I once was the “fashionista.” I shopped often and was always up to date with the latest trends and perhaps even starting trends of my own as I added my own creative twists and perspective on fashion. To me, fashion was self-expression and depending on my mood and motive for the day, I would dress accordingly. Hair? Styled. Clothes? Fashionable and put together. Makeup? Clean and up to date.

 Now, I am completely different. I just don’t have the time or the money to do it. My half of the contribution to care for, dress, feed, bathe, diaper, and entertain the little one is costing me about 500 dollars a month. That was 500 dollars a month that I used to spend on myself. Now how does time work into the equation?—when I come home from work, it is not about unwinding and indulging in “me time.” I come home, entertain Kanan, feed him dinner, squeeze in some time to shove food down my throat because I’m too starving to wait until Kanan goes to bed to eat, give Kanan a bath and do the bedtime ritual and then after he goes to bed, I work on my homework because I have to take a night class to earn the credits to move up the pay scale so that I can afford to live comfortably with Mike and our baby. Phew……that was a long sentence.

 But here is the interesting part. Somehow this process has been a paradoxical twist which as humbled my vanity and yet built my character. Because as much as I wish I had clothes and nice hair and nice makeup and could go out shopping or to the movies on a whim, the joy my son has brought into my life is so consuming and amazing, that I find my selfish desires expendable.  Kanan is so worth it. His innocence. His glee for life. His wonder at the simplest things we take for granted. His pride he shows when he finally masters a skill. His laugh. Everything. He has helped me to build a new facet to myself—the loving mother. And it feels good to know I am doing a good job.

 And with this change in my life, I find that somehow I am building another part of my character. I am generally a happy person. But I am also a worrier—have been all my life. And adding a mother role to my life only adds to my list of worries. I battle with this often, only to always learn that everything turns out fine in the end. But before Kanan, I could rely on my appearance to make up for my bad days with my bad mood or my stress or my lack of confidence in a certain situation (or maybe so I thought; wink wink). Because lets be honest here–in America, looks can help people get a way with a lot. If someone looks nice, some people will tolerate the person’s flawed personality. I am not saying I didn’t have a personality before Kanan, but on some days, I did often seem stand-offish and unapproachable—especially if I was preoccupied with conflict. Today, if I’m having a bad day or am in an uncomfortable situation and decide to show my negativity to people in the way I communicate or present myself, I’m now just a boring, grumpy woman with bad hair and an old shirt. I now have to think about smiling more and making eye contact more and showing others respect more often than I ever had. No matter how materialistic our society is, people do forget the pretty woman with an uptight personality. But no matter how bad we are dressed or how bad our hair may look, people will remember us if we make them feel good or if we were funny or confident or happy. Looks take us places, but personality goes further.

 Now I am not saying that I should pretend I am in a good mood when I am not, but at the same time, it is not fair or inspiring to other people if I openly show my frustration with my day. It doesn’t improve my day. And it certainly doesn’t enhance other people’s day. And believe it or not, when I force myself to smile even when I don’t want to, somehow, I do feel better and worry less. And I notice other people smile around me. I never influenced people like that when all I had going for me, when my list of worries reached uncomfortable lengths, was a pretty new dress. And maybe one day, when I have the money and the time to begin caring about the finer details of my appearance, my personality will have strengthened to help me make friends and influence people more than ever before. Kanan has been a blessing in more ways than one. Praise God for the gift of a postive attitude!

We are so lost—-written in January of 2008

I just can’t help but write my thoughts and feelings about the news today that actor Heath Ledger has died. And to be honest, it is not because it is Heath Ledger specifically, but because it is a talented, intelligent, and young star whom I have gotten to know somehow through my television screen. Maybe it is because I know something about them that is lost with their demise or their destruction. Or maybe because they had become human to me through their artistic talent. I suppose what breaks my heart about it so much is that these actors and musicians become like friends to us over the years even without them personally knowing us. The music they create or the character they play often captures a glimse or a piece of us in them and so we relate to them. Some more than others. And since we relate to them, since they captured a slice of something within our own spirit, when they die, we hurt as if that slice of us has died or we atleast hurt because we feel like a friend or an aquaintance has died. It is just as tragic when someone I have never met or heard of has died or hurt themselves, but I suppose I feel more when I know them. I can imagine how much more I would feel if I were their sister or daughter or mother or true friend. 

My feelings about Heath Ledger dying is that he is one more person I have gotten to “know” through his artistic work who has proven himself to be human. If it is not Heath Ledger who died at 28 from a possible drug overdose, it is Brittney Spears  living dangerously and obviously struggling against some miserable conflict within herself, or it is Anna Nicole Smith dying of multiple drug overdoses or Michael Jackson destroying his body with plastic surgeries or Pamela Anderson marrying and divorcing her umteenth husband. We have actors and musicians doing drugs, sleeping around, marrying and divorcing scores of times, and essentially proving that even with all their money and fame, they still don’t have the answers and are just as lost as the rest of us. Some of  my most favorite musicians and actors have died or hurt themselves by their own fault or the faults of others: Jim Morrison, Tupac Shakur, Biggy Smalls, Bradly Nowell, Kurt Cobain, and John Lennon. Or River Pheonix, Chris Farley, Judy Garland,  Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Hendrix, Freud, Billie Holiday, or Elvis Presley. So many people with so much knowledge of what we go through in this life, and equally broken by their decisions and the decisions of others no matter how much money or fame or power they had.

 People have tried it all to protect ourselves from pain or reach personal fulfillment and a legacy for ourselves. We have tried money, power, and fame. We have tried even the opposite: giving away all our possessions, power, and fame. We have tried to make many friends and no friends at all. We have tried to be connected to our families and also to become estranged.  We have tried indulging in all our animalistic desires and then tried supressing all of them. Nothing has worked.

But I know the answer. I know the one thing that will bring us peace, give us strength, protect our souls and our minds and our hearts, and essentially give us a happy and peaceful immortality once this life is over. My christian friends are nodding their heads right now, saying “yes, yes.” My non-christian friends are shaking their heads right now going, “no, no, not her too.” But the answer is yes. Jesus Christ.

Our creator made us. He knows the inner most workings of our souls. He designed us with the gifts and talents and emotions we have. He knows us. And a designer knows how to keep its designs running as planned. A designer knows how to fix any problems that the design may develop. He knows what we need to do to maximize the most amount of purpose in this life because he is God. And yet he even knows what it is like to be human because he came down in human form to show his mercy on us. He knows what it is like to feel joy and sorrow. He knows what it is like to be worshiped and adored one day and then mocked and ridiculed the next. He knows what it is like to be savagely killed by some of the very people who once called themselves friends. Some of us don’t want to listen to stories about him or the guide lines he asks us to follow because we don’t want to change our ways even if our ways are hurting ourselves or others. Some of us don’t know we are hurting ourselves or others because we are so lost we can’t even see it. We don’t want to be held accountable for actions. We don’ t want to stop living for ourselves.

There are two answers to the question about how Jesus can change our lives. One is to accept him as our Lord and Savior. That will grant us eternal freedom and happiness. The next is to listen to his Holy Spirit that comes with him when we ask him to enter our lives. That Holy Spirit, which was also breathed into the authors of the bible and of course, Jesus himself when he speaks in the Gospel, will guide us toward making the right choices in our lives that will benefit us and others the most in the long run. And more so in the afterlife. Some of the advice goes against our very animal nature. But that advice is for our own protection. When I look back at the desires I have and the ones I have given into in my past. When I look at the ones that Jesus or the God inspired words of the bible have spoken against, I can see the consequences of my decisions. And I can see that they did indeed hurt me and others. So all the while in those moments when I wanted what I wanted and did as I pleased, while it did give me momentary satisfaction, afterward it only hurt me or someone else. I think many of us regardless of faith know that momentary satisfaction is never worth eternal unsatisfaction.

God doesn’t say it will be easy. And there will be plenty of people who will mock you and mock him. But God says that if we stick with him, he will protect our souls. Now I don’t know about you, but I would much rather have eternal satifaction with him after this life than just momentary satisfaction (but also living with the unsatisfactory consequences of those decisions even in this life) and eternal misery afterward because I denied my very own creator and didn’t want to have a relationship with him.

Every person on this planet, Christian or non-christian, struggles with selfish instincts into which they often give. God loves us too much to force us to do what is right. He wants us to want to. Over the course of my life, I have struggled with depression, alcohol abuse, selfishness, gossiping, laziness, vanity, stealing, hate, and anger. I have sinned against my body, the very temple that God made for my soul to dwell in during my time here. I am not some self-rightious Christian, here to judge all the lost. That is the Messiah’s duty and the other’s to whom he appoints that position. But I  want to help others. I want to share the news that I know and believe with all my heart.

 I know for a fact that if more people not just believed in God  (I believe that people are lost, but I don’t want to follow them or obey them), but accepted him into their hearts and asked him to guide their lives and honestly tried to follow him (we will fail at times because that is our nature), we would not be so lost as a species.

 We are selfish by nature. And with that, we want to do things our way and we will come up with a bizzilion compromises and even justify our defiance of God and following him by reminding ourselves of all the good things we do. We tell ourselves that we are not as bad as others and therefore we don’t need God to guide us. But we are not perfect because we are not God. But we will become better people than we could have ever imagined ourselves to be, if we just could let go of our need to be the god of our own lives. And let our designer reprogram us back to the way he wants us to live.

The Seven Skills of Mothering a 9-Month-Old

1. The ability to diaper and infant as he is crawling across the floor or cruising around his night stand (since he refuses to lay still now for even the quickest of changes)

2. The laser eyes with which apon entering any place, I use to immediately scan the floor  for any little thing my son may pick up and put into his mouth.

3. The quick hands with which after scanning the floor, I use with great speed to  move any items on tables or floors that are fragile enough for my son’s curious hand’s to break.

4. The 6 arms I miraculously grow at various times to hold my son, carry in groceries, shut the car door, hold a bottled water, my purse, a diaper bag, and car keys, and still be able to pull my son’s hands apart from the lock of hair he has decided to pull from my scalp before I unlock the door to our house and let us in.

5. The strong stomach which can now handle the sight of diaper blowouts, spit up, snot, and drool and the humility to even use my own clothes to wipe some of the liquids up in cases where there is no burping rag in sight.

6. The unconditional love which seems to withstand being woken up 10 times in one night because my son is sick and cannot breathe or just thinks that it is a good time to play. Or while few and far between, the ability to withstand even the most angry wailing child who does not want to be put down, but does not want to be held, and does not want a pacifier or a diaper change or food or a bottle or a kiss and yet is quite keen on making sure I know that he is mad and doesn’t know why.

7. The ability to laugh in hindsight at remembering a moment when my son had a lump of mashed potato still left on his bottom lip after he was finished and I, without thinking,  wiped it off with my finger and then put it in my mouth and ate it.  (huh?…why did I just do that?)

Thanksgiving Break….and continuing to try and be thankful despite it all

I got the entire last week off for Thankgiving and endured the bitter while enjoying the sweet. We moved out over the first weekend of my break. As a matter of a fact, it has been 10 days since we started moving out and we are still not entirely finished. With no moving truck, two packrats, and a baby, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do it all. Of course, we also left on Wednesday for Ventura to spend Thanksgiving with our friends Donny and Angela and their family. We returned home on Saturday and then celebrated an early birthday for me on Sunday with my family.

So what is the bitter? Unfortunately during this week between these three events, a succession of other events took place to really add stress in our lives. Firstly, two days after we moved into our new place, a complaining neighbor informed us that our condominium allows only one dog per home. This was not known to the leasing agency who leased us the condo, but nonetheless we knew we could help them from getting sued if we tried to find another option. And so as we continued to move out, we had to start looking for another place to live.

Next, when I was taking Smokey out of the back of the truck, I somehow hit his foot on something (maybe the wire leash?) and hurt his toe pretty badly–I  think its just his nail that was bent back and pulled off the quick a bit, but not entirely sure. It was bleeding and he has been limping for a week now. We are so broke from the 5,000 dollars in previous doggy bills (the very bills which influenced us to move out in the first place) that we were afraid to even imagine how much xrays and drugs would cost to help him this time. We are just babying him and praying that he heals on his own.

And if that wasn’t enough, I accidentally threw my brandnew invisalign aligners in the trash at a local coffee shop and had to dig them out. In my attempt to sanitize them afterward by soaking them in scalding hot water, I warped them. I then attempted to cut the warped part out to salvage them and immediately scheduled an emergency appointment with my orthodontist. There I found that  they were still wearable and I would have to simply endure the lifted shape and murky color for the next two weeks until I am able to fit into the next step aligners.

Then when I took my car into the shop to have a flat tire repaired, I was informed that all my tires were worn out and needed to be replaced. The estimated quote? 700 and something dollars. The guy at Express Tire lied to us and tried to manipulate us into believing his schpeal  about how the “v-rate tires  were necessary for your high performance vehicle.”  When Mike shopped else where he found a much better deat for me at Sears. I could get a deal for 400. Regardless, it is 400 dollars I don’t have and so I am having to put it on the card. 

 Lastly, when we finally did find a new place to move into we find that we will have to live without power the first 4 days because that is the soonest they can get the power guys there to push the damn power button on. Grrrrrrr.

Okay, just for complaining sake, I’ll finish this off with a bang. Mike and Kanan are sick. Yesterday, after my first day back to work, I came home and took care of Kanan who felt so terrible he did not want to be put down. I took out my trusty sling and carried the snotty nosed kid everywhere with me as I cleaned and organized the house. Then I fed him dinner, gave him a bath, and put him to bed. Immediately afterward I shoved my dinner down my throat so that I would have time to make my lunch and dinner for the following day while Mike rested on the couch. Afterward, I raced to Rite Aid to buy saline spray and pain meds for the baby and some Airborne for Mike. Finally, after I dragged myself into the house, I finished the night by taking the boys out for their last walk of the day so they could use the rest room. I had to carry Smokey most of the way because of his injured foot. When I finally rested my head on that pillow last night, I was so exhausted, I couldn’t wait to sleep. But poor Kanan was conjested and couldn’t breathe easily. And so he woke up 3 times between 12 and 530. At the 130am waking, it took me an hour to get him back to sleep. I don’t even know how I taught today. It is amazing how much one can function on such little sleep.

Okay so now what should I be thankful for?

1. That we even have cars to move our things and so much crap, I complain about how long it takes to move it.

2. That we have a roof over our heads and found another one so quickly.

3. That we even have credit cards to pay for things we need but cannot afford.

4. That we have a RV to use for travel or a second home when we don’t have power for 4 days.

5. That we have friends and family in Ventura to visit on Thanksgiving and friends and family who visit me in return for my birthday.

6. That my invisalign braces survived all the torture through which I put them.

7. The I finally have earned the much respected and sought after title of “Super Mom” according to Mike.

Life is Funny

9th-grade-photo.jpgSo my 10 year reunion is coming up and after recieving the invitiation, I decided to register at the reunion website. I added my picture and a little information about me and even included my wordpress website, but I barely remember doing all that and to be honest, didn’t think anything would come out of it. Well today toward the end of lunch, I decided to check my hotmail email account which I rarely do because I only use it when websites need an address–99% of the time I erase the emails because they are junk mail.  So understand how surprised I was when I recieved an email from a high school peer of mine whose name I will leave out in order to protect her identity.

I was quite flaberghasted to recieve an email from this specific person because she was not at all my friend in high school. She was terribly mean to me from the moment I moved to Alta Loma and started school there in the 6th grade. I never understood why she was so mean to me. But in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade she teased me for multiple things including being flatchested or for being a “poser skater” because I wore fake Doc Martins and flannel shirts when I wasn’t a skater. In high school things got worse. She often called me some very hurtful names that I won’t even mention in here because they were so mean. She also gave me dirty looks and intimidated me in the halls–she once “bumped” me in the halls so hard, I hit the wall and dumped all my books on the floor. I was scared of her, I’ll be honest. And to make matters worse for me, no one could really help. She was a popular girl and had a tight niche of friends whom all seemed to follow her lead. Pretty soon her whole group of friends seemed to hate me and call me names. And I never stood up to them. I was a small teenager who hadn’t yet developed into a woman. I was also very self-concious. I was living in a home with a very controlling stepfather who didn’t love me the way I needed him to love me. I was suffering from depression because of the problems I was having at home with my father as well as because I had started an overly intimate relationship with my first love and was not at all emotionally or physically ready for such a thing. Needless to say, I never asked her why she treated me this way and I never stood up to her. I just smiled weakly without making eye contact when walking by, hoping she would one day treat me nicely. And toward my senior year, I just ignored her completely and by that time, I suppose she too just ignored me and her ridicule stopped. Still, when passing one another in the halls, I felt uncomfortable around her. I felt like she was judging me or hating me. And while I often at that time in my life gave off the appearance that I was carefree and confident, I was still struggling hard to figure out who I was or where I was going. Thinking that she judged me or hated me didn’t help my struggle with self-identity. Because the one thing I lacked was self-confidence, all I wanted was people to like me.

So fast-forward back to today at lunch, when I opened the email. Before I read the first line, I kept wondering if the letter would be an act of reconciliation on her part or perhaps a continued tortmentment that would now begin again because of my release of such personal information. My heart tightened into a clenched fist as I began to read. And slowly that fist relaxed as I realized it was indeed an act of reconciliation. She said that she had visited this wordpress website and that she “was intrigued” by my words and my artistry. She complimented me on a few of the blogs and then said something to the effect of “take care.” It wasn’t a direct, “I’m sorry.” But it did the same thing for me. And perhaps I am crazy, and she doesn’t even remember teasing me or realize how much her words hurt me and this was just her normal routine of saying hello to past peers and I am reading way too deep into this. But I would like to believe it was an act of reconciliation. It brings me a sense of peace and calms the teenage girl inside of me who still just wants to be loved.

And now the adult in me looks back at the entire high school drama experience. In retrospect, I suppose the whole time I was thinking woe is me, she too was struggling to figure out who she was in high school. Maybe someone at home wasn’t loving her enough either and somehow during that time, she treated me badly for reasons only she knows. And perhaps as she has gotten older, like me, she has grown into a self-confident and happy person. Perhaps like me, there are parts of that teenage girl inside of her who has not entirely forgotten the struggles she went through. Perhaps she and I were more alike than we knew during that confusing time in high school. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

Nonetheless, I am thankful for that email that came like a butterfly on the first day of spring.  

I also forgive her.

I hope she is doing well and that she is happy.

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Ahhh….the controversial vaccination debate. It sure is becoming popular now to be worried about vaccinations. Truth be told, I have no idea what to think. I mean I understand why vaccinations are good. They have saved many people from dying of infectious diseases that have become epidemics in the past.  I’ve read some literature from both sides of the debate and neither has convinced me. At the same time that vaccinations have become more wide spread and commercially available, our food has become overprocessed and pasterized and pumped full of hormones and pesticides so who is to say those are not the things that are causing our problems? Some people tell me that research has shown that kids who are not vaccinated have less incidences of such ailments as ADHD or Autism or even SIDS. But the people who are more likely to not vaccinate are the same ones who are more likely to buy raw, organic or whole foods, so which one is it that saved their kids? Not being vaccinated? Or their better diets? Secondly, why would the FDA approve of something that would cause a civilization to deteriorate because of a terrible handicap like Autism? So I just stick to the recommendations to vaccinate Kanan, but trust me, that doesn’t come without doubt and even a little bit of guilt. Because despite my scepticism, I do feel that the FDA are a corrupt, money hungry and not to mention idiodic administration because they bully fruit and vegetable companies who advertise the many health benefits of their produce into keeping their mouths shut because the FDA doesn’t want to lose money on the drugs they are selling that supposadly cure the same condition. So who is to say they wouldn’t just ignore the research that suggests that maybe vaccinations are not the wisest of decisions.

Gahhh…I could go on, but I would still get to the same place I am now. I just don’t know.  Part of me has thought to only get the vaccinations for the really bad stuff, but I don’t know which ones are worse or more contagious than others. Another part of me thought to just wait and have Kanan vaccinated when he was older, but the fact that we travel to third world countries made me worried we put Kanan at risk when we ourselves were safe from our vaccinations. So the only happy medium I could come to  in order to cover my rear-end in the possible case that vaccinations are causing my son harm, after each vaccination and check up, I take him to a homeopathic healer to get him “cleared” for the negative effects of the vaccines.

There is a pretty convincing science behind this Doctor’s healing. He runs a practice in Orange County called Velocity Wellness Center. He has helped me with a number of my ailments and to be honest, I have seen him work wonders on Kanan when Kanan has been acting strange. He has a website under the same name of his company so check it out if you are interested. Basically the philosophy of his practice is that the body and mind/brain are connected by the spinal cord. Which is true. We are all energy. Which is also true. Through meridians on our body, we can get the mind and brain/mind healed by making the meridians channel its energy better so that the energy that flows from our brain to our body and back is running full charge. Additionally, our energy is in turn, better alligned with the energy around us. Sounds hocus pocus, but if you have studied physics at all, it would make perfect sense. And again, I’ve seen it work. I rarely even see a regular doctor anymore.  

So what do you do? Do you vaccinate? Do you not?

Middle of the Night Diaries

July 23–

If Kanan wakes up at 445 am for his middle of the night feed, but refuses to go back to sleep so I am forced to start my day that early—-is that technically sleeping through the night?

July 24–

Is his internal clock stuck? He woke up at 446 am! And again—refuses to go back to sleep. Oh God please don’t let this be my new morning wake up time……When I go back to work in a 3 weeks, I’ll have to wake up at 530. I can handle that….but not 445.

July 25–

I follow The Baby Whisperer’s trick to prevent a habitual wake up and do what is called wake-to-sleep. How do you do it? Set the alarm for an hour before the baby does his habitual waking and go in his room and wake him up. Not all the way—just enough to make him stir. Then go back to sleep. Kanan wakes up at 5am instead–eats and goes back to sleep!

July 26–

Baby Whisper suggests doing wake-to-sleep 3 days in a row in order to make sure the habitual wake up stays at bay. I set my alarm for 345. He stirs too much! Fully awake by 4 am—-But!—He goes back to sleep after a feeding.

July 27–

—-

Kanan slept through the night!!!!!

I had to wake him up at 7am for his first feeding and he woke up in a great mood! Even let me change his diaper before eating! This is the second time in a month….I’m hoping we are slowly getting to a norm. 🙂