Saturday, June 25, 2016

America's Broken System

 We are a very divided country. Everyone has their own opinions. I won't change yours and you won't change mine. That's why there is no compromise from our leaders. Because we Americans aren't willing to compromise anymore.

It's time to start listening to what's being said and not just what we hear. We do this on too many topics. Our system is broken because facts don't form opinions anymore. In the wake of the Pulse shootings in Orlando, it's time to look at things from clear eyes. I'll start with gun reform but that's not the only area I'm talking about.

We need gun reform. The states with the loosest gun laws are the ones with high shooting rates. I'm not posting the links to those charts again. I usually do, but the people who should read them never actually read them.

No, good civilians with guns aren't stopping the bad guys. In fact, they are more likely to get shot by shooting back then by running and ducking for cover. They are also more likely to accidentally shoot an innocent bystander. This isn't a crime drama. Civilians are not trained law enforcement. The "defend myself" situation is very different when it happens in real life then NRA imagination.

What gun rights people hear "they want to take away your guns"

What is actually being said "we want to keep guns away from those who are high risk to cause harm"

It's not just about guns. We have a lot of topics like that. Gay rights, transgender rights, equal pay, healthcare, abortions, birth control, government assistance and minimum wage. It's one thing to have an opinion on something. It's another to force your views on others.

Gay rights:

What homophobics hear "they choose to live like that and don't deserve to be treated the same as you"

What is actually being said "it's not a choice, it's part of who they are. They are still law abiding citizens that  pay taxes like you and deserve the same rights and privileges as you"

Transgender rights:
What Transphobics hear "you are born the gender you are born, look down and that's it"

What is actually being said "it's not that simple. Being  a drag queen is very different then being Transgender. A drag queen likes to dress up like a woman sometimes but still feels like they are a man. A Transgender person identifies as the opposite gender. It's not about what's in the pants. It's about what gender makes you feel whole"

Equal Pay:
What men hear "they are making the same as men what are they complaining about?"

What is actually being said "I know men in this company in the same job making more then me. Having kids held me back in my career. Why does that still happen?"

What the heartless people hear "you are paying for other people to get healthcare"

What is actually being said "ALL medical related expenses are out of control high. In the meantime, people are making less money. People are dying of curable diseases. We need to do something to make healthcare affordable for EVERYONE!!! We'd like to do better but this is the best we can do thanks to hearlless selfish  people.:

Note: yes, I got judgy there. Because when Josh was unemployed and broke his hip our Affordable Care exchange plan covered at huge percentage of it. It was made affordable by a nice tax subsidy. Between $23,000 and $25,000 for everything related to his surgery, rehab and recovery before insurance paid their part. What exactly do you think would have happened if this insurance wasn't an option for us? I get not being comfortable with universal health care but being against the Affordable Care Act makes you either ignorant of it, or heartless and selfish. I did a blog post years ago clarifying it if you don't understand it.

What pro-lifer's hear "don't have sex if you don't want to get pregnant"

What is really being said "It's not that simple. Rape victims didn't choose to have sex. Women should not be forced to carry a baby that won't survive outside the womb. If the mother's life is in danger, there would still be a loss of life. In fact, there is not guarantee that the baby would survive if you let the mother die. It really boils down to one things. A woman's uterus should not be more regulated then guns!!!!!"

Birth Control:
What the religious right hears "Birth control is a type of abortion"

What is actually being said "So, you failed that part of sex-ed. Okay, here's the cliff notes. Birth control prevents the egg from being fertilized by the sperm. It prevents the creation of life, it doesn't end a life that has already been created. "

Government Assistance:
What the Peniaphobic hear "they are too lazy to work"

What is actually being said "Almost all of us have jobs, are looking for jobs, or physically can't work, Of those of us then can physically work, our circumstances are out of our hands. Jobs need to be created and employers need to pay a living wage. A lot of employers purposely pay their employees poverty wages so the government can supplement their income. Hold these companies accountable for paying their employees a living wage. If you believe that trickle down economics is the best way, you know nothing about economics!!! Because trickle down economics is the reason I need government assistance in the first place!!!!!"

Minimum Wage:
What the opponents hear "it will raise  prices and cause layoffs"

What is really being said "when people make more money, they have more to spend. In time, this leads to more business and a stronger economy. It's what basically every economist has frustratingly been saying for years. "

I doubt this will change anything. The other day someone quoted a specific statistic to me. Now, there is zero chance this statistic was correct. When we read articles that mention statistics there is always more then one statistic in that article. You might remember the number, but the likelihood that you are getting what it's for right is very small. The same is true in reverse. You might know what a statistic was for, but the likelihood you got the number right is also very small.

When I post a statistic, I include the link to where I got it from. But, I don't quote statistics unless reading from a reliable source (no, FOX news doesn't count and neither does Wikipedia). You loose credibility with me if you quote a statistic in conversation without physically showing me your source. Too many opinions are not formed on facts anymore. Fix the broken system. Start hearing what is really being said!

Monday, June 20, 2016

After the Alligator

I read the news the other day. The first story was about a little boy taken into the water by an alligator in Disney World. The next day was the article that his body has been recovered. The responses ever since have been predictable. Some people criticize the parents others criticize the critics.

Critics say "why weren't his parents watching him?" and "there were 'no swimming' signs". He wasn't swimming. He was standing on the shore nearby. Both his parents WERE watching him. His dad tried to free him from the alligator instantly.

When you picture this incident, how quickly do you think it took place in? The alligator grabbing the kid. Do you picture a long struggle? I don't! I imagine this happened very quickly! Alligators are predators. They are quick. The after bite struggle took longer then the bite and tug itself. Even that might not has lasted that long. No one was watching the clock so we don't know for certain!

After the alligator came a lot of critics. I read one critic, critic that dared the critics to say what they post online to the faces of Lane's parents. I like that idea, frankly. Too many people hide behind a computer and say things they would NEVER say in person. Because they don't want the labels that come with saying those things in person to the people you are talking about. "Heartless" is one that comes to mind.

In the aftermath after the alligator I found myself asking "WHY is there criticism in the first place?" The answer is fear. The critics usually say some variation of "That wouldn't have happened if it were MY kid!" But, that's burying the fear. The fear that it could be your kid. That someday something could happen and you become the grieving parent.

When I read about these kinds of tragedies I find myself thinking some things that wouldn't occur to most people. Did they have trouble getting pregnant with this child? Was it a high risk pregnancy? What about labor? How much did they suffer to get this child in the first place only to loose him/her way too soon?! What was their personality? I wish I could just give this family one giant hug!!!

These parents will be asking themselves if they could have done something different. They will be crying as they pack up his things. They might never give anything of his away again. They might take a very long time before doing something with his room. They will cry when they think of his hugs and kisses. They will cry when thinking of giving him hugs and kisses. His older sister will think of him as she goes through school. They will all relive this moment for the rest of their lives.

What they need more then anything right now is support. They don't need to be told everything will be okay. He's gone forever. They might eventually move on, but they will never forget him and will never be okay with his loss. They need hugs. They need distractions. They need to hear from the people that say "you did everything you could possibly have done!"

The critics are bullies. They won't like that label but that's what they are. Bullies!!!! Bullies bully to cover up their own insecurities. When I read or hear a critic I listen to what they are saying. Because in their words are their fears. I respect the people who say "I can't imagine what they must be going through!"

I talk all of the time about why we shouldn't judge. We don't have all the information. We don't have the education and life experiences others have. In times of tragedy there isn't room for critics. There is only room for support!!!

We talk so much about the parents. That sister was on the beach too. I just read this article about Disney princess that came to comfort her. She is young. But, she'll never forget this. This will effect her development. She will think of him every time a friend complains about their brother. She will hear the sentence somewhere down the road "you are so lucky you don't have a brother because mine is awful!" Words with good intentions that will hurt!!!

In their grief, her parents still have to raise her. Will they be able to fully more this loss? They will be there for her as she works her way through it. They had to explain to her what happened. They have to teach her about death. They might have to answer the question "why did God take Lane from us?" Questions that might make their own grief harder to deal with!

After the Alligator we must ask ourselves "how would we need people to respond if we were the parents or sister of this child?"

Friday, June 17, 2016

Last Day of Year 2 of 13

Before Zach started Kindergarten I said the following:

"K - 12 are the most important 13 years of your life"

You learn, grow and mature a lot both before and after. However, these years influence those. Before it's about getting ready for K - 12. After, lessons you have learned in school and at home influence your decisions. Things that happen in your life during that time shape what's after.

Today is Zach's last day as a first grader. Year 2 of 13 is ending. His teacher is amazing. Her classroom management is strong. Zach always knew what was expected of him and what was coming next. He thrived in her classroom. We are both eternally grateful to her for that.

We both have had mixed feelings since the start of June. We are both looking forward to finding out who will be his second grade teacher. Both are also amazing teachers. It doesn't matter. But, today he finds out who she is. It's very exciting!!! I never had that. It might be the same town but classes were a lot smaller. His grade has 33 kids and two teachers. My grade had 17 - 19 kids and one teacher. So we always knew who we had each year long before the last day of school!

Zach gets his report card this afternoon. He always does well and I know he's been working hard. I know I won't be disappointed! He was classified as gifted in math earlier in the year. I know he's been enjoying the more challenging math work!

I have been feeling sick all week. On Wednesday I realized it was a panic attack. Yes, all week. I'm not worried about how he'll do next year. Neither is he. We are both looking forward to next year. It's hard saying goodbye to such a wonderful teacher. But, I know he'll have a wonderful teacher next year too.

Is it because he's getting bigger? Maybe. But, being there for him every step of the way is fantastic! He had an assignment in computer class earlier this week. What was your favorite thing about first grade. His answer, library class. He told me it's because that's that class I helped in every week.

It's the last day of school. Most people are a mix of happy, sad, excited, and nostalgic. I've been shaking nonstop with an endless knot in my stomach. I'll modify the class cheer:




Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Mysterious Thyroid

Every once in a while over the last 6 years I have done a blog post on my diet struggles. You can read a lot about the ups and downs. I'll do the quick version in blue below. If you know about them already, go ahead and skip the blue.

So I was born with Selective Eating Disorder. It sounds like simple picky eating but it's more then that. Blog post below. I also had a 9 year long eating disorder. 80 lbs at 5' 1" freshman year in HS. 98lbs and age 24 on my wedding day (5' 3" by then). My body will forever be in survival mode.

For the last two years I have been overweight at 5' 3" 153 pounds. Activity level and eating habits couldn't change that amount. I KNEW I had a thyroid issue. The doctor knew it was a thyroid issue. He sent me to an Endocrinologist. HE knew it was a thyroid issue. The Endocrinologist said:

"All of your symptoms point to a thyroid issue but it would show in the bloodwork. After my testing I can't find anything."

I even requested a thyroid ultrasound to check on things. Thyroid issues are highly genetic and we have some in my Dad's side of the family. I had a hypoactive thyroid before I got pregnant with Zach. Why wasn't it showing in the bloodwork?

The doctor does bloodwork every 3 - 6 months to keep an eye on a few things. He's currently monitoring for diabetes. At the end on March I did some fasting bloodwork. When you wake up starving at 5am every day you tend not to agree to fasting bloodwork. This time I agreed to it.

Sure enough.................high enough to try a low dose medication. I have lost 8 lbs in 2 months. I was a size 16 and am now a 14. 145 lbs at 5' 3" I'm still overweight but a lot closer to a healthy weight!!! I haven't changed my diet and exercise habits. The only change has been that thyroid medication.

I don't know why it took so long for the thyroid issue to show it's face. The doctor says you don't have to fast for thyroid. I once got a high result in a non-fasting test. However, it wasn't high 6 months later.  It wasn't even that high in the blood work this time. But, it clearly was the problem. He couldn't medicate me until the bloodwork showed it. Insurance company rules. But, I look and feel a lot better in a lot of ways!!! It will always be a mystery to me how the thyroid issue was so clear physically but not showing in the bloodwork. But the mystery has been solved!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Zach's Easy Path

In March I did a blog post called "The Path To A Moment":

Three years ago I talked about "Watching Zach" in a different blog post. It was about how I watched him then. But, in it, I mentioned a vision I had of Zach playing baseball on this one big field in town. It's the field for middle school kids.

"The Path To A Moment" was about his first baseball practice ever. We didn't know what to expect of this season. I didn't know how he would feel about baseball. I wanted to encourage it without being pushy. Baseball is good for his asthma. It means he can catch his breath sometimes. Even MLB players have a chance to catch their breath. While he's still young and exploring interests, I wanted to expose him to the things that he'll be able to do at an advanced level without struggling to breath.

Zach loved baseball. He loved being on a team. He loved learning more about baseball. It's an environment he thrived in. He said he wants to consider doing the summer program. We got him a T and found our gloves. He liked practicing at the apartment too sometimes. He loved the games most of all.

Frankly, so did I. I told myself when I was pregnant that I would never be THAT mom. It's not easy to really define what I mean. If you're at a game though, you probably know who THAT mom is. I was very much THAT mom.

There I was behind the bench with the kids and some dads. Helping keep the kids in batting order. Cheering for each one by name when they did something well. Loud and proud. I didn't insult anyone from the other team. I encouraged them too. That's Rookie ball. But, I wasn't subtle.

Zach had a batting pattern. We did 3 innings. Each kid swung the bat until they hit the ball. Sometimes a T was required. The coaches pitched. Zach had trouble with his first at bat.......every game. His second at bat was better.......every game. His third at bat led to a good hit on the first or second pitch.....every game.

I saw every kid improve throughout the season. I was the parent taking pictures on opening day. Zach noticed his improvement too. After the last game he said "I don't want it to end". He misses his teammates. He's repeatedly said he is "definitely doing baseball next year!"

So far, the path to THIS moment is easy! This moment might not happen. It was a flash of a vision I had when my son was four. It was a very specific vision. Sometimes when I have those they come true. But, not always. There will be bumps on this path. He might not make the travel team if he tries out for one when he's older. I just hope he doesn't let those bumps hold him back. I know if he makes it to this moment, he'll be proud of himself. Maybe when he's done with that moment he'll reflect on the path he took to get there. It starts with this season.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Menacing Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes cause a lot of trouble. For most people, their bites lead to itchy bumps that take a few days to go away. You can use bug spray. However, some mosquitoes will bite you anyway. Some people are more likely to get bitten by others. Okay, okay I admit it. I'm one of those people!

Mosquitoes become menacing when they carry a disease. Possibly, a deadly disease. Below is a link to a great website about different mosquito borne diseases. Here's the list:

Dog Heartworm
Yellow Fever
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
St. Louis Encephalitis
LaCrosse Encephalitis
Western Equine (Japanese) Encephalitis
West Nile Virus
Zika Virus

I haven't heard of some of them. It's scary, you can't always control if you get bitten or not. You can't know if the mosquito that bit you carried a deadly disease until symptoms show! With Zika virus in the news I decided to outline the more common mosquito borne diseases.

Zika Virus

Strait from the Center for Disease Control, it turns out most cases of Zika virus are mild. So mild, some people don't even know they have it!


Joint Pain
Red Eyes
Muscle Pain

It could take a few days to a week to show up. It lasts for about a week in the blood. It's rarely deadly and once you have it you are likely to be immune to it in the future.

Treatment is basically rest, drink plenty of fluids, and Tylenol. You can't take a NSAID until Dengue has been ruled out. Try to avoid further mosquito bites. It turns out this in one of the least deadly mosquito borne diseases.

West Nile Virus

70 - 80% of infected people don't have symptoms. 1 in 5 people will develop some symptoms:

Body Aches
Joint Pain

Most people recover completely but fatigue and weakness can last for months. Less then 1% of people develop severe symptoms. The red part is copied from the link above.

Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).
  • The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
  • Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, people over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk for serious illness.
  • Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months. Some of the neurologic effects may be permanent.
  • About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die.

Treatment is Tylenol for fever and pain. For severe symptoms, go to the hospital

The media has been painting these illnesses like they are very deadly. So far, I'm surprised to learn how mild they usually are. If you are pregnant, over 60, a child, or have a low immune system, you are more likely to feel symptoms or get the more severe version of these viruses. Even then, you still might not get the severe versions. Now I'll see if some other common mosquito diseases are the same way.


There are four versions of Encephalitis

Each has their own variation of the details but they are similar to Zika and West Nile. They are more likely to be deadly then Zika and West Nile. The real difference is you are more likely to have neurological side effects that might linger after the disease is gone. Eastern Equine is the most deadly. 1/3 of infected people get severe symptoms.

Yellow Fever

It is very similar to Zika and West Nile. I'm sensing a pattern. 15% of infected people will get severe symptoms and of those 20 - 50% will die. Symptoms are similar to other mosquito transmitted diseases.

Dog Heartworm

That link has a nice graphic. It doesn't just infect dogs though.

Most people don't have symptoms. It's most likely to be found in Europe. If you do have symptoms, they are most likely to be:

Cough (including possibly coughing up blood)
Chest Pain
Excessive Fluid in the Chest Cavity

It is caused by a dying adult heartworm. It leaves coin lesions in x-rays. If that's discovered, you are more likely to need an invasive procedure to rule out more serious things like cancer.


The principal symptoms of dengue are:
  • High fever and at least two of the following:
    • Severe headache
    • Severe eye pain (behind eyes)
    • Joint pain
    • Muscle and/or bone pain
    • Rash
    • Mild bleeding manifestation (e.g., nose or gum bleed, petechiae, or easy bruising)
    • Low white cell count
This one is more likely to be severe. Mostly what you can do it take Tylenol. Like the others, avoid NSAIDs. If you get to the hospital or doctor quickly, you are less likely to die from it. The most disturbing part for me is the symptoms. They are so much like the symptoms for the more mild mosquito diseases. It's so hard to know what you actually have!!!


Most people do develop some symptoms. The most common are fever and joint pain. You might also have a headache, joint swelling, muscle pain, or a rash. The symptoms are more likely to be severe but you are less likely to die from it. The good news is once you've had it you are more likely to be protected from getting it again in the future. Treatment is the same as Zika.


Ah, yes, I'll end with a biggie.


Flu-like symptoms

you know, because the scary stuff can't be more obvious. It'd be great if there was an obvious sign. But, no. It has to make hypochondriacs think a mild flu is malaria. Because if left untreated, you can die from malaria. (the red below is copied from this link)

Uncomplicated Malaria

The classical (but rarely observed) malaria attack lasts 6-10 hours. It consists of
  • a cold stage (sensation of cold, shivering)
  • a hot stage (fever, headaches, vomiting; seizures in young children)
  • and finally a sweating stage (sweats, return to normal temperature, tiredness).
Classically (but infrequently observed) the attacks occur every second day with the "tertian" parasites (P. falciparum, P. vivax, and P. ovale) and every third day with the "quartan" parasite (P. malariae).
More commonly, the patient presents with a combination of the following symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Body aches
  • General malaise
In countries where cases of malaria are infrequent, these symptoms may be attributed to influenza, a cold, or other common infections, especially if malaria is not suspected. Conversely, in countries where malaria is frequent, residents often recognize the symptoms as malaria and treat themselves without seeking diagnostic confirmation ("presumptive treatment").
Physical findings may include:
  • Elevated temperatures
  • Perspiration
  • Weakness
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Mild jaundice
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • Increased respiratory rate
Diagnosis( of malaria depends on the demonstration of parasites in the blood, usually by microscopy. Additional laboratory findings may include mild anemia, mild decrease in blood platelets (thrombocytopenia), elevation of bilirubin, and elevation of aminotransferases.
 Top of Page

Severe Malaria

Severe malaria occurs when infections are complicated by serious organ failures or abnormalities in the patient's blood or metabolism. The manifestations of severe malaria include
  • Cerebral malaria, with abnormal behavior, impairment of consciousness, seizures, coma, or other neurologic abnormalities
  • Severe anemia due to hemolysis (destruction of the red blood cells)
  • Hemoglobinuria (hemoglobin in the urine) due to hemolysis
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), an inflammatory reaction in the lungs that inhibits oxygen exchange, which may occur even after the parasite counts have decreased in response to treatment
  • Abnormalities in blood coagulation
  • Low blood pressure caused by cardiovascular collapse
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Hyperparasitemia, where more than 5% of the red blood cells are infected by malaria parasites
  • Metabolic acidosis (excessive acidity in the blood and tissue fluids), often in association with hypoglycemia
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood glucose). Hypoglycemia may also occur in pregnant women with uncomplicated malaria, or after treatment with quinine.
Severe malaria is a medical emergency and should be treated urgently and aggressively.
 Top of Page

Malaria Relapses

In P. vivax and P. ovale infections, patients having recovered from the first episode of illness may suffer several additional attacks ("relapses") after months or even years without symptoms. Relapses occur because P. vivax and P. ovale have dormant liver stage parasites ("hypnozoites"( that may reactivate. Treatment to reduce the chance of such relapses is available and should follow treatment of the first attack.
 Top of Page

Other Manifestations of Malaria

  • Neurologic defects may occasionally persist following cerebral malaria, especially in children. Such defects include trouble with movements (ataxia), palsies, speech difficulties, deafness, and blindness.
  • Recurrent infections with P. falciparum may result in severe anemia. This occurs especially in young children in tropical Africa with frequent infections that are inadequately treated.
  • Malaria during pregnancy (especially P. falciparum) may cause severe disease in the mother, and may lead to premature delivery or delivery of a low-birth-weight baby.
  • On rare occasions, P. vivax malaria can cause rupture of the spleen.
  • Nephrotic syndrome (a chronic, severe kidney disease) can result from chronic or repeated infections with P. malariae.
  • Hyperreactive malarial splenomegaly (also called "tropical splenomegaly syndrome") occurs infrequently and is attributed to an abnormal immune response to repeated malarial infections. The disease is marked by a very enlarged spleen and liver, abnormal immunologic findings, anemia, and a susceptibility to other infections (such as skin or respiratory infections).

Those menacing mosquitoes! Some diseases they carry are mild some are deadly. You can use bug spray, wear long sleeves and long pants, and try to avoid them. But, they might bite you anyway.

If you're like me, you spend the summer slapping yourself because you think you felt the tingle of a bug landing on your skin. I've killed a lot of mosquitoes. I do fear getting one of these some day. I tend to spend this time of year with a lot of joint pain. For all I know, I get West Nile each year and just don't know it!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Fallen Flags

For Memorial Day some people put flags on graves of fallen service men and women. Others put flags around statues of soldiers. The flags are to honor those who have lost their lives serving our country. But, most Americans know that. As a kid, we asked about the flags.

It's the unofficial start to summer. Some will go to barbecues others go where they spend summer weekends. It's a happy weekend for most people. It's a fun weekend for most people. And it should be. But, we should take some time on Monday to honor the fallen. Even if it's just with a flag.

At funerals, the flag draping the casket is folded and given to the family of the fallen. I think that is a wonderful symbol of the sacrifice that hero has made. Here's the right way to do it:

Small flags are easy to find in a lot of stores. When you see a flag in your travels this weekend, think of the fallen. If part of your religion is to pray, pray for the fallen. Thank them for making the ultimate sacrifice. This weekend, the flag represents more then a decoration.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Don't Give Up, Zach

Zach keeps giving up on things. When it's no longer easy, he's not interested in continuing. My loving father keeps reminding me that I did that too. I know it's a weakness of mine. I have been trying to set the example not to give up. But, Zach is still giving up.

Zach grew out of his old bike before really learning how to ride it. There is a small hill in the driveway at my parent's house. He made it a goal to make it up that hill. He constantly would ride his bike down the driveway then park it.

His birthday is coming up. My parents got him a bike that fits him now. He'll ride it sometimes, but when he starts to struggle, he stops. He did make it up that little hill on his new bike though. I made it a point to congratulate him for reaching that goal. But he still shows little interest in riding.

We had received a tax refund. That happens when you don't make much money. This year, we put some aside to get him a Wii U for his birthday. An early gift. We also got him a few games. Early on, he played with it every day. Last Sunday, a friend came over to show him about playing a couple of games. He hasn't played with it since.

I know he enjoys it. We gave him "Mario World" this morning and he's playing it with Josh right now. We asked him what happened. Why did he stop playing with it? His answer was, "it was getting too hard when he reached a new level."

I told him to work through the challenges. It's okay to fail. Just try again. That makes it more fun when you do get it right. Lego Avengers, Pac Man, and Mario Kart are all hard for him. The are really for kids a little older then him anyway. He enjoys Mario Tennis, Lego Marvel, and now Mario World. It's new. He's getting a feel for the types of games he's drawn too.

To feel a sense of accomplishment you have to work through things that are hard to do. I tell Zach not to give up. It's okay to give up sometimes but it's important to not give up that often. I have been trying to set the example of not quitting. But, I have my sympathies.

I remember being the kid that wasn't as good as my peers at certain things. Those are the things easy to give up on. Because you feel like you'll never be as good as the other kids so it's not worth even trying. We weren't able to afford basics like the game system or tablet until recently. Like in the past month. But, his friends have been using them for years. Meaning, they had more practice and are at a higher level then he is. It's a casualty to being poor. He can get there too. He just needs to practice and troubleshoot the hard parts.

As a parent, I'm stuck. I keep trying to set the right example and tell Zach not to give up. I also tell him why he's better off working through the hard part. I encourage him to ride his bike and play his Wii U. He's in a rut. I don't know how to help him out of it.

Some parents would say "let him struggle. He needs to learn to work through challenges on his own." I agree with that. I'm not looking to tell him how to work through challenges. I'm looking to motivate him to try working through the challenges. He can figure out how to solve the problems on his own. Because it's an essential life skill.

Perhaps what has held him back was not having someone to play the games with. He loved playing with his friend last week. Maybe it's less fun to play alone. He's enjoying it now. Is that because he's playing with Josh? Or because he really likes this game? I think the answer is both. But, I think he'll enjoy this game when Josh goes to work later.

As for his bike, it's at the apartment now. In the garage. There are better places to practice here. Maybe that will help! If anything it means more opportunities to ride his bike now.

It's a basic skill, knowing how to work through the hard things to solve problems. I think the phase has more to do with the time of year. He's clinging to the easy and familiar for a few reasons.

1. Who knows what will happen with Fairway. The pizza place has full time hours for Josh. But, the uncertainty of Fairway's future is scary. I've done the math and know we'll be okay if it becomes pizza full time. At least for a while. But for Zach it just meaning uncertainty. He needs predictability and he's not getting that with Fairway's new changes.

2. He LOVES his teacher. Every year at this time he's scared of moving up a grade. He's scared of what the next grade will be like. His current teacher is amazing and has a fantastic classroom management plan. Zach responds well to that predictability and routine. It's going away in a few weeks and that is scary for him.

3. He's aware that he's growing out of old favorites. We introduced the Wii U early because the only thing he was playing with were the Legos. But, he's not ready for all the toys he's outgrown to go to the garage. As his tastes change, he's struggling to say goodbye to things he played with for years. I think  his hold up on the game system is what it symbolizes. It symbolizes his new stage of development. Just like the bigger bike.

As a parent it's hard to stop him from giving up. It's tricky. I don't want him to feel forced to do something. If it's an expectation, he won't enjoy it. However, I can't stand by and not say anything either.

Don't give up, Zach. Work through those challenges. Because those accomplishments will feel really good. You WILL be able to get to the next level. You WILL be able to ride your bike around the block. But, you have to use critical thinking skills to solve the problem. Don't be left behind because you didn't try. Don't give up, work through it!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The OCD Rabbit Hole

I've gone down an OCD rabbit hole. Organizing things into months and seasons are how I make sense of the world. Here is when the metaphorical rabbit holes get entered. Projects aren't about the end result. They are about the process.

Reminder, with OCD it's something you can't stop yourself from doing. It controls your life until complete. One example is my "hats and wraps" project. What started as a small "sun hats for summer months and winter hats for winter months" project has grown. Whenever I get close to completing the big project, I find myself adding to it.

***Note: this is just an example of how the projects grow. Some people might be interested. Psychology professors looking for a pure example of OCD come to mind. However, if you actually don't care about the hats and wraps project, skip to the black*****

Originally: Sun Hats for Spring, June, July, August, and Fall. Winter hats for Fall, December, January, February, and Spring.

Then: Added heavy hats to December, January, and February. Added visors to June, July, and August

Next: Added cowls to December, January, and February. Added Sarongs to June, July, and August

After that: Added a heavy hat, cowl, visor, and sarong to use for both Spring and Fall

Not done yet: Needed a brim for Winter sometimes so got a felt brimmed hat for Winter and made a Patriotic headband for Summer. Can't have uneven numbers.

Finally: I realized my heavy hat, cowl, visor and sarong that Spring and Fall share work a lot better for Spring then Fall. So I decided to start a new grouping for Fall and make the current stuff for Spring.

All of my obsessions work this way. In a search to not complete this big knitting and crochet project, I am adding to this collection. But I am very happy with it. Part of it comes from the yarn I have been using. When I originally was selecting the patterns to use, I developed favorites. With my latest modification, I am now using all of my favorites from both types of yarn. I smile more as the larger project unfolds.

I remember being obsessed with my garden plan. I worked so hard on those layouts! I printed so many pages out and modified them as I adjusted what I wanted to grow in the garden. In a way, I was ready for my new permanent layout. I wasn't following those layouts anymore. With the smaller budget I would have had to re-do them anyway. I took a lot of flowers out of the plan. Every time I thought that layout was done, I had more ideas. It wasn't about the plan itself. It was about creating the plan. The metaphorical OCD rabbit hole.

I'm a creator. I'm a creative person. I see the potential. The end is nice. The process is better. But, I fall down that metaphorical OCD rabbit hole every time. It's all I talk about and think about. Josh can tell you stories of our two year long decoration hunt. We use those decorations all of these years later. But, I knew the exact things I wanted so we would hunt them down. It also meant a lot of decoration talk. There are a lot of projects that make me fall down that OCD rabbit hole. It's why it's diagnosed as OCD.

It's not about the project. It's about the process. Many times I have forgotten to eat or sleep from being so deep into  my projects. Deep in those rabbit holes. So deep you'd never know I'm petrified of heights!!! There is one ironic things about those frequent trips down those metaphorical OCD rabbit holes.................rabbits are my favorite animals!!!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Forgetting Kids In Cars

It's gone on long enough. I keep reading stories of parents who forget their kid in the car. Leaving them to die of hyperthermia. This should never happen. Yet the average number of kids to die each year in a hot car is 37.

Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2016:  6
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke deaths of children left in cars, 2015:  24
  • Total number of U.S. heatstroke  deaths of children left in cars, 1998-present:  667
  • Average number of U.S. child heatstroke fatalities per year since 1998: 37


    Seriously? 37 preventable deaths a year? Years ago I read a story in Parenting Magazine about one mother who did this to her adoptive son. The family was sick and busier then usual. She didn't normally take him to school but she was supposed to that day. Instead, he was quietly sleeping in the back seat and she drove to work.

    The article painted this as an innocent mistake. People get forgetful when overwhelmed and off routine. At the time, I was happy to hear she went unpunished in court. The article pointed out ways to not forget your kid is there. The only one I remember being to leave something like a stuffed animal on the front seat when the kid is back there.

    Zach was a baby then. My thought:

    I always check his seat when getting into and out of the car anyway. Why do you need a stuffed animal reminder? The habit should be to check the car seat.

    I'm tired of reading articles about kids dying in car seats. We are all busy and get forgetful sometimes. But that is involuntary manslaughter.

    involuntary manslaughter :  manslaughter resulting from the failure to perform a legal duty expressly required to safeguard human life, from the commission of an unlawful act not amounting to a felony, or from the commission of a lawful act involving a risk of injury or death that is done in an unlawful, reckless, or grossly negligent manner — see also reckless homicide at homicide

    Editor's note: The exact formulation of the elements of involuntary manslaughter vary from state to state esp. with regard to the level of negligence required. In states that grade manslaughter by degrees, involuntary manslaughter is usu. graded as a second- or third-degree offense.

    Parents aren't doing it on purpose. It's time to stop saying "that will never happen to me" and start taking steps to actively prevent it from happening.

    1. Don't leave kids alone in the car

    2. Check the back seats when you enter or leaving the car even at times your kids aren't normally with you. Those are the times they are more likely to be forgotten and end up dead. If checking is a reflex, it could save their lives.

    I don't know if adults should be punished when nothing happens to their kid in a hot car. Some states have laws about that but not New Jersey. For me, it depends on the punishment. No, they should not have their kids taken away. But, yes, they should get a ticket. Some people would be more careful simply because it's no longer legal. I do think it should be treated as murder or involuntary manslaughter when a child dies. Their negligence has led to a fatality in that case. A preventable fatality. That can't be treated lightly.

    This isn't really about punishing the negligence. It's about awareness. This shouldn't be happening. Yes, there are some things you can try. New reflexes to develop that will help. But what we really need is awareness. Most people do learn things from events that happen repeatedly.

    That awareness leads to people saying:

    "I want to start ____________ because I don't want to end up like ______________".

    I hope this post as well as others on this topic get the busy parent racing out of their car in a hurry to say:

    "Oops, let me check the back! I love my kids too much to let them die in the car!!!"