Family · Health · Perspective

Jelly Belly

Most days I eat a very healthy vegetable and protein based diet. But then there is a day like today where I eat jelly beans and deli ham… but mostly jelly beans.

We made a long weekend last Friday-Tuesday of my annual neurology appointment in Denver. I had the car loaded with suitcases Friday morning before work. My husband and I locked up the office at 5pm, threw the cold snack bag in the car, and headed west grabbing the kids from daycare on our way.

Other than my son either not packing or losing his entire stack of pants and shorts somewhere between home and Winter Park, our time in Colorado was very smooth. We stayed at a friend’s condo. Fishing, biking, hiking, a mine tour, a gorgeous mountain morning 5K run, and the historic Georgetown railroad filled our time. Tuesday morning, we cleaned the condo and started back to Denver. One child got motion sick coming down the pass and lost all his stomach contents into a “Brain Flakes” toy jar.

My neuro appointment went very well. MS is still stable! HALLELUJAH! Those words alone are worth the 30 minute extra wait, hitting rush hour traffic, a tire low on air on interstate, and not getting home and in bed until almost 12:45am.

Full work day on Wednesday.

Thursday was our local county fair’s first full day. My kids joined 4-H this past year. My son took a Geology box with 18 rocks, minerals, and fossils.Geo BoxMy daughter took a single stemmed zinnia flower.

Then we volunteered at the Kiddie Barnyard for two hours and ended up with a new housecat that the local veterinarian had up for free adoption. After we lost our 15 year old feline family member in December, I swore the only way we’d do it is if the potential pet met my very specific requirements.

Well… we walk in to volunteer for a couple of hours and there he is. Met every box on my checklist: 1) Male. 2) 4yrs old. 3) Litterbox/House trained. 4) Neutered. 5) Laid back.

He came with a sweet hand-written note from the person who surrendered him complete with how he likes to have his head rubbed and eating habits. He was obviously loved by his previous owner. My guess is the person either moved to a pet free rental or went to a nursing home.

Meet Sullivan – aka Sully. (This was when we first saw him, He has since been to the vet for a solid bath and his vaccinations.)


Following our pet adoption, the kids and I worked the 4-H food stand for 6.5 hours. I was the main cashier for $3000+ in food sales. That was more mental math than I’ve done in years. Doing it mentally was faster than trying to use the calculator. Needless to say, my brain was unable to function very deeply when I got home late last night.

So… here we are: A new housecat. Over a thousand miles for my neurology appointment. Projects entered in the local fair. Volunteer shifts done. Absolutely no motivation to be productive at work or at home. And one big bag of jelly beans.

Thank goodness it’s Friday!


Schools v Parents: Responsibility?

When did we become a society of parenting with “but’s”? I’m sincere in my question. I’m not trying to step on toes here, but I wonder if I am wading into it a little bit…

I just returned home from my first real mommy getaway in five years. Among various topics over a glass of wine & dessert, the conversation turned to dress codes and why certain policies were changing at an upscale plaza area in our nearest metro area (for me that is four hrs away). That area borders on a lower economic area. Apparently teens are starting to flood into the plaza area, loiter, and disturb the peace. One friend suggested that the community needs someone to step up and organize activities & clubs or sports for teens, a community organizer of sorts. The other friend suggested that the school needed to intervene since the parents couldn’t handle it.

WHOA. This last suggestion hit a nerve. A BIG NERVE.

As a former teacher of the “at-risk” teen crowd, I have a bit of perspective here. In my second year in the education system, I was cursed out by an exhausted, frustrated parent at her breaking point in life about how I wasn’t keeping her student passing English classes.  Aside from assisting my students in my science curriculum class, I also gathered ALL their assignments for ALL my tutor students from ALL their teachers in every class every week. I sat with them to read. I made a list of missing assignments. My aide and I made flash cards. We quizzed with the flash cards. I made study guides if the curriculum teacher did not. I looked for other interventions that might assist attention and comprehension. I wanted them to succeed. I LOVED those students. I CRIED for those students and wiped away their tears when they cried. I STRUGGLED with and for those students. I CARED for those students. At the end of the day, I had to send those students on to their parents, grandparents, and caretakers. It was my job to SUPPORT those students in the classroom and ENCOURAGE those students everywhere I saw them, in school and out.

It was not my job as a teacher to RAISE them.

I think this is something that all those in the education system struggle with. At the end of the day, we have to draw the line and go home. We have to take a breath and turn those kids back over to their parents. It is the parents who are ultimately responsible.

My friend kept suggesting that she wasn’t trying to make me mad but I needed to see her side of the debate. No hard feelings here, but I very firmly believe it is not the school system’s responsiblity to raise the students in their care. It is the school’s job to support, educate, and encourage them.

I do not think that your economic status gives you a pass to be a parent, “but.”  On both ends of the payscale, there are parents who work hard.  Her argument was that  parents are responsible for their kids BUT can’t take off work to pick them up at the end of the day. There should be a school program for that.   —  Parents are ultimately responsible to make arrangements for that child be they rich, poor, or somewhere in between. They MADE that child. Was it convenient for my mother or father to take off work 30 miles from where we attended school to come pick us up when sick? NO. Were they ultimately responsible? YES. If they couldn’t, they had to call and find someone who could get us. A sick day is just one day, what about parental work schedules versus when school dismisses? Still the parent’s responsibility to meet the needs of his/her child.

Some around me have said that I’m full of “tough love” or I’m “too responsible” or take things “too seriously.” I don’t believe so. There are no “but’s” in parenting. It is easier to parent with a good support system of family, neighbors, and community. The old adage that “it takes a village to raise a child” is partially true. It is easier and smoother. Ultimately, it is still the parent’s responsibility.

As a society, we need to stop making excuses and being apathetic. We are too quick to assume someone else will stand up and take on the responsibility when we choose to turn a blind eye. Get out. Volunteer to coach or sponsor or even provide a snack if you can’t make it to the meeting. GET INVOLVED. No “but’s” about it. The next generation needs you.