Right on

Here is to strong women.

May we know them.

May we be them.

May we raise them.

 

 

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In the spirit of randomness

Little Bug was handed a piece of a donut this morning. Her (version of) words in this order were: “Oh no! What happened? Thank you.”

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At first, I thought it was this random string of sayings that she concocted. The mamas laughed. Then, I realized it was because she thought the donut was broken. Hey! Empathy is pretty great to see, even if it’s for an inanimate object, right? I think so.

And of course is the politeness that ensued, even though I was rude enough to eat the majority of the donut. I haven’t been conscious of politeness, but we’ve been told that she’s up there in terms of manners.

Our kid may not say much, but she’s got her p’s and q’s.  Or at least her “pwee”s and “din doo”s.

A certain club we belong to

My friend and I had a conversation about how rude it is to be exclusive, especially when telling people what they would and wouldn’t understand (e.g. “only a mom would know what I’m talking about” or, “you won’t know what I mean until you’ve had kids”).

So to said friend, I’m sorry (I agree with you!!)… but this is pretty funny.

Click here to read about the woes of having a big toddler.

Bully for you

And by “you,” I of course mean “the mamas.”

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The other day I picked up Little Bug from daycare and though I’m used to getting the occasional injury report, I was not accustomed to what happened on Friday.

One of her teachers came up to me and explained that Lucie was playing with a classmate and got upset. No big deal, right? She went on to tell me that she reached out and scratched her friend on the face. Her teacher made an eagle claw to illustrate. And that Lucie didn’t let go until teachers intervened.

My mind swam in several different directions at once. Ohmigosh, is her friend okay? Yes. Is Lucie okay? Yes. Where did she learn that? Do we allow that to happen at home? Was that the first time that happened? Is our kid a bad seed? Who knows, we don’t think so, who knows and probably not.

Then I was presented with a white incident report. I stared at the paper. I’ve received these before when Lucie falls of chairs or runs into things on the playground or gets hurt by other classmates. I literally asked the teacher “what is this for?”

“You have to sign it,” she replied.

Whoa.

I started to read it carefully. The description of the incident, the action taken by the instructors, the disclaimer at the bottom about the facility’s policies and emergency medical program (?). I don’t like getting in trouble. This felt like getting in trouble.

When we walked out of daycare, I was not overly thrilled with what I had learned. Lucie did not seem to remember it, and was probably baffled as to my demeanor shift. She was actually really happy and it was a weird space to be in, being grumpy with my kid for something I was told she did hours ago. Welcome to parenthood, I guess.

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And I know this will not be the last of the episodes.  If karma even half exists, I know this will not be the worst of the episodes, either. Plus, it does not even count the myriad of minute instances that will fly under my radar, that I can only hope work out for the best.

No parent wants their kid to be picked upon. But these particular parents (yes, the mamas!) also don’t want a bully on their hands. Unfortunately, our world seems to be split into that dichotomy, and it’s an age-old problem. Bible stories, the construction of empires, even modern day politics are rife with the pickers and the picked upon. This is inevitable, and though we want to raise a kind and gentle kid, does that mean she will always end up as the last in line?  If she chooses advocacy over status quo, will that relegate her to the outskirts? Will it make her a target if she stands up for someone or speaks out against an injustice? This isn’t the movies, and real heroes don’t always come out unscathed.

The list of things that brings me to tears is very short. The Olympics. Deaths of those who are close to me. Pixar movies. Now, I’ve got a new one. I am at my keyboard, trying to hold it together as I realize that my kid is going to grow up in a harsh, harsh world. Her first two years on earth were marked with such senseless violence around the globe–things that we’ve so quickly become accustomed to like shootings and attacks and retaliations and lone wolves and exclusion and hate speech and Tweets and assaults and shootings and shootings and shootings.

I want Lucie to be a good citizen. A helpful person. A good friend not only to those who she chooses, but also to those who no one else chooses. I just don’t know if she can do that and still be happy and safe and strong and without scars.

So I brought home the incident report and we decided to keep it. Partly as a joke– maybe something we’ll look at decades from now with fondness and laughter. But we also kept it, I think, as a reminder to teach her to love first, love fast, love last. And then, perhaps, her heart will guide her accordingly through this world.

Aw, nuts!

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The godfamily

Lucie’s “godbrother”, A, gets to mountain bike and hike and have all kinds of adventures all over the Columbia River Gorge… as long as those adventures don’t involve peanuts. Or any kind of nuts (see: Best in Show‘s hound dog breeder, Harlan Pepper, for a complete listing of nuts). So I naturally thought: Hey, what a great blogging opportunity!” Luckily, Godmother B was game, too.

When did you find out about A’s allergy?

We were in California last summer. A was 10 mo. old and he ate a peanut butter sandwich at the pool. He got these red bumps around his ankles and wrists, but we assumed it was from the pool because the water was kind of funky.

 Then he came home and ate peanut butter and he got hives. We said: “This is definitely peanut butter.”

Dad ate a peanut butter sandwich and gave A a kiss sometime later and he still broke out.

Had A eaten PB before?

Yes, a bunch of times. We have pictures of him eating it! It was one of the first thing that I gave him; we weren’t really worried about him having allergies. We didn’t pay attention to what [foods] we gave him.

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Hope that’s not PB on your face, Kid.

What entails having a kid with a severe allergy?

Being more careful, I guess.

We have an allergist we see, but he’s really prohibitive. We need a second opinion because the doctor wants to avoid a lot of things like chickpeas, too.

Oh, we also have EpiPens. One with us, one at daycare.

We’ll talk more about the pens in a minute. Where did you get your research?

I don’t do a lot of research. There was a website that the allergist gave me but I would like to speak with another person.

We only have the two allergists in town and one is only open 3-days/week, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM. And they are not actual doctors.

Really? 

Yeah, they are nurse practitioners. I guess that’s fine-ish.

Do you have any new fears around this, or run worst case scenarios?

You know, I don’t…

They tested his blood and he could have anaphalactic shock (some people have allergies that don’t lead to that). I should worry more, but I don’t.

I think I will worry about it even less when he can talk. So far I’ve been the only one who has exposed him…

Will it be like this all of his life?

It’s not something that he can grow out of, but we can do a controlled re-introduction later in life. We have to wait until he’s 4 years old so he can tell us if he’s feeling weird. 

What were your perceptions about food allergies before? Have your views changed?

I certainly thought it was annoying when nuts were prohibited. And I still feel that there are people who call things an allergy that are not allergies and I think that is harmful to those who have actual allergies. I knew people who were truly intolerant, who would get sick…

I also understand why there are no nuts in places like schools. I am thankful for that now.

I knew that allergies were out there, but I didn’t realize how difficult it is when working around that when purchasing products.

What is your experience with that?

[laughs] I look at the package AFTER I buy it… we go back and forth as to whether it is important or not. We haven’t had a reaction to the packaged food where it has ‘been processed in a factory with other nuts.’

 But there were a few instances with actual nut products.

  1. Someone gave us some baby oil in a sample kit… not labled. His skin was dry and so I rubbed it on him. I liked the way it smelled, so when I looked at the actual product in the store, the first ingredient was almond oil.
  2. I bought bread at a bakery and it was labled cranberry apricot… and I gave A a little and then I started to look at the bread and sure enough there were nuts in it. His eye had swollen pretty badly. I went back to the store and just gave them a head’s up, and they said “there’s no way it has nuts in it”, but it did– I could taste it and my kid was breaking out.
  3. We went to an Easter egg hunt and I tried not to be that parent who says “can we not have nuts in the candy?” and A came up to me with a peanut butter egg in his hand. Luckily, it was still wrapped in foil…

 

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The godbrother A

 

Are food allergies hereditary?

I don’t know. His dad’s family has a lot of allergies, so it feels like it could be.

 

Do you feel that you get enough community support?

Definitely with a nut allergy, people take it seriously and feel bad and are on the learning curve.

Sometimes when we go to potlucks, people don’t understand that it’s all nuts… people make things with pine nuts, thinking that the allergy isn’t to all nuts.

I could speak up more. Maybe people would adjust if I said something, or maybe they wouldn’t invite us.

Let’s talk about EpiPens…

They are not designed for babies or small kids under 40-pounds. But if you have the choice between death and giving your kid a shot, I would give him a shot.

The first pen was $400 and our insurance covered $0-50 of it and then three months later it was recalled, so we had to buy another. This was promoted by the doctor’s office as being so much cheaper… and it was still $300. We should have more pens around, but you can see why we don’t.

Another awesome thing is that they expire. We live in a small town and the one they have available is the one that expires in 7 months.

Also, you can’t have one without a prescription… when I was teaching outdoor school, we wanted one, but couldn’t get one.

*Author’s note: The cost of the epinephrine medication is $1. Over time, marketing efforts turned this self-injecting pen into a billion dollar industry. Read about their 55% profit margins here.

*Author’s post script: Thank you to Godmother B!

 

Lean In (and all that jazz)

As one of those bright young women encouraged by society to achieve “perfection”, I could not agree more with this TED talker. Her message hit home as I think back to all of those things I tried once and quit because I could not master them upon first try. Here’s hoping that Lucie’s bravery exceeds her yearning for all things flawless.

The Math

Some time ago my company decided that paying a certain class of employees once was not enough.  In addition to the main paycheck, they decided to issue a twice monthly paycheck that probably traces back to some whiner saying they are entitled a base wage, too.  Well, today one of my 2x checks was ZERO.  Here’s how that happened:

SS Tax: 1.3%

Medicare Tax: 0.3%

Workers Comp Tax: 0.1%

Medical Insurance (3 ppl): 18.6%

Dental Insurance (2 ppl): 1.5%

Vision Insurance (2 ppl): 1.2%

Dependent Care FSA ($5,000/year to reimburse childcare costs): 21.1%

Health Care FSA (reimbursement account for health costs): 10.6%

Parking (every other paycheck): 25.4%

401(k): 10%

Roth 401(k): 5%

Charity Donation: 4.9%

At $2.00 per hour more than our state minimum wage, and not even paying federal or state taxes, I received a net pay of: goose egg.  That’s $23,664 per year that I will never get to use for clothing, housing, food, gas, heat, electricity or water.

How, oh how, does the average working family do it when they don’t get a bigger “main check” and this is their living wage?  Do they weigh the price of parking against the extra two hours of commute time a slightly cheaper bus or train would add?  How do single moms support a family and save for retirement?  Even if I took out the extras like FSA and 401(k) savings, the government would pipe up and start taking their share as taxes.

To be clear: I have not taken a stance on minimum wage or college debt or anything else that our friends in Washington are battling over these days.  I’m just doing the math.

And there you have it.  Food for thought, if you can afford it.

 

 

The Green Ribbon

Kate and I were watching a T.V. show on the Xbox one evening when a notification popped up: “Achievement Unlocked! Watched 10 shows after 9 PM.”

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http://www.xboxachievements.com

Huh?

Did we just get an achievement for vegging out after our daughter goes to bed?  I am totally on board with getting a badge for racing a video game car in record time or mastering a drum solo for Rock Band.  I certainly don’t expect the Xbox to say, “Kudos, we haven’t seen you in a week– you must have been on a nice vacation, or just enjoying the great outdoors!”  But an award for watching T.V.?

This leads me to the Participation Ribbon debate.  Does our society reward too easily and perhaps for the wrong things?  Should we dole out those green “thanks for coming” ribbons as often as we do?

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http://www.ebay.com

Don’t get me wrong, as a recipient– commemorative marathon medals are about all I can hope for at my running speed (term used loosely)– I have to say a ribbon can be nice to have.  Plus I hear they’re fun to wear all day long.

But should I get an “All-Star” ranking for a LinkedIn profile that barely says anything about me?  Seriously… our firm’s compliance department disables all but six fields on the site, and yet LinkedIn congratulates me as though I did something really awesome.  It’s not flattering.  It’s weird.

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http://www.careerenlightenment.com

 

At this point in our childrearing endeavors, encouragement and incentives go a long way, whether we’re trying to get Lucie to follow us up the stairs at night, put her toys away, or just calm the heck down from a temper tantrum.  In the words of The LEGO Movie, “everything is awesome.”  At least that is the message we seem to be sending to Lucie.  So far celebrations are limited to clapping and cheering, but what happens when the stakes get higher?  Is she going to hold her hand out in anticipation after showing us a good report card?  Will we go broke buying stickers and trinkets for potty training and get fat from reward milkshakes after piano lessons?  Is Lucie going to require the same kinds of incentives from jobs and volunteer positions and spouses and everyone else?  And if she doesn’t get what she wants, will she live at home with us until someone agrees to pay her six figures for an entry level job because that earworm of a song is till stuck in her head, except “everything” is replaced with “I” and “awesome” is replaced with “entitled”?  Wow, that turned dark rather quickly.

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Okay, let’s take a step back.  I’m all about encouraging people to keep trying, keep going, and keep up the good fight.  As a former benchie (aka pine-rider aka 3rd stringer), I really do understand and appreciate the values of participation and inclusion.  I sure do hope Lucie gets her fair shake in life, but I think it’s really important to emphasize that it is fair.  A few lucky breaks, yes.  A few times getting the short end of the stick, too, even.  I guess what I’m hoping is that she does things because she loves them, or she works hard because it’s the right thing to do.

But for now, yeah, everything is pretty awesome.