On Clorox, the PTA, and this Life List

So I have this life list that I started keeping after the first BlogHer Pathfinder Day and have been slowly adding to ever since. I've got some fun things on there like owning dyable Payless pumps (thanks to a twitter convo I had with my friend Jessica one day) and I have some very large and serious items on there like speaking to my mother (preferably NOT over her cold, dead body).

I went to Camp Mighty last weekend, which is like a conference for life lists. The beauty of making proactive steps towards that which you most want in life is that once you start that ball rolling, it tends to take itself down the hill quite effectively on its own. 

Case in point: item #8 on my list is "drive west until I run out of gas" which sounds very romantic and slightly tragic and gorgeously angsty until you start driving west to attend the life list conference and run out of gas in the middle of Nothing Whatsoever, Arizona - armed only with some Kashi snack bars, an iced coffee, and a Sephora card. 

So that was fun, but at least no one can say I didn't come to that conference with my best, authentic self. 

None of this has anything to do with this post, by the way. I am just really horrible at getting to the point. Imagine how bad your head would have hurt if I actually made it through NaBloPoMo? Small favours, my friends.

So I have this life list that I started keeping after the first BlogHer Pathfinder Day and have been slowly adding to ever since. Item #29 is "change a child's life for the better." I have gone rounds with myself over this item, because in many ways, I feel like I could already cross that off.

I worked for a company that built the software to help the largest county in the US track their foster children. That alone could justify checking #29 off, but it doesn't feel like enough.  A few nights a week I feed the kid down the street who's parents just seem to have forget he exists and leave him to forage for himself every night, but somehow that doesn't feel like enough, either.

What almost feels like enough is the work that I did with my old PTA in Denver, the amazingly incredible one that took a low income, low test score, failing, under-enrolled school in the heart of DPS which was on the chopping block for closure and turned it into a low income, high scoring, defying crushing everyone's expectations, over-enrolled poster school in DPS for how a community can come together and save a school, help every single kid, and give everyone a chance for a incredibly bright future. I wrote a little bit about that school, that PTA, and that experience here, but it would honestly take me pages and pages and pages to tell all the ways those kids and that school saved me more than I could even have hoped to save them. 

Greeblemonkey can tell it better, anyway. She took over for me when I left, and took a little idea we had for a not-sucky fundraiser and turned it into this. Also, did you know she was my neighbor? *insert internet groan here*

We single-handedly changed the lives of every single child in that school, and they single-handedly changed every single one of ours. Everyone gave what they could - in time, in money, in hugs on the playground, or in simply allowing us the privilege of spending real, quality time with their children and finding out what makes them as individuals learn better and achieve more - because sometimes that is all a parent has to give, and it is worth its weight in gold. 

But it still doesn't feel like enough, and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I can't measure it yet. Maybe when those kids grow up and go to college, or work at jobs they love, or are great mothers and fathers, then it will feel like enough. For now, it just feels like breathing. I did it because it was wrong not to. I did it because they deserved it, because every kid deserves it. I got more out of it than they did, for sure, and I would do it again in a heartbeat, because I know what having someone on your side means to a kid and a school, and I know what far-reaching effects an injection of cash can do for them. 

And so I'm working with Clorox on their Power A Bright Future K-12 school grant program (yes, it's compensated) to help schools win grants of up to $50,000. $50,000 buys a lot of marching band plumes, yo. 

A whole bunch of schools have already applied for the Power A Bright Future grant. They could apply for grants to allow them to better explore, play, or create - like a new playground, or a Shakespeare play, or a science lab, or equipment for the marching band because seriously you would not believe how much those plumes cost.

The applications are all in at www.powerabrightfuture.com and now voting is open, up until December 19th. 

There are a ton of ways to vote...on the site, through text message, and through Instagram. My 14 year old just got an iPhone (different story for a different day) so he and I will both be playing along on Instagram using the hashtag #yolopabf with Bella Thorne (She's that girl from the Disney Channel who keeps giving you Tiffany flashbacks. Your teenage son absolutely knows who she is). He's Bren_Eh on instagram, and so totally Canadian. ::proud:: (I'm heymrlady)

Aside, kids over 13 can vote for the #yolopabf grants, which is kind of excellent, seeings how I'm trying to teach him about this voting stuff anyways to prep him for the next election oh my god.

You can scroll through the nominees and vote for the ones you love the most. It's about the easiest way ever to help make a kids' future a little better, and maybe check a thing or two off your life list while you're at it. And if you see a super-cool one you think everyone should vote for (or you ARE a super cool one) totally share it in the comments so we can all go vote!

On Red, The Seeing Thereof, Etc.

I fancy myself a nice person.  I'm a benefit of the doubt kind of girl, I am not one to raise my voice in public, I have an underdeveloped sense of road rage.  If you cut me off in line, I'll typically just assume that you've got something fairly urgent going on.  I'm kind of a doormat, truth be told.

However, the onset of my advanced age has brought a few changes to my proverbial doorstep.  With who I am.  I went from having A chin hair to having ALL the chin hair.  My moustache doesn't suck, either.  I'm getting Cherry Angioma all fucking over my body, and my hair is coming in gray.  ALL OF THEM.  You know how your hair looks if you go a few days without a shower?  Mine normally looks like that about 12 hours after my shower.  Now, it just always looks like that.  It's stringy and greasy and motherfucking gray.  My 9-days-long-just-like-clockwork period is now a two-weeks-long-whenever-it-damn-well-feels-like-it period, and it usually feels like it right after I've blown the entire bank account on pregnancy tests.

Oh, and I suddenly have PMS for the first time in my life.

My old PMS manifested itself in nesting.  My house is never cleaner that the week and a half after I ovulate.  Lately, though, not so much.

I am blaming this shift in hormones and attitude for the fact that I tore some woman a knew asshole at my kids' school today.  See, we have this drop-off/pick-up lane at the school that is a no-stop zone.  You can't park there, you can't walk there.  You drop your kids at the curb and move on.  No one ever follows this rule.

Of course, we've had 100 billion cm of snow, and the school district kind of forgot to plow the school before it started after winter break, so this already narrow, weird, straight uphill drop off zone is now a sheet of snowy ice and hardly wide enough for one car.

Naturally, some fucking moron decides that today, in the pouring rain, she should park her minivan half-way up the hill and go get her kids.  I could see my kids at the top on the curb, where they should be, waiting and getting soaked.  I waved, they waved, and they stayed put until that car moved and we could all get up the hill.  10 minutes later, after 10 cars piled up behind us blocking the main street and a city bus, she returned.  I was fuming.  She got in her car and tried to drive off, but what was in front of her?  ANOTHER parked car, a Ford sedan, this one at a 45 degree angle, so no one who didn't know how to drive in the snow stood a chance of getting around it.  Minivan mom tried to inch her way around that car, but couldn't figure it out, so she just got out of her car and climbed in the back with her kids.  After 5 more minutes, she got back in the drivers' seat, tried again, and got around the Ford.  Eventually.  Very slowly.

The car in front of me goes around the Ford, no problem, and so did I.  (Nice tense switch there, huh?  I can writes good.)  The 10 more cars that are backed up on the street, and the now TWO city buses that are blocked start to move.  We pull up to our kids, and by now they are dripping and shivering.  They start getting in the car, and I'm pissed.  I look up and see some woman walk past me, grab her keys, and point them at the Ford.  The trunk pops open.  This is my moment.  Am I man or amoeba?  What do I do?

I rag out all of her ass is what I do.

I unroll my window, open the car door, take off my seatbelt, lean my head out of the door and turn it all the way around all Linda Blair style, and as loudly as I can I say to her back, "Are you aware this is a no parking zone?"  She turns around and puts her hand up, like "talk to the hand" puts her hand up, and that was it.  BOOM.

"Are you also aware that you held up TWENTY CARS and TWO CITY BUSES?  It took me TWENTY FIVE MINUTES to get around your car.  My kids are SOAKED.  This is a NO PARKING ZONE.  Do not ever, ever park here again."

She says Sorrrrrrrryyyyyyy.  I say "DON'T PARK HERE."  She starts saying something that begins with "I just..." and a gave her a nice, loud whatever and drove away.

I have never, ever done anything even close to that before in my whole freaking life.  I don't even know who I am anymore.  The worst part?  I wrote the PTA president to bitch that there is never anyone out there directing traffic even though we have an entire committee dedicated solely to directing traffic, and guess what?  I've officially unquit the PTA.  I'm now directing traffic two mornings and two afternoons a week and organizing the parents who I will force to help me with this.

Seriously, do you want my uterus?  THREE TIMES NOW, it's landed me a spot on the PTA.  Fucker hates me, and I'm breaking up with it.

To School or Not To School, That is the Question

I am considering homeschooling my kids. Like, seriously considering it. Mas Younon just rolled over in his yet unused grave.

See, here's my thing: I'm not the world's biggest fan of the concept homeschooling. I've nothing against it, per se, I just really want the public education system to work. I think it's important that kids learn how to sit at a desk in a room full of other people and work (that skill is 99.96% guaranteed to come in handy later.) I like that feeling of new school clothes, that smell of fresh paper, the field trips and the sack lunches. It's childhood, yo.

I swore I'd never homeschool my kids. I don't exactly like them enough to spend every day with them am NOT a trained professional. I don't cut my own hair, and I don't attempt to teach. But, honestly, after the events of this school year, I am changing my mind.

I know that I was really lucky to fall into the school I did in Denver. I choiced OUT of the rich, white, uppity school and choiced INTO the 75% free and reduced lunch, 30/30/30 racial split, 10% special ed, median income, low-to-average test scores school. This? Could have sucked. This? Did not suck in any way.

That school tried. The staff and parents worked together, and very hard, to create something amazing. Our school sits year after year on the chopping block in Denver Public Schools because attendance is low and the space is unused. Why? Because we refuse to give up the 3 special ed classrooms for more average students. We LIKE those students. We like all the diversity. It creates well-rounded humans. We avoid getting closed year after year because our poor, ghetto, half empty school crushes the competing schools test scores year after year. Our Bully Prevention System (PE Ace's) has been featured on every local news channel in Denver. Our PTA raises something in the neighborhood of $50 thousand dollars annually to hand over to the principal so we can keep para-professionals in the classrooms, so every child gets art and music, so PE is an every day class, not just once or twice a week, so we can devote time to getting Lights On After School Grants to provide free or amazingly low cost after school activities like science, band, etc to EVERY CHILD who wants it.

We fought for that school. For the staff. For the community. We believed in something, and we made it happen. It's happened, yo. This year, the school is at maximum enrollment. The snotty, rich, mostly white families are bringing their kids in, which sucks but makes raising $50K a little easier. And our community deserves that. The kids who don't have, who can't have, their parents still give time, which is JUST as valuable, and the parent who do have and can have give a little money, too. And that school is a home for people. All the people, not just one select group.

There has not been one incident of playground bullying in something like 10 years there. There are no violent incidents, there are no parents who don't know what's going on in the classrooms. That school breathes together. Problems are tackled head on, and even the most troubled students are helped to find some one thing that fills their void in the school day.

We got all this from a city public school who is in a budget deficit of $50 something thousand dollars a year. Who can't afford the paper for teachers to make photocopies. Who was told 5 years ago that gym, art and music were being cut.

We. Showed. Them.

And then I move to an affluent suburb of a damn near socialist country. Everyone has health care. The schools have everything they need and more. And my damn kid gets beat up 4 times in one school year. My son who was 1st chair in the orchestra since grade 2 can't play in the band until grade 7 here. He can't even TRY OUT. There are no after school activities. I have never once received a letter from the teachers filling me in on what my sons are learning.

I have been choked to death for cash, however, which I have given and then sat in a room listening to parents debate whether to spend that cash on board games or new coolers.

The difference? No one is fighting for anything. I am surrounded by a bunch of people who assume this is owed to them, or who assume that their job is black and white. I'm not saying this is a Canadian thing, because reading your responses in the last post, I see that this is fairly universal. What does your PTA do for you? What extra mile has your school taken for your child? Apparently, most people answer none.

Dude, I'm sorry, but that is not okay in my book.

Am I a trained teacher? No. Did I even bother going to college? Um, no. But I am smart, and I know how to read, and I am capable of learning. I can teach these kids, I know I can. I am working on algebra right now with them, just for fun. Why? Because I don't have 30 other kids hollering at me and I can take the time to see that 2of3 is already multiplying at 8, which means he can divide, too, which means he can DO ALGEBRA. It's not rocket science, it's just working with my child's abilities and strengths.

And so, I am considering homeschooling them. I know that I am blessed beyond all compare to be able to stay home with them, for the very idea of this to be even possible, and so while I can, I may. But I feel like maybe I'm missing something, or overlooking something big here. The socialization? The learned ability to co-exist with others, to respect authority? The scheduling skills? I don't know.

I would honestly really appreciate your input here.

PS: There's still time to put your name in for a free school supply pack from EZ School Supplies. Just sayin'.