Thursday, November 16, 2017

Harassment - It's Time for a Change

There is a great deal of sexual harassment that has been brought to light recently.  There have been famous men from many walks of life but mostly male politicians and men in the entertainment industry that have been exposed for who they are and what they have done.  Of course many are "sorry" or "embarrassed" though I believe that is only because they were caught. The worst offenders are those who deny what they have done and/or call their victims liars.  Why would anyone lie about being groped by a powerful man? Most of these women have much more to lose than to gain by coming out with these allegations.  While this is true for many powerful men, not all men fall into this category.  Most men that I know are good and decent people and support women.

Sexual harassment has been a societal norm for, well, forever.  While many men have been warriors, politicians, preachers, lawyers, explorers, professors, etc. Women have generally been the care takers.  We have been put in our place repeatedly and reminded that if we are aggressive, it isn't feminine. If we don't dress attractively, we are worth less.  If we are fat, we are worth less.  If we are unattractive, we are worth less. There are endless things or looks that make us less-than in our society that has been historically lead by men.  The rules have been in place to raise-up men and oppress women. We are shushed in meetings, men take credit for our ideas, men speak over us, we haven't been taken seriously in business and so on.

To make matters worse, the right, the GOP, the party of "Family Values" is standing there right next to and supporting perverts and pedophiles. "Why are these allegations coming out now?" "Why bring up this issue 10, 20, 30 years later?" "Why didn't she say something when it happened?"  I know why.  Because, our patriarchal society has oppressed us, has gas lighted us, told us that "That just means he likes you" or "He didn't mean anything by it." or "If you want the job (promotion, position), put up with it."

We women have always felt the harassment was wrong but the majority of those around us were older and went along with the status quo because that's how it's always been.  If you can not prove what happened, it's your fault.  You are the whore who brought it on, "What were you wearing?" You are the one that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, "Why were you walking there alone? or at night?" You are the one that was incapacitated by drugs or alcohol (often given by the perpetrator), "What did you think would happen if you were drunk/stoned?" You were the one that went on a date or had a drink with the person, "Hey, they spent a lot of money on or time with you. What did you think was happening?" All of that has meant that men are the figure heads and to be believed and women are hysterical and not to be trusted to see what is really happening and certainly not believed.  And, when everyone in power is a man, has a man for a boss, can be fired by a man, or can be negatively impacted by a man, they tend to go along with the men. Who wants to lose their job, home, friends, co-workers, reputation, etc? No one, that's who.  Back in the day, men "chased skirts" and women were to accept it.

In the case of Alabama's Roy Moore, the women didn't come out against him when it happened because who was going to believe a silly 14 year old over the District Attorney? They were children! There are now eight women who are not connected to one another but have similar stories during the same time period of time and many of the evangelical right are blaming the "Obama-Clinton Democrats" rather than seeing the truth, he's a pervert and a pedophile.

I can not get over the BS from the Alabama State Auditor, Jim Ziegler, who compared Moore and the women (then girls) to Joseph and Mary. Moore is a guy who has put the Bible and Christianity at the center of his political career but doesn't seem to understand much (if any) of what is in-between the covers of that revered book, the Bible.  As so many people do, they pick out the parts of the Bible that serve their needs and ignore the rest. I am so disheartened by Christians on the right that I hardly recognize Christianity anymore.  If that is who the right chooses to represent them, if that is who they want to "lead" then I am against them with every fiber of my being.

You may say that "Not all Christians are like that." or "Not all Christians support these men." I know that.  But if you are not standing up for women and shouting loudly that what those men stand for is wrong then you are on the wrong side of this fight.

While I'm at it, the same people who oppress women have oppressed others who are different than they are.  Gays, lesbians, transgendered, queer, non conforming, bi, people of color, people of varying  religions, people from other countries..... all humans deserving of respect that they are due.  The same rights that every straight, white, cisgender, powerful man gets by the "nature" of the patriarchal society that we were all brought up in.  We all deserve to be treated equally due to the fact that we are humans. PERIOD.  It brings up the idea that when you are privileged, equality feels like oppression.  Powerful men are not being oppressed, women and "others" are owning our rights.  If you don't like it, too bad.  I guarantee you, those of us that have been oppressed by the nature of who we are are not oppressing you, we are sick of the whole thing.  We are taking control of our selves and we will not be gas lighted into believing that what we know to be true is anything but that, the truth.

I have experienced sexual harassment and oppression by men.  I have been put in my "place" in the past.  I suppressed who I was and gave up my power to fit into the norm.  No more....

I am raising a daughter who,  I pray, does not have to deal with these issues.  Who won't have to change to fit in.  Who can and will stand up for herself and those oppressed when she sees it.  I am also raising two boys who will support all people equally.  Who will stand up for others when they see oppression in all its forms. And lucky me, I am doing all this with the love, support, and understanding of my husband who is a leader.  He is not only a leader, but a leader who works diligently to level the playing field for all the people he works with.  He also is an example to our kids and that is the greatest thing of all. When you know better, you do better.

Yes, when you know better, you do better.  I highly advise that all men learn and do better.  When all people are treated better, our society does better and isn't that the goal?

In closing, I want to say that there are women who have gone along with the oppression of the "other" and have vilified those who make accusations against power.  It is a broad societal issue but the base is in the power of many men. I also want to say again, I believe most men are good and decent people and stand up for what is right. Most of the men I know fall into that category.  I hope you will all work to raise up your friends and neighbors.  In the end we are in this together and will end up in a better place working together.  I wish you safety and peace.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Peaceful Camping In the San Juans ;-)

Last year our summer was totally freeform due to my quitting my full time job unexpectedly.  My family needed me and they are my first priority.  I decided that this year I'd start planning our summer in December since lots of things fill up quickly. I talked to the kids about camps, trips, activities, etc.  The standard response was something close to, "meh."  I know!  Camping!

Camping...ah, the quintessential summer family happy-time experience. I booked two camping trips for this summer in December. One in the San Juans for a week in July and one for a week along the coast in August and then finishing at Crater Lake.   Booked, paid, all ready to go into the New Year with a plan.

As summer approached I talked to the kids about our plans.  The boys were non-plussed about any of it, Fia just didn't want to go, period.  Fia needs to take Driver's Education.  Mind you, until a week ago, it was scheduled and picked up IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE!  We signed her up for one in August and it starts two miles from here.  Awesome sauce.... She will take it with a friend so that is good but annoying that it isn't here, it isn't convenient, it will interfere with one of the planned trips.  After much discussion, and convincing by Bob, I decided to let her out of one of the camping trips.  She will stay home in August if any of us end up going camping.

The other side of that is that she had to go camping with us in July in the San Juans.  I encouraged her to get a friend to go with us but she insisted that no-one would want to go and that it would be terrible.  Fia had a dance performance on Saturday so we also postponed our camping by a day to start with.

Fia was not happy at all on the ride up to Lopez, our first destination.  Mind you, it is a long trip from Portland.  The kids all listened to music and stayed pretty quiet.  We were stuck in standstill traffic a fair amount as well.  The drive between Centralia and Everett is almost all city and it becomes a very long drive with all the traffic. We left home at 10 and arrived in Anacortes at 4:30.  We learned that there was a ferry out so no-one was sure what time a ferry would leave.  Luckily, it left about 5:30.  They boys got out and ran around the ferry, Fia stayed in the car and listened to music.


When we arrived at the camp site, the kids got to pick their spots first and Bob and I set up our tent.  Yes, we have three tents.  Fia needed some space after all.  We nibbled out of our food and had a pretty quiet night. We discovered that the bathrooms were closed and there were only portapotties.  Gah....  No showers.  Fia sat up with Bob and talked.  He was really good with her about talking her off the ledge.  There was no wifi, no service, and therefore, no communication.  AHHHH!!!! She was mad we made her go, it was "stupid"! She lobbied to go home.  No dice.

Day two we drove around the island and explored.  Bob and I found the places we went 21 years ago on our honeymoon.  Eventually we stopped in the town, bought a few things but most importantly, we all got books at the local shop.  We went to the beach at Spencer Spit State Park.  The weather was perfect and the tide just right for soaking your toes in.  Kees, Bob, and I sat at the waters edge, Fia and Coulter set up their camp away from us.  Shortly into our time there, Fia lobbied once again that this was stupid and she wanted to leave.  I said, "No." and she went down the beach to be mad alone.  Fine....



That night we went to town for the skate park and then dinner. The skate park was pretty cool and the boys had their bikes and a scooter.  Then dinner, it was a little place surrounded by rabbits.  They were everywhere.  We had a nice time for the most part but Fia still wanted to go home.  Back to camp for s'mores and bed.  We packed up the next morning, grabbed breakfast, and spent a little time on the beach.  Kees and Bob read, Fia and Coulter stayed at the coffee shop with wifi, I balanced rocks.  It was a nice meditative break for me.




Finally we headed to the ferry for Orcas.

Orcas is much bigger but, as we learned, is much less accessible to the salt water.  The beaches are all private and the one that we did find that was public was only 30 feet wide, beyond that it was private property.  Very unfortunate.  First we adventured into town and picked up a few provisions.  Fia was able to catch up with her crew on the last bit of internet access.  Finally we set up camp in Moran State Park and went to the lake.  Pretty lake but the public area was covered in goose poop.  Gross!  Fia and Kees went swimming, Coulter napped.  Dinner that night was simple, hot dogs, and more s'mores.  Bob and I finally got showers (yay!) and then bed time.  Man it was nice to be cleanish.

The following day we got up and made bag omelettes.  They were great and now one of Kees' favorite things.


Next we ventured around the island finding the Doe Bay Resort.  What a lovely spot! Bob and I enjoyed the view while the kids enjoyed...... the wifi.

We tried, unsuccessfully, to find a beach spot and ended up going back to Goose Poop Park.  It was a beautiful day so we all read, Kees and Bob went out in a paddle boat, Fia went swimming and lobbied to go home.



That night, Bob and I decided we could give in for the last night and go home the next day.  I was sick of the fight and ready for my bed. When we demanded everyone come out so we could talk about next steps, Fia damn near refused to come out of her tent because this whole thing was terrible and she wanted to go home.  We MADE her come out.  When we announced that we'd be leaving the next day Fia was on board.  Again, Fia and Bob sat out until midnight talking.

It started raining in the morning so that got the kids and Bob up and they packed everything. I was still sleeping, hehe.  This is the most motivated the kids were the whole trip! It was cooler that day so it was a good time to go.  We got to the ferry two hours early.  Again, there was a ferry out so the schedules weren't firm and there were no reservations.  Fia was going to make damn sure we made it on!  We did.

We arrived in Anacortes around 2:00 which would get us into Seattle at about 4:00.  Not so great for the traffic.  In north Seattle, going 70 mph, we lost a trailer tire in the very left, HOV lane.  We quickly pulled over to the shoulder on the right.  We could hear the metal rim on the ground.  Thank God we didn't fishtail or worse!  AAA was no help since we had no coverage for that.  Eventually we determined that we'd unhook the trailer, I'd take the spare to get it pumped up and we'd go from there.  I was able to find a Discount Tire and ended up purchasing two new wheels and tires.  Again, thank God they had the right ones!  When we got back, there was Bob sitting on the hill waiting.  He had the trailer jacked up, the old rim removed and he was ready.  I stood guard on the side of the freeway to make sure he didn't get hit.  It's scary when cars are zipping at 70 mph just 8 feet from where you are standing.  All in all it took about an hour and $60 to fix.  Not too bad but.... Now it was 4:45 and traffic sucked.

We slowly moved through Seattle, Federal Way, Tacoma, Olympia..... HOME!  We finally arrived at home at 9:15 or 12 hours after we left the camp site.  That is a long day.

Everyone retreated to their spaces.  Fia to her room and wifi, Coulter to the basement and Xbox, Kees to his fort and Xbox, and Bob and I to the front porch.  Everyone got a quick shower, new clothes, and our beds.

The things I will take away from this trip are;

  1. Teens hate being away from their people and also hate being with you when you take them away from their people.  
  2. You can't change someones attitude but you can roll with it and / or ignore it. 
  3. Sometimes you have to bend for peace. 
  4. Me being kind and forgiving is better for everyone, especially for me. 
  5. I love all my kids but sometimes I am not fond of them.
  6. I don't like sleeping on the ground. 
  7. I do like showers, clean showers, daily.
  8. Bob's wisdom is different than mine and that is a good thing.
  9. Family trips, certainly camping trips are becoming a thing of the past for now. 
So I guess it was fun.  It was certainly beautiful. Bob and I will return someday but for now, our deck, our fire table, and the commute to them is just about perfect.  We will vacation daily in front of our house and the kids can do summer how they want from here..... and I am "OK" with that.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Coulter's Experience So Far

Many of my friends have asked how school is going for Coulter. It has only been two weeks as of tomorrow but I am hopeful for his first year at the Ivy School.  As I wrote previously, he missed his first day of school and I was worried for him but he bounced back and had a great first day.  They spent the first couple days getting to know each other and talking about how the classroom will function.  

On the following Monday, he was excited to go to school and that had not happened for quite some time.  I got a call around 1pm from a teacher.  She called to tell me about an incident that involved Coulter.  She said, "Everything is fine and Coulter is fine." to assure me Coulter wasn't hurt or anything.  She explained that a kid in his class had bullied him.  She was talked to but didn't back down.  She eventually pushed Coulter and one of the teachers witnessed it.  She was taken to the office, her mother was called, and she was sent home. That is the information I got from the school.  

Coulter experienced bullying at his last school and I was very worried about him and how he would respond to this situation.  I went to pick him up so I could be there and support him.  I was a little early so I waited anxiously in the lobby, I worried.  Five minutes later he came out of his classroom smiling and with a bounce in his step.  Wha???? I asked, "How was your day?" He said, "Great!" I was confused but happy for him.  

On the way home I explained the phone call I received and asked him about it.  He told me that the class was listening to a story and he and this girl had a disagreement about the interpretation.  She was loud and getting in his space. He rolled his eyes at her and that was what pushed her over the edge.  She said, "You rolled your eyes at me and now I am going to bully you all year long."  She proceeded to shove him periodically throughout the day.  She lunged at him, tried to trip him and grumbled at him under her breath.  I asked if he talked to a teacher.  He said that he did but it wasn't until he was pushed and caught by the teacher that they physically stepped in.  They talked to her earlier but it hadn't made an impact.  Coulter then said that she was sent home.  

He couldn't put it into words why he was happy that afternoon but I think it was because he felt supported and cared for.  Instead of hearing, "You need to work it out." as he had so often in the past, they did something about it.  He seemed to let the whole incident roll off his back.  In fact, he talked about the new friends he made, the games the class played and how they got a long recess and lots of freedom to move around.  His focus was right where it needed to be, on the positive.  This made my heart swell with pride and joy.  He had handled it perfectly by using words and not being aggressive back.  And the school handled it perfectly by stopping a physical situation with real consequences.  

The next day I drove Coulter to school to talk to the teachers and ask if he had done something more to antagonize the girl.  They confirmed his story, it was just the eye roll.  As I was getting ready to leave, one of the teachers pointed out the girl's mother, then walked with me, and introduced us.  The girl's mother was glad to meet me and was a kind and responsive mother.  Just how I like them.  She, like me, is not a parent that thinks or says, "My kid would never do that!"  She actually said, "I know when someone says your daughter did _________.  She did it."

We chatted and this girl's mother told me some back ground on her daughter.  She wasn't making excuses but explaining.  It made a lot of sense.  Then the daughter walked by and the mother said, "Hey X, this is Coulter's mom.  We are on the same page with how our kids need to act."  And then she gave her the mother's all knowing stare.  It wasn't said out loud but I heard...... "Girl, do you see this mother and I?  We are on the same page and you better fall in line."  The daughter nodded affirmingly and went to class.  Her mother then said, "She knows we are onto her.  She knows we are talking and this will make a difference."  She was a lovely lady and I was grateful to know we could talk.  I told her if Coulter did or does anything that I need to know about to please let me know.  We agreed to stay in touch.

Over the next few days I asked Coulter about the girl.  For a few days there wasn't much to report other than she wasn't bugging him.  A few days later, he reported that she sat as the same table as he did at lunch.  I asked, "How was she?" and he said, "Fine."  I asked, "Why do you think she was nice?" and he reported, "I think her mom scared the crap out of her." And then he laughed heartily. 

Since then I have talked to the mom who told me that her daughter said, "Coulter is actually pretty nice."  The mother also had an interaction with Coulter and reported that he was very polite and charming.  I told her,  "He better be or else.... "  We laughed.  

The rest of his week was great.  They all learned how to navigate the classroom and their day.  Coulter made a few friends and now has a new best friend, Lily.  There is lots of movement.  They get a full hour of recess daily.  The time spent learning is in bigger chunks and open to interpretatiion on how they learn. The Montessori method seems to be working for him.  

After being so concerned about where to send him and not knowing what to do to help him, I am grateful.  I am grateful we found a place where Coulter can be Coulter and not have to worry about being different or bullied.  I am grateful that he feels safe and secure.  I am grateful that he is strong and has a positive outlook.  I am grateful that Coulter can learn how he needs to learn.  So far it's all great.  I pray that it stays this way for him.  He is so much happier and that makes me smile.  He helps when I ask him to and has generally been agreeable.  This has been a great ride.  JOY!!!! ……that is what I have to say about my feelings for Coulter’s experience at his new school.  I'll keep you posted.  

Coulter's Experience So Far

Many of my friends have asked how school is going for Coulter. It has only been two weeks as of tomorrow but I am hopeful for his first year at the Ivy School.  As I wrote previously, he missed his first day of school and I was worried for him but he bounced back and had a great first day.  They spent the first couple days getting to know each other and talking about how the classroom will function.  

On the following Monday, he was excited to go to school and that had not happened for quite some time.  I got a call around 1pm from a teacher.  She called to tell me about an incident that involved Coulter.  She said, "Everything is fine and Coulter is fine." to assure me Coulter wasn't hurt or anything.  She explained that a kid in his class had bullied him.  She was talked to but didn't back down.  She eventually pushed Coulter and one of the teachers witnessed it.  She was taken to the office, her mother was called, and she was sent home. That is the information I got from the school.  

Coulter experienced bullying at his last school and I was very worried about him and how he would respond to this situation.  I went to pick him up so I could be there and support him.  I was a little early so I waited anxiously in the lobby, I worried.  Five minutes later he came out of his classroom smiling and with a bounce in his step.  Wha???? I asked, "How was your day?" He said, "Great!" I was confused but happy for him.  

On the way home I explained the phone call I received and asked him about it.  He told me that the class was listening to a story and he and this girl had a disagreement about the interpretation.  She was loud and getting in his space. He rolled his eyes at her and that was what pushed her over the edge.  She said, "You rolled your eyes at me and now I am going to bully you all year long."  She proceeded to shove him periodically throughout the day.  She lunged at him, tried to trip him and grumbled at him under her breath.  I asked if he talked to a teacher.  He said that he did but it wasn't until he was pushed and caught by the teacher that they physically stepped in.  They talked to her earlier but it hadn't made an impact.  Coulter then said that she was sent home.  

He couldn't put it into words why he was happy that afternoon but I think it was because he felt supported and cared for.  Instead of hearing, "You need to work it out." as he had so often in the past, they did something about it.  He seemed to let the whole incident roll off his back.  In fact, he talked about the new friends he made, the games the class played and how they got a long recess and lots of freedom to move around.  His focus was right where it needed to be, on the positive.  This made my heart swell with pride and joy.  He had handled it perfectly by using words and not being aggressive back.  And the school handled it perfectly by stopping a physical situation with real consequences.  

The next day I drove Coulter to school to talk to the teachers and ask if he had done something more to antagonize the girl.  They confirmed his story, it was just the eye roll.  As I was getting ready to leave, one of the teachers pointed out the girl's mother, then walked with me, and introduced us.  The girl's mother was glad to meet me and was a kind and responsive mother.  Just how I like them.  She, like me, is not a parent that thinks or says, "My kid would never do that!"  She actually said, "I know when someone says your daughter did _________.  She did it."

We chatted and this girl's mother told me some back ground on her daughter.  She wasn't making excuses but explaining.  It made a lot of sense.  Then the daughter walked by and the mother said, "Hey X, this is Coulter's mom.  We are on the same page with how our kids need to act."  And then she gave her the mothers all knowing stare.  It wasn't said out loud but I heard...... "Girl, do you see this mother and I?  We are on the same page and you better fall in line."  The daughter nodded affirmingly and went to class.  Her mother then said, "She knows we are onto her.  She knows we are talking and this will make a difference."  She was a lovely lady and I was grateful to know we could talk.  I told her if Coulter did or does anything that I need to know about to please let me know.  We agreed to stay in touch.

Over the next few days I asked Coulter about the girl.  For a few days there wasn't much to report other than she wasn't bugging him.  A few days later, he reported that she sat as the same table as he did at lunch.  I asked, "How was she?" and he said, "Fine."  I asked, "Why do you think she was nice?" and he reported, "I think her mom scared the crap out of her." And then he laughed heartily. 

Since then I have talked to the mom who told me that her daughter said, "Coulter is actually pretty nice."  The mother also had an interaction with Coulter and reported that he was very polite and charming.  I told her,  "He better be or else.... "  We laughed.  

The rest of his week was great.  They all learned how to navigate the classroom and their day.  Coulter made a few friends and now has a new best friend, Lily.  There is lots of movement.  They get a full hour of recess daily.  The time spent learning is in bigger chunks and open to interpretatiion on how they learn. The Montessori method seems to be working for him.  

After being so concerned about where to send him and not knowing what to do to help him, I am grateful.  I am grateful we found a place where Coulter can be Coulter and not have to worry about being different or bullied.  I am grateful that he feels safe and secure.  I am grateful that he is strong and has a positive outlook.  I am grateful that Coulter can learn how he needs to learn.  So far it's all great.  I pray that it stays this way for him.  He is so much happier and that makes me smile.  He helps when I ask him to and has generally been agreeable.  This has been a great ride.  JOY!!!! ……that is what I have to say about my feelings for Coulter’s experience at his new school.  I'll keep you posted.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

In the Groove

I have been "retired" again since April but it has taken until about now to get in the groove.  It was great to be home over the summer with my kids.  They needed me.  Now they're back in school and I have been figuring out my days.

Over the summer we spent lots of time around Portland.  I had intended to work all summer so I didn't plan any big trips.  Most summers that I have been home the kids and I go on at least one big road trip.  We talked about going up to Vancouver BC but in the end, the kids just wanted to be home.   Why spend the money and time if they weren't into it?  We spent time at beaches and swimming holes but mostly we were just hanging out.  It wasn't super productive but it was relaxing.  I would give this summer a B.

My biggest reason for quitting my job was that the kids were not thriving.  I know that we are very blessed to be in the situation that allows me to be home and I do not take that for granted one minute. When I was working, I just didn't have the energy to give to all three kids.  I got the basics done but that's about it. Here were the challenges of me being at work.....

Sophia - We live 100 feet from her high school.  I always planned on being "that house" for the kids and not being home with the teens was killing me.  The kids would come over every day for lunch.  There were between 7-10 kids daily and poor Sophia was trying to keep them in control, keep them cleaning up after them selves and not eat all our food.  It was stressful for her.  AND, when I got home from work and had to clean the kitchen before I could make dinner, I was not happy. They "tried" to clean but a teen's clean and mine are two different things.  I was tired and not in the mood to clean, make dinner, clean again, finish basic household duties and then finally sit down.  Most nights that I was working Bob and I would not sit down until 9 or 9:30 after straightening the house up after the kids.

Coulter - He is a pretty happy go lucky kid most of the time but he was depressed.  Beverly Cleary is an excellent school but it wasn't working for Coulter.  At Beverly Cleary School Coulter didn't have many friends.  As a matter of fact, he only had one.  That one friend didn't live in the neighborhood and wasn't returning to BCS in fall.  This was a very sad thing for Coulter.  He was being bullied and was an easy target because he is responsive.  He explodes and that is great fun for the kids causing the stress for him.  His teacher was so supportive but she had 34 kids in her class and couldn't protect him all the time.  He needs to toughen up a bit, I know that, but it was more than being tough, he was feeling broken.  The adults there kept an eye on him but there are more than 850 kids at BCS.

Kees - Well, he didn't say much about me working but when he did, he was sad.  He just missed me being here when he got home.  We used to go over his day and just snuggle on the couch most days.  He missed this tremendously.  He felt lost.

None of the three did their chores.  They are great kids but they just "forgot" or conveniently did other things.  When the cat is away.....  I get it.  Again, this is where Bob and I got so frustrated.  We would come home and nothing was done even though lists were left.  Finally, we hired a nanny to come and direct the kids.  It helped but they didn't like it much.  And, it was money that I was spending when I shouldn't have had to.  Mostly, I didn't like being mad and frustrated with the people I love the most.  These were not the interactions that I wanted the kids to remember.  It was not the parents Bob and I wanted to be.  Messes are acceptable but a messy house is not where I feel in control.  I was feeling more frustrated than love, I was feeling let down and I was feeling like I was letting my kids down.  We even went to counseling to try and figure out how to function as a family with two working parents.  It didn't work for us.

I left my job in April and I could see the difference in the kids immediately.  I was thrilled to be home for the kids and their friends.  The boys thanked me daily for weeks for being home.  They were truly, deeply happy about it.  Most of us never know if / how much our kids appreciate us.  Maybe they don't usually give it any thought but when things changed how they wanted it to, they knew it and said so.  Sophia was more subtle but she was happy I was home.

Sophia and her friends thought it would be a total bummer to have me here.  In fact, it gave them more freedom.  Where Sophia didn't want them getting into our food, I gave them leeway.  I bought stuff on sale, boxes of pasta, granola bars etc and created a "Teen Food" Box.  Anything in there is fair game.  Best of all, I got rid of my left overs. Teen boys will eat anything!   I could give rides, a couple bucks, some advice, a bit of support, but mostly, I set parameters.  I think all the teens were glad I was home giving them directions.  They are all here every day.  Now I am available for emotional support, food support, and neighborhood mothering.  It was my plan all along!  The kids don't even knock any more, they just walk in and yell, "Hey mamma Leek!"  I love it.  It's loud, messy and not cheap but it's totally worth it for us.

Kees has perked right up.  He is so helpful.  When I ask him to do anything, most of the time he just does it.  Talk about a kid who wanted direction. He is cheerful and is happy to have me walk him to school or home and we spend a little time cuddling most days.  He is still my baby and I am glad to give him the attention that he needs.

The biggest shift has been for Coulter.  Coulter was diagnosed with ADHD last year.  The meds he was on made him depressed though I am not sure it was the meds or his surroundings at school.  Eventually, we let him stop the meds.  I was so worried about him.  By the time we decided he really needed something different, it was too late to change schools as the lottery cutoff was over in March.  I started searching the District for a new school for him in April.  At this point it didn't matter what it was as long as it was different  His teacher suggested the Ivy School.  It was one of the options that I looked into and applied for.  He was number 5 on the waiting list.....  It was hard to know what to do.  If we couldn't find an alternative for him I even considered home-schooling him.  We waited all summer to hear from anyone.......  Three days before school started at BCS we got the email, "Coulter, you have been accepted to the Ivy School."  We were all thrilled, especially Coulter.

He started a week and a half after the other two so we got some quality time together and we both enjoyed that.  The extra time allowed him to volunteer at the school and get to know some of the adults.  He finally started last week and he is loving it! He is dealing with a couple difficult kids but he feels supported and cared for.  He takes the city bus to and from school or he can ride his bike, we practiced.  He is a different kid.  He is happy again and joyous.  He feels confident.  I am very hopeful for his future at the Ivy School.

For me, I am learning how to be a stay at home mom again.  Iva is the happiest to have me home.  We walk the kids to school or the bus stop, she runs in the park and follows me around the house. I think she is making sure I don't go back to work.  I have re-engaged with school advocacy.  I am on the Board of Community & Parents for Public Schools.  I have been asked to join a boundary review committee for the District.  I am merely a member of the PTA right now..... we'll see what happens there.  I will add things in as I see fit and when the kids need me, they come first.... community next.  I have been asked to do and be many things, but so far,  I am only doing what I want to do.

I am making dinner....most nights.  I am driving the kids to their lessons and sports.  I am parenting my three and about 15 other neighborhood kids.  I do laundry (the dryer is broken so it's taking forever to dry). I clean the kitchen three times per day and I am not mad about it.  I assign chores and they get done.  I do the shopping during the day.  I have had a couple lunches with friends too.

I am back home, I am happy, I am grateful and best of all, I am available for those that need me most. Yes, I am getting back in the groove and loving it!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Guest House

To rent this guest house email Heather at pdxleeks@gmail.com










Thursday, July 21, 2016

An Open Letter to the DNC

I would like to preface this letter by stating I was a Reagan Republican.  A few of his quotes that reflect some of my views;

“There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit.”

“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God.”

“I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.”

The current party no longer values the above statements or us ALL.  It values those who agree with the party leaders.  Now that the party has swayed so far to the right and spews vitriol, I walked away and joined the party that accepts all humans as equals. 

__________________________________________________________

July 21, 2016

To the DNC,

I have been watching the RNC all week trying to learn something about their message and platform.  It has been very hard to watch.  The speeches mostly have bashed and dehumanized Hillary Clinton.  They collectively spread fear and hate toward the “other” and there is LOTS of other because the attendees are 95% plus white people.  I don’t know the average age of their attendees but it appears to be 50+.  The speeches are primarily fiction and opinions.  Heartfelt opinions but still, opinions….  The vitriol aimed at the other is offensive.  As someone who disagrees with almost everything I have heard at the RNC I feel that I am seen as un-American by the right wing.

The RNC has dehumanized Hillary Clinton so that when she is elected, anyone from the GOP that reaches across the isle will be a traitor and an outcast.  You can’t work with someone who is that dehumanized.  It is what they have done to Barack Obama when they demanded his birth certificate, when they call him names and when they refuse to work with him. 

Why is it that the GOP rails on the private server of Hillary Clinton yet no one mentions that both Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell did exactly the same thing?  And there were fewer lives lost under Secretary Clinton’s time as the Secretary of State than most of those before her for both Democrats and Republicans.  Yet the GOP has railed against her even though they found nothing illegal or wrong about how she handled her job thus dehumanizing her further. 

As the DNC approaches I hope that you are paying attention.  We need to come together, we need to see the good, we need humor and we need to value all human beings.  We are stronger together. I want to know what you are going to do to make things better.  I want to hear about how coming together can create a stronger America that still has open doors.  I want to hear about room for more diversity and inclusion.   Our country is 95%+ immigrants.  All but the native people are immigrants.  I don’t want to be surrounded by people that look, act and think like me.  I want to hear about the experiences of others, learn about their values and traditions and live in a richer world and country.  

Please do not spew hate.  I don’t want to hear how bad the other guy is and dehumanize him.  He is pretty good at doing that himself.  Let him and the GOP implode on their own.  We do not need to stoop to that level because we have strength in our diversity.  A test; picture a standard Republican.  That becomes much more difficult on the Democratic side of the isle. 

To that end, be kind and accepting.  Speak for things and not against.  Call out what is good and denounce things that drive hate.  Cross the line in the sand to reach for your opponent’s hand.  As Ronald Reagan once said, “I know in my heart that man is good, that what is right will always eventually triumph, and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” The RNC would be wise to listen to its elders living or dead.  Since they have completely ignored the value in all of us it is the responsibility of the Democrats to be the leaders and stand up for what is right.  In the end, it will prevail.

I/we have high expectations for next week.  Please do not disappoint us.  We all want the same thing, a better place for our selves and our children.  When you know better you do better. We implore you to start us on that path at the DNC.

Heather C Leek
Mom of three
Wife of one (only one ever)
Community Activist
PTA member and leader
Hopeful member of the human race

Proud American