5 Easy Steps to a Laundry Room Makeover

My laundry room makeover has been complete for about 2 weeks now and I couldn’t be happier!  From the grape trim wallpaper to the kitty litter on the floor, it was not a room I wanted to be in, but now, it’s a place that’s actually as clean as the clothes that come out of it.

The makeover was done in just 2 weekends and cost less than $200.

Here are the 5 easy steps to a laundry room makeover

  1. Clean it out

    • This was the worst part!  You don’t realize how much junk you have crammed in a room you hate until you get in there and clean it out.  A lot of the stuff went to charity because when cleaning out a room, my motto is:  If you haven’t needed it in over a year, you don’t really need it.  The rest of the stuff was organized into giant plastic bins and then stored it in the garage until the makeover was complete.  My husband had to remove the cabinets from this room and I was happy to have his help because that is not something I could do on my own.

  1. Paint

    • Once everything was taken out of the room, I cleaned it (even scrubbed walls).  I had some leftover grey paint from my living room so I used that for the laundry room, but first, I had to use a fabric steamer to take off that grape wallpaper trim.  It took about two hours to get the trim off and if you’ve ever removed wallpaper, it’s not fun!  Once it was off, I painted the room with a roller I also had leftover in the garage and voila!
    • I wasn’t going to paint this room, but I’m so glad I did because it’s my favorite thing about it.  I didn’t realize how much I hated looking through my kitchen to see that ugly room, especially the wallpaper.  Now, the grey seamlessly flows from my kitchen into the laundry room and I no longer get embarrassed when the door is left open.

  1. Shop

    • I purchased the new wall unit at Walmart for $140 (2 at about $68 each).  Two of them are stacked longwise to form this storage unit.  The bins were $5 each but if you’re patient you can get them online for $3 each.  I bought a lot of bins because I wanted to make sure I didn’t have random stuff pouring out of that room again.  That unit houses dirty clothes (kid’s clothes, socks picked up from around the house, dish towels and blankets) and the top bins contain kitchen stuff (holiday tableware, party supplies paper products, etc.).  I used some empty spaces to hold my mason jars and vases.  I even decorated the top with some rustic decor from my wedding.  The only cost in this entire project came from the storage units and bins (around $180).

  1. Assemble

    • After assembling the cube units and filling the bins with the items I had stored in the garage, we needed to assemble the kitty condo.  The kitty condo stores the kitty litter so it no longer gets all over the floor.  Misty can go in through the side and we can lift the top to clean it out.  It also has her food, water and a nice place for her to perch her fat butt by the window.  It has not only solved the kitty little problem (mess and smell), it has kept her off our table tops because she stays in there all the time!
    • I used 2 IKEA shelves for this project.  I want to say they were around $45 each when I bought them but really, I stole them from the girl’s room so they were free.  We had leftover wood that Brent cut to fit the top and then used 2 hinges to put the top on.  I covered it with leftover fabric and stuffed some fibers in there to make it soft.  Brent used 2 more hinges to attach the 2 shelves together (one wasn’t big enough to fit the litter box).  Then, I painted it white to match the laundry room.  I plan to cover the outside with wicker so Misty can scratch away and not leave those nasty marks on the paint.

  1. Enjoy!

    • Don’t let all that function go to waste!  I am diligently making sure my kids use those bottom bins to pick up their clothes (socks) from around the house.  When the bins in their rooms get full, they exchange them for an empty bin in the laundry room.  After I wash what’s in the bins, it goes in a roll away bin for the kids to put away.  Even though, I still find myself helping with the folding process, and I don’t enjoy the never ending amount of dirty clothes a family of 8 creates, our new laundry room puts a smile on my face and solves a lot of our laundry problems.


If you have a dingy laundry room, consider making a few changes and you’ll be amazed how much laundry day (or week) changes in your house!

Want to see what this remodel looked like from beginning to end?  Watch here: 

Do you have an area of your house that’s in need of organization?  Share it and let’s work together to make house work a little less painful.

 

 

 

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coparenting holidays

How To Co-Parent During The Holidays

If you’ve been through divorce, you remember the day that changed your life forever.  For me, it was Easter.  My husband had made some extremely selfish choices and I was left to protect our girls, 5, 3, and 11 months old who no matter what came my way, managed to keep me going.  

This was me walking to my first Easter celebration alone.  I had 3 babies and a dog as I walked up to greet my entire family who were full of questions I didn’t have the answer to.

That Easter the girls had no idea what their dad and I were going through.  They were so happy to find their Easter baskets and they picked through each egg one-by-one.  They held up their Easter goodies and snuck sweets well before their traditional bunny pancake breakfast.  I made sure to keep their normal traditions and routines alive, while their dad spiraled out of control.

A lot has happened over the last 7 years.  Holidays have come and gone with or without their dad.  He missed his daughter’s first steps, first birthday, first Easter, and continues to choose which life events are worthy of his time.  Through it all, I have been their constant. 

Except this Easter.

  • This Easter he decided that it was on his weekend so I did not get to spend Easter with them.
  • This Easter he decided that the Easter bunny wasn’t coming, even though 2 of 3 kids still believe. 
  • This Easter, the girls didn’t wake up before the sun to scurry find their Easter baskets, instead they were ignored in their room until 11:00
  • This Easter they didn’t get to eat my famous bunny pancakes
  • This Easter he decided church wasn’t important.  

How many more years do they have before they stop believing?  Before they don’t wake us up early and find pure joy in the surprises those baskets hold.  How many more years do we have before they don’t care about bunny pancakes?  When will they stop having faith because of the inconsistencies in their parents?

This Easter, I cried all morning long.  I couldn’t even look at Facebook because all I saw were happy Easter pictures.  All I could think about were my kids ignored in their rooms on a day that is usually filled with so much love and magic.  

I texted Madie to make sure they knew the Easter Bunny didn’t forget about them:  

“Did the Easter bunny come?”

“NO.”

“Well, he came here!”

“He did!”

“Yep!”

“What did he do?”

“Well, I went to do laundry and found a basket in the washer machine!”

“OMG!!”

I called to talk to Makenna and her little face was pouty as she stared at her iPad.  I told her the silly Easter bunny messed up and came to our house instead.  She said she wanted to come home and I told her she’d be home soon and I’d leave everything the bunny brought for her to find when she gets here.  

I underestimate their intelligence since even when we were camping last year, the Easter bunny managed to find our tent, but they went along with it and I sent my Easter love before hanging up and bursting into tears, again.

Why do I always find myself making up for his mistakes?  It’s an easy answer… While it’s not fair to me, it’s what a good parent does.  A good parent is consistent and always makes sure that their kids feel safe and loved. A good parent is selfless when it comes to their child’s needs.

This is not the first, and it is definitely not the last holiday celebration he will ruin.  One year, he returned all of the kid’s Christmas gifts, because he said I was ungrateful.  I went to the store and purchased them again.  

A few months ago he told them to bring a lost tooth home because the tooth fairy didn’t come to his house.   On Halloween, he posted pictures of them in their homemade costumes and said he was getting ready to take them trick-or-treating.  Meanwhile, he had chosen to not see them in over a month.  He doesn’t seem to care about actually spending holidays with them, as long as it can look like he did.

So, why keep them from me this Easter?  It has always been my holiday.  He is not religious, he’s never done Easter bunny duties, he doesn’t find joy in waking them up to spend Easter morning with them.  Another answer I can’t swallow; even after 7 years and all I’ve done to raise our kids with consistency and love, he still uses them to hurt me.

I have learned that the secret to coparenting, is to rise above.  

Easter holds some bad memories for me and this year just adds to it, but I will rise up.  I will celebrate Easter because it’s a day of rebirth.  It was the day my daughters and I rose from the ashes and started a new journey together.  This year, I realized that he isn’t capable of hurting me, because through his actions, I have only become a stronger woman and a better mom.

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5 of the Best Volunteer Organizations

There are many reasons to volunteer in your community.  Whether your teenager needs volunteer hours, or you’re looking for a way to teach your younger kids the beauty of giving, volunteering is a great way to step outside your world and change the lives of others.

Below is a very limited list of the organizations you can volunteer for.  They are organizations in which I have had personal experiences with and can offer the most information, but there are MANY organizations in need of your help.   If you’d like to add your organization, please do so in the comments.

  1.  The Humane Society and Animeals

2.  Special Olympics

3.  Local Hospitals

4.  Meals on Wheels

5.  Local Food Pantry

 

  1. Humane Society (http://www.humanesociety.org)  

I love the Humane Society because they offer various opportunities to all ages who would like to make the life of a furry friend happier.  From age 7 to 70 the Human Society has an opportunity for you!

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS:  The Human Society has various opportunities for young people to get involved by helping animals who were abandoned or don’t have a home.  After completing a volunteer form and an orientation, youngsters between the ages of 7-14 can start feeding, playing, and caring for the animals at the Human Society.  Although a guardian must be with the child during volunteering, this is an organization that accepts younger children as volunteers.

If your teenager is looking to complete hours for school, or jump out of their world for a few hours and support their community, the Humane Society accepts volunteers between the ages of 15-18.  They are asked to take a 2-3 hour shift per week.  Responsibilities include animal enrichment and animal care.  There are also adoption events and other activities they can take part in.

ADULT VOLUNTEERS:  There are many ways for an adult willing to give 2-4 hours of their time per week to care for animals at the Humane Society.  My favorite one is ANIMEALS.  It’s meal delivery service for animals of elderly and disabled people who may not have the financial means to support their pet (but definitely have the love).  My brother is a volunteer and it’s as easy as picking up the dog food from the Humane Society and delivering it along your route.  It just takes him a few hours on Saturday.  You must be 18 or over with a valid driver’s license to help with Animeals.

My local chapter can be found at humanesocietyofpinellas.org/volunteer but if you’re not in the Pinellas area try searching from their main page at humansociety.org

  1.  Special Olympics (http://www.specialolympics.org)

There are various organizations for those wanting to be involved in helping those with intellectual disabilities.  From Big brothers, Big Sisters (https://www.bbbs.org) to Best Buddies (https://bestbuddies.org) the reward in becoming a partner to these amazing humans, will come back to you tenfold.  I have chosen Special Olympics as an organization I participate in because my kids can get involved AND I worked with an amazing group of teachers who give not only their time, but their whole hearts to these athletes.  At first I found it a little difficult to find out where I was needed but after attending a few events, I can pass along some information that will help you get involved a little easier.

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS:  

First, many Special Olympic programs run during the school day so ask your child’s school if they have students who participate in Special Olympics.  If they do, that’s the easiest route to get your child involved.  You child can choose a sport offered that season and play alongside their buddy or they can help track, measure, or just cheer them on.

ADULT VOLUNTEERS:  

If you play or coach a certain sport, Special Olympics can use your experience.  I believe that mentoring or working with an athlete on Special Olympics will give you the greatest reward but there are various area and regional competitions throughout the year that need volunteers.  Contact Special Olympics at specialolympics.org

*If you’re in the Pinellas area contact  sopinellas@aol.com

  1.  Hospital Volunteer https://www.floridahospital.com/children/experience/volunteer

Hospitals have a variety of opportunities caring for the sick and elderly.  I choose the children’s hospitals because I personally love working with kids.  While volunteering at hospitals can make you appreciate life, it can be difficult caring for people at the end of theirs.  Make sure you consider this before signing up, or signing up with your child.  Just call or google your local hospital to find the volunteer opportunities available in your area.

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS:

This all depends on the hospital.  Sometimes the nature of the patient’s, makes this difficult for The one near my house, allows kids 14-17 to volunteer with a “care pair” adult over the age of 18.  Kids can pair with patients to do art, music therapy, read books in bed, or just deliver and share snacks and make a new friend.

ADULT VOLUNTEERS:

Volunteer opportunities include, but are not limited to admin, concierge, setting up events and even in PR or marketing.  The activities above are also offered including a cuddler opportunity… who wouldn’t want that gig?

 

  1.  Meals on Wheels (http://www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org/take-action/volunteer)

One in six seniors do not know where their next meal will come from.  To solve this problem, Meals on Wheels volunteers assemble healthy, balanced meals to elderly people in need.

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS

While some locations accept help from minors, most opportunities require driving and therefore, are required to be 18 or older.  Our location does allow your children to travel with you and even noted how much the recipients enjoy their company.  She also said teens will receive hours for the ride alongs.

ADULT VOLUNTEERS

Helping is easy and only requires an hour or two of your time.  Just stop by, pick up your delivery and drop it off.  It’s always local so it’s always fast and super easy… so easy you can do it on your lunch break… every day 🙂

  1.  FEED THE POOR:

Unlike Meals on Wheels, food pantries (previously referred to as soup kitchens) mainly cater to the poor and homeless.  There are various food pantries that you will find by googling “food pantires near me.”  The one in my area goes over and beyond your typical “soup kitchen.’’ https://www.rcspinellas.org/volunteer.  In addition to food and clothing services, RCS Pinellas offers homeless shelter in an apartment like setting as well as a haven for domestic abuse victims.  Various volunteer positions are needed to keep places like this running.

YOUNG VOLUNTEERS

  1. Call your local food pantry.  Most accept volunteers as young as 13 to help organize food for distribution but each one is different.
  2. Kids younger than 13 can do various things to help the hungry or promote hunger related issues, have them pack their own balanced, healthy school lunch and then pack one more each day for a needy student at school.  I would call the school to arrange this and leave the lunch in the office with a designated staff member.  There are also letter writing campaigns that can be found in regard to hunger.

ADULT VOLUNTEERS

Like Meals on Wheels the most needed help is loading and delivering food. The time commitment can be as little as 2 hours per week.  You can also help at food drives and fundraising.  Contact one of you local food pantries for more information.

 

This list does not start or end here.  There are so many organizations that need your help.  A local walk to cure cancer or build awareness for a rare disease, are all in need of volunteers.  Students can earn credit by volunteering at these events that usually take place on a Saturday or Sunday.  You can find out about them by keeping in tune with community events in your local paper.  Our local newspaper has an events link listed on their website, but the best way is word of mouth.

Schools can also offer various community service options.  Just call and ask to speak to the NHS advisor or volunteer coordinator.

I hope this list makes getting involved in your community a little easier to navigate.  If you have any questions or additional volunteer suggestions please comment below.

*Photos taken by me from the MG Walk and Special Olympics in Pinellas County.

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The Slowest, Most Painful Way to End the World

The slowest, most painful way to end the world is to deprive people of the things that they love.  In my world, it’s the arts.  Art can come in many forms.  Art is music, literature, dance, and is even found in the human experience.  The beauty and breathe of our world, lies in art and the emotional connection it evokes.  I was lucky enough to have family and teachers who exposed me to art in many forms throughout my life.

My mom and grandmother taught me how to love unconditionally and fight for those who felt unloved.  My dad and grandfather exposed me to the sites of our beautiful nation and taught me to love my country, but it wasn’t until college that I understood why we should love others, and even how to love them.

 

College exposed me to black and white pages that revealed an entire society’s problems and helped me make sense of my own world.  College showed me beautiful works of art that were masterfully made in a way that made me lose myself inside the painting, much like I found myself doing in the lyrics of a song.  

My education in humanities taught me the importance of culture and how our human experiences shape our perception of the world; from Greek history to African American history to stories of our veterans and their personal struggles after war, I discovered that their experiences are woven into my life and color my world.  

Without art, music, literature, and human studies, I would live in a gray world of smog and industry.  If a degree in business, engineering, architecture, etc. focuses on the outside of structures and how they work, the arts focus on the inside.  The arts breathe life into a hollow hole.  As humans, and as an industrial nation, we can’t survive without them.

Our world was not created on the beliefs of industry and if we’re not careful, we can destroy it due to industry.  Just as we balance our personal lives when it comes to work and what we love (family, friends, etc), we must properly balance the love we have for one another and our planet, with the money and resources to protect it.

As more programs that are meant to help people are eliminated, we have more responsibility to one another than ever.  

  • If we can give our soldiers more weapons, we have to keep the programs that help them when they get home.
  • If we build walls out of fear, we have to create art out of love.
  • If we close libraries and cancel learning channels, we need to support more teachers and leaders to share stories that inspire.  
  • If we restrict agencies from protecting our environment we need to ask ourselves why it’s worth saving and start saving it one household at a time.
  • Finally, if we are going to call ourselves a Christian nation, as the new president declared, we have to follow the basic principles of faith; love one another as God has loved us and take care of the less fortunate.  Love and charity are, in fact, the foundation of all of the world’s major religions including Islam and Hinduism.  If we can’t, as a nation, take care of the poor and love more than we discriminate, then we can’t call ourselves a Christian nation.

We will all fall if we place our faith in the hands of fear.  

I’m a proud scholar of the arts, but I also respect the power and industry of our nation. Industry might make us #1 in the world but an athlete can’t compete without her heart.   

There is room in this world (and the budget) for both.  Just as we can make room in our lives for the love of family, and the work we must do to feed them and protect their future, we can find a balance that protects individuals AND our nation’s bottom line.  

If in the end, the value of art, music, literature, and humanities is removed from our nation’s priorities, then it’s up to us to save her heart.  Here are ways we can save the arts:

  • Share stories of artists, authors, musicians, and humanitarians that have made an impact on our world.
  • Share art that replaces dark, violent images with the colors of hope.
  • Share music with messages of love, inspiration, and overcoming challenges.
  • Share pictures of our beautiful land touched only by God.
  • Share the colors of our world and do everything in your power to protect it from becoming extinct.

 

*There are many programs that will be defunded if the new budget is passed.  A little bit of your time can make a big difference in someone else’s life.  If you’d like to get involved in a charitable organization in your area, read  http://expertlyflawed.com/2017/03/5-best-volunteer-organizations/   

 

 

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To My Husband on our 2nd Anniversary

My husband and I got married two years ago. He was the cute guy standing across the restaurant and I was the girl on the rebound after a 12 year relationship. Mutual friends introduced us and after nearly a year, we started dating exclusively. There are a lot of missing pieces that I look forward to writing about soon, but today I just wanted to introduce my husband with this video.

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The Worst Way to Celebrate Women’s Day

I woke up to a sink full of dishes and piles of clean, unfolded laundry the dogs were chewing their bones on.  I got my three daughters up for school, laid out their clothes, only to hear one complain her skirt was too long and the the other complain hers was too short.  I made three lunches to nourish their bodies while they are away from me, and made sure their homework was placed in their signed binders.  I drove my middle schooler to the bus stop and as she exited my car I said, “today is International Women’s Day, do something beautiful.”  She quickly responded, “Mom, yesterday was National Touch a Tit Day.”  

My heart burned as I asked whether she was touched. She rolled her eyes and shut the door.

I’ve seen many posts about International Women’s Day online.  Women laugh and poke fun at the stupidity of losing a day’s pay or letting their kids starve. Men make “locker room jokes” about “getting back in the kitchen” or wishing they had told their wife to do their laundry earlier.  I’ve seen the organizer of today’s strike get called a terrorist because she is a Muslim and the protestors equated to a cult.  

I myself, struggled with finding meaning in the strike. The world needs women.  

The world needs her giving heart and creative mind.  The world needs her to make the boo boo’s go away with a single, soft kiss.  The world needs her to squeeze out the day’s hate with a warm embrace.  The world needs her reassurance and her encouragement; that no matter what we face, we will persevere.  The world needs her to prove there is no better reward than that which comes from pain.  The world needs her to fight, because we know that nobody offers more protection than an angry mama bear.  

Women must be more active in society, but more importantly in their own home.  If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend makes a crude, gender specific joke, call him on it.  That doesn’t make you a feminist – that makes you a hero to any little girl who you saved from hearing it at school.  

If your husband, brother, uncle, or friend talks about doing things to women without their consent, call them on it.  Little boys will take those “jokes” to school and enact them on little girls, for example touching her breasts due to “National Touch a Tit Day.”

If you find out that your daughter was harassed at school, call the mother f* school.  There are things the school can do, the most immediate being an announcement about respect.  

Don’t like how the school handled it?  Take action in your community.  Build awareness on gender specific issues- Make a PSA and post it online (ours will be on youtube soon), pass out flyers you created, attend town hall meetings and make sure there are laws that protect gender equality.  

Whatever you do, don’t be silent.  If we accept harassment and groping in middle school, what is to be accepted or ignored later?  One in three girls are raped before the age of 18.  We must use our voices and teach our daughters to do the same.  

It’s ironic that I struggled with how to celebrate International Women’s Day and then was smacked in the face by my daughter’s revelation of National Touch a Tit Day.  

I will celebrate by continuing to raise three amazing little women.  One day I hope they will take the torch and bring new light to the world.  As a woman, I know that in our society, her torch will be put out by many people in her lifetime, especially men.  I know that this is not the first time she will be harassed at school or work.  I know that I cannot protect her from all the gender specific “jokes” in her lifetime.  As her mother, I will teach her about sticks and stones, but as a woman I know that she will sometimes feel like they are boulders holding her down.  In the end, I hope her torch is still lit and that enough action in her lifetime keeps her world, and the world of those around her turning.

And now, on International Women’s Day in 2017, I will fight the fight by writing an email to my daughter’s middle school about tits.

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The Domestic Struggle is Real

 

Have you ever had a week where you feel like your flaws consume you?  I’ve been so down on myself this week and while I think it’s hormone related, I can’t seem to pull myself out of it.  I feel unmotivated and avoid everything from taking the dogs out to complex things fixing my daughter’s bed so she can actually sleep in it.  I’m being hard on myself for the condition of my house right now, instead of getting up and cleaning it.  I have only been to the gym once this week and my skin feels awful.  I haven’t wanted to shave, put makeup on, and avoid mirrors.  I feel physically and emotionally blah!

My schedule is out of whack.  For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to get my mom and kids to come with me in the evening and somehow convinced myself I didn’t have to go in the morning.  Also, since all of my laundry was dirty, I had further reason to skip the gym.  I even told myself, wash them today and go to the gym tonight, and then didn’t even take the time to swap the wet stuff.  In fact, I had to wash it twice before swapping it to the dryer days later.  It will probably stink when I do wear it to the gym… If I ever go back.

I feel like I clean constantly and my house always looks like shit.  I can’t count how many times I’ve cleaned up dog pee and poop this week.  I think there’s still some under the coffee table because every once in awhile I smell it.  Of course, it could be on the pile of laundry that still hasn’t gotten done.  Eight loads this week, and after camping there are at least eight more to go.  I clean my kid’s room constantly.  So much so, I don’t even clean my own room, but I did this week.  On Monday, the kids had off school so I made them clean their rooms while I cleaned mine.  I got about halfway through my room due to all the interruptions.  The result in the kid’s rooms, a broken bed and a pile of garbage, clothes, and toys I pulled out from underneath.  The eight loads of laundry I did were mostly theirs, but they haven’t bothered to put them away.  Probably doesn’t help that the broken bed is now propped against their closet door.  How does their room get so messy, so fast?  I seem to be donating or throwing away shit every couple weeks.  

Homework has been an afterthought this week and I’m not sure why.  My older two are getting better at doing it themselves, but my youngest probably hasn’t read for a month – so much for my English teacher roots.  Kaitlyn is developing the typical teenage “I hate everything” attitude.  At night I hope it’s nothing more and pray that my kids are happy.  Madie and Brent got into it last night and I always seem to be in the middle.  They’re best buds most of the time, but by 8pm I have 4 very tired and cranky individuals in my house.  All a mama wants is peace at that hour.  They all fall asleep around 9:00 I’m alone again with my guilt.

I try to give myself the freedom to not feel guilt about EVERYTHING.

  • The house is always a mess – You have 3 kids and 3 animals, of course it is!
  • You can never seem to complete a job – Nobody with all these responsibilities could.
  • You didn’t eat well this week – So what? Eat better next week.
  • You didn’t go to the gym enough – Double up next week.
  • You look like hell – Shave and go put make-up on.

But my surroundings are still the same.  I have piles of laundry waiting to be folded while another week’s worth lies in the bathroom floor.  My kids still have a broken bed and my dogs still haven’t been walked.  I have a garage sale tomorrow and the last thing I want to do, is enter that garage and prepare for that!  

But I will…

         I always do.  

Now, it’s your turn.  Comment below and tell me about your struggles.  What you do to get yourself out of a funk?  Why are some weeks worse than others?

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There Goes My Baby

My youngest daughter, got on a bike at 5.  After a couple pushes, she coasted off into the sunset, only to fall seconds later.  She insisted we put the training wheels back on and for years we let her hobble along.

Fast forward two years (and many camping trips later), Santa brought a brand new bike for our growing girl.  Last weekend, during our annual Valentine’s Day camping trip she got tired of watching her sisters ride off without her and begged us to help her.  The road was rocky but she was persistent.  On her second try, I told her to look at the road ahead and it will help her stay balanced.  Off she went!

As I watched her ride off down the windy road, I got teary.  There goes my baby…  From walking to running and swimming to riding her bike, the milestones keep ticking away like the hands of a clock.  I can’t seem to stop time although I’ve done my best to delay it.  I hope the lesson I taught her, to focus on the road ahead, no matter the bumps in the road, will continue to guide her, even when I’m not holding on to the back of her seat.

Do I really have to let go?

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A Teacher’s Final Goodbye

I left my students on October 21, 2017 and it was the hardest decision I ever made. I left 125 students who looked to me for knowledge, guidance and encouragement.  I’m sure some were happy, but even more shared my broken heart.  My decision has been documented in previous blog posts and I will continue to share my letters, experience and advocacy, but today I was feeling nostalgic and thought I would post the goodbye video my kiddos made for me.

 

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A Letter to #notmymarch Women

I was just putting together a video from the Women’s March and since some time has passed, I decided to go back and look at some older posts for inspiration.  What I found was more negativity than I remembered.  

When I look back at the pictures and videos I took from the Women’s March in my home town, St Petersburg, I remember a day of love and solidarity.  A day when women of all backgrounds, ages, and status came together with a single goal, to reject the president’s attacks on women and stand together in peace and love.  Below I am going to address some comments from social media, most notably from the #notmymarch hashtag.  Fellow bloggers and Youtubers voiced their confusion and even their disgust with the women’s movement.  

  1. #notmymarch aren’t sure what the women are protesting, and have accused them of not knowing what they even stand for.  First of all, let me clarify, this was not a protest against policies, the man had just been in office for a day, this was a march of solidarity, to stand together and reject the misogynistic views of a man who had just been inaugurated as our president.  If you really need to be reminded of comments made by our 45th President, stick around, this post has a few       

 

2.  #notmymarch women say that it really bothers them when other people speak on their behalf and we should have referred to it as, the anti trump march.  Seriously?  You didn’t represent my belief when you voted for a man who thinks women shouldn’t poop (or at least shouldn’t let men know they poop).  

You certainly didn’t represent my belief when you voted for a man who said cohabitation is an excuse for rape or who justified sexual harassment because “he helped a few of them.”  You voted based on your beliefs, and now I’m standing up for mine.

3.  #notmymarch women are ashamed of women wearing giant vaginas or holding pussy signs.  They criticize the celebrity speeches for, “nonsensical remarks about periods”  The vulgarity did not come from these women taking back ownership of their genitals, but from “remarks” made by the man who now holds the most powerful position in the United States.  A man who has made various statements about women’s pussy and his right to it.  A man who believes it is okay to ogle a 12 year old girl or sexualize his own daughter.  A man who has insulted a woman’s intelligence due to the fact that she bleeds.  A man who has called breast feeding disgusting.  The fact that a woman’s amazing body can create and sustain life is nothing to be ashamed of however, the misdirected vulgarity claims from #notmymarch women are truly shameful.

 

4.  #notmymarch women say they already have equal rights and insult women marchers for whining about their privileged life.  Well, here are some reasons I marched that Donald Trump did not campaign about.  According to nsopw.gov, Approximately 20 million women have been raped in their lifetime.  Only 16% have been reported.  1 in 5 girls will be a victim of sexual abuse before the age of 18.  Only 30% of those cases are reported to authorities.  1 in 6 adolescent runaways fall victim to sex trafficking. In spite of these alarming facts and statistics, Trump has elected people into his cabinet that have said that they will not uphold the laws and programs that protect these victims. For example: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/17/betsy-devos-hearing-prompts-fears-for-campus-sexual-assault-protections

White women continue to make $0.70 for every dollar a man makes and minority women make far less. Women marches stood up to say that we will not move backward in regard to wages and their remarks came in response to Trump’s brutal attacks on his presidential opponent Hillary Clinton.  He has called women “gold diggers” and only seems to support their “job” as beauty queens. He attacks women for not having the right “look” – too fat, too ugly, too non presidential.  

 

5. #notmymarch women said they already feel valued because they earned respect.  I’m not sure if they are insinuating that the millions of women who marched aren’t respected, but I’m going to assume it wasn’t an attack.  Instead, I’m going to talk about how Donald Trump values women.  To Trump, women have value when they strut across the stage wearing nothing but a tiny bathing suit and 6” heels.  They have value when they offer up sexual favors or don’t decline a sexual advance.  Donald Trump’s value of women is numerical and often written on a cue card.  It’s often compared to other women in an outwardly sense.  Her inner intelligence is criticized while her outer appearance is judged.  I will NEVER accept, or allow my daughters to be valued under Trump’s model for women.  I will teach them to reject his comments as normal and stand up for themselves when they are not being respected.  If our president’s comments make you feel proud to be a woman, continue your living room rants.

(1)(2)When Trump purchased Miss USA in 1997, he said he was going to, “get the bathing suits smaller and the heels higher.”  He added of the women, “if you’re looking for a rocket scientist don’t tune in, but if you’re looking for a really beautiful woman, you should watch.  In 2009, beauty queen Carrie Prejean revealed “The Trump Rule” referring to his requirement that the women parade in front of him so he could separate the attractive and non attractive ones.   (3) In 2015 Trump said supermodel Heidi Klum was “sadly, no longer a 10.”  In response, Klum said, “every woman is a 10.”(4) . On Howard Stern, Trump assigned actresses numerical ratings based on their “f***ability.”

Now, if you, as a “strong, independent woman” support this man to properly represent the value of women in our society, you should feel no need to defend your beliefs, you’ve already given him the power to do so.  

Let me end by saying, men are not the only misogynists.  Women, such as #notmymarch are just as guilty, if not more guilty, of perpetuating the lack of respect for women in our society. Calling each other names, insulting one another’s intelligence, attacking women for their beliefs will hurt all of us.  Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his view of women during his campaign, and in response, we marched. If you didn’t, I have faith that your one-woman march continues privately.  Progress lies in our ability to come together.  We are all one powerful female body that must protect our worth and keep moving forward in whatever way is necessary.

Now, I’m going to get back to my video, a video that shows the love and togetherness of a march that restored pride in American woman.

 

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