Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Seven.

Dear Danny,

I can't believe you are seven already.

I love this picture of you, standing in the tulips.  You look fierce and silly, and that's who you are.  You are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

Ever since you were a little baby, you've always been so smiley, and made other people smile.  You have a sense of humor and silliness that reminds me of your Great Grandfather - that glint in his eye.  I think one day you will be an excellent Grandfather.

Even though you're still timid sometimes, and most certainly still a mommy's boy, you have blossomed so much in the last year, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon.

You started piano lessons about 6 weeks ago, and you are astounding us all.  You write music.  Just like that, you make up your own songs, and write them down, and your teacher asked if you want to play one of your own compositions at the recital next month.  I'm pretty sure I didn't start writing my own music until I'd been taking piano lessons for like 5 years...  You're a funny little dude.  You get shy, and you don't really talk to your piano teacher, but sometimes you do things like nod enthusiastically or smile really big.  She doesn't seem to mind, she's really great with you.

I think you have big emotions just like your mama.  You get frustrated sometimes because I think your mind is ahead of your body and your muscles.  You are also definitely the younger child, and a younger seven year old in some ways than Sam was.  I suppose that's just the way the cookie crumbles when you're 4 years younger and honestly those first 4 years of your life were pretty tumultuous to say the least.

Seven is the year that things change.  I can scroll back and forth between Sam's 1st and 2nd grade school photos and he looks like a different person.  Seven is the year you switch from being a little kid to being a big kid.  The year your front teeth fall out and you get your grown up front teeth that are just plain too big for your seven year old mouth and you look goofy for a little while.

Next year you'll be in second grade and you won't be at the same school as Sam anymore.  There
seems like such a big difference between Kindergarten and 2nd grade.  Time moves slowly, but flies by all at once.

What wisdom could I give you if I could tell you anything?  That it's okay not to get things perfect the first time.  That trying and practice and improving are part of what makes the journey interesting, and that it's okay to have to do something more than once.  I know that's hard to understand right now because I think you just want to do EVERYTHING imaginable, but one day you'll understand.  I hope that understanding will not dim your creative spirit or enthusiasm though.  I'm pretty sure that if you put your mind to it, you really can do anything.

I love you so much, and I can't wait to see what you choose to do next.

Love,
Mom

Firsts This Year!

First Musical Instrument: Piano!  You started lessons in March.
First Nosebleed(s):  I was so unprepared, and had no idea how to handle it.  Now there have been a few and I am a pro.
First YouTube Video(s):  You started a YouTube Channel this year, and it's one of the cutest things I have ever seen in my life.

Favorites!

Favorite Book: Elephant & Piggy Books
Favorite Color: Red?
Favorite Song:  The Fox - Nickel Creek version
Favorite Board Game: Chinese Checkers
Favorite Video Game: Minecraft (big time), Roblox, Splatoon
Favorite TV Show: The Simpsons, Futurama
Favorite YouTubers: DanTDM/The Diamond Minecart, Popular MMOs, JackFilms
Favorite Food: Chips & Sauce, Pizza, Sausage, Bacon
Favorite Dessert: Coconut Dreams (fake Samoas)
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House: Play at McDonalds, Play on the playground
Favorite Subject at School: PE
Best Friends: Karsyn, Bailey, Shay, Kingston

Six.
Five.
Four.
Three.
Two.
One.
Birth Story.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Eleven!

Dear Sam,

I can't get over how humongous you are.  Seriously.  I feel like this was the year you transitioned from seeming like a kid to just seeming like... a young PERSON.

Though you still get worked up about some things, I feel like you have also mellowed out considerably in other ways.  You seem to have found more a rhythm at school this year with your peers, and you've got a small group of friends.  Every time we're at a school event, kids are saying Hello to you and I don't even know who they are!

I guess that 5th grade was a bit the beginning of me feeling like there are things about you that I don't know.  When you were little, I could imagine your life at school and with your friends, how you were, what you might have talked about, the way you played and what the day looked like.  Now that you are older, I don't think I know anymore.  I have always worried about you, because I'm your mommy and that's kind of my job, and I can't really help it.  As you've gotten older though, I have become more confident in you.  Even though you struggle sometimes, I feel like for the most part you're more able to navigate your life than I realize.  I hope that this is true, and I hope that on the days when things don't go well or are upsetting, you'll always know you can talk to me about it.

Some of my favorite times with you are in the evenings or at bedtime when you just want to talk.  It's really fascinating and fun to just talk to you about your day, the things you think about, and watch you become who you are going to be.  You still want to cuddle with me, and sometimes I'm annoyed because it's a little hard to sleep on those nights I'm squished between your giant body and Danny's little one.  But then I remember that you won't want to cuddle with your mom for that much longer, and I put my arm around you and you are warm, and we are content.

With you, and with Danny, I've started to feel the first pangs of not understanding a younger
generation.  Your obsession with Discord and YouTube and all of that online world is a mystery to me.  You play games together that I look at and cannot fathom why or how it is entertaining or fun.  But you seem to love it.  At least you have each other to talk to!

In the last couple of months, I feel like you and Danny have hit some new stride.  Yes, you still fight.  Like, all the time.  You still get annoyed by your little brother like all big brothers do sometimes.  But there are days where you spend hours playing together, doing online role plays in Roblox or playing with swords and stuffed animals and making up crazy stories in your room.  I try to stay out of the way when this happens.  It seems like you always get along better when I'm not in the room to mess with the sibling energy.  It makes me really happy when you play together, and I still hope that when you grow up you'll be best friends.

You're going to middle school next year, and while I am a little bit freaked out by it, at the same time I am less worried than I expected to be.  I think that having more teachers is good for you, it has been this year.  I think that you'll meet more kids from other elementary schools who like the same things you do.  I am really hopeful that you will thrive as you get older.

I hope that this year we will be able to transition into the stable home life that you deserve.  Once Scott and I both have steady, stable jobs and we can get our own place I feel like we will really be able to settle into a routine as a little family of four.  It has already been pretty amazing starting to come together that way, and I can't wait to take that next step with all three of my favorite guys.

Sometimes I feel like I am not enough, because the last few years have been so hard for us as a family.  There has been so much change and there still is so much uncertainty in our lives.  But one thing that is never uncertain is that you have so many people around you that love you.  I think that has made all the difference, and I'm so grateful for it.  I hope that when you look back on your childhood, that is what you see.

This year, you'll be transitioning to full-time glasses, and I strongly suspect that in next year's birthday photo you may have some shiny braces on your teeth.  One thing I'm looking forward to this year is getting you back into swimming lessons because you love it so much, and continuing that.

Sam, you may be big, but you will always be my baby.  It seems like just yesterday that I held you with your full head of shocking blonde white hair and dark baby eyes, and realized a piece of my heart lived outside my body now.  Happy Birthday, my first baby.

Love,
Mom

Firsts This Year!

First Big Trouble: Lying to your mom!  You lied about taking your pills.  WHAT!  It was shocking and strange, and almost a little bit funny.

Favorites!

Favorite Book: Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Heroes in Training
Favorite Color: Blue?
Favorite Song:  Counting Stars - One Republic
Favorite Board Game: ?
Favorite Video Game: All of the Paper Mario Games, Super Smash Bros
Favorite TV Show: Not sure... we just started Futurama and you seem to like it!
Favorite YouTubers: DanTDM, Crainer, Pat & Jen, Smosh, JackSepticEye
Favorite Food: Toast, Chocolate Chip Waffles
Favorite Dessert: Oreos
Favorite Thing to Do Outside the House: Red Robin or Tinos, Swimming
Favorite Subject at School: Recess
Best Friend: Ashaan, Ezra, Charlie

Ten
Nine
Eight
Seven
Six
Five.Two
Five.One
Four 
Three 
Two
One
Birth Story

Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 in Review

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?

Got fired from a job, moved my entire house from decision to being completely out in 7 days time, applied for food benefits from the state, went away for the weekend with Scott, watched a friend finally succumb to cancer, presented to a classroom of college students about the sex positive movement.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I made some goals at the beginning of 2016.  They were to read more, to send birthday and anniversary cards every month, to write more, and to flirt more.  I succeeded better at some than others.  I definitely read more in 2016 than I had in the two years before it, so that's a win.  I sent out some cards, but not as many as I'd like.  The flirting thing kind of fell by the wayside when my year spiraled out and I wasn't in the greatest place.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No one close to me.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Too many.  My long-time friend, of breast cancer.  My grandmother Ann, my Aunt Lena, my high school journalism teacher, and my Uncle Chuck.  Also not close to me directly, but my best friend's father died, which was quite awful to see her go through.

5. What countries did you visit?

I spent Valentine's Day weekend in Canada with my honey.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?

A full time job. Stability.  My boyfriend back home.

7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 20 - the day I became an ex-employee at my last job
February 14-15 - the weekend I went away with Scott
November 8 - the day America lost its mind and elected Donald Trump as president

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving.  Honestly.  Because it was not easy.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I can't even this year with this question.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Just a nasty bout of strep throat in December.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I didn't buy much.  But definitely these leggings.



12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

My Mom.  Scott.  Sam also improved a lot in terms of some ongoing issues this year, which was wonderful.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Millions of Americans

14. Where did most of your money go?

Food, living expenses, bills

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Leggings?  Lol  There wasn't a ton to get excited about, but that and having my boyfriend and best friend and my Mom always by my side lifting me up is the best thing.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?

Rihanna - Work

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?

Sadder

Neither

So much poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Writing.  Reading.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Nothing really.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Mom and Paul were in Cuba, so we spent the day with Scott's family and the kids other parent.  It was pretty low-key.

21. Did you fall in love with 2016?

Nope.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

The Good Place

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Yes

24. What was the best book you read?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

HAMILTON.  OMG.

26. What did you want and get?

Pecan pie

27. What did you want and not get?

A fair shot. A job.

28. What was your favorite film of 2016?

Allied

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 36.  Scott was here.  Mom made me pecan pie and stromboli.  It was delicious.  I got great presents from her and the kids, and it was a good birthday.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept of 2016?



32. What kept you sane?

Scott.  My Mom.  Cinnamon Rolls.  Zoloft.

33. What political issue stirred you the most?

Oh Lord.  Human Rights.

34. Who did you miss?

I miss Kira and Nora and wish I could see them more.  I miss Helene and Lianna and my Dad.  I wish I could have all my family closer.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

This guy Max I know and his wife Esther.  They're awesome people.  Also this other guy Greg.  Friends are life.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.

Life still isn't fair.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are

As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends"

Previous Lists:
2015
2012
2011

Thursday, December 8, 2016

With Good Reason

We sit on the couch, and I'm wearing pajamas that I may have been wearing for more than a day.  

"Are you really depressed?"

Tears well up in my eyes even at the words.

"Yeah..."

"Do you think it would help to talk to Xola?"

"I just don't think it would help.  There's nothing really to talk about..."

She understands.  We sit for a moment before our conversation continues.  

The shortness and darkness of winter is hard this year, harder than I ever remember it being.  I have been getting tired in the evenings.  I dislike being cold, and it's so cold.  Around 5:30 or 6:00 I find myself freezing, and a bit overwhelmed with life in general.  A couple of times this week I've fallen asleep as my kids played their videos and video games.  I wake feeling exhausted and a little bit useless.

I don't have a lot of experience with being depressed with good reason.  I have struggled with anxiety and depression for years, and take medication, and will continue to take it likely until I am dead and gone.  I am happy to have it.  When I go off my medication, anxiety creeps on me like frost over dewey grass, and I cry for no reason.  This is different.

This depression is not a lack of seeing that a better time will come.  I know it will.  I know that I won't feel like this forever.  This year has been spectacularly awful, and I have spent so much time just trying to process everything that has happened.  I'm to the point now where I just feel kind of numb, and I'm just letting it happen.  I don't think there is any other way than to just feel it, be okay with it, work towards things that will make me happy, and let it be.  I don't like to wallow, but I feel right now that I just have to let things be what they are.  

I cry a lot.  Things that are sad make me cry.  When people are nice to me, it makes me cry.  Writing makes me cry.  Sometimes the smallest thing triggers it and it's like all of the hurt, confusion, pain, anger, and sadness over the things I've lost this year come welling to the surface and their only way out is through my eyes.

Every feeling seems to feed into all the others.  The cloud of depression tanks my self esteem, the body confidence I've built.  Losing my job the way I did and so many fruitless interviews makes me feel like maybe I'm wrong and I'm not a great asset, not smart enough, not good enough.  My fuse is short, and I feel like I'm not parenting the way I should be.

I get tired of people asking how I am.  I get tired of choosing to either say I'm fine/ok/good, which seems to be the expected answer, and being honest.  The thing is that when people ask how you are, how your day's going, how you've been, they don't always want an honest answer.  The expectation is a short social exchange, not a baring of one's soul.

Some people just don't understand.  I tell them I am depressed and the next day they ask how I'm feeling, or if I'm feeling better.  No, that isn't how it works.  It's not just sadness.

There often seems to be some expectation of improvement.  Like, people ask how things are going in a way that makes it clear they feel bad for me, but it's my job to make them feel better about it.  You can ask me what's new in the most positive way you want.  It doesn't change the fact that I'm struggling, and that things haven't gotten better, and that I don't have any good news to report.  In fact, you've just made it just that much worse by putting the burden on me of assuring you that something is different.  When I tell you it hasn't, I feel like I am a disappointment.  What I really need is just love and support.  I don't need assurances that things will get better or I'll make it through.  I know that.  Unfortunately, knowing doesn't often make it easier.

Many days, I don't feel like doing anything at all.  I apply for jobs and do my chores, and then I watch TV and just sit in the quiet because soon I'll have to pick up my kids from school and parenting is a challenge right now.  I sit at home a lot, because I don't have the money to do much else.  I don't see my friends as often as I'd like.  Scott is gone, 3 hours away, and sometimes when I'm in the midst of two or three weeks without him, I can't believe how much I miss him.  I always kind of thought it was silly when I had friends who talked about not being able to be away from their significant other for more than a couple of days, but now... I get it.  It's hard, and it's just getting harder for both of us every time he has to go.

The life I had planned and was working towards 9 months ago is gone.  For the second time in 3 years, I face the in-between, this place where I can clearly see my past but cannot make out the future.  It's like the things I was working for have been swept from beneath me, and I don't know how to get them back.  The numbness of depression brings a lack of passion, and when my Mom asks me if I want to go back to school or if I could do anything, what would it be, I have no answer.

I wonder how many times I will have to start over.  How many times I will have to begin again.  I don't have answers.  I try to be gentle with myself, and look forward, and believe that next year has to be better.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Roller Coaster

Day 2.

I thought I was feeling better.  I did start to feel a tiny bit of hope today, I see friends who are doing things to make a difference.  I see people I respect and care about showing strength by saying they will concentrate on what they can do on a local level to make the world a better place, and how they will fight for what they believe in.  I have read Facebook posts spreading messages of support for all of the people who feel they are in danger now.

But that's the problem.  Not only do people feel they are in danger, they ARE in danger.  People I love, are in danger.  Terrible, awful things have been happening.  In direct response to this election, in direct response to the example the new president elect has set and the behaviors he has made okay.  In direct response to the leader of the free world being a racist, misogynistic, homophobic egomaniac.

High school students chanting "build the wall" in their cafeteria. 

Women being sexually assaulted (grabbed by the pussy - THANKS DONALD) because of a Bernie Sanders bumper sticker, or just because, well, they HAVE a pussy.

Racial slurs, everywhere.  Left in printed and handwritten notes on the windshields of cars, spray painted, shouted at people on college campuses, in subways, at gas stations, in schools.

Hijabs being ripped off the heads of people going about their business, while others must make a decision about whether to stand strong in their beliefs or leave the hijab at home because they don't feel safe.

A Latina college student coming back to a wall built across the dorm room by her roommate telling her to get ready because Trump is president now.

Countless people, including my friend's adopted/foster daughters, being told to "go back where they came from."

Incident after incident after heartbreaking, sickening incident.

So the tears come again, and I cover my face, turning away from my children because I can't begin to explain this, not today, not right this moment when I can barely manage to bring my own thoughts together.  I know it's absolutely important to talk to them about this stuff.  I want them to be on the right side of things, to know how to use their good hearts and kindness and privilege to protect and stand up for people. But right now I just want them to be kids for one more day and not understand the ugliness that's happening all around us.

What is this?  How can this be?  This is the worst part of humanity.  This is not who we are.

Please, don't let this be who we are.  

My heart feels rent into 1000 pieces.  Because it's not just adults, it's CHILDREN.  Kids who have learned such hatred and intolerance and now are physically and verbally assaulting other children.  This is not the world I want for my sons.  This is not the world I want for my nieces.

There is a part of me deep inside where a bubbling black hole of despair and confusion sits.  It comes to the surface in my tears, in the ache in my chest, in the way that every so often my stomach threatens to send back up everything I've eaten today.

All I can think is that somehow, we have to fix this, but I don't know how.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hope Extinguished

My kids were late for school this morning, but I didn't care.  As I drove, the world around me was grey.  The sky is dreary today, the chill has returned to the air, and rain pelted the car as we made our way there.  My heart today matches the weather, grey and dull and muted.  A fog fills my mind and soul, and the future is impossible to see through the haze.

When I got home, I pulled out my computer.  I know I need to write.  This is how I process, and I can feel it in my bones, that I need to put words down.  But it's hard.  I don't know where to begin, and having a coherent thought that lasts more than a few sentences has proven more difficult than usual.  I suppose my mind is trying to process the feelings of disappointment and trauma and fear.

My heart is broken.  I have always believed that people are generally good, and I suppose that now is the time for my faith to be tested.  I see people try to be positive - the sun will come up tomorrow, we just have to keep trying and fighting.  Right now, though?  It just feels like the world has turned upside down.

The hope and excitement that I felt, that so many of my female friends felt, so many of my friends with daughters felt, has been extinguished in the worst way.  I know it's not forever, but it feels so incredibly bad right now.  This hope was squashed by the opposite of a feminist.  Instead of an experienced woman who would support equality and women's rights and the things we believe are fundamental, we are left with a misogynist who would like to repeal Roe v Wade, judges women by how attractive he finds them, and has openly based his opinion of female politicians on the fact that he finds them unattractive.

You can't tell me that this isn't setting this country back.  You can't tell me that this presidency isn't going to affect me negatively when the campaign alone has re-traumatized so many survivors of sexual assault and unwanted attention. We have gone from a person who, the day after a horrifically painful defeat, said "And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams." to a man who has said that if she wasn't his daughter, he'd totally bang his daughter because she's hot.

I have voted in 5 elections now, and never have I felt dread like I did yesterday.  Last night, my mom tried to rationalize that we've been through this before, and we'll get through it again.  But this time feels different.  This time feels personal.  Because this isn't just about policy or politics.  This is personal.  As of Jan 20, 2017 we will have a person in the White House who thinks that it is okay to force sexual attention on women.  We will have a person in the White House who would look at me and I am 100% certain would think I'm worth less because I have a vagina, would think I am worth less because I am overweight, would think that I am worth less because I am not on my own two feet right now and need to ask for help.  We will have a person in the White House who has been outspoken about not supporting LGBTQ rights.  We will have a person in the White House who thinks people of color are less important than white people, who has been openly racist in a myriad of ways.  This is not hyperbole.  These are facts.  I have no doubt in my heart that this man actually believes these things, and that feels like the most dangerous thing of all.  We spend so much time trying to instill in our children that bullying is not okay, and we have seen the absolutely real damage it causes.  Now, we will have a person in the White House who is one of the biggest bullies I've ever seen.  This is the person our children will see leading our nation.

I am in pain today.  I am feeling the fear and pain of my friends who are women, but even more for my friends who are non-cis or non-straight.  For my friends who are seriously talking about how they do not feel safe because of the person they love or because of the color of their skin. For my friends who feel self conscious just going about their business today because their are brown.  For the mothers are texting their daughters pleading with them not to wear their hijabs in public today. This is just so awful that I don't think I have the words to express it.

This feels different too because it is unprecedented.  When Bush 2 ran and won, it sucked.  But at least he seemed to care about saving face or appearing sane.  Donald Trump is an ego-maniacal billionaire who has stoked the fires of intolerance and hatred in this country to an astounding degree.  I'm not one to make exaggerated comparisons, but there is a REASON that he has been compared to Hitler by so many intelligent people.

What we need is love.  What we got is hate.  What we need is compassion.  What we got is divisiveness. What we need is acceptance.  What we got is ideas about deporting Muslims and a big wall between the US and Mexico.  What we need is to lift each other up, and what we got is a president who will step on anyone and everyone to get where he wants and do what he wants.

I haven't even come to a place yet where I move out of the fog of emotions and start thinking about politics.  About how the dollar started to lose value last night, about how other countries are going to see us now.  About how humiliating it feels to have a person leading our country who has no political or military experience, who is blatantly unqualified for the job.  About foreign policy and the economy and how that's going to affect us.  About funding for social programs, and the lack of a balance of power with conservatives in the majority in all three branches.  About health insurance and mental healthcare and marriage equality.  About the supreme court.

I don't know what to do.  I don't know how to process everything that I am feeling.  I don't think there is really anything I CAN do, other than try to get through today, one hour at a time, then try to get through the week, one day at a time.  I could probably keep writing and adding to this for hours, as the thoughts come tumbling in, but I need a break.  So I'm going to go and look for jobs to apply for, because while that's kind of depressing and painful, today it feels like the less frustrating option.  Besides, my tears have run out and need time to replenish themselves.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

#teampaigestrong: An open letter to my legislators

To Whom it May Concern,

I am writing to you today to share the story of my friend Anne and her daughter Paige.  Paige is almost 6 years old, and should be starting Kindergarten at her local school.  Unfortunately, Paige is being denied her right to the education she deserves and the special education services she needs.

I'd like to tell you a little bit about Paige and Anne so you can understand the background for this denial.  I met Anne Malone several years ago through a local Mom's Support Network on Facebook.  In 2013 I was one of dozens of friends who watched in horror and heartbreak as Anne's daughter Paige, then 2, began to suffer from unexplained seizures.  As mothers and friends, we were worried and shocked as there was first one post, then multiple posts about Paige seizing and having to be taken to the emergency room.  Losing a child is every parent's worst fear, and we were watching Anne lose her daughter right before her eyes.  Soon, Paige was experiencing dozens of seizures every day.  She suffered from several types, and had to have her chin stitched repeatedly after drop seizures that injured her, despite the helmet she was forced to wear every day.

Anne quit her job to stay with Paige, and still had no answers about why this was happening to her baby girl.  Answers didn't come until a year later, when the owners of the duplex they lived in started having medical problems and discovered that unbeknownst to them, the previous owners had cooked methamphetamines in the house.  The news was devastating.  Test results showed that the meth residue was at 6,000% the tolerable limit.  Anne and her husband then had answers, but still no solutions.  They were forced to leave their home, and leave most of their belongings behind, as the residue is pervasive and had ruined most of what they owned.

Through the support of the local community, they found a new home, and three months later, Anne decided to try something different.  She was understandably tired of the cocktails of anti-seizure pharmaceuticals that stole her daughter from her all over again.  Some of these worked to stifle Paige's seizures, but they stole her personality and her consciousness.  On one cocktail, Paige slept for 17 hours a day.  On others, she sat and did nothing.  At one point the drugs built up so badly in her system that she was overdosing, and becoming toxic.  Anne had read about the use of cannabis to treat seizures, reading about successful programs in Colorado, and she had asked Paige's doctors about it and been turned down.  Finally, she found a doctor who would help them with cannabis medicine.

The first day that Paige took CBD oil, her seizures reduced by 1/3.  In one day she had 30% fewer seizures than she had been having on traditional pharmaceutical medicine.  At one week, Paige started to regain milestones she'd lost.  As Paige detoxed from the pharmaceuticals, her seizures lessened.  Finally, in late fall of 2015, Paige experienced an entire month seizure free.  After one seizure in December, the streak continued.

As of September 1, 2016, Paige will be seizure free for 9 months, all because of the CBD and THC oil treatments that her mother has learned how to prepare for her.  She is still weaning off of two pharmaceuticals and is doing better than ever.  This medicine has been nothing short of a miracle for Paige.  You can read Paige's story in more detail here.  Friends, family, co-workers, and community members have rallied behind the Malone family to raise money for medical bills and for Anne to get set up to make the medicine that brought her daughter back to her.

Two days ago, Anne shared some upsetting news.  Because of Paige's medication, she is not permitted to attend public school in Bellingham.  Despite the fact that for those with epilepsy and other illnesses, CBD and THC oils can be the only thing that works, because schools are required to be Drug-Free, Paige will not be allowed to attend.

Private school is not an option.  For one, private schools are not required to provide the special education services that Paige will need the same way that public schools are.  Her illness has caused gross delays in motor, physical, and speech development.  She is precisely the kind of child who needs special services, and the private schools that might be able to provide this are bound to be expensive and possibly mean the family moving away from their lives in Bellingham.

Homeschooling is the only option left, and even that poses major hurdles for Anne and her family.  Anne doesn't have any of the qualifying home-based instruction that would allow her to homeschool her daughter.  There are lots of resources for homeschoolers in Bellingham, but because all of them receive some sort of federal funding, they have been denied as options for Paige.  Now, after all that they have been through already, Anne has to figure out a way to provide her daughter her basic right to education herself.

Anne has contacted a lawyer to find out if she has any options, and has filed for FAFSA so that she can go to school to become qualified to homeschool Paige by the standards Washington required.  She is frustrated and overwhelmed, and so am I.

I'm writing to you today because this is not enough.  It's unacceptable that a mother has to go through all of this just to get her child an education because of her medication.  It's reprehensible that children can go to school on controlled substances like Adderall and Ritalin, but when a child is taking plant oils that prevent them from having up to 100 seizures per day, they are denied.  It's not okay.  It's time for the community to rally behind the Malones again, to rally behind all of the families whose children are affected by this issue, and change things.  And we need your help.

In June, Colorado passed "Jack's Law" (HB 1373), requiring schools to allow medical marijuana under strict conditions.  It assures districts that if they lose federal funding, state funds will be provided to cover them so that students can get the help they need.  New Jersey also legally allows medical marijuana in schools for students.  It's time for Washington to follow suit, and ensure that children are getting the education and services they need, and that the rules about education are not causing further hardship to families who have already struggled enough.

In his statement, released after the passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052), State Superintendent Randy Dorn stated that "Students need to be engaged and prepared for school. Marijuana doesn’t allow them to be either of those things. Marijuana dulls the brain."  This view is ignorant and uneducated, and a disservice to our children.  Why?  Because marijuana medicine and CBD medicine is not the same as smoking a joint behind the bleachers to get high. Medical marijuana is cultivated to provide specific benefits, and given in the correct concentrations does not cause the high that recreational marijuana does.

At My Little Leaf, you can read Paige's story along with the stories of other children whose lives have been forever improved and changed through the use of medical marijuana.  Despite its federal classification as a Schedule 1 substance, marijuana and CBD and THC oils have been shown again and again to have incredibly powerful medical benefits.

As your constituent, as a taxpaying resident of Washington, as a mother, and as a member of #teampaigestrong, I urge you to consider this issue and take action.  It's time for Washington State's laws to reflect that our children are important, and that all children have the right to an education.

Thank you,

Rachael Hope  



THE LAW AS IT STANDS

Here's the deal - schools in Washington DO have the ability to say that a student can attend school and even take medical marijuana during school for certain conditions in accordance with the school's medication administration policy.  HOWEVER, any school that does this is in danger of jeopardizing their federal funding because federally, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 illegal substance.  A district that allows marijuana on school grounds risks losing it's Title 1 and other federal funding.  This leaves schools to make a choice between serving the students who attend and possibly losing much-needed funding for the same students.  They are advised NOT to choose students because it's too big a risk to take.

State Superintendent Randy Dorn put out a statement after the passage of the Cannabis Patient Protection Act.  In this statement, Dorn stated:

To receive federal funds, districts must abide by the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and must have a Drug and Tobacco-Free Workplace and a similar student policy in place. Each district’s policy has a number of common requirements about marijuana and other drugs, such as not allowing any student to:
  • Possess,
  • Distribute,
  • Manufacture or
  • Be under the influence.
You can find more information about this in the Washington State Guidelines for Medication Administration in Schools and in the Washington State School Directors Newsletter from October 2012.

Washington passed a Cannabis Patient Protection Act (SB 5052), however, because schools receive federal funding, there is a conflict and no protection for children who receive cannabis medicine.



RESOURCES FOR ACTION


Click here for a copy of the above letter you can use when contacting your legislator.

Find your legislators and contact them.

Here is information for Whatcom County.  If you are outside Whatcom County, please use the link above.

District 1/2 Senators:

Maria Cantwell - US Senator
You can email Maria through her website here.
You can reach Maria's Seattle office at (206) 220-6400

Patty Murray - US Senator
You can email Patty through her website here.
You can reach Patty's Everett office at (425) 259-6515.

District 1 Congressperson:

You can email Suzan through her website here.
You can reach Suzan's Mt. Vernon office at (360) 416-7879.

District 2 Congressperson:

Rick Larsen - US State Representative
You can email Rick through his website here.
You can reach Rick's Everett office at (425) 252-3188.

District 42 State Legislators:

Doug Ericksen - State Senator
You can email Doug at doug@senatorericksen.com.
You can reach Doug's office at (360) 786-7682.

Vincent Buys - State House
You can email Vincent at vincent.buys@leg.wa.gov.
You can reach Vincent toll free at (800) 562-6000.

Luanne VanWerven - State House
You can email Luanne at luanne.vanwerven@leg.wa.gov.
You can reach Luanne's toll free at (800) 562-6000

Contact the Washington State Board of Education.

Address:

PO Box 47206
600 Washington ST SE
Olympia, WA 98504-7206

Email: sbe@k12.wa.us
Phone: 360.725.6025

Contact the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Address:

Mail stop: 47200
Old Capitol Building
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200

Contact Greg Baker, Superintendent of Bellingham Public Schools.

Email:  Greg.Baker@bellinghamschools.org
Contact Phone Number:  676-6501 extension 6501