There is something about government that I have always liked. The important buildings full of people doing important things. I’m sure that if I looked behind the curtain it would be a lot like any other business, but, a business that is GIANT and dysfunctional full of rules on top of rules and nobody is actually in charge.
In school, I learned plenty about how government worked and while I learned plenty from my text books, I learned as much from my professors. One said that elected officials absolutely love to see the people that elected them rather than a paid lobbiest, not only do they hear a more genuine opinion, they have the ability to directly do something for someone that will return votes. Just like in business, the best advertising is positive word of mouth. Not that the world does not need lobbyists – they actually know all the players and get more done overall, could not get anything done without them.
So when my school district had to find 2 million dollars to cut for the 7th year in a row I decided it was time for me personally to be that parent/voter that goes and shows up and says that we need help. Our Forest Lake district has a few things working against it;
- It is geographically giant! to pay the bus costs for this area exceeds the transportation allowance by 1 million dollars. So, we start with a million in the hole.
- Not as many bigger businesses to contribute, and, medium income housing overall contributing property taxes
- The state asked to freeze for a couple of the really bad years, but, then they didn’t cover that debt later so it’s snowballed. The per pupil ratio is fairly sad now.
I woke up early, put on a suit and heels and makeup and went with a group to visit all the people possible. We ran all over, we accidently (sorry-notsorry) blocked hallways, we skipped lunch to maximize time and I think we actually did some good. I had a feeling lunch would not happen so I packed food, I was not alone, the business manager for the district had cheese sticks in his suit pocket – score one for women, pocketbooks hold more and better food.
The day was interesting in general. The capital is grand and large and a mix of beautifully old and oddly outdated. It is full of people in suits, every person in a suit. It is mostly full of men, mostly white men, but there were plenty of women too and in positions of influence, 2 of the 6 elected people we talked to were women. Just as interesting was that the secretary/assistant/aid crew seemed to be a mix of men and women too. I fit in there with my mask of makeup and costume suit but I’m not sure I would want to become a person who needs to go often. Visiting was fun though!
To make the most of the day I used every scrap of knowledge I had about influence. I stood up when someone came in, I shook hands, I sat at the table or in the front row. Eye contact, lean in, speak in the ‘compliment sandwich’, speaking in general; something not many people actually did. I told them I was a parent, I am a voter, I am someone who wants to help but needs help. I was respectful and also straightforward. I’m proud that after every meeting I got the business suit high-five (a nod and a ‘good job’/thanks’)
Unsurprisingly I learned tons from the day. I went in with a decent understanding of our problem and left knowing what was in the works from various people. Some people are working on things I didn’t know even existed as issues, others were looking at it a totally different way. There is no perfect formula but I have more of a concept of the whole picture now, of all the pressing things that are crying out for attention. On the bright side, I left more confident in the fact that education does seem to be on everyone’s mind and they are at least saying they are working to help. I also heard that they need suggestions on what would honestly help – there were times whey they flat out said “tell me what to do specifically”
My next step will be to follow up with the people we met to thank them for their time because they were all listening and present. I will also send the info on to the parents in my groups so they can send notes on specific bills to specific people so they know that the parent sitting in front of them was representative, not just a lone voice. …I have a feeling this is how lobbyist begins…
Looking past my short term follow up I have no idea what is next but I’m open and hopeful.
because I have none I want to share.
bathwater – blue, we actually did a ton of hand washing for a big cooking event, however, Fiona did paint herself blue but then used half a bottle of mint soap to get clean… so technically not a bath but yeah, blue.
Pennsic production – I’ve moved backward! I put the sewing away in favor of a big work area for cooking.
Cat – doing well actually, moved him to a higher dose of his supplement and its helping.
nap – no nap nooooooo!!!!! (direct quote) I, however, put myself in a rest for 20min including headphones and they were all alive when I came back out.
Workout – my hopping social life should count right?
Today was a busy day with unusual happenings. First, we went to visit a local production facility that makes playground equipment. I’ve seen a ton of production in my time and this shop was in the middle. They had some very impressive machines and paint line but a not so impressive work flow. I held back all questions my former self would have grilled them one and one telling glance at the process engineer mom in our group told me she was biting her tongue too. The kids had fun though and so did the moms so that is what counts!
Since they don’t have any of their wares to show on site, we had to take ourselves off to a local playground they produced and run around. The moms were definitely more impressed with the tour pointing out things we saw in process that were in ‘play’ on this structure and the kids were just happy to be allowed to touch the stuff.
Part 2 of the day was my contribution to the camping event this weekend that I am not personally attending (mom guilt). Since I wanted to be helpful I volunteered to do the food shopping and invited over the troop to help with prep. Seriously I didn’t need help beyond Lars (who is fantastic at making pork loin) but we wanted the kids to be aware of the process of food because girl scouts is supposed to be a fun learning experience. The moms who came were super helpful and made the tasks fly and I’m happy to have organized our way to success.
Part 3 of my day was a fun little jaunt to the board of ed meeting. I had some questions about possibly running and was very encouraged by what I heard. It’s some work, but, it’s work for something I care about. My kids are in this district and I care about them and their friends and all the kids, they need people looking out for them at every level. From what I’ve seen the current board is doing a really good job, it is a team I would be glad to join to keep the ship going in the right direction. The fact this is an elected position is a bit scary, I have no idea who else will run, but Lars is supporting my bid so I’ll be moving on the first real step soon.
And now is part 4. Lars is out – we high-fived in the driveway trading off parenting baton. He gets a night with the guys and I plan on giving my neglected house some love while listening to my current Laundry File book (hint, it has nothing to do with laundry). Fiona is asleep, I have leftovers calling my name, and my sights are on a 10:30 bedtime for myself.
I feel like today is a full day. I’m going to sleep well tonight.
I know three are people out there blogging a theme for the entire alphabet. I’m just morphing what I would normally write into alphabetical format 🙂 Today I’m going to pretend that that its 3 things thursday because I like the exercise of a list of things that make me happy, and, I’m going to do it with the theme of the letter O. In clicking around I found an insightful post about the Gratitude movement and how it is galling in many ways. I tend to agree with some of her points, I’m more of an optimist and a bright side looker rather than ‘at least I’m better than…’ comparison person. I think the differences in those are probably subtle but for me, counting the positives really does brighten a situation and that is what 3 things thursday is about for me.
#1 – Open door weather. Open door, open window, open toes! It is 72 degrees, sunny, slight breeze and a perfect style day. Weather does make a difference and I’m so glad the perfect not too hot, not too cold time is here
#2 – Oreo. I try to bake all the treats as a way to cut down on how many I eat. Oreo’s are a notable exception because I have no idea how I could make one and I love to eat them. Most days we have a cookie break around 3, post nap – pre bus, and we call someone on facetime to have our cookie break with. This is so regular that my one nephew calls me Aunt Cookie because he gets a cookie when I call (and maybe I gave him a bunch when I visit). Oreos have held a special spot over the years but right now they mean taking to my mom or sister and a little sweet break.
#3 – Opinions. I might forget names but I tend to remember dates and April 17-19 will always be a time I remember the start of the American Revolution. It was fought for many reasons and the right to have my own opinion is one of them. The Unites States has evolved in a good way where people feel free, sometimes obligated, to express their opinion on all things. I like to listen, my mind has been changed, usually I get a better understanding of things and sometimes I get utterly confused on the issue because of too many conflicting yet logical opinions. Right now cultural appropriation is the one I’m most conflicted on. Its in the news and on facebook and causing good discussion but I honestly DO NOT KNOW what is right. For me, in my opinion, if I do something from another culture it is because I like it and it works. Why do I have to stay in my tiny box? The world is out there! There is a youtube on how-to anything from sari draping to polish sausage making. I don’t particularly identify with being Irish since I grew up in the US in the middle of Long Island where you don’t have to look far to find some other culture/religion. Things I thought were absolutely normal, like lox on a bagel, are foreign concepts here in the midwest. Apparently I have a huge chunk of yiddish in my vocabulary that I had NO IDEA was anything but normal slang until I moved here and nobody had a clue. I’m glad that I have the right to talk and listen, but, it would be honestly easier if there was some ‘decision’ on what was the ‘right’ way (but then someone would be mad I’m sure)
The O words that make me happy, or at least thoughtful, this week~
Yesterday, among a disaster of a workout evening, where the pool ended up being closed again and dinner had serious delay, I ended up on the elliptical in my own house. Usually I watch something on netflix but I just didn’t have a ton of energy so I wanted something shorter and the Emma Watson speech for HeForShe was top of my list.
She is a bit younger then me and we have very different lives but we both had the fortune of families that love and challenge us, schools that expected nothing less, and early success in careers that boosted confidence. The speech touches on a ton of good points, it is worth a critical listen, and I especially like that it is an invitation for men too. For men to not just support women, but, to seek equality too. I have bitterly accepted that the ‘I can do it all’ statement is just PART of the statement – it should be more like “I can do it all, one thing at a time” because yes, I can have an amazing career, a family, and a great home plus the perks of a happy life but not all at the exact same time. Technically the same is true for guys too, you just can’t be 100% there for your kids and 100% rockstar at work because nobody gets 200%.
However, the fact that one of my girlfriends stay at home husband is constantly thinking he has no value, and, the annoying chipper Linked IN Email declaring that the guy who ‘replaced’ me at my former job has just been promoted to Purchasing Manager makes me want to hit something. I feel I have value, why doesn’t the stay at home dad? I worked my tail off at work for 5 years before I started to see that I had no future, good to know a guy can walk in and after 2 years be where I was told I would never be. I know things constantly change everywhere and no two situations are the same but it does not stop me from being ticked off. (It does not help that I succumed to the childrens cold so I’m not in the best mood)
I’m not sure how I can support HeForShe but sharing the speech seems like a fair way to start.
I will also try to drop my notion of ‘manly’ behavior because I dislike judgement of ‘womens work’ so to be equal I can’t hold a guy to a standard that may not be at all fair. **This is not to say we should not still be ladies and gentlemen but that is a different statement.
If not me who… if not now when?
I was wondering what to write about today… Easter? Weekend? Excitement that there is liquid not solid water in our lake? And then my friend Stacy sent me this article and I knew I had to say “Me Too” long and loud.
When I was pregnant with my third girl not a day went by when I was somewhere (outside my home) that someone didn’t ask me if we were going to try again for a boy. Why are boys prized more? If I had gotten a boy I would have been equally happy, seriously, equally happy. Yes, there is a vague thought about the ‘continuation of the name’ thing and ‘what if I’m missing some boy experience’ feeling but that is balanced by if I had a boy I would have been worried about equally valid things like “he won’t have a brother growing up” and “How will I handle all the differences and being fair and equal but not setting him up to be teased because he wears nail polish”
Now that I tote around 3 girls I still get people asking me. NO! a forth child, regardless of gender, is not going to happen! Do I look like a need a 4th child? Are YOU offering to babysit?
Here is my favorite reply;
Stranger; “are you going to try for a boy? or Are you disappointed you didn’t have a boy?
Me; “Nope, I like my girls and I’m fairly confidant that I’ll end up with 3 boys in about 18-20 years, boys that someone else had to feed ;)”
The author of the article does leave off the ‘family name’ thing but I think there is some freedom in naming your daughter anything you want and not worrying about it perfectly matching your last name. I know some girls with awesome maiden names combos (like Kristen Kelly or Kellyann O’Callahan) that I bet feel bad giving them up and I’m happy that having a ‘strong’ ‘confidant’ sounding name for all time was not one of the many things I had to worry over. **aside** I still vaguely worry about Niamh’s initials – she nearly had an F middle name but then she would have been NFL – glad my neurotic check and double check got that one.
One thing the author didn’t talk about was about how same gender siblings have built in friends, but, his point was that the list of what he can’t do because of only daughters is laughably short. While pregnant, I talked to every single person who would talk to me, and since they usually opened with the ‘didn’t you want….’ I had a great opening for my follow up. I asked if they had brothers or sisters. 9 times out of 10 they would say they had an opposite gender sibling and they always wished for a brother or sister growing up. That is, if they had siblings and 10 of 10 times if they were only children they wished they had someone! There was maybe 2 people I recall that said they were the only girl in a family of boys and loved it, but, they said they loved it because they were practically a boy themselves. I would say here that those parents might have been like “oh, well, a girl… girls can do what boys do, lets keep rolling like we have been”. And finally, those with same gender siblings usually said they were happy with it. Admittedly this is a non scientific study, done mostly at playgrounds or other places adults stand around while kids do the kid thing. However, my non scientific conclusion is that families with a 1 boy 1 girl family might have good symmetry but they do not seem to produce kids who grow up thinking that their one, opposite gender, sibling was their BFF. Go ahead and ask around – I would love more data!
Before this gets long, the big stink in the article about ‘girl toy and boy toy’ at McDonalds (in the comments mostly) is another thing that I’m glad I got girls not boys. Girls, can easily, take any boy thing and make it theirs without anyone batting an eye. Boys can’t. I remember being young and shopping and seeing the racks and racks of girl clothing and the one sad rack in the corner for boys. I would like to say that if I had a boy I would not put him in his sisters clothing. Technically speaking at this point I am sure I wouldn’t because after 3 kids the pickings are getting slim…. Anyway, clothing is something I am not sure I could go totally against society HOWEVER TOYS DON’T HAVE GENDER. That I feel strongly enough for all caps. Boys like dolls, shopping carts, play food too. Branding makes parents feel better. At some point boys and girls will naturally often start mimicking the gender roles they see around them (I could find the many studies that say this but I don’t feel like googling). Regardless, people still try and take away ‘girl’ toys from boys and WOW am I glad I don’t have to deal with that in my life. There are studies too that say women still earn less… still end up having the glass ceiling smack them in the face… still are judged on their clothing and weight and looks before their brains. Those are things I’m sorry to say I know to be true as of 2014 and I’ll help my girls when and where I can, and I’m glad they will have sisters to talk to about it….