Friday, March 23, 2018

Want to Laugh?

People email me with requests to read their books, manuscripts, blogs, etc. frequently. I usually decline because I'm scared the book will suck and then I'll be left with the choice of either making the author feel bad when I give an honest review of the book's suckiness, or the choice of spending hours perusing the thesaurus looking for less awful synonyms for suck. The book was interesting. It was a unique read. Adequate? Fair? Tolerable? I don't like being in that position. You see my dilemma. 

But for some reason, when Loretta asked me if I'd be interested in reading her book proposal, I agreed. Within the email, she included a blurb about her book that left me intrigued because it sounded much like my book Because I Said So, but even better, and more well thought-out. Not only that, but everything in her email was spelled correctly so I tossed all caution to the wind and agreed to take a look.

I have to tell you, not that I'm a publishing expert or anything, but I think the book's a winner. I laughed out loud at her sample chapters remembering the fun, fun, FUN details of parenting toddlers. I was right there with her as she retold a shopping trip that included broken glass in aisle 3, 200 feet of unspooled ribbon in aisle 4, a bleeding toe and a panty liner as a makeshift bandaid for said toe. Then I teared up as she explained how choosing to be joyful amidst the chaos changed her perspective. She connects each chapter to verses of scripture that really bring God's Word home in a relatable manner.

If you get a chance, check out her blog. You won't be disappointed. She's pretty darn hilarious!

I cracked up at her detailing of her 3 tween boys (plus a friend) who wanted to make chocolate chip cookies and how it ended up horribly wrong, AKA: Why it's important to read the recipe. You can read that HERE.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

World Water Day

This morning I received an email from Dan Haseltine from Jars of Clay. I had a brief squeeee moment when I realized the singer from Jars of Clay was writing to me because um, Jars of Clay! I read on, wondering why he was reaching out to me. I mean, it would be cool to be invited to sing back-up on their next song, but alas I can't sing so I figured that's probably not why he was contacting me. Don't get me wrong - I like to sing. Especially around my teens. In crowded public places. But I'm not especially good at it. I considered writing back to him and offering to play the tambourine or something on their next track, but thought better of it because I didn't want to scare anyone or get slapped with a restraining order or anything I'm a mature gown-up who knows better than to do something like that.

The reason he was contacting me is because he's not only the lead singer for the popular Christian band, but he's also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Blood:Water. Dan says, "I truly believe that a key to helping kids discover their own self-worth and significance comes through helping others."To that end, on World Water Day, March 22nd, they will be launching KIDDO, their new fundraising platform for kids. Every KIDDO fundraising page has a goal of raising $40, which provides clean water, sanitation, hygiene, and community support to one child in Africa for LIFE! "Through KIDDO, we want to give kids here in America the opportunity to succeed in the work of helping others, and we want kids in Africa to have the opportunity to go to school and live healthy, productive lives."

Working in a middle school, I see the difference between kids who have been taught empathy and the value of helping others, and those who have not. This is one small step that can start a conversation with our kids about how there are other children in the world who do not even have access to clean drinking water. A fundraising page is a simple way to get our children involved, especially if the fundraising is accompanied by actual work (setting up a bake sale where our children help to make the baked goods to be sold at church, school, etc. to raise money.) 

Setting up a page is easy. 
1. Go to
2. Select become a fundraiser
3. Customize the details of your page
4. Send your fundraising page link to your family and friends

What will your creative kids do to help raise money to help others?

Friday, March 16, 2018

My New Job

That's Lexi in the picture. Lexi who is almost 17 years old now. I took this picture back when I was selling Tupperware. When I first started selling, I was pregnant with Lexi. I drove a small Toyota Camry at the time and I was stressing out that "I can't fit one more car seat in here! What am I going to do? I can't afford a minivan, and I'm pretty sure it's illegal to strap a kid or two to the roof to free up room for more car seats inside." 

Well, I met a Tupperware lady at the mall who told me that Tupperware managers can earn a minivan. She enticed me with the idea that I could drive a brand new minivan and Tupperware would pay for the vehicle, the insurance, and everything. That was it. I decided then and there that I wanted one. So I worked hard and within a few months I had earned a brand new Dodge Grand Caravan. The next year I was given a new Pontiac Montana. I also earned a cruise for 2 to the Bahamas and a leather La-Z-Boy among many other perks (not to mention the fact that I made some nice money while being able to stay home with my kids and choose my own hours.)

I honestly don't remember why I ever stopped selling. I think, at the time, it became kind of a pain to drive to the south side of Chicago every week or so to place and pick up orders. (This was back when we did things the old fashioned way. In other words: no computers.)

As you know, working at a middle school, I'm not paid during the summer so I take on random jobs to help make ends meet. Last summer, I drove for Uber. I really really don't want to do that again. So I thought - Huh, why don't I sell Tupperware? I loved doing that back in the day. I love Tupperware. Why haven't I been doing this all along? How have I not thought of this until now?

Soooo, I just signed up to give it a go once more. I figure the worse case scenario is that I do a few parties, my business never really takes off and I stop. Big deal. I made a few dollars and had a few fun parties. Best case scenario is that I make enough money that I can quit working at the school and I have more time to spend with my kids and I have more time to write (which is what I really love to do!) Either way, it doesn't hurt to give it a try, right?

This is where you come in. If you haven't seen Tupperware recently, take a look! They still have so many of the classics (I have GOT to get a Shape-O Toy for Colynn!) that you remember, plus they have a ton of new products as well. If you'd like to place an order to help me get started, you can use this link and click the "shop online" button: Dawn's Grand Opening Tupperware Party

If you'd like to host your own party (either online or in person if you're local) to get some free goodies, let me know! If you're interested in hearing more about the Tupperware opportunity, I'd be happy to share what I know with you.

If you're not interested in anything Tupperware-related, that's okay too. Just pray that the business takes off so I can blog more! If you're worried that I'll be constantly talking Tupperware this and Tupperware that, and filling my Facebook page with all things Tupperware, that's not likely. I have too many kid stories to share. I mean, it's not every that your oldest son puts a potato in everyone's backpack. (Don't ask.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Embarrassing My Teens (Just One More Service I Offer)

There's just something so satisfying about hearing your kids whine, "Mooooom" when you tell a stupid joke. It's one of my favorite sounds. If you ever need help contriving ideas to elicit this joyous sound from your own children's lips, I've got you covered. 
Behold . . .

When you want to thank your daughter for helping you so often by doing the laundry, it's nice to do a load for her. And personalize it. By adding messages to her shirts.

When you tell your son, "Don't stay up all night playing Fortnight or I'll ground you. And then he makes the mistake of sending his sister a picture of him playing at 3:30AM.

Or you could ask them if their butt is chafing in front of everyone in the check-out line at the grocery store.

Or you could (gasp) touch their shoulder while out in public!

They also love it when you comment on their Facebook wall. Not that they actually use Facebook because Facebook is for old people. But they probably have a page just sitting there. Writing I love you on their wall is definitely grounds for a, "Moooooom!"

Or you could wear "mom clothes."
Or you could wear cool clothes. Because you're not cool. And you should be wearing "mom clothes."
Or you talk.
Or you could walk too closely to them.
Or you could ask them how school was.
Or you could do something heinous like breathe.
Really, the sky's the limit here. Pretty much anything you do or don't do can be embarrassing to your kid until he's in his 30s.

So what has elicited, "Mooooom," from your kids?

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The One With All The Vomit

Yesterday, all schools in Orange County administered (or tried to anyway since, yay technology, not everyone was actually able to take the test) the almighty FSA Writing Test. Every day since August, students have been taught how to read informative texts, then regurgitate that information in the form of an essay using a very specific template. Kids have heard at least 58,649 times, "You need to learn this because - FSA." The test is designed to
A. Teach kids how to write like robots.
B. Suck any love of learning out of students
C.  Drain every last ounce of natural creativity out of children by forced conformity.
D.  Make kids throw up in nervous apprehension because "this test is more important than anything in the world and if you fail it, you'll have to repeat this grade, you'll never get in to college, the only employment you'll qualify for is at McDonald's, and you'll probably perpetually have split ends and bad skin."

I was displaced from my classroom so a teacher could use the space to administer the test to a group of students. No big deal. During the testing window, I hung out in the office and was able to do  some work on the computer there while I helped out our receptionist at the front desk. Shortly after the test began, I heard a call over the radio. "Can a custodian please come to room blah blah blah for a clean-up." A student had thrown up. I sat there thinking, No kidding a student got sick. You guys put so much pressure on them, they make themselves sick. Brooklyn, who gets straight As and has always received the highest score possible on these standardized tests was literally in tears yesterday morning, dreading this exam.

A little later, I heard over the radio, "Danny, can you please come for a clean-up in portable 4? A student got sick." Wait what? Portable 4? Did they say portable 4? PORTABLE FOUR???NOOOOOOOOO!!! Not portable 4! That's MY classroom! Now I can never go back in there again!"

Our receptionist looked at me like I had just shaved my head bald and drawn a picture of an iguana on my naked scalp. Or at least the way I imagine someone would look at a person who had just shaved their head bald and drawn a picture of an iguana on it. "Dawn, how did you ever have six kids?" she inquired, incredulously.

"I never cleaned up after them! If they ever threw up, my ex cleaned up. Or I called my friend Eric. Or my sister did. And now that I'm in Florida all alone, if they throw up and don't make it to the bathroom, we'll just have to move to another apartment. Why do you think I moved out of my house last year?"

The receptionist shook her head in resignation. 

I went on. "Seriously, if a student's arm was cut off in my classroom, I'd hold pressure on it. If a student's intestines fell out, I'd push them back in," I said as I demonstrated my 'pushing a kid's intestines back in' technique. No big deal. But if you puke near me, I'm outta here!"

A little girl sitting in the front office waiting for her dad, meekly said, "I'm sorry."

Oh no. Noooo. "Were you the one who threw up?"

"Yes, but don't worry. It smelled like bananas because I had a banana for breakfast."

Oh, well if it smells like bananas . . . But I felt awful for the little girl. "Oh, it's okay, sweetie. I hope you feel better. Don't worry about the room. It can be cleaned." With gasoline and a match, I silently added.

"Well no one likes to clean up barf, but when you have kids you kind of have to do it, Dawn."

Nope. No. I tried that once. Once. One time Jackson threw up all over himself and his car seat while I was driving to meet a friend for lunch. I pulled into the parking lot where she worked and tried to clean up my son. And by tried, I mean I moved as far away from my son as possible and looked the other way while reaching back behind me and waving a diaper wipe around in the general vicinity of his car seat. Then I threw up in the parking lot. Then I waved another wipe toward him in an attempt to maybe clean his face a little. And then I threw up. This went on for a couple minutes before I called my friend. "Um, I'm here in your parking lot, but Jackson just threw up, and um, could you maybe bring down some paper towels?"

My friend walked out, took one look at me wretching amid a puddle of vomit, then looked at my son crying in his defiled car seat and said, "Oh my gosh, what are you doing? You're making it worse! Go sit over there!" She pointed to the other corner of the parking and I happily walked away, gagging. She totally cleaned him up. I'm forever in her debt. 

When Austin had rotavirus and I was 29 months pregnant with Savannah, he had it coming out both ends. In the bathtub. My sister saved me. If it weren't for her, he'd probably still be sitting in the bathtub of evil today.

Another time when Jackson didn't quite make it to the bathroom and threw up right in front of his bedroom door, my ex tried to shampoo the carpet. A week later, it still had a vaguely pukey smell to it so I did the only sensible thing. I cut a big rectangular chunk of carpet out and tossed it at the bottom of our driveway for garbage pick-up.

And God forbid I ever get sick myself because I will just pray for death. Death sounds infinitely more pleasant than throwing up.

So, as I tell my students, I don't do math or vomit. But if you ever need help spelling something or your intestines fall out, I'm your girl!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

British and the Beast

Since we've moved to Florida, I have taken my kids to Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees every year over Thanksgiving break. This year I brought Lexi, Clay, Brooklyn, and her friend, Phoenix. We parked and made our way over to the trail that runs along the springs. As I concentrated on the manatees, camera poised, ready to capture them as they emerged from the water for a breath, I listened to the kids talk and laugh and as they leaned over the railing, searching for manatees, alligators, turtles, fish, or any other animal they could find. An enormous catfish swam by and Lexi joked, "Oh no, we've been catfished." The other kids giggled.

Not taking my eyes from the camera's viewfinder, I half-listened to a conversation from an old man standing next to the kids. The man hissed in a distinctly British accent, "Shut your clamper! You'll scare the beast!" The kids turned away from the man and started giggling because seriously, clamper? beast? 

To their giggling, he angrily told them, "If you think it's funny, go wait in your car!"

At this point, I realized he was addressing my kids so I lowered my camera and turned toward him, asking, "Excuse me?" Was he really reprimanding them? For what? Talking??? I mean, I know my kids can act like idiots at times, and believe me, if they'd been misbehaving, I'd have been the first person to give them the knock-it-off look that all moms learn while their baby is still in the womb.

But they weren't acting up. Sure, the kids had been talking and giggling, but they were doing it quietly. They weren't saying anything bad. They weren't being obnoxious or mean. They weren't using foul language. They weren't loud. And hello? We were outside! At a park, not a theater! What on earth was his problem?

I'd like to say I had the perfect retort, but unfortunately I don't come up with great responses until several minutes (an hour, a day) later. 

Actually, maybe it's fortuitous that the snappy comebacks don't always roll off my tongue because when they do, they're generally sarcastic, and I get myself in trouble that way.

So, as I was saying, I'd like to report that I had the perfect response, but honestly I was rendered speechless. I couldn't fully grasp what was going on and why he was so angry. Instead of responding to him at all, I addressed the kids and said, "You're fine. You weren't doing anything wrong." Then we moved to another location along the springs.

But to this day, when the kids are joking around, they tell each other to, "Shut your clamper!" then they bust out giggling. During cheer practice this week, when the coach told the girls to shut up, both Brooklyn and Phoenix turned to me and mouthed, "Shut your clamper!" I really think it's going to catch on. By this time next year, everyone will be saying, "Shut your clamper!"

Sunday, March 4, 2018

When Your Kid Is Afraid Her Heart Will Explode

My kids who are old enough to do so, donate blood whenever they can. I'm incredibly proud of them for their selfless acts that have helped countless others over the years. When Lexi turned 16 she wanted to join her older siblings in donating. Upon her insistence we stopped at a Big Red Bus one day so she could unite with the ranks of those who donate blood to save lives. She filled out the required forms, I signed them, and the technician took her temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. Her heart rate was over 100 and you cannot donate blood unless your heart rate is under 100. They told her to relax for a few minutes and they'd try again. She wasn't nervous, but she took some deep breaths, and sat there chilling out for a few minutes. When they took her pulse the second time, it was still over 100 so she was deferred. Dejected, she left the bus as I expressed once again how proud I was that she had been willing to donate. I reminded her that she could always try again another day.

And she did. She tried two more times and two more times she was deferred because her heart rate was over 100. The last time, the technician informed her that her heart rate was 154 as she sat there calm-as-can-be. "A young, fit girl like you shouldn't have a heart rate of 154. No one should have a resting heart rate of 154. You should really get that checked out."

So I immediately made an appointment with a pediatric cardiologist. While waiting for the appointment, Lex and I frequently took her pulse. It was always over 100. Until the day of the appointment. As Murphy's Law would have it, when the nurse took her pulse it was 70-something. I felt like an idiot. Honestly, it's always over 100. Like always. I'm not making this up. I'm not crazy. Honest. The nurse said she believed me, but I'm convinced she really thought I was a moron. She did an EKG and then the doctor spoke with us, asked a bunch of questions and checked out Lexi. She had the nurse take another set of blood pressure and heart rate readings while Lexi was lying down, sitting up, and finally standing. Her heart rate went from 80 to 144 when she stood up. See?! I told you I'm not crazy! Ha ha! Told you so!

Upon those findings, the doctor ordered another echocardiogram (Lexi had had one a couple years earlier when she'd been passing out in PE and her pediatrician sent us to the cardiologist to rule out any serious cause.) She also equipped Lexi with a Holter monitor which Lexi wore for 24 hours to monitor her heart rate.

A few days later, the doctor called us and seemed surprised at the Holtor monitor's results. There were some curious findings that prompted her to refer us to an electrophysiologist (a doctor who specializes in arrhythmias) within the same practice.

So we met with the electrophysiologist. He seemed to think that Lexi has an autonomic disorder which makes her heart rate raise with postural changes, but due to the heart monitor findings, he believes she has an arrhythmia as well. He started her on beta blockers to see if they would help, but said that most often an ablation is needed to fix the arrhythmia. An ablation? Wait what? Like putting my daughter to sleep? Threading a catheter through her groin to her heart and zapping the malfunctioning tissue? Now I think I have tachycardia!

Long story short - the beta blockers exacerbated her migraines. Neurologist visits, cardiologist visits, ER trip, cardiologist arguing that beta blockers are used to treat migraines, neurologist arguing that beta blockers can worsen migraines especially if blood pressure drops too low. Off the beta blockers. Migraines back under control.

We met with the electrophysiologist a couple days ago who asked Lexi about her symptoms again - mostly a racing heart, sometimes slow, pounding heart with chest pain, dizziness, etc. He said that it was "complex" because he thinks she has more than one thing going on, and decided he needs more information. Tomorrow Lexi goes for an exercise stress test with pulmonary function. Later this week, she'll start wearing a heart monitor for 30 days to hopefully get a clearer picture of what all is going on. 

Then again, I have no faith in Florida doctors. Literally none. Why, you ask?

A doctor told Austin he was HIV positive because tests were messed up. He wasn't.

I went to the ER and said, "I have a genetic clotting disorder, a history of DVTs, I just drove home from Chicago, and my leg hurts. It wasn't until my third visit when I couldn't breathe that they realized they'd missed the blood clot in my leg until it went to my lung. I'm lucky to be alive.

An orthopedist told us that Clay needed surgery on his knee right away. Then he paused and asked if I thought that was the right course of action. 

A second opinion said surgery was absolutely not needed at all.

Let's see . . . then there was the doctor that told us that Jackson probably had cancer when he was seen for his swollen gland.

I could go on, but I think this illustrates my point.

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