Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dashed

I am unsurprisingly down this morning and over our coffee Allan and I both admitted to beating back the creep of depression.

There is so much to say about how and why we find ourselves sitting in our home in BC in 2014 and feeling hopeless, defeated, angry but most of all, for me, profoundly sad.

I am not a natural optimist but as I engaged with so many others in fighting for public education all summer I did have hope.
Hope that the Union would lower its demands.  Which it finally did.
Hope that the government would respect the rule of law and move from their entrenched position.  Which it hasn't.

When the mediator stepped in my hopes rose.

And for the umpteenth time in the last 11 weeks they have been dashed.

Only this time my bounce back is battered.

It's not only that the bank balance is frightening although can I just say that staring down another month with no paycheck for 50% of this households income is the stuff of sleepless nights.

It's not only that our daughter should have been starting her Graduation year and all its attendant ceremony and tradition and workload although can I just say that when I allow myself to consider just how impactful this late start could be on her future ....well....more sleepless nights.

It's not only that the trip for David to France in October,  that we and he saved so long for, is truly on the line as teachers may not be available to travel with them and I am not accepting any less than him travelling with professional teachers although can I just say that forfeiting the $3000 we paid .....you get the picture....there is little sleep happening here.

It's not just that my spouse and his colleagues have been vilified in the media as greedy and entitled.  That these teachers will return at some point to their classrooms depressed, disillusioned and likely disconnected from the professional they have passionately pursued for years.

I am not sure the deep and lasting impacts that will have on our education system, on our children's experience of school....

And I remain confused on the end game here.  Is a win even still possible for our kids?   And if not then what?  How long? To what end?  I don't even get how the government wins here....unless starving teachers into submission WAS their end game?

I feel utterly betrayed by a government who seems to hate teachers, have little regard for parents and certainly doesn't care for the children who walk into public school day after day.

At this point in a post like this I usually put on my brave face.
I enumerate the many ways we are blessed and lucky.
The many, many things we should be and are grateful for.

But today I cannot.

Today the anger and sadness sit heavy on my heart and mind and I am too tired to shake them.( thanks, in part,
to all those sleepless nights)

There are real people being hurt here.
Real fears.
Real lives.

I am going to find the energy to send some more emails today..... a last kick at the can..... for my kids, for Allan.

I hope if you have some energy today and you are in this mess with us you will do the same.

#holdingtheline....... only just.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Huffing and puffing

When I sat down to check Facebook last Thursday and saw several people commenting on a missive from the government to the teachers and then read the letter myself....I pretty much lost my cool.

My tolerance is low anyway.....I am tired and too busy and a little stressed.

I sat down and wrote a blog post.  To get my thoughts out of my head so I could sleep.

It came out easily`, as some do, and I didn't do much editing although I had Allan read it to make sure I didn't sound like a complete raving lunatic.

And then I pressed send.

And that started quite a process.

The media, and others, were seemingly desperate for a parent voice on this contentious topic.  Please note fellow BC parents ..... your voice is needed!


It was edited  (by them) and then published by the Huffington Post and the Richmond News.  It's been shared over 100 times on FB and liked over 400 times.....it was read over 750 times on my own blog.  My guess is double that in total reads.

I am glad it resonated with people.
I am glad it gave some people the sense they have been heard in this mess.
I am glad so many people read it.

But I do have some writers regret.

I re-read sentences that seem clumsy and imprecise.  Wish I said more of "this" and less of "that".

I am sure I am never going to live down the ``Angry Mom Blogger`` moniker...... ever.

There are cooks and there are chefs and I am very much in the cooks category of writers (whatever that is).  I wish I was a better writer, communicator....I started this blog in part to try and get better through the discipline of regular writing.

And I write primarily for my family (and friends).   So that one day my grandchildren will pull up my blog and say "lets read what Granny did in the olden days".

So it's been a fun 24 hours but I am left feeling a little more insecure about my writing and more than a little self conscious that not only is my writing "out there" but so is my thinking and politics (ok so the politics is not really a surprise to anyone who knows me :)


Happy to see the the little graph of my blog hits settle back down to a more normal rhythm and determined to just keep on writing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - David shoots.....


It's interesting to me that David has a real style of photography.... I think he is going to enjoy taking it in school this year.  All photos are his.



















Monday, August 18, 2014

Can you hear me?

I am writing to you from the midst of a crisis.

A crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

In a place that has access to world media.

What can it be you ask?...... have we heard of it?

If you live in British Columbia you HAVE heard about it.   Maybe even in the rest of Canada.  And some of you around the world have heard of it thanks to the power of social media.

Its the Crisis in Public Education in BC today.  August 18, 2014.

It's an engineered crisis.

It was deliberately set in motion in 2002 when the Liberal government tore up the teachers contract.
For which they have been sued.
In court.
And lost.
Twice.

The law has told the government what they did was illegal.

The government refuses to comply.

Yadda yadda  yadda....union....yadda....funding.....yadda...greedy.....yadda.....bargaining.....

Maybe for you its background hum....another boring news story....not your problem.

For me it's a problem...on three fronts.

1.  I am a tax payer in BC.

I respect the law and pay for taxes and generally I am pleased with the services I get in return.

But when I see government using tax dollars to score points rather than invest in services and infrastructure I get the zig.

I don't expect to like every decision they make but I respect their right to do so as a democratically elected government.

What I do demand is transparency and honesty in their dealings with our money.

OUR money.

And just a wit of common sense about priorities.

2. I am a parent of two high school students.

My kids started in the system in 2002 when things went awry and I have had a front seat view of the increasing "asks" from schools for basic supplies, seen the dated text books, the over worked counsellors, kids with complex needs from complex families struggling to get what they need. My kids lost in the shuffle because they are not at the very top or the very bottom.....they could use more teacher face time but it isn't there.  I have seen my kids teachers standing on cold sidelines cheering them on at 4pm on a Friday across the city because they volunteered to sponsor the team.  I don't want my kids teachers to be over worked, under motivated and overwhelmed.

My daughter is entering Grade 12.

Do I want her in school for a year of productive education starting September? You betcha.
Am I worried that the government meddling in the Socials 11 exam might jeopardize her applications to universities?  Oh yes I am.
Have I sent several emails to my MLA and the Minister of Education. Sure have.
I am a Mom.
I want my kids in school.  Good school.

3. I am the wife of a teacher.

I live this crisis alongside him.

I see what this crisis and attendant media circus is doing to him. To his morale. To his desire to stay in this profession he loves and excels at.

None of it is good.

Like the vast majority of his colleagues  - he's not an 8am-3:30pm teacher.  We leave home together at 7am and he is often not home before 5pm.  Sponsoring clubs and sports teams. Helping kids who need more time, more instruction than the current classroom environment allows.  Helping kids work through issues.  Not always educational issues but sometimes life issues.  Because "Life" happens inside those school walls...and kids need adults who give a damn while they figure it out.  They need mentors,  role models not some worn out faceless dude at the front of a classroom that you never get to talk to.

He gave up a week of his Spring Break to chaperone a trip....24/7 for 2 weeks... no breaks.  That's commitment people.

Not to a paycheck but to kids.

To offering kids experiences and opportunities that change lives. To building relationships that make school better for those kids.

But I see how much his marking has increased, hear his stories of class sizes that jeopardise safety, of dwindling budgets.... his weariness.... his demoralization.

Why would ANY government disrespect the people teaching their children?
Lock them out but ask them to volunteer to do their work for free?

Sometimes on the several sleepless nights I have had this summer I try to play out a scenario in which the three "me's" above all get out of this crisis happy, satisfied......and then I wake up.....and the pit returns to my stomach.

I have engaged, I have been to protests, written letters, emails, shared facebook posts.....

I have been in struggles before.... I know that hopelessness is the enemy.....that if we believe we are beat then......we are beat.

Tonight I am angry.  I am sad and I am worried.

But I am NOT beat.

Public Education in a well funded province in Canada in 2014 shouldn't be a crisis.  

It shouldn't even be an issue.

If you have any connection to this crisis...if you know a teacher, a child, an EA  in our school system... PLEASE write to your MLA, the education minister, the Premier and ask them to settle this fairly and quickly.

If you need help to do it I will gladly help.

September 2 is not just about school starting or not starting.

It's about the rule of law,
the respect of a government for its taxpayers,
the resolve of parents to demand a quality education for their kids and
the professionalism of teachers sounding the alarm that the system is broken and needs fixing before we lose any more kids or teachers.

Let's get a win on September 2.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Staycation #2

Ok so it really wasn't a staycation but I did take Friday off and around these parts these days that's as close to a vacation as its going to get for me..... which is cool.....I have a week booked off in the Fall which I am already looking forward to!

Thursday night was spent chauffeuring the teens hither and yon....to last minute and planned activities. Parenting teens is sure teaching me about flexibility.  And patience.  Things I generally need practice in any way... funny how God arranges that!  Allan arrived home from a fishing trip and finally I got home in unexpected summer rain.....tired and ready for a long weekend.

So Friday I lingered in bed reading while texting David at his sleepover trying to get a plan worked out to get him home to start organising for his planned Garage Sale on Saturday.  Lindsay and Allan and I had Lindsay's amazing cinnamon buns for breakfast on the patio.....so delicious....she nailed them!


Allan and I went to fetch the tables and other garage sale supplies and when David finally arrived home at 2pm the work was well underway.


Of course we woke up to rain on Saturday morning requiring a quick change in plan as we set up tents.  We had a brisk first hour and the rest of the day was intermittent and slow but in the end David made $165, just a little short of his goal of $200.  He is 60% of the way towards his goal for fundraising for his trip to France in October.....proud of him!



We packed up, dropped left over stuff off at Value Village and collapsed on the couch for a bit.  When Lindsay got home from work we decided the late appearance of the sun was too good of an opportunity to waste so we decided to head to Iona beach.

Via White Spot....... ok local friends......I suppose you might already know this....I knew about it (Thanks Nick F) but had never done it (face palm)..... You can order a Family Pack online and pick it up at your closest White Spot  - you can customize each burger and your sides and drinks.....family of 4 eats for $36.  Ah-may-zing!  It's not gourmet but we were so tired and hungry and it was perfect!  And then the guy who brought our order out was a friend of the kids from Anvil.... It was all exactly great!  We headed to the beach...empty table right on the beach, my tablecloth matched the take out.....  Needless to say I will be online ordering from White Spot again.


And then.....we walked.  For miles.

We took the road and walked through blackberry bushes taller than trees, watched the tugs working the log booms, finally connected back to the beach where Spanner made a beeline for the water..... nothing was stopping him!



So we wandered back for miles along the shore as the golden hour set in and the sun finally sank behind a bank of clouds and turned the world pink..... it was soul filling (except for noting that sunset is suddenly 8:30pm when it feels like last week it was 9:30pm...).






We chatted, posed in silly poses, took too many photos of the hound, and WAY too many of the sunset....David was wielding the big camera and I think his shots will be amazing....I'll try and get them up for Wednesday...until then my phone snaps will have to do!





We had church this morning which was lovely to be back at and Ben preached on one of my soul psalms... good stuff.

An afternoon of errands and staying close to the kitchen as Lindsay continued her quest to make the perfect pretzel..... I thinks she is making satisfactory progress..... :)...the asiago sprinkled on top was genius!  So many of you have offered to have her come live with you..... back off people..... she is all mine ours and we waited a long time for this.....and we are going to enjoy every minute!


Dinner tonight with a good friend who is also a chef...he said "just bring wine".... we can do that!

So another weekend of appreciating small things, that on reflection, are not so small after
all...... my family, time, connecting with our community, quiet beaches, online orders, mayo with fries, freshly cut lawn, a good sermon, the smell of dough rising, a bouncy puppy, clouds and sunsets...... and that's just to name a few of the good things I was blessed with this weekend.

Big week ahead....Ready!