Monday, August 10, 2015

Dear Lindbergh Parents and Residents...

I, and many of you, have been gleefully enjoying our Summer breaks blissfully unaware of what was going down at the #1 School District in Missouri, our very own School District, until a new Facebook Page, Flyers United, was created by some Lindbergh teachers and parents and finally shed some light  (If you haven't joined/liked this page already please do it now to keep you in the know).  I am not a political person, I'm not a numbers person, I'm not a member of the PTO but when it comes to my kids I will go down swinging to make sure I'm my children's biggest advocate in regards to them receiving the best education available with the best teachers possible.  Lindbergh has the BEST and we're about to lose it!  We currently have the best teachers, the best principals, the best education, the best learning environment, the best small town feel in a big town, the best test scores, voted the #1 place to raise a family in Missouri and the best of the best in Missouri School Districts for 5 years.  So what's the problem?  A battle is brewing, a battle I didn't even know existed until a few days ago.  A battle the Superintendent, Dr. Simpson and the School Board hoped didn't leak out to the parents-yet suddenly it leaked and today it exploded.  If you don't have kids and think this doesn't affect you, you will soon be singing a different tune when the district that lifted your home value and makes your city one of the most desirable places to live begins its plummet.  What I know through speaking to some involved individuals is this (and I will explain it as simply as I can because, like I said, not a numbers or political person)....our Lindbergh teachers rank 8th in pay in the 8 benchmark school districts (school districts comparable to Lindbergh in Academic Achievements and salaries=Webster, Kirkwood, Rockwood, Parkway, Affton, Pattonville, Mehlville and, of course, Lindbergh...the number graphs are listed at the bottom of this post).  Some of our best teachers and teachers we have tried to hire have left Lindbergh behind for longer commutes, districts ranking much lower than our own BUT more pay!  Bottom Line:  The teachers have tried numerous attempts at proposing a compromise in negotiating the raise they deserve and have not only been denied by the district but are now being ignored while Superintendent Simpson is one of the top 2 highest paid Superintendents of our benchmarks, if not the highest paid, while our teachers suffer as the lowest paid.  A lawsuit by the teachers of Lindbergh has been written up and is now being threatened by the teachers union (LNEA) of the district.  What does this mean for our kids?  If we, as parents and residents of the Lindbergh District don't take action and take it now we are basically sacrificing our children's education and our community to the irrational and selfish behavior of the few we VOTED into our school board and the Superintendent.  Is a teachers strike on the horizon or will they just vacate for higher paying districts and better treatment?  If you want to be heard in person attend the board meeting Aug. 11 at 7:30 in the ECE Multipurpose room or, if you are a Long Parent, Please contact our Long President, Dave Reinhardt, who will speak on behalf of those parents from Long IF he has the majority of the Long Parents support.  AND, if you dare, give the School Board a piece of your mind-they signed up for this, they promised us they would do what was in the best interest of our children and right now they are failing us.  
Kathleen Kienstra (President) 314-843-8843 
Donald Bee (Vice President) 636-349-1299
Karen Schuster (Secretary) 314-843-4268
Vicki Englund (Treasurer) 314-265-2886
Kara Horton (Director) 314-842-3665
Katie Holloway (Director) 314-849-5655
Gary Ujka (Director) 636-349-5324
*all of this info., as well as their email addresses (if you prefer to email instead) are available on the Lindbergh website.  

Now that you (and I) know this information:  Please ACT!!!  Your kids and their teachers deserve it!                     

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Good News/Bad News

This past week has been intense, I can't even choose an emotion because they're all over the place.  One moment I'm receiving good news, the next moment I'm trying to pull myself together to deal with the bad news.  I guess this is life, I just didn't expect this many curveballs and home runs in one week.

Good News: Coen lands his first big commercial (I ran into the director yesterday and they just finished editing so it will be out soon).

Bad News: Spencer is the most sick I've ever seen him.  A Pneumonia/Asthma combo has knocked him down for the count.  Many meds, daily Dr. appts., many sleepless nights, much worry.

Good News:  He has the best pediatrician who is helping him (and me) through this.  And I have awesome friends and family who are praying for him, wishing him well, calling, texting and sending me funny stories to put a smile on my face.

Bad News: We are getting new siding and stuck in a house where the workers bang on the walls from 7-5 everyday.  The inside of my walls are falling apart and every room is beginning to look like Swiss Cheese walls.

Good News: I get to/have to redo every room when they're finished (wait, is this good news?) and, in a few weeks, we'll have new siding and my sanity will return.

Bad News: We're on Spring Break and we can't leave the house to enjoy it except for Dr. appts.

Good News: My kids have mastered Minecraft and Clash of Clans and memorized every word to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day and Bella & the Bulldogs.

Bad News: I haven't slept in 4 days.

Good News: I have spent a lot of quality time with Spencer all day and all night.

Bad News: My house looks like a tornado hit, I have canceled all my barre classes and traded in working out this week for my new hummus and coffee addiction and I can only keep my eyes open or shut in 30 minute increments.

Good News:  I don't care.

Bad News: Spencer has a Dr. appt. in 1 hour to determine if his lungs are functioning properly and where we go from here.  And I'm terribly nervous.

Good News: Just received a call from a major casting agent and a message from our agency that Hadley landed a big commercial (her 1st commercial) to shoot this week...what are the chances that Coen and Hadley would both snag their 1st commercials the week that Spencer is horribly sick??  

Bad News: I'm not a good Juggler.

Good News:  I will be after this week.


Thursday, March 12, 2015

And Then There Was Puberty

Remember that little boy who would cling to your leg, who cried if you left the room, who thought you were the funniest person in the world?  Remember the little man who ran to you for comfort, who begged for your attention, who told you you were his best friend as he would sit on your lap with his sippy cup completely content watching Baby Einstein before bed?  Remember when you were cool instead of embarrassing-or crazy-as he likes to say (because wearing costumes at his school, dancing in public and sing-a-longs in the aisles of Target are no longer funny, fun or acceptable)?  Remember when his greatest problem, worry, doubt, fear or heartbreak could simply be solved within a few minutes of holding him tight and reassuring him that everything was going to be okay?  Remember when your biggest worry was if he would eat his dinner, take a nap that day or, heaven forbid, learn the S-word: Stupid!?

I remember all of this so clearly but, just like that and without warning, it's gone!  

We are entering this new phase of life.  A phase of irrational anger, slamming doors and where uncontrollable tears take over this child I sometimes don't recognize.  A phase where Mom is no longer cool or funny and, instead, I find myself begging for his attention.  A phase where their doubts, their problems and their heartbreaks are not easily mended and our kids become this guessing game of, "which child will he emerge as today?" play in our freaked out parental brains.  The sweet boy who still lets me cuddle him and carries a stuffed animal OR that other kid?  I don't remember reading about this in the, "What To Expect When You're Expecting" series...there are no more instruction manuals.    We're just left out here hanging by a thread onto our clueless parental instincts and hoping we do or say the right thing that day, as in, don't anger the Tween!  Those support groups catering to the new Moms and Moms of toddlers have quickly dissipated into an empty party of (figure it out yourself) one or, if you're really lucky (which I have been) a few fellow Tween Moms you can frantically text in times of crisis or emotional breakdown.  I was in denial, complete denial, until 2 weeks ago.  After a battle (and a win-on my part) of why you can't play video games today there was a meltdown of epic proportions.  I stood there in disbelief watching this Child, the one who has always been my most obedient, laid-back, helpful, Straight-A, eager to please kid turn into a head spinning, fire spitting....Tween.  Right before my eyes and when I least expected it.  I walked away and let him have his fit that night thinking my child was broken.  What had happened to my boy?  
The next morning he hugged me, told me he loved me, snuggled under a blanket in front of cartoons and acted as if nothing had happened.  What?!?!  After playing along for a bit I finally gave in and asked him if we were going to talk about what happened the night before.  He looked at me and, very matter of fact, told me it was just Puberty, that he and I probably needed to plan a date night and have a serious talk about his changing body and, oh, my favorite, he's growing a beard.
My 11 year old is preparing himself for puberty....while he's still 2 in my head.    
I could use that guide book about now.  And support group.  And a bottle of Jack.  And does this mean he knows about Santa?? 

Friday, March 06, 2015

The Church Of Christ Goes Taboo

As I was sitting here working on the songs I'm singing with a Praise Team...On Sunday...In front of the church...with the accompaniment of a guitar...into a a Church of Christ, I decided to take a little break and scroll social media and stumbled upon the news, from multiple posts, that Otter Creek Church of Christ in Nashville will be bringing in instruments to worship.  The title of the article is, "Nashville-area church's radical step: Adding instruments."  I honestly laughed at first to think this is considered a radical movement and then I ventured into the comment section to read the outrage.  To many of my friends this means nothing but, at this moment, I'm most likely being deleted or blocked from half of the "Christians" in my feed who believe I have betrayed the Church of Christ.  If I were Amish I would be shunned but, if we're being honest, I would've been shunned loooooong ago if they knew the real me.  Throughout my childhood I tried to keep up with the rules and regulations of what being a good little Church of Christ Christian girl was supposed to mean and I failed first at 3 years old when ballet became my favorite hobby and I've been failing ever since.  No dancing, No instruments, No alcohol (ever), No provocative clothing (I live in mini skirts), No vanity, No clapping along to the music in worship, No woman's voice is to be heard in worship, No Tattoos, No disobeying or speaking back against your husband, No accepting/or befriending of those from outside the traditional family lifestyle-this includes divorce (unless it's to convert), No Yoga (it's the devil's exercise-I just learned this one recently after my barre class aka yoga/ballet) and the list goes on and on and on.  If you know me, even if you've known me for 5 minutes, you're probably shaking your head in disbelief that I would subject myself to these impossible expectations I cannot live up to.  Everything I listed in my first sentence is considered taboo by most who consider themselves Church of Christ.  I was born into the Church of Christ and I considered leaving multiple times, going to church was a drag, my attention was lost and I stopped caring....and then we merged.  It was a tough time to lose about half of my friends and for my kids to also lose close relationships with friends (after they all fled from the merge), which I realize now was not based on real friendships at all.  It was based on our forced seclusion from the outside world.  We were to reach out, but only from a distance.  Our goal was to convert others, follow the rules and secure our salvation.  Except, these aren't salvation issues.  These are church issues put into practice by the people who believe, truly believe, that they are the only heaven bound creatures and the rest of us are doomed for eternal damnation.  Bummer, right?  I know some people are frantically searching for scriptures right now to prove this point and put me in my place.  Please save your breath (or your typing fingers) I've heard the arguments, I know the scriptures and-ready for it- I disagree with you (GASP!).  Twenty Churches of Christ have started using instruments and people are outraged, claiming the name Church of Christ should no longer be affiliated with these churches because it's misleading now with this new development.  Misleading to whom?  The non-existant visitors flocking into your buildings to try and live a perfect lifestyle made up of judgments and rules?  If you're curious why your church is dying, and you really have no idea, there it is.  Meanwhile, Mcknight Crossings Church of Christ is now using Praise Teams, instruments, 2 services, multiple kids programs, women reading scripture (and yes, I did this also and didn't burst into flames-yet) and even had their first Daddy-Daughter DANCE?!  The church is growing, the children and families are coming in droves, the shock of what we dared to do has worn off and the acceptance of what we're doing in the community, in our church, in our church's preschool, in our friendships (real, actual, non-judgmental friendships) and the freedom we've unleashed has been a breath of fresh air, an eye-opener for me and is giving me the opportunity to regain my spiritual footing.  I can now show my kids that the Bible is so much more than a scary list of rules.  That God is real and on their side.  That church isn't an unenthusiastic bore of lessons on what we shouldn't do and clapping/dancing/singing/toe tapping and even shouting an occasional AMEN, every now and then, is spiritually uplifting.  To show them that heaven is attainable-even when they use instruments in church.  That having fun is allowed and comes in forms other than a casserole party.  It allows me to show them that all people deserve love and kindness, that we are free to worship in a way that spiritually uplifts us without strict boundaries and it gives me hope, for their future, that they will seek and succeed in strengthening their faith where so many give up when the idea of what they "should be" becomes unattainable.  So, all that to say, life should be more than a biblical rut and if and when you tire of your idea of perfection, your arguments over scripture, your rules and your judgments, you can allow yourself to open up to the idea that God intended a life far more for you than this.  You just have to be strong enough to take it.                                      

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

To My Singletons,

I accidentally read an entire article today by a woman I imagine is living in some sort of fairy-tale life or lie and, most likely, basks in the glow of this upcoming day of red-stained store aisles with heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, overflowing with roses, the hoards of men quickly scanning through the card section hoping to pass off someone else's heartfelt words of poetry as their own as she is anxiously awaiting to publicly announce on social media how she is truly the luckiest woman ever (probably with a pic of her new jewelry gift on display).  Why I accidentally read the entire article is because I thought it was some type of satirical bit and I was waiting for the non-existant sarcastic punchline.  I won't mention her name because I don't want my friends to subject themselves to this nonsense, but if you see an article that begins like this, "Another Valentine's Day. Another night spent ordering in sushi for one and mooning over "Downton Abbey" reruns. Smarten up, ladies.  Despite all of the focus on professional advancement, for most of you the cornerstone of your future happiness will be the man you marry."  STOP READING IT IMMEDIATELY!!!  She encourages women to spouse-hunt in college before it's too late and warns of the "dangers" of a career before marriage and children, since after your 20s it's pretty much impossible to snag a man and your competition will have you beat then, right?  I mean, is it terribly wrong that the bad boys were my favorite part of college?-which is probably reflective of my grades during that time, but I digress.  In response to this article I'd like to point out that most of my friends (and myself) did snag our men in our early to mid-twenties.  I was attending weddings, wedding showers and baby showers on a monthly basis.  Our talks centered around our excitement of our budding lives as little wives and the perfect families we would grow.  We were living the stepford wife dream and one of us could have probably written the above nonsensical article in our haze of martial success.  But now, in my late 30's, the scene has drastically changed as some of my closest friends opted to remain single, some are now close to entering the empty nest phase of life and about half are going through/have recently gone through/are considering a divorce...and that professional advancement so many did push aside to focus on the man we would marry to ensure our future happiness (and his) has come to an end.  Kind of blows that spouse + children= happiness for all theory out of the water.  Children grow up and move on and that wedding proposal you worked so hard to nail down doesn't always pan out as forever.  The intention of this post is not to bash marriage and having children, it's to give a different perspective to those who believe or fret that this is the only outlet to achieving happiness.  Happiness comes in many forms, as does love, if you're willing to risk occasionally sidestepping the "norm".  So, to those of you feeling bombarded by this upcoming holiday vomiting romance, go enjoy your Chinese takeout, Gilmore Girls marathon, bottle of wine, comfy pjs and spreading out in the middle of your king-sized bed this Valentine's deserve every ounce of happiness you are enjoying.  You are fabulous, you are courageous and, with or without a spouse, you are loved! (but then you already knew that).  Now go relish in your happiness and prove these naysayers all wrong.