Monday, October 23, 2006

Closing Out the Fall Soccer Season with a Bang!

A true testimony to how much Rowan loves soccer - her two closing games for the fall season were played in weather that is best described as "nasty." Saturday's game (pictured above) was played in rain with temperatures just slightly above the freezing mark. Even in these conditions, you can see she still has a grin on her face. Later in the evening we were treated to 2.3 inches of snow!!! A record for southern Wisconsin in mid-October. She played again the next day in just above freezing temperatures in a field where some of the snow had melted and left behind large mud holes. Today we washed the uniform, cleats and shin guards and then we washed the washer to rid it of mud and grass.

Her team, The Panthers, won both of their games. Hard won victories by both kids and fans alike.

Ah, now just wait until those early spring games in April where we could end up repeating the whole scene.

School Violence

Recently, there was discussion on an email list to which I belong about the recent school violence incidents around the country. Below is my reply on the discussion. I chose to post it here to have a copy for my own remembrance and to share it with anyone who might find it something to think about.

I'm well beyond sad - I have huge rage about school violence. It's awful and I feel like it points to much wider societal issues that we as a people have to acknowledge and not be silent about. In this case silence truly equals death.

We've had two incidents here in Wiscosnin this school year. One in the Green Bay high school where three kids were planning a Columbine-like masacre - they had dozens of guns and bomb-making material. Another student tipped off school officials and the police were able to intercede before anything happened. The masacre was planned for the day after the student came forward. Last Friday a student in a school in a neighboring county to ours brought guns to school. Staff were able to institute a lock-down of students, but the prinicpal was killed. Then couple in the Amish school incident and the recent Colorado one. I hadn't heard the stat on 17 school incidents thus far in the school year, but sadly, I would believe it.

Does it p*ss me off that my two little girls have to practice "lock-down" drills at school? YES!! Do I want them to know what to do in case a gunner comes into their school? Of course. )-:

The Colorado and Amish school incidents disturb me a lot, b/c these were adults. It is a real indicator for me that our society still operates off a notion that adults have the right to have power over children and that males have the right to have power over females. If this cultural assumption didn't hold true, these men wouldn't have chosen schools as the places to take their "stand."

In one of Wisconsin school incidents the kid who used violence, said that he'd had had enough of being bullied and ridiculed. He indicated that he'd been called "fag" and "queer" by peers and that he'd gone to school officials and gotten little or no help. Of course his method of resolving his anger is unaaceptable. The issue of bullying is huge in schools and is a product of wider society teachings, esp. around issues of sexual orientation. Adults in schools still routinely, routinely turn their backs and rarely put their feet down abot the use of "faggot" and "queer" as slams, b/c wider society still gives lots of permission to ridicule people assumed to be LGBTQ. Walk down the hallways of most middle and high schools in this country during a "passing time" and you'll comonly hear "that so gay" or other put-downs.

And, in all of these incidents, there has been a desire on the part of the shooters for retaliation, punishment, revenge. From the get-go our society models revenge and retaliation - haveing someone to blame when things don't go the way we want them to go in our lives. LIttle kids wittness their parents blaming their bosses or co-workers for their unhappiness at work. They're in the cars when someone cuts off their parents and the parents blurt out some choice words. They watch other kids blame someone else for their bad behavior on the playground. They see people on TV (news and programming) take their frustrations out on someone else - including much of the programming geared toward kids (someone is often trying to "get even" with someone else) and they see our government take revenge on other countries. Collectively, we are a very "eye-for-an-eye" society. Sometimes I wonder if we are living in the 21st century or in the "wild wild west."

Then add mental illness to the picture, which I believe is probably a factor in all of these!

Sociatal beliefs that some groups "deserve" to dominate others + a reteliatory attitude + easy access to guns + mental illness = violence directed towards those most vulnerable in our society

The only way I personally can think of managing the rage is not to contribute to the above formula, which on the surface seems easy, but in fact is harder in real life. Of course not doing the big stuff is easy, but its the subtle stuff that underpins our societal assumptions that I have to really slow down and notice. And, for me its about "outing" the crap that goes on here in the bigger picture ways and not just wringing my hands after incidents like these and saying "wow, how could that happen" but working every single day around these issues professionally and personally. Even on those days when I feel like the efforts of my work are like spitting in the ocean and expecting the pH levels to change.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Fair Wisconsin Votes "No"

We are 18 days away from our November election. For many of us living in Wisconsin, this day holds much importance. Wisconsin residents will be faced with many crucial ballot questions. One of which is whether to amend the state constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage and civil unions (both for same-sex couples and opposite gender couples). We stand at a profound threshold - whether Wisconsin will continue its legacy of progessive-minded equity towards diverse populations (we were the first state in the nation to add sexual orientation to the legal definition of protected class) or whether we use our Constitution to legislate discrimination.

I have been profoundly moved by witnessing our straight allies - family, friends and strangers - around the state, step forward in support of defeating this amendment through holding house parties to raise funds for campaigning and education, door-to-door canvassing, making donations, making phone calls, talking openly with family and friends about the implications of the passage of this amendment.

Wisconsin is poised to make history on Nov 7. We are being looked to as the first state in the nation that may be able to defeat a constitutional ban. Interesting, Wisconsin has been pegged as the new "Peoria." Meaning that based on our diverse ideologies here, we have become the political pulse point on many issues for the entire nation (what happens in Wisconsin has the likelihood of replicating itself elsewhere politically according to a recent National Public Radio story I heard). What legacy to we want to be ours here in Wisconsin? My hope is one of acceptance for diverse families and compassion for all people.

It's not too late to help. If you are wondering what you might do, you can visit Fair Wisconsin's website at for
*a list of talking points for conversations with family, friends and co-workers.
*a list of regional offices around the state where you could volunteer an hour (or more) of your time.
*a link for making donations. Heck, you don't even have to be from Wisconsin to donate!!

Be sure to vote on November 7. Know where your polling place is. If you don't know, call your city or town clerk's office. They can help you locate your polling place. If you need to vote absentee for any reason, requests for ballots to be mailed to you must be received by your city/town clerk no later than 10 days before the election.

Be sure to vote on this amendment. In Dane County, the amendment will be printed on the backside of your ballot, so please be sure to flip the ballot over and mark your vote. This may also be true in other counties with large numbers of offices up for re-election, so please look carefully.

Our family is directly and deeply impacted by the outcome of this election. We are hopeful that you will hold us in your hearts, minds and spirts as in walk into your polling place and cast your ballot.

Super Music Student

Yesterday was the first of four awards assemblies at Gemma's school. She received the Super Music Student Award from her music teacher (-: Upon hearing that she was to receive the award, Gemma decclared "oh I feel so good about myself." The proud parents were there to see her receive her award and enjoy each of the award recipients. (As the school year passes, each child receives an award from her/his classroom teacher and some kids get them from the specials teachers.)

Below are two pictures - one of Gemma holding her large C Clef Sign shaped award, wearing her favorite pink velour pants outfit (not what "I" would have chosen for her to wear - but its not about me -right!). The other is a picture I came across in our photo files of her ready to leave the NICU 14 days after her birth at 3 lbs 10 oz (birth weight of 3 lbs 4 oz). I was stunned when I looked at this picture five years later and loved the contrast of seeing baby Gemma and kindergarten Gemma - both with those wonderous and intense blue eyes staring out at us.

Five Year Old Kindergarten Gemma

14 Day Old Baby Gemma Leaving the NICU for the First Time

Monday, October 02, 2006

First 5K

Rowan ran her first 5K yesterday (Sunday) in the Canterbury Run/Walk for Literacy. She's pictured above before the run with her friend, Courtney. We'd signed the girls up as walkers and they were going to walk with us moms. They wanted to run, as they both need to log 60 minutes a week of running for soccer training. I didn't anticipate that they'd run the whole 5K though. They did great, coming into the finish a few minutes before us. We walked it at a good clip. While I've become Rowan's running buddy for soccer training, I am not up for a 5K run yet; a good fast 5K walk was my speed.

As I came across the finish line and saw our rosy cheeked girl, calmly sitting on the curb, eating a banana and drinking water, I thought "wow, what a kid" and also thought how lucky she is to be able to try these things out and notice her own successes.

She wants to know when there is a run for math literacy (there is one called the Pi run in the spring) and she wants to be signed up as a runner, not a walker next time.