Election 2016

Open letter to everyone in the United States of America reading this,

I know you don’t know me. I am just another voice in the crowd. I did not want to write about this election, but it is coming and I feel I can not remain silent. Not when so much is on the line.

Please, all who read this, please if you are considering Trump to be the leader of our currently free democracy, I implore you to reconsider.

As a conservationist, who has read the all of his proposals concerning the environment, I implore you to please reconsider.

As a loving mother of two daughters and a son, who has seen Trumps behavior, past and present and read his policies concerning civil rights and the literal future of our country; I implore you please reconsider.

As a woman who has seen his behavior and listened to his words towards women and read his policies concerning womens rights; I implore you to reconsider.

As an honest and kind human being, who has seen his treatment of others less fortunate; whether physically or economically, and read his policies concerning these people, I implore you to reconsider.

As the granddaughter of European immigrants who has read his policies concerning immigration, I implore you to reconsider.

As an outspoken person who cares deeply for my causes and has seen his behavior towards those who speak (or draw, or write) ill of him, please I implore you to reconsider.

As a concerned American citizen who cares about our place in the world and the character of the person representing our nation, I implore you to reconsider.

Trump is not going to make America great again. His policies will in fact send us spiraling backwards. The damage he could do as President of OUR UNITED states could take decades to undo. He is like the barker at a carnival sideshow, he is telling you what you want to hear but when you pay to enter you will get nothing but disappointment. He is not “telling it like it is” he is spinning it like he thinks you want to hear, and some of you are letting him fool you.

I implore you, please, read his policies and look at his true self; not the character he plays for you. Please understand the damage he could do and help stop it before it is too late.

I believe in us America, I know if we could come together as a people and say “No, we deserve better” we could do it. Look at all we have accomplished so far! Do not let our country slip backwards by choosing hate and fear and bigotry and ignorance. We ARE better than that.

Please do not forget to register to make sure that on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 we can stop this ludicrous sideshow now before we all end up living in a nightmare.

Thank you for reading. Good night!

 

When I grew up…

When I was five years old I wanted to grow up to be a mermaid.

I truly believed with all my heart that if I swam enough and practiced holding my breath enough and worked hard enough and believed hard enough that one day when I was grown up I could turn into a mermaid.

I worked so hard. I practiced holding my breath all the time. I swam constantly at every chance I could; and since I grew up in upstate New York there were plenty of lakes and ponds around for me to practice in. I could mermaid kick across the pond like nothing you had ever seen before. I BELIEVED.

One day, the thought occurred to me, that no matter how hard I worked or tried… no matter what I did, I could never grow gills. Because I could never grow gills and breath under water I would never ever become a mermaid no matter how bad I wanted it and worked for it.

That something was completely and utterly out of my control and keeping me from attaining my dream; that was a childhood revelation and has been mostly the story of my life.

No matter how hard you work; you will never grow gills.

I Like Lists.

Today I took a personal day.

You know, as much as a mom of three kids is able to.

I spent a lot of the day on Facebook, but I also spent a lot of my day thinking.

Ever since my oldest decided she wanted to try public school I have been getting more and more depressed. I went through all the reasons we want her homeschooled and wrote lists and prepared myself and analyzed potential outcomes… and did all the obsessive things I always do when presented with upsetting news.

I felt I had dealt with all the issues I had regarding enrolling her in public school. It is her choice and we have always maintained she is free to make that choice. I realize it is MY issues that are making me upset about it and working very hard to not let that impair her thought process. (Yes, I am doing the “fake it till you make it” smile when we talk about public school with her.)

I didn’t really realize how deep my issues go with this until I was thinking today.

I am a fixer, a doer. Everyone is always telling me I overload myself, that I need to relax more. Even our homeschool evaluator told me I did way too much (and also asked me if I enjoy making all these lists because its not required… to which I answered: yes, yes I do.) See, other people like getting pedicures and massages. While I do find a good book or a lazy float down a river relaxing; I also find record logging and lists and organization relaxing as well. Certainly more relaxing then letting some stranger fondle and scrub my feet! Getting my thoughts out of my head in a nice neat list; planning how to tackle problems and following through. Oh and that oh so satisfying check when you are done with your task. mmmmmmmmm

Being a zookeeper full time every day was different. I got to problem solve every day. I am great in a crisis and for every day dilemmas too.

What does this have to do with not being able to homeschool my oldest anymore?

Now that I only keep part-time and most of my time is taken up with the kids I am realizing that in the past year I have felt very fulfilled. The work of homeschooling; while overwhelming at times; filled a certain need in me too. It was so satisfying each day after bedtime filling in the days logbook and seeing how much we accomplished in a short and long term format. It gave me a feeling of purpose again; which I have been lacking since leaving keeping full time.

Yes yes I know; as many have told me raising the next generation is very import and full of purpose etc etc… I get it. But it’s really not challenging for me. Sometimes its very rewarding and fulfilling in its own way. Some days its aggravating and makes me want to just hide all day. But most days are filled with a lot of monotony. Yeah we can switch it up; new craft today, fun experiment today, play date, new place to explore…. etc. We do those things. But a lot of days its just clean the dining room table for the 400th time and intervene on the 50th fight and sooth the 10th tantrum and on and on.

Homeschooling gave ME a sense of purpose each day and as an added bonus my daughter received a great education. Homeschooling was the excuse (motivation) we “needed” for a dozen local field trips and weekend getaways (read: extended educational field trips.)

Now I feel like I have lost that a little and its making me a bit depressed.

Yes, I know, I have the other two I can homeschool. But really, teaching and playing with a 3 year old and a 18 month old is not really challenging at all. Fun yes, and great quality time, but it doesn’t present the same challenges as homeschooling.

I realize I am coming across as a bit selfish. I am sure, given enough time I will find something else to inspire and engage me more. Seems petty to complain about even as I am typing this. Who knows, maybe we will be back homeschooling before I know it?

I know one day I will have the time to fight the good fight again and help to continue to educate people on conservation and animal welfare. I know one day I will want to cuddle with my son and he will scoff and make a face at me. I am enjoying my time here and now. I just want to keep my sanity while I do it!

Hope you all have a good evening internet land.🙂

 

My Summer Vacation 2016

Lets see if I have enough time to type this before one of the children implodes…

So much going on here.

June is always a difficult month for me anyway but oh boy.

Hubby had to have semi-emergency back surgery on a severely herniated disc in his lower back. We scheduled the surgery right after finding out we were finally after all this time approved for the house. So he had his back cut open and is healing as well as can be expected now and we bought a nice little prison for me to be stuck to; which everyone tells me is a good thing. Riiiiiight…

I was excited to set up our homeschooling space. Writing curriculum, planning unit studies, getting pumped up for Gaelic lessons, studying up on lapbooking and notebooking and bookbooking……I might have made one of those ‘booking’s up…

But then, Pumpkinhead says: “I want to try public school.”

-At this time, picture yourself falling through the floor and you might understand how I felt.-

So, she took her assessment and start’s First grade in a few weeks. I wont go on a diatribe; but I will say they only have 20 minutes for lunch and 20 minutes for recess every day and only do art/music one day per week. -sigh-

Maybe she wont like it and we can get back to our normal lives.

Maybe she will love it and I can just add it to the “crap I have to be a big girl and just deal with” pile.

That pile is getting awfully big.

Just saying.

We are even further away from a beach here. It’s utterly depressing. Thinking of painting a giant beach mural on the living room wall so I can stare at it and daydream all day.

To top it all off, my first and most beloved zoo just had the latest USDA report released… and it is disappointing to say the least. Aggravated would be putting my feelings mildly. I have only been a gone a few years, it truly is part of my heart that place. How could it have declined so quickly?? It really does make me upset. I am hoping that they can turn around and be great again. They have done it before, lets hope they can again.

It has been a rough summer. Not as rough as my life a few years ago, or even two years ago. Today, I am just feeling really weighed down and feeling utterly powerless. I usually end these on the most positive note I can (just like in behavioral training; always end on a high note!) so here is the most positive thing I can think of right now:

 

 

 

The Cincinnati Zoo Incident with Harambe; a few thoughts…

First, I want everyone who is not a zookeeper, member of zoo staff, or primate behaviorist to sit down and take a really long deep breath.

Second, I want everyone who is not a parent to do the same.

Third, I want the rest of you to pay really close attention to the following:

Everyone; say Om for me breath in, breath out. Ommmmmmm.

Okay, now that we are a bit calmer (I hope) I would like to discuss the tragedy that happened at the Cincinnati Zoo on May 29, 2016. You all know what happened. A human child got into the Gorilla Enclosure and the zoo fatally shot Harambe the 17 year old male silverback gorilla who would not move away from the child.

THE ZOO MADE THE RIGHT DECISION.

My absolute sincerest condolences go out to the Cincinnati Zoo family.

I want you non-keepers to understand something; we love our animals. Really and truly. They are literally part of our family. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to make that call; but it was the correct call. The keepers knew it, the zoo knew it. They followed the very correct protocol and kept that child safe. That doesn’t mean that the keepers arent in pain and grieving the loss.No one asked to be put in that situation that day. They made the best decision based on the information at hand and they did it swiftly. Part of being a keeper is having to make quick decisions on your feet a lot. We are used to quickly assessing a situation and coming up with the best ideas. We have protocols and drills for these exact scenarios. The keepers got the other gorillas secured away in holding and did what they had to do to protect that child. At the expense of there own feelings. Can you put aside your personal feelings and shoot someone you love for the safety of another? Can you?

If they hadn’t, or if they had not acted swifter, or if anything else had gone wrong; and that child had died or been seriously injured… what do you think the public would be out-crying about then?

“But what about tranquilizers!” I hear you type furiously. Let me explain something; tranqs don’t work IRL like they do in movies. A large animal can sometimes take 20-30 minutes to go down, or longer. Most of the time it’s not one shot and done boom on the ground. It can take even longer if the animal is rushing on adrenaline. If at all. Think for a moment; if this was your child, would you want to stand anxiously as an unpredictable and intensely strong wild animal has a hold of your child waiting for a tranq to kick in? Seeing the animal possibly become confused and be more likely to hurt your child? Of course not.

“Well those parents should be more watchful! It’s negligence!” I hear you continue to angrily pound away at your computer saying.

Okay, all non-parents, let me explain to you: you can’t control  kids. You can try and watch them as close as possible and teach them whats dangerous and whats not. At the end of the day you can’t watch your child every moment. People make mistakes, turning away for a moment you might lose a child in a large crowd. It doesn’t make you a negligent parent; it makes you a human. Four year olds are curious and love to explore and have zero sense of self preservation. That family just almost lost there child. Now that mother has to read all over the internet a bunch of strangers calling for her head. Can you empathize with that and feel compassion for her? Can you?

I won’t even get started on the throngs of people angrily typing about “the cruelty of animals in zoo’s” because in this day and age there is just no reason for that kind of ignorance and complete blindness to the facts of the matter. That is an entirely separate blog post of which I don’t have time to type right now. Suffice to say for right now; WITHOUT ZOO’S AND ZOOKEEPERS, GORILLAS (and a plethora of innumerable other species)  WOULD ALREADY BE EXTINCT. Ruminate on that awhile.

I get it. You are all looking to blame…. someone… anyone. This event is upsetting and tragic. I sincerely wish everyone would stop making a tragic and unfortunate incident worse by all the sh*t-throwing. Your all acting like lesser primates. Take your outrage and your petitions and whatnot and kindly think about how you are just making a sad story even sadder; for everyone.

P.S.

Please stop anthropomorphizing Harambe. This is not a Disney cartoon. He was fully capable and could certainly have severely injured/killed that child at any moment. Again, unless you are not a primate specialist please stop talking about Harambe like he was about to hand over the child over the gate while Phil Collins music swells in the background. Have a little sense please.

High Mamma’s

It’s all over social media: The Stir, The Bump, Babycenter, even breastfeeding advocate sites like Breastfeeding Mama Talk. Mommy confessions pleading for no judgement and for understanding. Throngs of people behind them encouraging them and applauding them for being so brave to “come out.” Quoting psedo-science or poorly understood misconstrued facts. Giving examples of how modern they all are; and quickly shutting down anyone who is a buzzkill by disagreeing. How judgmental and “sancti-momious” art thou who doesn’t agree!

Whats the newest Mommy Confession that’s got everyone going? Using marijuana and other cannabis products while pregnant and/or breastfeeding.

With all the new information we have coming out about medical uses for cannabis, I decided to put on my tolerance hat and research the science myself with an open mind. I am of the mind that my opinion is allowed to change on something should there be sufficient proof that it should change.

After doing some internet research, and getting a very incomplete understanding of the newest research into cannabinoids as well as decades old studies, I decided the only way to get information that was not decades old or agenda driven would be to actually talk to an expert myself.

I emailed several scientists I found after reading a few research papers and finally one emailed me back. He was currently very busy organizing a convention; however he steered me towards one of his collaborators. Dr. Joseph Morgan was gracious enough to give me a phone interview and answer a few questions. Dr. Morgan has been an independent consultant for the pharmaceutical industry for twenty-five years. He has trained in cannabinoid medicine. I also emailed a woman named Rosie who works at a recreational marijuana dispensary in Colorado. She has also worked at a medical dispensary. Most of the technical information contained in this article (unless otherwise sited) is from these two sources.

First, I feel a few definitions are needed.

Cannabinoid: A unique chemical that interacts with the Endocannabinoid system found in animals. Can be found in the cannabis plant, as well as other places. There are anywhere from 70 to several hundred known Cannabinoids; including synthetic ones.

Endocannabinoid: A system in the body that interacts with other systems and has been discovered in the past 25 years. The receptors of this system vary widely in density and shape and that is largely dependent on genetics. The number of receptors found in each person also fluctuates as the body attempts to maintain balance. For example; if someone uses cannabis often they would have less receptors then a person who never uses.

Clean Cannabis: Medical grade marijuana that should be grown under specific conditions. Often grown hydroponically or using coconut bark ideally.

Recreational Cannabis: Marijuana, grown at home or from a dealer or dispensary. Growing conditions may or may not be known. May or may not have traces of pesticides, mold, fungus, bacteria. If grown in soil may contain unsafe levels of heavy metals; at least unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women as well as fetus/baby.

THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol. The cannabinoid found in marijuana that is responsible for much of the “high” feelings many people experience while using recreational marijuana. It causes the body to react and respond in a similar way to cannabinoids found in our bodies, however is NOT the same as the cannabinoids found in our bodies. THC bonds to the naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors (see term Endocannabinoid) in our body.

Synthetic THC: Created by people, this substance is purely THC.

CB1: A relevant cannabinoid receptor in our body; part of the endocannabinoid system. Is activated by THC and Synthetic THC. CB1 receptors decrease with persons who use cannabis heavily.

CBD: Another cannabinoid found in cannabis; a lot of research into this compound. This may be very helpful especially for future medical research. Does not have psychoactive properties of THC, and blocks the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system.

So what does this mean for moms? Specifically breastfeeding moms?

For medical use, using should not be taken lightly. It may or may not be able to help with certain issues. Dr. Morgan specifically sited sufferers of Crohns Disease, saying that medicinal cannabis use may improve the health of the mother overall and reduce the need for more toxic medicines;  therefor would be beneficial to the baby in that way.

Essentially: the benefits in a circumstance like that would outweigh the costs. It is for a well-informed doctor to make this decision with the patient; not a decision someone should just decide on by themselves.

Dr. Morgan was very clear about possible harm from recreational use of cannabis not only to the mother but also being transferred to baby via breastmilk or umbilical cord. He spoke about toxins on the plant or in the plant that would cause harm to mother and child. Specifically we know the effects of pesticides, fungus, bacteria, and mite infestation. He especially warned against “neurotoxicity pesticide contamination issues.” One thing he spoke of that I did not already know was that the plant itself draws in heavy metals from the soil which then goes into the mother’s body and the baby’s. This includes mercury and lead as well as others.

Many of the compounds found in cannabis are fat soluble, which means they do end up in breastmilk, including whatever “tag-alongs” are in it. It should be noted that concentrates (such as oils and wax etc…) will also contain the pesticides of the plant it was derived from.

I also specifically asked Dr. Morgan the difference between cannabinoids found in cannabis and cannabinoids found in the body naturally. He explained that they are not at all the same. He explained the ones the body makes are used for on demand purposes, they remain in the body a few seconds at a time. Those found in cannabis can be active in your system for hours and can be detected in your system for weeks. He also said that on a chemical level they are structurally different. The similarity, he says, is that they both activate the receptors in the endocannabinoid system.

We all know that people react differently to cannabis use. I myself do not find it enjoyable and never “got into it” spare a few experiments in college. I asked Dr. Morgan how we can know if use will effect a mothers ability to care for her child coherently. He said that the receptors for everyone are genetically coded and vary in shape and density and number. At this time their is no way to accurately say how it will effect a mothers ability or not since everyone reacts so differently. Dr. Morgan specifically stated that minimum amounts should be used for medication.

Dr. Morgan did have some very interesting theory’s about cannabinoid deficiency’s in the mother being a possible explanation for why some infants are termed as “failure to thrive.” If you are not familiar with this term; here is a link. If this was the case a prescription of cannabis could possibly help he says. This would require further study of course; of which is currently difficult given the strict government regulations and restrictions on the topic.

I think out of everything I have learned during this project, that is the biggest flag for me. The uncertainty of it all. The bottom line is we do not have a lot of current studies on this subject. The answers are still unclear on exact effects of THC and other cannabis compounds on the developing fetus and nursing child, positive or negative. As I mentioned earlier; in a medical necessity situation the doctor must go over the benefits versus the costs with the patient.

Here is where it gets a bit tricky. As I mentioned earlier, I also interviewed Rosie who has worked at medical and recreation dispensary’s in Colorado. I do not know a lot about whats going on at a consumer level so her insight was very interesting.

In Colorado it is legal to sell cannabis products to pregnant and nursing mothers. Rosie said she has sold to pregnant moms and said, “I assume it will be used responsibly.”  She tells me that from what she knows both medical and recreational dispensary’s grow product in soil. She prefers the taste of cannabis grown hydroponically. I myself was quite alarmed at the information that medical dispensaries grow product in soil considering what I now know about heavy metals in the plant. She says the main differences between a medical dispensary and a recreational dispensary are the amounts being sold and the amount of taxes for each sale.

From what I have learned it seems more regulation is needed on a local level. More research is needed which means less regulation on a national level. More awareness is needed. More education on the subject.

Dr. Morgan hopes that in the future of this research we could see a higher quality of research and a better safer cleaner product being used. This means a lot of the government restrictions that has held up the last few decades are actually causing more harm than good at this point.

One thing is very clear it seems; no matter where this research takes us in the future, RIGHT NOW, unless medically nessisary, pregnant and nursing moms should not use cannabis products. The know effects of cannabis with “dubious purity” are known for sure and none of it is good.

Who knows; a few years down the road our understanding of this might become clearer. In the meantime, why take any unnecessary risk?

 

______________________________________________________

Dr. Joseph Morgan is currently working on “legal and safer plant mimicking for FDA approval” in response to some of the issue mentioned above.

Rosie is newly engaged and living life! Congratulations Rosie!

A GIGANTIC THANK YOU to both Dr. Morgan and Rosie for helping with this post!!!! It is truly appreciated!

The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten

One of the most distressing characteristics of education reformers is that they are hyper-focused on how students perform, but they ignore how students learn. Nowhere is this misplaced emphasis mor…

Source: The Disturbing Transformation of Kindergarten

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