Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye to 2015

I did not love 2015, it was a tough year.  My Dad died, which is still hard to believe some days. My mother continues to deteriorate in a nursing home. I let go of some unhealthy relationships, and am much better off for that. There were high points, my son graduated from high school and went on to college. My business had a good year. Both of my children are healthy, responsible and kind human beings...I look forward to what 2016 will bring.

So on to that new year. I don't do "resolutions" so I will call them suggestions. Some that we can all benefit from.

  1. Let go of guilt.
  2. Allow yourself to say No.
  3. Focus on what is important-what is important to me may not be important to you and that is ok.
  4. Realize there are some things we cannot control. Let it go.
  5. Say goodbye, leave the past in the past, that is where it belongs.
  6. Let grudges go. They take too much energy.
  7. Laugh...a lot. Laugh at yourself...even more.
  8. If something or someone is meant to be it will happen. Don't force it. 
  9. Who cares what other people think. 
  10. You never really know what someone is going through, be kind as often as you can. 
  11. Spend more time hanging out with your dog (or cat) they are amazingly understanding and therapeutic. 

I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Spirit of Christmas

Sharing something I did not write today...thank you to my old and dear friend Pat Perkins for sharing it with me.

Christmas Story:
For the Man Who Hated Christmas
By Nancy W. Gavin
It's just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it – overspending and the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn't think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was on the wrestling team at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.
As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford.
Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, "I wish just one of them could have won," he said. "They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them." Mike loved kids – all kids. He so enjoyed coaching little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That's when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes, and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed a small, white envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done, and that this was his gift from me.
Mike's smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year. And that same bright smile lit up succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition – one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The white envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning, and our children – ignoring their new toys – would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents. As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the small, white envelope never lost its allure.
The story doesn't end there. You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree. And the next morning, I found it was magically joined by three more. Unbeknownst to the others, each of our three children had for the first time placed a white envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down that special envelope.
Mike's spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.
I would love to hear about your experience after you've done your envelope! 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Abbey Lewis

Many of you are aware Edgewater Firefighter Reese Lewis' daughter Abbey had a blood vessel rupture on December 9, 2015. She is currently at Arnold Palmer Hospital after having brain surgery. She has a long road ahead of her and the firefighters are raising money to help out the family. You can check out the Go Fund me page if you would like to help out. I copied the post from the page below so you can become acquainted with the situation and the family.

Please help out if you can and keep Abbey and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

Friends and family are raising money to help out a special local family, Shannon and Reese Lewis, with medical expenses.  Reese and Shannon's 10 year old daughter, Abbey, suffered a medical emergency on December 9, 2015, where a blood vessel in her brain ruptured.  Unknown to the Lewis family, Abbey suffered from a condition called Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM).  Abbey underwent immediate brain surgery to stop the bleeding at Arnold Palmer Hospital where she remains today.  We are blessed that Abbey made it through the first surgery.  However, we know that Abbey has a long road to recovery ahead of her, including additional surgeries and expensive medical treatment.  Abbey's  family continues to stay by her side, missing time from work and incurring expenses for lodging and food.  

Both Reese and Shannon have been civil servants for Volusia and Brevard counties their entire careers.  We are now hoping that the communities they have helped support will now help support them in their time of need.

Friday, December 11, 2015

School Uniforms

As the battle of the uniform rages on I decided to check in on the subject, I have remained relatively quiet because I don't care that much. My last child is a senior next year and for that I am grateful. Our school system is in disarray with no end in sight, I am happy she is graduating. I would certainly not recommend someone with school age children move to this district and I used to regularly.

I do think it is preposterous that my daughter who will be a senior and is dual enrolled and takes one class at NSBHS will be required to purchase and wear a uniform for that one class. There are many in that situation.

I keep hearing, learning is better, the school will be better, kids will be on an even playing field and safer, the parents will save money...blah blah blah. My son went to Warner Christian for 2 years in middle school, he wore uniforms, that is the expectation when you attend Warner Christian. He also had a teacher for 6th and 7th grade that is now serving 250 years in prison for being a pedophile.

My main concern is a ridiculous amount of time has been spent by our school board on this issue. While our teachers are taking hit after hit in pay and benefits. They are talking about uniforms. Our support staff could go work at Publix and make more money. Some of them with decades of experience and loyalty to the district. They are talking about uniforms.  Our schools are dirty. They are talking about uniforms. Students are being taught to take tests and not learning. They are talking about uniforms. The list goes on.

But wait, we are getting $10 per student for uniforms. No, we are not, they had to be in place by January 2016 to get the money. They will vote on it again but it is not guaranteed and probably won't be long term even if it is voted in again.

This clown show of a school board should be proud though, uniforms is a really good distraction to get us all off the real issues facing the school.

Some of you may know Kim Schwab-Short. I am publishing with her permission a post on the Volusia County School Forum Facebook page about uniforms. It is long, it is factual and well worth the time to read and learn. The link to the post is at the bottom if you would like to view it on Facebook and read the comments.

I have decided that I need to put out on this forum a few things to get us all to, hopefully, look at this another way. First, I need everyone to try and pretend that you are on a board making decisions for a population of 62,000 students that are roughly at a 65% free and reduced lunch rate. Which means that more than half of our children get food for lunch provided for well as other services. We have, documented, 2000 homeless children in our county. Second, I need you to remember that this is a public school. Ted Doran, our school board attorney, can answer this better than I, but to my knowledge you can not legally force anyone to purchase anything to attend a public school. We live, unfortunately, in a society where we have people who will take advantage of this fact. The ugly truth...we have a school that is at 98% free and reduced lunch that has reported on the fact that they give shoes to some of their most unfortunate children and the families of those children sell the shoes and send them back for more. The world is not filled with everyone who will see uniforms as a good thing for the right reasons. Is this a big, but I need everyone to understand that uniforms will have a COST associated to this policy. In the research I have done, and I have looked into it, this will have a cost associated up front AND to sustain it. Let's say we only have to provide for 30% of our roughly $10 a child ($4 polo, $4 pants and $2 belt...which is very conservative)...that is $186,000. Now, we will need back stock on hand at every school, in various sizes. Small children have accidents, new families move in to the area...Does everyone see where I am going with this? OUR SCHOOL BOARD HAS PROVIDED NO EXPLANATION ON WHERE THIS MONEY WILL COME FROM. They don't have to...they can set the policy and leave it up to the individual schools to handle. Our school board, to my knowledge, has not even approached Volusia County Council PTA about a plan to hand out, store and/or fundraise and provide uniforms. Our district has made it clear that we have no money for uniforms. 

This has been a point made over and over again. "Our children will be more safe if they all have the same thing on." The policy is posted on the website and adults will be on campus and visiting campus out of uniform on a daily basis. Honestly...the argument is weak. I personally think it's amusing that our mostly Republican board is saying this. I now wonder how they feel about the NRA. wink emoticon

Many of our board members are for choice, charter schools. Mrs. Linda Costello is proud of homeschooling her grandson. Here is the problem with what they say they are for...and what they are actually doing. By making all our public schools wear uniforms you are actually taking away choice. We had a mother, an amazing woman, walk completely outside her comfort zone by speaking to the board about her child's sensory disorder. She feels like public school was the best fit for her child because she wants her to be able to assimilate to other children and hopefully one day be able to wear something other than her leggings and soft long sleeve t-shirts. One in six children have this disorder. OUR BOARD IS LEAVING HER NO CHOICE.

The kids will get 2 warnings, referrals...and then the third infraction will result in internal suspension. How will this kind of distraction be any better than what is currently going on? More importantly how will this contribute to learning gains...because after all, we are supposed to be educating them not fashion policing them. 

Of the parents who want many have said that they are willing to do this? This effort will take this...and the money they receive for this, will come from something else. Technology, mini grants, etc. Businesses have limited budgets for donations...are uniforms the priority? 

In Volusia County we have had uniforms at select schools...they all failed. When the idea of testing this again in a few schools was brought up...OUR SCHOOL BOARD SAID NO I am going to put my buyer hat on for a second and tell a my former life as a Buyer for Burdines, it is never a good idea to NOT test something. Truth be told, that unscientific as it was, had some interesting data regarding the Hispanic community. They seemed disportionately in favor. My business side would suggest approaching the SAC's in a couple high % ESOL schools and see of they want to take this on. Who may work. 

This is where I see the most hypocrisy. I attended the meeting when Senator Don Gaetz came to town. He was very proud of giving the control back to the individual school's and holding them accountable. I personally loved that about his talk. Pushing down a uniform policy from the district, with no funding...instead of letting the schools opt to do hardly local school based decision making. It is big government, pushing down from the top...again, very interesting coming from people who call themselves Republicans. 

In over two hours of public comments, mostly regarding uniforms, only one student was for one else was for them. They disregarded it completely. In the counties that have major opposition was present. This has never been a clear Volusia County community priority. This is on our school board member's agenda...and two of them have never had a child in public school.

I know this is long...for that I am sorry, but I would really like to move off this subject. I understand that the kids in our school's wear inappropriate stuff and it's not nice to look at. I wore a uniform and I actually liked it. This is not going to solve the problems of our kids trying to get attention in inappropriate ways. If you want to eradicate that...I suggest you start a mentor program at your child's school. Form a relationship with a them from the inside out. This whole thing can't be looked at from our individual needs to be looked at as the whole. 62,000 students means roughly 120,000 parents right? That is a whole lot of moving parts...if you think this will be simple...well, please...think again. My will fall apart on it's own. Hopefully this gets read by a school board member. Maybe they will wake up. Big thanks to Linda Cuthbert for listening and standing alone.

Facebook Link 

Kim makes some great points here, some that, I for one had not thought of and simply did not know.

Again, we have been distracted by this issue, while the salary bargaining talks continue and The No Child Left Behind Act was overturned on December 9th leaving the states and local districts in control of curriculum and testing. Now is the time to take care of our teachers and staff and eliminate the common core testing.

We all need to wake up and realize what is important to our education system, uniforms is not it. I don't care about the kids freedom of expression, I don't care about it being easier to pick out what to wear or it being cheaper...I care about the fact that we are distracted from the REAL issues and have elected a school board that either has not a clue about what they are doing or they don't really care.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When You Know

I guess every parent has that moment when you know. You did it right. All that ranting about grades, getting to work on time, giving 110% at practice, taking out the trash, picking up their laundry...and so much sunk in and they are decent human beings.

My mother had a stroke three years ago, she currently resides at Oceanview Nursing Home in New Smyrna Beach. I stress out every holiday, what do I do with her? She is confined to a wheelchair, no mobility. All she wants to do is come home, and it is worse since my Dad died in March.

This Thanksgiving my son said "I can transport her", I thought "Yikes, this is going to be a disaster" Nope, he wrangled her into the truck, took her to the Steakhouse(they were amazingly accommodating), got her out, we had a nice dinner and he took her back. He visits her two or three times a week between his full class schedule at Stetson, his job at Publix and his life. He puts the rest of us to shame.

She asked us about Christmas today, he looked at me and said I will bring her home for Christmas, I said you realize what that means? He said "she is not spending Christmas in a nursing home, that ain't happening...I got it"

He did get it. Somewhere along the line, this kid got it. I have to remind him to unload the dishwasher but I don't have to tell him to be respectful to the elderly, to be kind to animals and be generous to the less fortunate. He got it. I hope in some small way I am responsible for that, but truly, I am just glad he got it.

Light Up Flagler

Snow flurries will be flying along Flagler this Friday night! Light Up Flagler is December 4th beginning at 5:30pm.   There will be carolers, several live performances and light displays, businesses will serve holiday cheer as they welcome guests with refreshments during an open house. Home baked goods and ornaments also will be offered by non-profit and school groups. 

Flagler Avenue will be closed to vehicular traffic during the event from Peninsula Drive east to Buenos Aires Street. A free parking shuttle will run from 160 N. Causeway. For more information, please call 386.427.2256.

Wine Festival

Get your tickets and more information here

Boat Parade

The Christmas Boat Parade is Saturday, December 12th. It starts in Edgewater and heads on up to NSB through Manatee Park.

The parade is co-hosted by the Angler's Club and the NSB Yacht Club. If you want to participate in this free event visit the Marine Discovery Center to register or contact Tabby Abbaticchio at 386-314-9088