November 12, 2016

Why I cried after the election...

I cried during election night coverage. I cried as the results came in. I cried throughout the following day. And Wednesday night, I stopped crying and drowned my sorrows in junk food.

I didn't cry because Hillary lost.
I didn't cry because Trump won.

I cried because the symbolism of Trump won.
Not because Republican legislative or social policies won.
Not because Democratic legislative or social policies lost.

I cried because millions of people were not only willing, but able, to look past the hurt, and still vote for the person who caused it.

I cried because a political majority rejected the significance of isms and embraced standard political "change" over the election's ugly underbelly.
I cried because the same old tired story of republican values versus liberal elitism was more important than a new game changing narrative of us versus them.

I cried because ignorance and hate won.
I cried because millions of Americans were willing to overlook all of the hurtful things that Donald Trump has said and done. And held Hillary more accountable for her past than his present.

I cried because instead of holding him accountable for his seemingly casual discussion on sexual assault, his words were written off as "normal" and "OK" and "locker room talk."
I cried because millions of Americans see no problem here.

I cried because the significance of a threat to build a wall or deport thousands of people was lost on those who view undocumented residents and their families not as survivors, but as problems.
I cried because the devastation in countries from which many of these people have come from is not of concern to many Americans.

I cried because too many Americans think that the Black Lives Matter movement is about who matters more, not understanding that the message is Black Lives Matter too.

I cried because when I'm tired of talking or hearing about race or White privilege, I can just, stop. Take it off. Let the noise rest somewhere else for a while. But many others cannot.
I cried because so many have chosen not to carry this burden at all.

I cried for my son, my sweet beautiful, innocent boy, who may one day be bullied because of his speech disorder, and not find support in a crowd of strangers.

I cried because, even though we are free to worship any way we please, those who choose to worship differently are not trusted, made to feel unloved, and seen as evil.

I cried because I have committed my work and my education to ensuring that all students on my campus feel safe and welcome, that they will be successful. But I was told that there is no value in this. That all of my efforts are for nothing.

I cried because many Trump supporters think those of us who cry are sore losers, that we cry because we are wimps and whiners who need to get over it. Who need to stand up, brush ourselves off, and act like real Americans.
I cried because I fit the acceptable, stereotypical mold of a real American, but others do not.

I cried because they either don't know or don't care why we're crying.

This is why I cried. This is why I continue to cry.


January 4, 2016

My two cents on Stanford's stupid cow...

Most Hawkeye fans were fairly annoyed with the ridiculous antics of the Stanford marching band at the Rose Bowl. Myself included.

Referencing cow tipping, creating a corn maze, and playing the FarmersOnly.com jingle revealed a low-level of professionalism and lack of respect the band and its director have for Iowa's farmers. However, what frustrates me even more about the whole situation is the way people have responded to it. Most have had one of two reactions:

1. Hey Stanford, we're aren't all farmers, duh.
2. Hey Stanford, cows aren't really Iowa's thing. Try again.

The unfortunate thing about these arguments is that both try desperately to separate themselves from farmers, or at least Hollywood's stereotypical depiction of them.

However, the real argument here should be that, once again, farmers were inaccurately portrayed as uneducated, small minded, slow to comprehend, sporting overalls, and poor.

Let's set the record straight. Let's take a moment to talk about what a farmer really is. Let's discuss what it takes to be a successful farmer in today's global economy.

1. Farmers are veterinarians, mechanics, economists, small business owners, accountants, chemists, engineers, and teachers. Farmers have to be smart and must possess effective communication skills, both written and verbal.

2. Farmers feed the world, help power our temperature-controlled offices, and keep our economy moving forward. They know more about the weather than the average bear because their livelihood depends on it.

3. Farmers can't do their jobs without equipment that is often valued at more than what most of us will ever spend on a house. Banks respect them. And so should we.

4. Farmers have better work ethics and push themselves harder than most of us. And when they take care of their family members and neighbors they aren't being taken advantage of, they're showing the rest of us how a civilized human being should act.

5. Farmers get to enjoy nature every single day. While we are longing for a weekend hike or forking over money to rent a cabin, farmers are living in and breathing the fresh air of God's green earth from sun up to sun down.

I grew up on a farm and moved my family to the country so that our kids can also experience the wealth of benefits that come with living in a rural setting. I wouldn't trade a single bit of knowledge that I gained from living on a farm.

Stanford showed a lack of good judgment, but as we so very kindly point this out, perhaps we should take this opportunity to more closely align ourselves with these brilliant, hardworking folks that we have the privilege to share our state with.

Because, after all...the helmet is correct.
ANF.
America. Needs. Farmers.






December 23, 2015

Graduate school, kid stuff, and housing- oh my...

I've been told that graduate school is a bit like a black hole- you go in and disappear...except that you come back out. Eventually.

This semester was definitely a lot more work than the previous two, but at least I'm now going at a rate that will lead to completion in less than six years (six years...shudder). I figure that if I really push myself, I might be ready for my final semester by this time next year. And that sounds just heavenly.

I have to keep telling myself that all of this hard work will eventually pay off. Hopefully.

But, that's enough about school. It's Christmas! Let's talk about something that is way more fun.

Yesterday I went to a Christmas carol sing at Rachel's school, which is also where I went to elementary school. It was a lot of fun to attend the event as a parent. Everything was just too cute, and I kind of felt like I was in a Hallmark Christmas movie. The kids had their pajamas on, the school was decorated for Christmas, and the gym was filled with parents and grandparents and teachers that I haven't seen in years. It was fantastic!

Afterwards, we hugged Rachel good-bye and took Ryan in for another appointment. This time he was assessed for a sensory sensitivity. We haven't gotten the final results back yet, but it appears that he most likely has something called Sensory Processing Disorder (which isn't an official disorder according to the DSM-5, but, I believe, most experts expect that it will be included in the next update).

SPD means that Ryan's sensory processing doesn't work like other kids' systems. Sometimes his senses are overstimulated and he totally freaks out; other times his senses are dulled and he completely misses things. A lot of kids with CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech) are also diagnosed with SPD or similar disorders, so this wasn't a complete surprise to us. But, that doesn't make it any easier.

Now we've got an even longer road ahead of us, filled with regular occupational therapy appointments (in addition to all of his speech treatments), training for us and his other caregivers and teachers, and lots and Lots and LOTS of patience. I cannot imagine what it's like to be in Ryan's tiny little body, and it kills me that he can't tell us himself.

After waiting for over three years, Ryan finally said, "I love you" a few weeks ago (although, it sounded more like I uv oo, but we knew what he meant). He was copying Rachel when he said it, but it was beautiful. And it made all of our efforts worth it.

Last week we made the difficult decision to sell our land. We love the location and the lot is absolutely beautiful, but we realized that this particular spot is not right for us. We have a few other opportunities that we're chasing, but as of today we are not exactly certain where our new home will finally be built. That's disappointing because we had planned to start looking for a builder after the holidays, and having to put the process off for at least another year is really discouraging.

We have our entire house designed...right down to the color of the kitchen cabinet knobs. I'm ready to build. Now. I don't ever remember praying for patience (I believe my exact words were, "I pray for peace"), but it seems as though God is dishing out plenty of opportunities to develop my abilities in that specific area of my life.

So, that's us right now. We're just doing our thing and living our lives like everyone else is also doing.

But... I could use a tad less drama. And a new house.


August 25, 2015

Graduate school...

This week I finally started graduate school. Like, for realsies this time.

Last year I took classes as a non-degree seeking student, which essentially means that I decided late (like, almost 6 months late) to go back to school and missed the application deadline. Rather than wait a full year to start, I was allowed to take two classes before I was actually in the program. Yea me.

Anywho, last January I applied for and was accepted into a Higher Education and Student Affairs program in the College of Education. I'll be in the "higher education" portion of the program and will focus more on administration that student affairs.

My classes cover topics like finances, policies, student development, organizational theories, diversity initiatives, assessment...

I know... super exciting. Right?

And yes, I'm terrified. And already exhausted.

But, hopefully, in 2-3 years I'll look back at this decision and be like, yes, that was completely and totally genius of me to go to graduate school. Good job, Angie.

2015: The Real Deal
2014: The First(ish) Day


We walked the walk...

Last Saturday Team Ryan participated in the 2015 Mississippi Valley Walk for Apraxia. The money we raised will fund CASANA's (Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America) programs like iPads for children who need it to communicate, parent and speech therapist workshops, research, and a program to assist families in need with speech therapy costs.

We were completely humbled by the amount of support we received from our friends and family for this event, and cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity and words of encouragement. Some of Ryan's most favorite people (his daycare provider and her husband) walked with Team Ryan. As did my parents, Jake's aunt and cousin, and Izzy the dog.

I have to admit that, although I was a bit nervous about what to expect, I was more baffled by the very thought of showing up to the event in the first place.

How did we end up here?
Why are we here?
Aren't these walks supposed to be for kids with disorders?
Surely we don't belong here?

But we did belong there. And we needed to be there.

And that was hard to take in. And it still is.


Non-walking members of Team Ryan.
The 4-legged member of Team Ryan
Walking members of Team Ryan
Perfect day for a walk along the Mississippi River
We closed the walk. :)
The Fire Department was on hand to show their support,
and let kids take a tour of their truck.
The post-walk cookie break.
The post-walk play time

August 11, 2015

Summer vacation...

A few weeks ago I received an email reminding me that summer is about to end. But, have no fear, it claimed... we can still benefit from one final sizzling hot summer deal before the sunscreen is tucked away for good. Jake and I took the bait, and booked a weekend trip at a local resort that houses an indoor water park and shares parking space with a museum and aquarium.

We didn't tell the kids where we were going, and they were super excited when they woke up from their naps and realized where the car was parked. 

The Mississippi River-
right next to our hotel

Me and the kiddos.
Two kids both looking at the camera is overrated anyway.

On the other side of the tank was a
pretty amazing (camera shy) octopus

Rachel building her boat.

Ryan's boat.

LARGE American Alligator.
Big. Really big.

Looking at turtles and stuff.

Looking at...
The bottom of this water display with her nose? Not sure.

My little girl and a BIG fish.

The Water Park!

Rachel climbing up to the slide

Rachel coming down from the slide

Ryan and daddy.
I went on the slides too, but we don't really need to see pictures of that.

Ryan wearing daddy's hat.
Hanging out with his Jill.

The trip was fun and the kids were unusually good. Jake and I ditched our diets and pigged out on pizza. So all in all, it was a great summer weekend get-away.



July 31, 2015

It has a name...

Last week Ryan received the disappointing, yet not all that surprising, diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). CAS is a (neurological) motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. He knows what he wants to say, but his brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say his words. In most cases, the cause of CAS is unknown. In fact, research on CAS has been limited and, in the past, children with CAS were often misdiagnosed as having autism.

The word "childhood" is a bit misleading as this is not something Ryan will ever grow out of. However, with speech therapy he will eventually be able to communicate more effectively.

This diagnosis has left me relieved. And frustrated. And angry. And hopeful.

A name. It finally has a name.

I know you're not supposed to do this, but every morning I step on the scales to see if that annoying red needle is going to stop any lower than it did the day before. At all. Sometimes I even step on it several times. Because maybe this time will be better. I often catch myself in the same mindset with Ryan. Maybe this time I will ask him something and get an intelligible response. Nope? Okay, let's try again... maybe this time. Let's try one more...

I go through stages with this whole situation. Sometimes I feel depressed and angry. Other times I cry because I'm thankful that CAS is all that we're up against. It could be worse. Much worse. And then I feel stupid because CAS, although a neurological disorder, is nothing compared to some of its close (or not so close) relatives. And who am I to have a pity party? What right do I have to fret about CAS when there are children raging wars against cancer and other, much scarier, disorders and diseases?

Once in a while I tell myself that if I just forget about it, maybe this will all... go away. Poof. No more emotional roller coaster rides or appointments or awkward moments in the grocery store.

Aren't you adorable? What's your name? How old are you? Are you shy? Is that why you aren't responding? My son didn't say a single word until he was 3. You just wait...he will eventually have something worth saying and he'll say it. 

No lady. He can't talk. He's full of things to say but his brain won't let it out of his mouth. It's stuck. All of it. Just stuck in there, trying to fight its way past his lips. He has CAS and can't tell you that he will be three in August and loves to play with trains and puzzles like other little boys his age. He's a sweet, special little guy who can understand every single word you say, and if he could, he would make you laugh with a silly response to your old lady question. But he can't. Because he has CAS. And so most of his words, his precious little words that sound like gobbly gook to you, are the best he can do right now.

I keep asking if he knows that his words don't sound like other people's. Or, does he truly believe that the rest of us, for whatever reason, are all a bunch of idiots who cannot understand a well-spoken word when we hear it. And why, in the name of all things holy, can't we just respond to him. Argh! Adults. What are you so worthless to me?!

I've gotten mixed responses to that question.

In a few weeks Ryan will start preschool. I'm trying not to let myself get too excited (or terrified). I know this will be extremely beneficial for him. But what if it's not? What if we put all of our hopes and dreams into the next 12 months and get burned? Again.

Last night Ryan was hot and tired and couldn't settle down so I laid in front of the fan with him on the floor until he fell asleep. I could see his little eyes in the dark. And his smile. And my heart melted for our special little guy. The little boy, who has CAS.