It’s National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week

Nov. 17-23 is National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week, and here’s a press release from the Safe Kids Missoula Coalition:

Top Tips to Keep Kids Safe during National Teens Don’t Text and Drive Week: November 17-23, 2014 from Safe Kids Missoula Coalition led by Community Medical Center Foundation. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S.—these tips can help keep your teen safe behind the wheel!

Safe Kids Missoula recommends the following top driving safety tips.

1. Take action against distraction. Teach kids to put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until their final destination.

2. Think Ahead. Text before you get behind the wheel, plan your routes ahead of time.

3. Remember the risks. Consider the dangers of taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds. Avoid reading text messages; it’s as dangerous as sending a text message.

4. Let your actions speak as loud as your words. Set a good example for kids by putting devices down when you’re driving. If parents put devices down, kids are more likely to do the same.

5. Talk to your teens about how to be safe while driving. Have discussions about how to be safe while driving, including avoiding distractions such as texting, reading, reaching for electronic devices, eating, drinking and applying make-up.

6. Educate about local laws. Explain local laws to your teen and help them understand the importance of following these laws.

TextDrive1

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Early bird groceries

Are you OK, Jared asked.

Yes, I’ve been awake since 3:44 a.m., I said.

My body had gotten more than four hours of sleep and was tricked into thinking that was enough.

Welcome to motherhood, Jared said, laughing.

Yeah, yeah. Since I’m up, I’m going to run to the grocery store, I said.

Are you sure you want to go now, Jared asked. It’s 5:30.

Yep, I said. Saves me from bundling up Baby Girl to do it later (there was a wind chill warning in effect). I’ll be back before you go to work.

Have fun on your outing, he said. Hurry home.

Gee, thanks, I thought.

At the store I found everything I needed to make my new stuffing recipe for an early Thanksgiving dinner with friends that night.

Then this …

We don’t sell alcohol before 8, the clerk said.

What, I asked, dismayed.

Don’t look at me, she said. It’s state law.

So much for the white wine part of the recipe.

I slogged back to the car, some groceries in tow, and checked my phone only to read: “She’s awake and hungry. Hurry home.”

You see, we can’t get Baby Girl to take a bottle, which means I can only be gone for a few minutes at a time unless she takes an epic nap.

Are you OK, Jared asked for the second time in an hour when I got home.

No, I said, holding back tears. I couldn’t buy wine for my recipe and now I have to go shopping again later.

It’s alright, babe, he consoled me. Just don’t use the wine.

No, I have to use the wine. It’s part of the recipe. It gets all the good bits into the sauce, I explained. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t sell me wine before 8. It’s not like I was going on a bender.

Well, you look like you could use a drink now, Jared said as he left to shower.

About a half hour later he returned to the kitchen, still dripping water.

How long before you would start looking for me, he asked.

Huh, I said.

I fell asleep in the shower, he said. Luckily I leaned against the wall instead of falling over.

Welcome to fatherhood, I quipped, and it’s only 7.

**Let it be noted that I did get wine later in the day because Baby Girl and I ventured out to help my sister-in-law make lefse. Let it also be noted that I realize — now — that just using a different recipe would have made the most sense. In my defense, it was 5:30 in the morning.

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Sleepless in Missoula

You’d never know it, looking at her now in a state of angelic repose.

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But last night she almost drove me over the edge my sleep-deprived self has been toeing for weeks.

It was the latest in a string of evenings full of crying and lack of sleep. Clearly, her refusal to stop kicking her left leg long enough for me to zipper it back into her pajamas was meant to finish pushing me past my limits of self control.

Get the baby book, I asked Jared. Read what it says about colic and how to ease it in case we’re missing something.

After reading the section, we knew no new tricks and Baby Girl was holding strong.

The swaddle didn’t calm her. She couldn’t hear soothing sounds over her screaming. Swaying was doing nothing for her but was jabbing a dagger into my lower back. She had been fed, repeatedly, and her diaper was dry. I had just checked. Hence why her leg was out of her pajamas in the first place.

Walk away, I remembered was the advice of every health care professional we have come across. Better to not let your frustration turn to irrational anger and hurt your baby.

Did their endorsement make me feel like less of a failure as a parent for not being able to put my child to sleep? No.

Did their advice give me the encouragement I needed to let it go and walk away? Yes.

I need a minute, I told Jared, throwing my hands up in surrender.

As Baby Girl cried in the bedroom, so did I, braced against the kitchen counter.

After several minutes, the house became quiet and I walked into the bedroom to find Jared with Baby Girl cradled in his arms, swaying to ocean wave sounds.

Waves of emotion washed over me.

One of relief that she was asleep.

One of love for Jared and Baby Girl.

One of thankfulness that medical professionals are honest about the trials of parenthood and give us the encouragement and support to be honest with ourselves too.

And one of gratefulness for the white noise setting on the radio.

 

 

 

 

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Montana gets $12.5M for school climate, safety, student mental health

Well, this is big news. Before you read the official news release trumpeting the $12.5 million Montana is getting, I recommend you check out this video that explains what the Montana Behavioral Initiative is and how it is changing education right here in Missoula.

Montana Wins $12.5 Million in Grants
to Address School Climate, School Safety and Mental Health Needs of Students
Helena, MT – Superintendent Denise Juneau announced today that the Office of Public Instruction has received three grants totaling more than $12.5 million to improve school climate and school safety and support the mental and emotional health of Montana students. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded a $3.75 million School Climate Transformation grant, an $8.5 million Project AWARE grant, and a $250,000 School Emergency Planning grant.

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Lt Gov announces SMART Schools Challenge to use less energy, promote health

This just in:

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Angela McLean, who worked as a teacher for two decades, today announced a new challenge to the state’s public schools.

Here’s the deets:

It’s no secret that Montana schools are doing amazing and innovative things. Students today have opportunities to earn college credit in high school, get hands on career training in college and gain valuable skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in elementary and middle school. Through these efforts, students are achieving and succeeding in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

For 20 years, I had a front row seat to these exciting and inspirational student successes. And in my new position as Lieutenant Governor, I want to make sure schools have all of the tools and resources to expand on the good work they’re already doing. It’s with that in mind that this week I’ll be kicking off my SMART Schools Challenges. Through this effort, we’ll challenge Montana schools to use less energy and promote student health. It’s pretty simple, if we use less energy and promote student health, we will save schools money that can be used on classroom instruction.

The reality is that schools in the U.S. spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. Many cite their energy bill as being the largest yearly expense. While we know this, we also know that implementing simple behavioral and operational measures to be smart about energy consumption can shave up to 30 percent off of a school’s yearly energy bill. When we save money on energy use, we shore up money for other things schools need, like computers and technology upgrades.

Over the coming days, I’ll be traveling to communities across the state to highlight some of the work that is already being done as part of these challenges. In many schools, students are leading the way on conservation and health promotion.

We’ll make sure to let you know when I’m in your community, but in the meantime, go to SMARTSchools.mt.gov to learn more about the challenges, and steps schools can take to save money and promote student health.

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

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Montana gets federal grant to study paid family and medical leave

The National Partnership for Women & Families sent out a news release today congratulating Montana for being one of four states to win a federal grant to study family and medical leave.

The announcement is copied below:

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In local playground news …

this!

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Sweet! Honey Harvest Festival will be family-friendly

Mmm. Honey.

It’s good on toast and, mixed with hot water and cinnamon, it’s my go-to all-natural remedy for coughs and scratchy throats.

Next weekend, the first-ever Missoula Honey Harvest Festival will take place on the University of Montana Oval. It’s free, open to the community and best of all, family-friendly.

At the festival, local beekeepers and others in the bee business will have their wares on display and for sale. Festival-goers will also be treated to tastes, and will get to see live bees in a glass hive. They’ll get to learn about bees and can even try their hand at building a beehive.

There’s also going to be a honey auction for charity. And G. Wiz. (otherwise known as University of Montana chemistry professor Garon Smith) will offer his trademark educational entertainment for kids. Also, American Honey Princess (there really is such a thing!) Elena Huffman will travel all the way from Pennsylvania to be there. I look forward to seeing what she’s wearing. I hope it’s really princess-y and bee-themed.

 

Meanwhile, UM is hosting two “bee-related academic conferences,” according to a university news release: The 37th Annual Western Apicultural Society Conference and the second International Conference on Hive and Honeybee Monitoring. They will take place from Sept. 17-20.

“The conferences will provide great information to beekeepers and researchers, but the Honey Harvest Festival will be a fun celebration of the honey bee and local beekeepers,” Jerry Bromenshenk, a UM bee scientist and instructor of the UM School of Extended & Lifelong Learning’s Online Beekeeping Certificate Program, is quoted saying in the news release. “This is a great chance for those who are interested in beekeeping to meet folks who can help them get started.”

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New arrival!

It was a dark and stormy night …

No really, it was dark and stormy in the wee hours of the morning when Baby Girl arrived three days late.

I would have told you about her sooner, but I’ve been too engrossed in staring adoringly at her to do much of anything else.

Despite not being sure about her for pretty much my entire pregnancy, I’ve discovered she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect and all the things I didn’t expect her to be, like a sound sleeper.

I’m so relieved, Jared told me.

He made the comment as we were lying in bed one night talking about postpartum depression and how to recognize it. Considering that I had been slow to come around to pregnancy, let alone actually having a baby, he’s worried those less-than-enthusiastic sentiments will carry over now that Baby Girl’s here.

But it’s like a switch flipped, he said.

Tell you the truth, I’m relieved too. It took a false labor call after a fall for me to realize that I loved Baby Girl and even after that I wasn’t a fan of pregnancy.

However, I am a fan of motherhood.

That’s not to say I’ve been all smiles. I’ve cried and given myself hugs and pep talks a few times. Per our discussion about postpartum depression, I tell Jared about the bad along with the good instead of plastering a false smile on my face, and to his credit he listens.

It’s overwhelming, suddenly having a little human to care for, especially one who can’t tell you what she needs. It’s particularly overwhelming when she won’t stop crying no matter what you try.

The doctors say all we have to do is feed her and change her diaper, but those basics don’t always cover it.

There are all the little things, like what bath water temperature she likes best and how long she’ll stand being in the swing before she wants to be held again. And what song will lull her back to sleep after she wakes in a fury at 3 a.m. (I’m pretty sure Jared sang her every song he knows, with the Griz fight song thrown in several times for good measure. The next morning Jared’s footprints were still visible in the carpet where he had stood.)

The most difficult thing for me, though, has been learning to be less controlling.

I am not super human. If I want to have energy to be kind to Jared when he gets home from work or the patience to withstand Baby Girl’s crying spells and to enjoy the moments when she’s adorable, other things must be ignored.

There is no schedule anymore. If Baby Girl sleeps, I sleep. Forget those chocolate chip cookies I was going to make or my plan to mop the floor.

Even with all the adjustments, conquering the learning curve is worth it to have Baby Girl. Like I said, she’s brilliant and beautiful and perfect.

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Check out the Children’s Museum’s new exhibits for free!

You can tell a new school year is underway by the (in)frequency of my posts here. Busy busy busy!

On nice days when we don’t have anything else scheduled, we bike to school. It helps us work some wiggles out before the school day starts and settle down after school.

But now that I have a kiddo getting out of school and another at 3:30, then activities twice or three times a week that start at 4, we’ve having to drive the van to get where we’re going on time. Or relatively close to on time.

In the scramble I’ve missed posting a lot of stuff, but I wanted to make not to not miss free admission day at the Missoula Children’s Museum. It’s this Friday, Sept. 12, and it’s a chance to come check out the new September exhibits.

The two new exhibits were installed just yesterday, and they were kept secret so as to be a surprise.

So come downtown with the kids on Friday and be surprised!

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