Monday, March 12, 2018

Mexican Destination Weddings, Pig Pens, Turning 9, Baseball season, and a Principal's take on school safety in America

If the title of this blogpost didn't scare you away, then you're in for one hell of a ride.  I haven't posted but once this year, but just like a trip to Dick's Sporting Goods during baseball season - we'll go for broke in one shot.  Someone needs to decipher Easton's relationship with baseball associations across the United States.  You need a new bat you say?  Because the bat you paid over $200 for last year, doesn't have a "2018" stamp on it?  And the new bat will cost you more than last year's?  And you're nine?  Trust me America, turn your view from the White House, we've got bigger problems.  America's past time - ahem.  Middle Class America's past time.  I digress as our son lives, and breathes, and sleeps, and eats baseball.  We're pretty proud of him as he made a local travel ball team.  He had to try out and worked extremely hard to make this team.  He told us that "he's waiting for this day his whole life."  I guess I can't put a price on dreams.

In addition to a travel ball team which practices twice a week, Carter is also on a Little League team (new bat league), Miles is playing farm league, and Bradley is helping coach the Little League team.  Cousin Clint is the head coach of the Isbell family team. In our spare time, we've been preparing for Carter's pig by building a pig pen/palace.  Read trenching water, power, welding gates, pouring concrete, and everything in between.  Carter helped prepare the sow for birth and was there for the vaccination, ear notching, and tail clipping.  When he's not out notching ears on pigs or welding panels, he's throwing a baseball around with his brother.

Miles had the honor of being asked to present the crown at the high school basketball homecoming.  It became quite the to-do when his first grade teacher transported him to the pep rally and he got to ride his scooter into a gym of high schoolers.  He had a lot of fun and looked very handsome.  Initially he became very upset and didn't want to "go out in front of all of those people", but he pulled through. 

Taking a break from the demands of pig farmers and baseball parents, Bradley and I went down the Baja over the four-day weekend for our dear friends' destination wedding.  The bride grew up down the street from Bradley and she and I because great friends in high school.  We introduced the two of them at a party we had at our home once I got my principal job. 

Between catching a Marlin, ripping up an arroyo in search of a waterfall on ATVs while drinking beer, dancing until dawn, fleeing a lightning storm in the middle of paddle boarding in the Sea of Cortez, and having the hot tub turn our suits and hair green, it was an unforgettable weekend.  Sooooo many laughs, a great group of people, a couple truly in love, and even flying fish as they were sealing their vows.

I finally got around to interviewing Carter this evening.
Name:  My name is Carter Bradley Isbell.
What is your favorite thing to do?  Play baseball, and help my dad with projects.  
Who is your best friend?  Miles and Wyatt and Finn Hilton.
Favorite Superhero? Hulk
Favorite Color?  Orange and black
Favorite Toy?  A baseball, a baseball mitt, and a baseball bat.
Favorite Food?  French Dip and pizza from Denny Bar.
Favorite Drink?  Dr. Pepper
Perfect Day?  A whole day of baseball.
What do you want to be when you grow up?  A major league baseball player.
What will you miss about being eight?  I will miss being the age of the number of my favorite SF Giant's baseball player Hunter Pence.
What are you looking forward to about being nine? I look forward to playing on the Dirt Dogs, being Brandon Belt's number, and taking my pig to the fair.
What are you really good at?  I am good at playing baseball.  
What are your chores?  Putting wood on the porch, chopping kinling, cleaning the chicken coop, recycling, taking out the trash, feeding the horse, feeding the chickens, and vacuuming.
What makes a good person? A good person is kind to others, respects others, and they do not think of themselves, they think of others first.
Favorite thing to watch?  Major league baseball, specifically the SF Giants.
What is your favorite thing about school?  Talking to Mrs. Thackeray about baseball.
Something you can work on?  Not arguing with my mom and being nice to my brother. 

Carter spent his birthday basically repeating his 8th birthday, but this year the twins slept over for TWO nights.  The first night was unplanned but it made it that much more fun.  We headed to Medford and visited Dick's, Red Robin, the trampoline park, and the batting cages.  The evening was topped off with a movie and homemade carrot cake.  The boys all begged to buy air soft guns at Dick's Sporting Goods.  They came armed with their own cash and we relented.  An airsoft gun shoots plastic pellets with air.  We looked like parents of the year leading out four boys with airsoft guns which resembled the same guns that Dick's had just discontinued selling a few days prior.  The purchase made for a very exciting Sunday morning with lots of running, pellets, and laughing.

I'm not sure who all out there reads this blog, but I can imagine that in the wake of the 281st school shooting in America it seems a bit preposterous to imagine four little boys buying what look like real guns and then having a blast shooting each other up in the lawn.  Or the fact that our son has a shotgun and hunts with his dad, or the fact that I surprised my husband this year with his first left-handed gun he's ever owned.  Our sons are growing up in a home, as my husband grew up in a home, where guns are to be respected and much education takes place.  This is all secondary to my thoughts on school violence in America.

If you walk into any public school in our country you are likely to find 10-40 anti-fire measures in every single classroom.  Even the goddamn bulletin board paper that our insurance companies force us to use is "fire safe".  I couldn't set my school on fire if I tried.  I could literally build a fire in my office and it would not burn the school down.  Is this because I got rid of fire?  No.  It's because our government, our insurance companies, the DSA, all got together and combatted ways to address fire while still recognizing its existence.  Fire is not going away.

School violence is not going away.  There will continue to be guns placed in the hands of mentally unstable people regardless of what guns laws are in place and what mental health or medication people receive.  I shouldn't even say "people", I should be more specific.  White males.  Every school shooter has been a white male.  We need to treat this threat just like we do with fire.  Every school in America should be protected with multiple measures.  Automatic locks.  Do you even know how many different ways there are to lock a school that was built in 1956?!?  A lot.

Despite the countless drills that we have at our school, the endless training I've been to, and the progressive approaches that we have taken to teaching kids to perhaps jump out of windows and run (in a zig zag line no less), I still live in fear every time I leave my school site.  I am not in fear because of the lack of education, or the lack of comfort, or the ability of my team.  I am in fear because I wonder if today will be the day that a shooter comes to my school.  For lack of a better term this is extremely sad.  I work with a extraordinary team of professionals who strive to deliver a level of education that is on level with private schools across our country, and my biggest fear is about school violence.

What would make me feel better?  A completely locked campus with an "entry way" which vets every individual coming on campus.  Bullet proof glass, automatic locks, mental health screenings of every student once a year, every staff member, and every parent.  A "live" in color camera system monitored by a team of individuals in real time.  Is this all sad to wish for?  Yes.  Do we live in a different time?  Yes.

What won't make me feel better?  Arming teachers.  Some of my teachers lose their phones regularly or forget to lock their classrooms.  They are amazing people, but they don't want the pressure of owning a gun.  They can interrupt the mental cycle of an untrained gunman with a heavy book or a chair, they don't need a gun. 

What else won't make me feel better?  Arguing about gun control.  It's like the war on drugs.  Come on people.  That was 20+ years ago and we have a worse drug problem in our country than we did then.  Should people be vetted buy guns.  Absolutely.  Is it realistic that some sort of process will keep guns out of the hands of "bad people" work?  No.

So there you have it.  Maybe someone scouring the Internet for middle-class America's views will suggest that Trump talk to me.  A small town girl, working to make her little school the best it can be.  However,  I might bend his ear on this whole baseball bat monopoly first.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Goodbye 2017

Winter break is nearly over and I've finally gotten a chance to sit down and attempt to update our blog.  I'm a bit disappointed in myself for not updating in November or December, but am hopeful that my 2017 recap will help fill the void.

Truthfully, it's been a hard year but one that has been made sweeter by the time with family.  We are proud of our accomplishments both individually and as a family of four.  Finally, we are thankful for our health and the beautiful place we call home.

January 2017 started with a generous dose of snow from Mother Nature.  This ensured two extra days of winter break along with our skiing/boarding and sledding fun.  What's not fun?  Working in this white winter wonderland.  Bradley spent several routes predriving into locations to hand empty cans/bins and then into trucks.  He also pulled out a fuel truck and a few FedEx and UPS drivers.  He maintains that the count between the delivery pull outs was equal.  He always had extra energy to come home and play in it after a full day of working in the snow.


February's weather ended at the polar opposite of January.  The boys were able to do spring chores and prepare for baseball season.  Truly the month of love, the boys made cards for their classmates, their parents, and even each other.  More trips to Mt. Shasta continued every weekend as the snow was too good to pass up. Carter was able to independently ride all over Mt. Shasta. In addition to riding and expressing our love, the final phase of our pool project began.  This included building a pool/room bathroom and an overhang over the bar area. 

March  found our oldest turning eight years old.  It's true, eight is great and not just because he can now drive a four wheeler and complete endless chores, but he's now the age of his favorite SF Giant's player.  The work on the pool room and covering continued and we mentally prepared for spring.  
April marked the beginning of baseball season.  Bradley coached Carter's first year of Little League along with his dad and Brent.  Was it fun?  Yes.  Is it stressful to coach?  Yes.  Miles played "farm league" which is essentially in between t-ball and Little League.  This month marked the beginning of four nights a week minimum of baseball.  
We took a trip to Cabo San Lucas Mexico with Bradley's sister, husband, niece, and nephew during spring break.  This was easily the highlight of our year.  If I told you that the tacos at Gardenias or the Margaritas poolside were the best part of the trip, I'd be lying.  The best part was easily spending time together as a family.  As cliche as it sounds, it was worth every penny.  Carter fought a swordfish and food poisoning only hit half of the family.  I'd consider this a win.  

Miles also turned six and celebrated by painting pottery and eating pizza with many of his first grade buddies.  
The covering over the bar was completed and the pool project was beginning to look officially finished.

May was the beginning of a long journey for us.  Bradley threw his back out moving a refrigerator and it laid him up for two weeks.  At one point, he could not walk and eventually could only move with the assistance of a walker.  During this time, I became significantly aware of just how much Bradley does for our family.  We learned to rely on the help of others and to appreciate our health.  I learned how to drive every tractor on the property.  Since May we have learned that he has degenerative discs and that surgery is not something we want to embark upon until much later in life.  He keeps a daily regimen of exercises and hot tub.  He keeps a weekly appointment with a masseuse/chiropractor.  Always mindful of his actions and in constant pain.  

The boys both took part in our school's talent show.  Miles did jokes with his friend Peter in matching bow ties and Carter sang "Lean on Me".  

Prior to Bradley hurting his back he had been running since January in preparation for the Wild Rogue Relay.  We completed in a race as a family in May and we all earned second places in our age categories.  We opened up the pool and continued our baseball season.  Bradley turned 33 and a few days later threw out his back.

June brought the end of our third year at Fort Jones Elementary and a Kindergarten graduate.  Mom competed in the Wild Rogue Relay and ran nearly a marathon as she had to pick up more mileage due to missing runners.  Dad hiked into a lake with Anne, Brent, Wyatt, and Finn to celebrate Father's Day and the boys hiked with their own goods to take the strain off dad's back.  The fishing was excellent!

We took a family trip to the Bay and took in a wedding along the way.  We watched two games, one in club level seating and one in the bleachers.  We all decided that the bleachers were best.  We managed to visit the city on the same weekend as SF Pride so the boys got their fill of culture and lifestyle not seen in Scott Valley.  The highlight of the weekend was getting a ball signed by Sam Dyson and running the bases at the park.  

July brought the down south cousins into town for a festive and family filled 4th of July.  Between visits to mountain lakes, the largest small town footrace in America, family pedicures, and a rattle snack siting, it was a festive visit.

The boys attended a baseball camp at the University of Oregon and mom enjoyed solo running time every morning in track town USA.

Mom turned 33 and dad planned an adventure which included our family summitting Black Butte 10 years to the day we had climbed Mt. Shasta.  Not as tall, but nearly as breathtaking.  The boys competed in the first swim meet and both earned high point awards for their age group on Mom's birthday.  

Sadly, Grandma Cora entered the hospital at the end of the month and began her journey to the brink of death and back, complete with a stay in Hospice.  

August marked the start of a new school year, continued use of our backyard pool, and the beginning of Carter's career as the EHS Lions waterboy.  He attended EVERY single game, even the away games and earned many accolades for his dedication and hard work.  Mom attended the Native Tribal Health Fitness Conference at the Nike Campus in Beaverton and dad worked hard provided garbage service on the fires.  

October meant putting up wood for winter.  Miles really took off with his reading and completed his first chapter book.  His favorite being to read to continues to be our dog Mary.  Dad and Carter managed to take a night off from fire camp to get a buck opening weekend with cousins Clint and Brayden.  We also enjoyed time up at the ranch shooting.  

Bradley took hard earned fire money to purchase a new truck to the fleet.  He flew back and then drove the new garbage truck back from Montana.  

October found the boys and mom competing in the local Breast Cancer run/walk.  Grandma Cora came home from hospice and we were able to trick or treat at her house.  This was truly a miracle and we never thought she was coming home.  We were also able to take a trip to Reno to surprise Marcia for her 60th birthday party.  Halloween was celebrated at school and by trick or treating with Wyatt and Finn.

November allowed for mom to run her yearly marathon in the hills of Ashland and for the men in the house to enjoy many hours of fishing!  The 13th annual Turkey Trot was another success and we enjoyed the Madole cousins for the week of Thanksgiving.  Between early morning bird hunts, sleepovers, and the thrill of ATVs, the week was a blast.  

December allowed for ample opportunity to display and teach gratitude.  The boys made scarves for rescue ranch dogs, donated toys, delivered food to families in need, and anything else they felt necessary to make it on the nice list.  They had quite a bit to do in order to make up for the plethora of small animals which may or may not have been injured by pellet and/or BB guns.  

What we lacked in snow, we made up for in Christmas cheer.  Between school and home activities I think the only thing we missed was the local Ugly Sweater run and this was simply due to the fact that mom had a case of bronchitis/bordering on pneumonia.  

The down south cousins came back a few days after Christmas and were here to ring in the New Year!  It was the perfect way to end 2017, with family.  If you are still reading - bless you and thank you for being a part of our journey.  We are so truly blessed.