12 February 2016

A Plea for Privacy

As many of you are parents of Poway Unified School District students, I thought this might be of interest.  As some of you are surely aware, recently some parents have expressed concerns about the fact that a transgender student is using the boys’ locker room at Rancho Bernardo High School.  This topic drew many parents, students, and community members to the school board meeting earlier this week.  Those who didn’t have a chance to speak at the meeting were encouraged to contact board member, Dr. Mel Robertson, at mrobertson@powayusd.com; and Superintendant, Dr. John Collins, at jcollins@powayusd.com.  So for those parents who were not able to attend the meeting, and would like to stay informed, I am including my letter that I sent to the school board members below.  I am hopeful that students and adults can show love and tolerance for one another, and can find solutions that will allow all students to feel comfortable, safe, and respected.


Dear Dr. Robertson & PUSD Board Members,

I am the mother of 5 PUSD students (and a PUSD alumni myself). My husband and I attended the school board meeting last night.  I filled out a speaker card, but unfortunately was not one of the first 10 speakers on the topic of the locker rooms, so I wasn't able to speak last night. 

I am glad that we attended the meeting, and got to hear voices from different sides of this sensitive topic.  When one man spoke about the suicides of 3 different transgender teens in North County San Diego last year, my heart went out to those children, their families, and their friends, and all that they have gone through. I was brought to tears at the meeting, thinking of those families, and thinking of the many other children and families who continue to deal with such difficult circumstances. 

I can think of a variety of valid reasons why many students may prefer privacy when they need to change clothing at school, regardless of gender or gender identity. For example, one of my children has a minor medical condition that will likely cause him to want privacy when changing.  I recently became aware that at Del Norte High School all freshman are required to take a swim PE class, which means more students will necessarily be stripping completely when they change their clothing, and more students will be showering on campus (which may not always be the case in some other types of PE classes). I know that even as an adult, I would not be comfortable stripping down entirely to change my clothing in front of my peers, regardless of gender.  And I know that many other people share these same feelings. Some people just prefer privacy.  And many people practice personal modesty as a religious observance or cultural custom.  No person, regardless of age, should be required to undress publicly, and all people should be allowed the basic right to undress in private if they prefer to do so.  We need to be sensitive to the needs, beliefs, and feelings of ALL students!  

Some have suggested that separate locker and restroom facilities should be created for students based on gender identity, and I do not believe that this is the answer. I am afraid that this may lead to discrimination. (And on the practical side, it would be very expensive to build additional facilities at each of the middle schools and high schools in the district). 

Personally, I am grateful that my children currently attend Design39Campus, where they do not use locker rooms. The students just choose to dress appropriately on days when they have PE classes. And they wash their clothes and shower at home. So my middle school children are not yet faced with having to change clothing at school. 

But the majority of PUSD middle schools and high schools do have locker rooms, and do require students to change into PE clothes. So I ask, Why not install some individual changing booths with lockers in them, to allow privacy for ALL students who would prefer privacy?  Or if individual changing booths are too cost prohibitive, then at least the schools could provide curtains for the students who want privacy. (As a former Bernardo Heights Middle School and Rancho Bernardo High School student myself, I know that I would have appreciated such privacy measures when I was a student). 

At the meeting last night, one of the first speakers mentioned that the transgender student in question at RBHS has been changing in a private changing stall. When I heard that, I was pleased to think that RBHS had installed some private changing booths since I was a student there. But a subsequent speaker at last night's meeting revealed that the transgender student had actually resorted to changing in a toilet stall, and that all the students have to wait to use one of only 3 toilet stalls in that locker room.  If this is an accurate description of the situation, this is unacceptable. By law, students of any gender or gender identity are now allowed to change in the public school locker room of the gender that they identify with. But if any student, regardless of gender or gender identity, chooses to change in a private location, they should not have to resort to crouching over a toilet to do so. It is my firm belief that any person who wants the basic right of undressing in private should be allowed that right.  I urge PUSD to take quick action to protect the privacy of all students.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and the consideration of the entire school board as you devote your time to safeguard the well being of all of our children.  

Stephanie Bradshaw

11 February 2016

Guitar Biker

Someone from church gave us an old guitar, and the boys have been really excited to try to learn it. On Monday Kolby took the guitar to school so he could have it for his music class he's taking right now. And since then Isaac & Camden have been debating each day who's turn it is to take the guitar to school next. They couldn't come to a compromise, so it sat at home the last two days. But this morning Camden reluctantly relented to Isaac taking it today, since Camden has a music class he would like to take it for tomorrow. 

But the next question was how they could carry that big old thing without giving up on riding bikes to school. So I rigged up a "guitar backpack" out of a messenger bag combined with an extra clip-on strap from a large duffel bag. Isaac struggled a little when we first set out this morning, but after a few adjustments we got it to work so it didn't slide down as he rides along. The guitar on his back looks about as big as he is, but he did it. Hopefully the extra work of getting it to and from school is worth it to him since he doesn't even have a music class right now. At least he can take it and play it during lunch and recess. 

04 February 2016

New Job for Kolby?

Kolby decided he wanted to learn how to cut hair. Since it's kind of a chore for me to do all the haircuts at our house, I often end up putting it off just a little longer than I aught to -- until the boys noticeably need haircuts -- before I get a chance to sit them all down one day and get it done. So maybe someday I will let Kolby take over for me for good on this one. :)

15 January 2016

The Fort

Growing up in this area, my friends and I were always building "forts" in the open spaces and canyons surrounding the neighborhoods. Not real structures in the branches of trees, but more like we'd hike through the underbrush until we found a nice large bush or cluster of low growing trees & then we'd gradually remove some of the sticks and plants and kind of hollow it out to play inside. 

And I absolutely love it that I got my boys interested in fort building too. It's a great activity that promotes creativity and gets them outdoors and enjoying nature. It's something that they can all enjoy together, a free activity, and something that I can go do with them or they can go on their own. It burns some energy and gets them some exercise (at least while they are hiking to and from the fort). They can take the dog so he gets to go on a little hike too. They can get as dirty as they want (without making a mess at the house), and then they just run upstairs and take showers as soon as they get home (so I can then check showers off the list of things to do that day). I remember the planning and all the grand ideas we had for our forts when we were kids, and I'm glad they get to have that good old fashioned fun too. 

Today the boys had the day off school, so I went with them to their new fort that they started working on a few months ago. Michael's parents asked what the boys would like for Christmas this year, and we told them supplies for their fort, so they got a swing, walkie talkies, pullies, rope, twine, hand shovels, binoculars, small saws, some large pieces of burlap, and some big hedge clippers. (How many 12 year olds do you know who would be super excited about clippers?  And 10 year olds who would enjoy unwrapping burlap tarps Christmas morning?  But they were). 

Anyway, today they were so excited to show me all the work they have done on their fort.  The other day they positioned two long pieces of wood across tree branches overhead and then set lots of sticks across them to make a roof. And today I helped hem find a good branch to hang the swing from (the last one they tried to hang it from on their own broke when one of the boys was swinging and another boy was climbing the branch, so they learned not to do that again).  I also helped Lijah use one of his sheets of burlap to make a hammock -- it's a little high for him to climb into, but it's a perfect fit once he gets in. I had to come home to take Kolby and his friend Carter and drop them off for their first snow camping scout trip to Mt. Laguna, and Harley and the other boys opted to stay and play at the fort for the afternoon. 

10 January 2016

Birthday Surprise

This morning I went to pick Michael up from the airport, and when I got in the door I walked in to Camden playing "Happy Birthday" on the piano while the other boys all stood up above on the second floor singing Happy Birthday to me and holding up cards they had made, with a birthday poster they had made hanging on the wall. (It was so cute, too bad I was only able to catch the last few seconds of their song on video). Then they ushered me into the kitchen where they had made banana pancakes (one on my plate was in the shape of a heart) and banana bread. I sure am being spoiled by all my little chefs this weekend!


09 January 2016

Breakfast in Bed

What sweet boys!  I just woke up to my boys excitedly handing me a plate with french toast and sausage. My birthday isn't until tomorrow, but I guess their dad reminded them that I would be gone tomorrow morning picking him up from the airport. So they totally surprised me today. And they chose french toast because they know it's my favorite. What sweethearts. (And the best part is that they're quite good little cooks, and it was really excellent french toast).  :)

31 December 2015

Mammoth Trip

This year Michael and my brother both had to work on Christmas Eve, so we all spent Christmas Day at home, then we drove up to my parents' cabin in Mammoth the next day. 

Michael & I spent the first couple days skiing with my mom and brothers at Mammoth. It was a lot of fun, and Michael even conquered his fear and went off Cornice Bowl with us (which, in my opinion, is the scariest run on the mountain). I thought he was going to back out at the last minute, but he surprised me and chose to do it, and he was so pleased that he had done it afterward.  The boys had a great time hanging out at the cabin, getting their fill of board games and movies those first couple days, with Grandma Faun & Papa at the cabin (my dad is still recovering from his knee injury, and couldn't ski yet this trip).  Then my family had to head back to San Diego for my brother to go back to work, and we still had a few more days that Michael had taken off work so we stayed a little longer. 

We took the boys skiing at June Mountain, about a 20 minute drive from Mammoth. It took us all morning just to sort through their gear, rearrange so the youngest 2 boys got larger coats and mittens, and some of the boys needed larger snow bibs, because they had grown out of theirs since last year. I sewed the younger boys' mittens onto the end of their ski coat sleeves so they couldn't lose them, and sewed up holes in a couple of pairs of mittens while Michael made sure they all had helmets and goggles and ski boots that still fit (luckily they all did). So that took a while, but we finally got out on the ski hill around lunch time. 

We took the tethers just in case the younger two boys needed a bit of a refresher course, but we didn't even end up taking them out of the bag. They just took off, not even trying out the bunny hill before riding up the first lift, then skiing down through the nice snow in the trees along the sides of the runs. They did great. 

I'd say it was the most fun yet we've ever had skiing with the kids. They could all do it, and they all did well enough that we could generally stay together down the hills. We convinced them all to do a black diamond run together (which is a little easier at June that a black diamond run at Mammoth), but they all did just fine, even if a couple of them were a little hesitant at first. We all love skiing the trees the best, and there are so many great places at June where the whole family can enjoy skiing the trees for long stretches together. (And you just can't beat June's kids ski free policy -- that's a big deal for our family!  I told Kolby he now has to stop aging, since next year we will have to start paying youth prices for him, oh well). By the end of the day we learned that Courtland is quite the speed deamon, often zooming to the bottom of a run in first or second place among our kids. Plus when we went down the run with jumps at the very end of the day, he went over every jump pretty quickly, including skiing down those little boxes and bars perfectly (which I now avoid, after trying those once or twice a few years ago and not doing very well on them). Lijah is as gung-ho and speedy as ever, always willing to try out anything.  Kolby does great, and is starting to develop some of the skills of an older skier. And he's great at helping us out by staying with some of his younger brothers while we make sure to stay with the others going through the trees. Isaac was a bit unsure about the black diamond run, but traversed his way down the hill just fine. And he makes his way through the trees with the rest of them. In fact, the youngest two boys got quite good at getting up when they fell in the deeper snow, most of the time not needing our help to get going again. Camden is a little cautious to start out on the hardest runs, but does well on them and has a good additude. 

For the first time ever since we started going to June a couple years ago, it was crowded there. (There hasn't been great snow up here the last couple years, and it's the holiday break). It wasn't crowded on the ski hill, but the parking lot and the lodge lunch area were crowded. That's good for this little resort to get some good business. The one down side is that we waited in line for an hour to ride the lift back down from the lodge on the hill to the parking lot at the end of the day. It was such a good day skiing with the family that we didn't mind the wait, and the staff was handing out free hot chocolate to everyone in line. But a couple of us were cold through by the end of the day, so I think if it's ever crowded like that again we will just plan to hang out inside by the fire until the line dies down. Anyway, great day skiing, and now we're looking forward to the next time we can go with the boys. 

The next day was New Year's Eve, and we spent a relaxing day at the cabin.  We took the boys to a matinee of the new Star Wars movie. Then Michael grilled steaks for dinner (something his dad always does on New Years). And at night we all walked down to the Village to watch the fireworks show. 

And then we got in one final ski day before heading back home:






And this is what it looked like as we drove away:

25 December 2015

Christmas Morning

The boys had so much fun giving their gifts to each other. And my brothers even built a quittich game for the boys, so fun!