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I am not an activist. 

I vote, but don’t campaign. I give money to causes I believe in, but don’t tell others to do the same. But in the past five years since I’ve had children in the public school system, all that has changed.

When I spent time in the kindergarten classroom and saw how cramped the space was; when I saw children were literally on the floor, under tables, crying – I talked to the teacher, then the principal. He was rudely unresponsive. So, I did some research about budgets and state law.  I contacted the superintendent, assistant superintendent, and five members of the school board.

I spoke at a board meeting, shaking with rage and nerves the whole time. I was on the local news twice, including one day when I hadn’t showered. And when all of those efforts made not one drop of difference, I moved my child to another school.

To choose a school with better chances of success in kindergarten, I asked everyone I knew about their experience. I called district offices where no one wanted to answer questions about class size. Finally, I called every elementary school in my city to find real numbers — not school averages, but how many five- and six-year-olds one teacher was expected to wrangle.

Before switching, I went to observe. I’d learned my lesson. The tone and tenor of one classroom, far from our home, was unlike anything else I’d seen. Immediately I knew it was the right place for my son.

It shouldn’t be this hard. I speak English as my first language, have my own transportation, work from home, and have a master’s degree. Even with these advantages, navigating the education system in my community was exhausting.

Fast forward a few years and my second child was set to begin kindergarten. We were at the same school where we’d found such contentment the first time around. With a wonderful teacher, we began the year. My son had some special needs – a chronic health condition – and a brilliant mind. I met with the teacher early on and together we figured out accommodations to make things work.

Despite the teacher’s best efforts, my boy was not thriving. One day I noticed he’d begun to count on his fingers, like his peers, something he’d not done since he was three years old. I recognized the need for intervention and began to confer.

I met with the principal, so unlike the first one I’d encountered. She was responsive to my concerns and came up with alternatives. Stymied by rules, she involved district administrators.  I spoke again with superintendents, even state legislators. 

I was treated by these officials with such remarkable condescension. I was told by many that my opinion did not matter, that every parent wants to think their child is special. In not so many words, the message was clear: suck it up.

The first time around, I was disillusioned and pained by how the system didn’t seem set up for student success. This second time I was heartbroken to see how nothing had changed, despite the amazing people in the real classrooms.

Something has shifted inside me over these five years. I’m up to date on state education policies, as well as national trends. I know the people involved in every level of leadership in my community, and know who can be taken at their word. I tell strangers they don’t have to take the status quo when I overhear them worrying in the parking lot.

I still hate meeting new people and hate how my voice sounds amplified through a microphone.  I don’t want to be seen as an agitator or loudmouth. But once it became about my kids, my preferences went out the window. 

I’m working with a small group of parents to get approval to expand our school. We’re hitting roadblock after roadblock. Some people want to give up, don’t think it’s worth the hassle. I get that. I just know that no one else will advocate for my children if I don’t. Special education parents changed the system over the past 50 years, fighting for every child. 

My quests may be less dramatic but the idea is the same: our kids are worth fighting for.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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