My Take on the Michelle Carter Texting Suicide Case

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about Michelle Carter – the girl that encouraged her boyfriend via text message to commit suicide. He did wind up killing himself and now she’s on trial.

Am I the only one that thinks we’ve all lost our damn minds? Yes, she’s a sick, twisted piece of shit for encouraging a mentally ill person to kill himself. I’ve heard that she has something wrong too and was medicated at the time. Somehow the media is making his mental illness out to be more legitimate and  important than hers. We’re supposed to feel sympathy for him and his mental illness, but not for her. We’re supposed to hold her responsible for his actions, not him. He’s sick, after all. Oh wait… so is she.

Can I just say for a minute that I’m SICK AND TIRED of people using mental illness as an excuse? If you’re so screwed up that you can’t be responsible for your own actions (like killing yourself, killing a partner or shooting up a school full of little kids), you should not be allowed into society. Maybe we’re coddling these killers who also happen to have a mental illness a little too much. I keep seeing these horrible crimes committed and it’s always with the excuse of mental illness. I’m sick of it!

I’m not saying mental illness isn’t real, obviously it is and it’s an issue. I’m just saying that we need to stop giving people a convenient excuse to kill others. In a few cases, I’m sure the killer really didn’t know what they were doing, but in a lot of cases it seems like the defense just jumps to the mental illness excuse as a way of absolving their client of any responsibility. We need to hold people accountable whether or not they have a chemical imbalance in their brain. We keep looking for ways to pass the blame. A mentally ill person kills a bunch of kids in a school, we blame the illness. We blame the mother for not keeping better track of him. We blame the doctor. We blame everyone BUT the person that pulled the trigger. We’ve turned people with mental illness into victims and I’m sorry, but that’s wrong. We’re seeing more and more of these horrible crimes because we’re addressing the issue incorrectly.

The Michelle Carter case is just one more problem. Someone with a mental illness kills himself and we blame the girlfriend for encouraging him to do it. For being a bully. She didn’t pull the trigger. She wasn’t even in the same room as him. It’s words. He could have turned his cell phone off. He could have said no. He could have shown someone the messages and gotten reassurance from them if that’s what he really needed, but he didn’t. And in the end HE took his own life.

Yet Michelle sits in a court room on trial for her words. If we can convict this girl for text messages, can you imagine the slippery slope we’ll be on? What about controversial books, political posts or random tweets sent in anger? I know a lot of people say the difference is that the recipient in this case had a mental illness. Do you have any idea how many people you pass on a daily basis that have a mental illness? It’s rampant and a lot of those people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. They’re completely unbalanced as this young man was and any small slight — whether it’s intentional or not — could be the straw that breaks the camels back and makes them do something horrible. You never know. By convicting her for her words, we’re setting ourselves up on a path where we’re all criminals. Where censorship is real and where you can be jailed for your thoughts, words or actions because they could offend the wrong person.

Is Michelle Carter a horrible, evil, vile person for encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself? You bet. But at the end of the day HE killed himself, not her. I think I’d rather let God sort Michelle one out than set the precedent that the wrong words at the wrong time are now a criminal offense.

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Darling VoxBox: First Impressions

DarlingVoxBox
Recently I received a Darling VoxBox from Influenster. The box is packed full of FREE products and samples to try out in my home. The catch? Well, there really isn’t one. With Influenster, you receive FREE products and samples to try at home, then you just spread the word and let people know what you think. It’s that easy.

So, back to the box. What did I get? A full-size bottle of Nature’s Bounty Energy Gummies, a sample packet of Duncan Hines Perfect for 1 Chocolate Lovers Cake, Live Clean Baby Gentle Moisture Tearless Shampoo & Wash, Live Clean Moisture Baby Lotion, a coupon for a container of Country Crock butter and EVA NYC Surf’s UP! Texture Spray. Not a bad haul.

At first I couldn’t really see the connection between the items. VoxBoxes usually have some sort of theme. Then I realized this is really all “mom” stuff. Butter is a household staple, every mom needs some cake once in a while, baby products are self-explanatory as are the energy gummies and the texture spray is to combat the dreaded mom hair.

Aside from the butter, none of these products are things I would have necessarily tried on my own. I tend to stick with baby products that I know and love (or have been recommended by friends) and I don’t generally linger in the baking aisle at the store with my kids to see what’s new (moms know this is dangerous). As for my hair? Well, that hasn’t been styled in about 7 years, so I definitely wouldn’t have picked up the texture spray at random.

I’ve already dug into the butter and the energy gummies (which I may or may not have chased with an iced coffee), but I’m pretty excited to see how the other products work out. I’m saving the chocolate cake for Monday to enjoy with the Bachelorette, but the texture spray is going to go for a test drive this weekend as will the baby products. My “baby” is 3, so lets just hope they don’t make my ovaries explode. Wish me luck!

Not Sure What to Do

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 7 years. For 6 of those years I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter to earn a little extra money. However, I’m not earning enough money to keep up with rising costs — you see, my husband hasn’t gotten a raise in over 6 years. He’s also unwilling to change jobs because he hates being the new guy, so the burden of making more money is on me. I can’t just “write more” because there’s only so many hours in the day and freelancing doesn’t pay very well.

So, I need to get a real job. I need to put my youngest baby in daycare and go back to work. I make more than minimum wage with my writing, so working at Walmart isn’t going to cut it.

Before kids I worked in a laboratory and I have a science degree. I’ve thought about going back, but those jobs don’t pay very well around here. I’d be making less money after accounting for daycare. I need something that pays at least $50k. Oddly enough, in-house copywriting positions seem to pay what I need. I think. I’m not completely clear on how much before and after school care for the older kids and full-time daycare for the younger kid will cost. I know it’s a lot, but I’m not sure quite how much.

I’m overwhelmed at the idea of going back because on top of working full time again, getting the kids to and from their various programs will be 100 percent on me. Even if I get a good paying job, my husband is going to be making more money, driving farther, etc. so it’s all on me to not only find a way to bring in more money, but to also work it out with the kids.

I’ve thought about teaching, but I’d need to get a license and right now I just don’t have the money for the licensing exam, especially if I need to take it more than once.

I’m so stressed out trying to find a way to make everything work financially. I wish my husband would look for a new (better paying) job, but he won’t. He hasn’t had a raise in 6 years and hasn’t left the company, so I don’t think his employer for feels like it’s terribly urgent to give him more money. At the same time, regular expenses (like water and electricity) have doubled. I’ve put off doing something about it for too long and I hope I can find a solution soon.

Tenure in Schools Needs to Go

Everyone loves to talk about how America’s schools are failing. They all have their ideas as to why — everything from funding to the No Child Left Behind Act. Most school administrators would tell you it’s a lack of extra support services.

Do you want to know what this mom thinks? I think it’s the tenure system.

Every teacher or family member of a teacher that just read this is probably groaning, rolling their eyes and possibly clicking away right now, but hear me out.

My oldest has been in public school for 2 years now (she’s in the 1st grade). Both years she has had less than great teachers that spent more time out of the classroom than in. It was bad in kindergarten with the teacher disinterested in the curriculum and leaving the classroom an average of once a week, but in 1st grade, the teacher is out more than she’s in. When she’s in the classroom, my daughter tells me she frequently screams at the kids and tells them they’re not doing enough.

She hates her teacher and what’s worse is that she hates school at this point. She’s in 1st grade. She’s supposed to love school.

She has nightly homework which consists of reading, math and vocabulary words (we were pressured to finish all of the 1st grade sight words within the first few weeks of school). If she has any unfinished desk work from the day, that comes home too. She gets home in the afternoon at 3:30pm. If we have any after school activities or would just like to just enjoy the nice weather a little bit, there’s very little time left for homework, so she winds up having to stay up late to finish it, leaving her tired the next day. I tried skipping the homework on days when she had activities, but the teacher found out and screamed at her along with the other kids that had been doing the same thing on days that they had any other obligations.

All of the parents in this classroom know the teacher is screaming at the kids. We all comment on how frequently they have substitutes (2-3 times a week) The other teachers in the school know. The principal knows. Everyone knows. This is not unusual.

I questioned the substitute issue. Apparently on days when the teacher has an IEP meeting with a parent, they call in a substitute for the day. Apparently there are a lot of kids in that school with an IEP and she can’t meet with more than one of their parents per day. I’m making some broad assumptions here, there’s only 20 kids in the class.

The screaming issue however, the teacher vehemently denies. She says she gets a little excited. I told her the kids are interpreting it as screaming. That was a mistake. She screamed at the kids for telling their parents she was screaming at them.

The school can’t remove her. She’s not physically hurting the kids (only mentally) and she has tenure. Ah tenure. I hate tenure. Job protection should not exist in a performance-based field. If a teacher is unable to teach because they have lost their passion or are just plain crazy, they should not have job protection. It should not take hurting a child for a teacher to be replaced. The schools should be able to always have the option of bringing in better people.

I know that there are districts that would abuse this ability by constantly bringing in younger teachers at lower pay grades, so make them justify the firings to the school committee. I think being bat-shit crazy and yelling at kids almost daily would be a justifiable offense though.

Money Saving Tip: Use Ebates for Online Shopping

If you haven’t heard about Ebates, you’re missing out. Ebates is the site that gives you cash back on your regular online shopping. Amounts vary from 1% to 30% depending on where you go! (Spoiler alert – ProFlowers is at 30% cash back just in time for Mother’s Day!)
The site also gathers coupon codes and shows them to you when you select a store to shop at, so you’ll never miss a deal ever again. It’s fantastic and best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing to join or to use!

That’s right, you can sign up to Ebates ABSOLUTELY FREE and start saving money with coupon codes and cash back. Once you’ve accumulated enough cash back in your account (hint: amounts never expire), Ebates will send you a check to the address you give them. It’s REAL cash back, not points or gift cards.

If you like hearing about deals and ways to save money, say thanks by using my referral link when sign up to Ebates. Creating an account takes just a second and you’ve got nothing to lose.

iPhone Unsubscribe Feature: Does it Work??

Like most people, my email inbox fills up twice a day with dozens of messages, most of which I don’t care to read. More often than not they’re from mailing lists that I signed up for in order to get a coupon or to enter a giveaway.

Unfortunately, I spend more time than I should deleting these messages each day and every time I get a notification that I have a new email, I run and check my inbox in case it’s something important. It rarely is. Unsubscribing to these messages is cumbersome and can often take 2-3 steps to do. It’s nearly impossible on a phone because the links are tiny and the web pages they take you to take forever to load.

However, I’m an iPhone user and I recently found a feature that I thought was great — the UNSUBSCRIBE link. When you read an email on your iPhone, at the top of the message it says it’s from a mailing list and asks if you’d like to unsubscribe. I clicked the link on a few to see if it would work and….

It does not. At least not on the ones I tried. Boo. 😦

So fellow email warriors, if you want to unsubscribe from a newsletter or mailing list, it looks like you have to keep doing it the old fashioned way.

Survey Says: No Fricken Way!

Interesting story. Someone that works at my town asked me to come in and speak with them about my feelings in regards to the direction the town is going.

LOL

I’m not wealthy so I can’t contribute to anyone’s campaign finances and I don’t own land that the town wants. There’s no reason they’d want to speak to me other than to tell me to shut up. I apparently make people stop and think about the crap that’s going on in town.

So dear, survey says: NO FRICKEN WAY! All the warning bells are going off and red flags are flying on this one. I’m so not interested in being bullied by a politician. Thanks, but no thanks! Seriously, why are politicians so damn dirty?

Probably because they can get away with it.

Before you vote this spring or next fall, I encourage you to RESEARCH your candidate. Go on Facebook, it’s amazing what kind of crap you’ll find once you start scratching the surface. One thing’s for sure, with the amount of money it takes to run for office, there’s no wonder there’s so much corruption. The best, most honest and hardest working people usually lack the funds to make a change. The piss-poor options are the ones with the signs and the rallies offering voters the moon in exchange for another term.

You reap what you sew and that my friends is why the American political system, even in small-town America is so rotten.

Market Basket Fail

If you live in eastern MA, NH or southern Maine, you’ve probably at least heard of Market Basket. If you’re outside of that area, Market Basket is a grocery store. They have a reputation for having the cheapest prices, though their costs are steadily increasing and you can often score better sales at other stores. Still though, I go there for my “normal” items like pasta and canned goods that are still cheaper there.

This morning I ran in for dishwasher detergent and toilet paper. I had my 3 year old with me and I wasn’t paying attention at checkout. I left the store and realized the toilet paper had rang in wrong. It was marked $9.99 on the shelf and it rang in at $13.49. I went to customer service to get the price fixed and got some serious attitude from the little girl at the desk.

Heaven forbid I interrupt your very sorry attempt at flirting with the boy you were working with.

She eventually called someone in the store and asked them to check the price. The guy working in that department said there was no sale sign. I could see the part of the store where the toilet paper was from where I was standing. The person “checking the price” removed the large orange sale sign when he was confirming the price and took it with him. Toilet paper was not advertised in last week or this week’s flyer, so I don’t know if it was a sign that was left up from the previous week or if the wrong item had been advertised on the sign.

It’s things like that that make me not want to shop at Market Basket anymore. You have to really watch the prices at checkout, otherwise you’re going to pay more. I would not have bought the toilet paper for $13.49. I’m tempted to bring it back and return it… not because it’s a horrible price, but because of the experience I had with the store.

Have you ever stopped shopping somewhere because of bad customer service?

Opting-Out of School Fundraisers

In my town they charge a fee to ride the school bus. It’s $200 per kid UNLESS you are K-6 and live more than 2 miles from the school, but that’s only because the state says they have to bus those kids for free. If you live 2 miles or less or are in grades 7 through 12, you’re paying.

In my town there are basically 2 groups of people: those that think the bus fee is A-OK (they probably live more than 2 miles from the school and have young kids) and those that think it’s not. Basically, the people that ride for free (they think it’s fine) and the people that have to pay (we’re not such fans). There are situations where one person pays for the bus and their next door neighbor does not. The better neighborhoods are outside of the 2 mile mark, so kids from more affluent families are not paying to ride. It’s strange.

So, those of us that have to pay are starting to talk. The schools rely on fundraisers. I usually spend $300-$500/year on fundraisers. Other families spend more if they can get grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. to buy. Guess what? I’m not doing it next year. And neither are a lot of the other pay-to-ride families. Instead, I’m putting the money towards the bus fee.

My household budget only goes so far. If you want to make me pay for the school bus, I’m going to have to make cuts in other areas. I’m choosing to make those cuts in my fundraiser budget. Congratulations – you’ll get your bus fee, but that’s it.

Does your school district charge a fee to ride the bus? Have you spent less on fundraisers or stopped participating in them all together to pay the fee?

Drop School Bus Fees and Improve Academic Success?

I live in a town with a struggling school system. The administrators focus on test scores and ways to improve scores all day long and have had little success over the past few years. At the same time, the school committee has been looking for ways to cut costs. One way was by eliminating the free school bus system and instituting a pay-to-ride system instead. State law demands that kids in K-6 that live farther than 2 miles from the school are provided with transportation, but what about the kids that don’t live more than 2 miles from the school? Well, their parents have to pay.

In my state, that charge ranges from about $100 per student to over $500 per student depending on where you live. The idea is to reduce the cost for the district to get the kids to and from school. If you can’t (or simply don’t want to) pay, you’re responsible for bringing your kids to and from school. Seems easy enough, 2 miles isn’t THAT far to walk, right?

Wrong. You see, I live in Massachusetts, where in the winter the daytime highs are often below freezing. We have days where you cannot go outside for more than 10 minutes without getting frost bite. Walking your 6-year old and their younger sibling 2 miles to school can’t really happen on those days, so if you didn’t pony up the money for the school bus and your car is broken down, your child is missing school. Meanwhile, the kid 1/2 a mile down the road is riding for free to school on the warm school bus, even though his family is better-off financially than yours. His mother never has to worry about how she’s going to get her child to school or how she’s going to pay for his bus ride. Makes perfect sense, right?

In many parts of Eastern Mass, the towns were not designed for the type of industry they now house. There are tractor trailers on back roads, narrow streets, a lack of sidewalks and other hazards. On top of that, the size of the tractor trailers have increased. In the winter, snow is a hinderance to walking with or without a sidewalk. Because schools are strapped for cash, many that have these pay-to-ride policies are not employing crossing guards.

Between the traffic, the lack of sidewalks and the lack of crossing guards, walking isn’t an option for a lot of the kids in the pay-zone. Add in a couple younger siblings and you’ve really got a problem.

Kids in these pay-to-ride towns are missing school because they can’t ride the school bus. Kindergarteners are missing school because of where their families live. Still think it’s not a big deal? A study titled, “Linking Getting to School with Going to School,” found that providing a bus increasing school attendance by 20 percent for kindergarteners. Kindergarten attendance has been linked to academic performance later in life and in turn, lifetime earning potential. Kids that are in the pay-zone are being disadvantaged for the rest of their lives if their parents can’t afford the sometimes outrageous school bus fees that their neighbors down the road don’t have to pay. The selective tax is a burden not only on parents, but on the kids as well.

I’m calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to put our kids first and to keep our state number 1 in the nation for education. Our youngest, most vulnerable population deserves the opportunity to go to school, regardless of where they live. Schools need to provide equal transportation opportunity to all students, not just those living more than 2 miles from the school.

I was told by one lawmaker that this wasn’t possible because of budget cuts due to MassHealth eating up half of the state budget. There simply wasn’t enough money to provide the towns with money for busing. Our Democratic state lawmakers just voted themselves large raises — I think they can find some money in the budget for school buses for our kids.