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Helping with Domestic Violence

It’s been twenty years since I was in high school. While I definitely do not remember everything that I learned in my classes, there were experiences that have stuck with me to this day. Living at home with both of my parents and seeing my extended family in their homes, all the time left me naïve. I was clueless about domestic violence. I knew there were people living in the Capital Region that were homeless. What I didn’t get prior to this time was that many were women and children that had left homes where they were being abused.

I still remember sitting in Key Club after school when a woman from Equinox Domestic Violence Services came to chat with us. She wanted our group to help them in whatever way we felt comfortable. We could donate money from a fundraiser, go and help to cook for their big Thanksgiving dinner, or get donations for the kids that were in their shelters and transitional housing. We did several different things for Equinox over the years that I was in Key Club as a member and president. Teens at our urban high school were helping others in our community that needed love, security, and people that they could trust. It felt good to do whatever we could.

Flash forward to the present day. NHL is getting ready to have his Bar Mitzvah in less than a year. He will need to do a project to help others in our community. Thanks to all of the news stories about Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, I would love to get him to work with Equinox. He is a sweet and naïve twelve year old that adores helping others. I know that if I can present information to him about the cause that it may be something he would like to do, not simply because he has to.

As always, if you know someone or need help from an abusive relationship please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or #HOPE on your Verizon Wireless phone.

Going Purple for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

If you would like to help those in need, Verizon has made it easy. Please consider donating phones that you are not using to HopeLine from Verizon where they will get the refurbished devices with 3,000 minutes and texting to survivors of domestic violence that are with participating domestic violence agencies. Verizon has a goal of collecting one million phones by the end of 2015. FYI, Hopeline accepts wireless phones, chargers, and accessories from any carrier.

In addition to this, Verizon Wireless will be selling purple HopeLine accessories. $1 from each will be donated from the sale and up to $100,000 will be donated to the National Violence Hotline.

HopeLine Accessories

Have you ever donated a phone to HopeLine or volunteered to help a Domestic Violence charity? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. In addition to this, I share programs like HopeLine because I believe in how they help people in need. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Smartphone Use in a Medical Emergency

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

Two weeks ago was a really big day in our family. It was my mother’s birthday and she was also set to retire. Prior to the special day, we planned to go out to dinner to celebrate together and then head back to Nana and Papa’s house for cake. I went out and bought the cake that morning. Photos to make sure it was the right kind were sent back and forth to my father. In the afternoon, my middle school kiddo and I went to buy something special just for Nana.

NHL and I went to see Nana after her last day of work. We decided to go with my parents to the restaurant. TechyDad would meet us there after he picked JSL up from an after school program. When we got to the restaurant, we ordered our meals and drinks. Just before our dinner arrived, I noticed my mother fishing around in her purse for something. She mentioned she had heartburn. This is something she had been bothered by a bit more recently.

Smartphone use in a medical emergency

I was sitting next to my mother and could tell she was getting no relief. In fact, it was pretty clear that things were intensifying. I watched to see where Mom was grabbing on her body. She was rubbing by her sternum and over to her left clavicle.

Alarm bells started to go off and I pulled out my smartphone. I did a quick search that I wish I never had to do. My search was symptoms of a heart attack in women.

You see, my mother has a heart condition that started years ago when a virus attacked her heart. Something bothered me with what I was seeing.

As I searched things changed again.

Mom started to sweat like I have NEVER seen before. She could barely keep her eyes open and looked like all of the color had drained from her face.

That was it. I mouthed to my father that I was calling 911. My mother, putting her grandkids ahead of herself, told us no. While it seemed like an eternity, Dad got Mom to head to the car. She wanted to go home, but Dad said he knew there was no way. Yes, we should have called emergency personnel – but in the heat of the moment it was more important to get her to the emergency room STAT.

I was numb and sat with the boys who had no clue what was going on. I asked to have everything packed up. I left text messages for my brother to let him know to call me immediately. Then I sent a text to my aunt to see if she was still in town. She replied back to me just as we got to the car. TechyDad got the kids into the car and I stayed outside to chat with her because I did not want to scare the boys. At this point, they really had no idea what was going on.

My father messaged me shortly after this to tell me he had made it to the ER and Mom had her EKG and it was fine. I was able to breathe a little as we made our way to the hospital.

Much of the events in the ER are a blur. Mom’s pain continued, but they did not think that she had a heart attack. They believed that it was an esophageal spasm and gave her things to help that.

NO change and the pain intensified again. I told the nurse and thank goodness she listened. We got mom baby aspirin and she gave her nitroglycerin to see if it would relive the pain.

During this time, my brother and sister-in-law had called me. I was able to talk to them and later on text things that I didn’t want to necessarily say and alarm my parents until we knew more.

Within seconds, there was a difference. My own heart sank. That’s about the time some blood test results came back. The cardiac enzyme result was negative. Based on this they felt it was not a cardiac event, but because the nitroglycerin helped some they were admitting her over night for observation and to do two more cardiac enzyme checks.

At almost 11, we moved up to the Cardiac area of the hospital. While settling Mom into her room, the second cardiac enzyme came back. This time it had gone up. The nurse told us and immediately went off to contact her cardiology group.

This is exactly why they do multiple enzyme tests because they can change within 6-9 hours (thank you again smartphone search). Dad and I left for the night knowing that they would check things once more and would wait to hear from the doctors in the morning.

Birthday Retirement and Heart Attack

Saturday morning, I was up early and heard the words that brought tears to my eyes.

My mother had definitely had a heart attack on her birthday and the same day she retired.

I was numb.

By this point, we knew that her levels were decreasing. The cardiology group had decided to keep her for observations while giving her IV blood thinners. The plan was to add her to the schedule for an angiogram on Monday where we would hopefully find out the cause of the heart attack.

While I don’t encourage using Dr. Google for medical advice, I do encourage you to use your smartphone as a resource. When out and about, you have nothing else quickly check things. Use your phone to dial 911 and never second guess this. Keep an extra charger with you because when in the ER and hospital for hours you will want to be able to check in with family, friends, and others. 

Quick update: My mother is doing very well. During the angiogram, they put a stent into an artery that caused the heart attack and likely her recent heartburn symptoms. More to come about some additional items I learned during the last two weeks coming soon. For now, please hug those that you love a bit tighter.

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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NYS Parents Have Spoken

Today is the final day of the NYS Math test in grades 3-8. Last week, my oldest son, along with at least 190,000 other students across New York refused the ELA tests. Final numbers are not in throughout the state and may not officially be in for some time. Thanks to dedicated parents, we are collecting our own data. This data is way more than a test score. Yes, this data from district after district across New York State tells a story.

Kids Are More Than a Test Score

The story is one of civil disobedience from families that are fed up. We are not refusing the tests because of a union issue with the teachers. Nor are we babying our children because the tests are too hard.

Opt Out of Testing Shirts

No, we are standing up to protect our children. We are refusing the tests to be heard after years of being ignored by the New York State Department of Education and countless politicians like our dear governor (note the extreme sarcasm). Our children deserve a well rounded education like we had years ago. They should be able to learn, be creative, and not be used as guinea pigs for high-stakes testing companies and politicians that want to privatize public schools.

More Than a Test Score Shirt

While the numbers keep going up, we will not back down. We are in this fight for our children. They are more than a test score and thanks to the NYS Allies for Public Education, our demands are clear.

April 2015 Demands from NYSAPE

The official press release from NYSAPE may be seen on their website. Did your children refuse their NYS tests the last two weeks? I would love to hear how it went for them and if this was their first time opting out.

It's Me

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Kids Are More Than a Test Score

Spring break is over and kids are heading back to school.  Students, teachers, and parents that are in grades 3-8 in New York State will begin the high-stakes testing on Tuesday. Of course, my sixth grader will be refusing the tests for the third year in a row.

Refuse the NYS Tests

Quite simply, my son is more than a score and he deserves an authentic public school education that is not all test prep. If things do not change within the next year, I will refuse the tests for my younger son in 2016. Watching recent events unfold in New York has been especially difficult for me. This isn’t simply an attack on the education for my children, this is my career. While I may not be in a classroom right now, I am still a teacher. My colleagues and friends are in the trenches right now dealing this first hand. I want to be able to go back and teach one day, and with the current environment it will not be possible.

Here are two songs to lighten up the mood a bit.

If you have any questions about Refusing the tests in NYS, please feel free to email me Beth @ OptOutAlbany.com. I have many resources and will point you in the right directions to get answers if I do not have them. Remember, it is NOT too late to refuse the test. Please help children across NYS by refusing the powers that be the data they need to destroy and privatize public education.

It's Me

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Testing Season is Here in New York State

Waving hello from here to there. My blog often takes a back seat this time of year. You see, this is when my educational advocacy mode seems to kick into high gear. After going to a wonderful Reclaiming Public Education forum on March 12, I decided to do something I had been thinking about for a while. I bought a domain name to start a Capital District website about educational advocacy. Within a short time, OptOutAlbany.com was born!

OptOutAlbany is born

It took some time for TechyDad to get the backend parts of the website ready. Then, it was ready to roll and get the first post up. Community members from around the eleven counties making up the Capital District will be working together to make this a reality. This is not simply about refusing the NYS 3-8 testing, it is about so much more.

Refuse the NYS Tests

To learn more about our mission, please head over to see our welcome post about Reclaiming Public Education in the Capital District.

It's Me

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