There are a few things going on over here I sure think about a lot lately.  So I figured I’d write them down to get my thoughts out…

There’s a huge new charter school that was recently built close-by.  It incorporates K-12 and it’s a great school.  I went with a group of friends to take a tour of it’s sister school near the end of the school year last year and was pretty impressed.  It’s smaller than our giant high school, the caliber of students impressed me, and I was really interested to find that they take IEP students like Lucy.

But the thing I liked the very most is that our tour guide guy told us they don’t allow cell phones.  From the moment the first bell rings to the end of the day kids aren’t allowed to have cell phones out.
At all.

Why does that speak to me so much??

After talking to many of the kids who go there I’ve realized that it’s not a hard and fast rule, and that kids are still texting a bunch, but there’s something so appealing to me as a mother thinking about that distraction being gone during the day while kids are trying to learn.  It’s one thing for one mom to try to limit her child’s cell phone usage, so tough to do in a sea of kids who are glued to their phones.  But if EVERYONE leaves their phones and just talks face-to-face for a whole day at school, and listens whole-heartedly to teachers, how incredible would that be?

I guess I’m just so old fashioned, but I think cell phones are such a huge problem with teenagers and getting worse all the time.

But I’m not delving into that today…I’m working on a whole post all about that because it takes a whole post to express my myriad of feelings.  For today, I just have to say I think it sounds dreamy if there’s a way to at least limit cell phone usage at school.  That being said, I really love that I can text my kids during the day.  I love that they can tell me how they did on a test or let me know how they’re feeling, and that I can text them too.  So I’m a wildcard on that one.  But we are sure trying to figure out a balance around here.

Back to this whole big new fancy school dealio though…there are a bunch of kids moving over there.  We have thought it through as a family, together and individually and we all feel like we want to support public schools and we really do love the schools where these kids are.  We love the school spirit, the traditions, and even the size to a certain extent which brings a little more diversity.  And we LOVE the support Lucy gets.  Our public schools here in this district are incredible with special needs kids.

But somehow I’m hoping that having all that competition (there are so many charter schools in our area!) will help the public schools step up their game so they can retain kids rather than unraveling them by being able have more flexibility in what they offer.  It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

On another tangent, I help Lucy brush her teeth every night as she adjusts to her braces.  Let’s be honest, I did before braces as well…her fine-motor skills just don’t do super well with teeth brushing (we each usually have a “turn” and she’s getting better, but still needs help).  But this braces thing is throwing us for a loop.  It is so difficult for her to loosen her cheeks enough to get that toothbrush back there to keep her gums healthy.  We are struggling!  Any suggestions anyone has on that would be so welcome.  Her brackets keep coming off as well.  Hmmmm…

Claire listens to music so loud every morning I have to get right next to her to tell her anything.  She is turning into such a teenager it is craziness over here.

We have three girls-choice dances coming up at the high school.  

Right in a row.  Crazy right?

One is a fund raiser for the cheerleaders that’s new this year.  So everyone is asking like crazy to the next two dances.  Grace asked one boy to the “harvest dance” one night and then someone else to “winter formal” a couple nights later.  We are in for some serious dance business coming on the horizon…right after we finished the last one.  Fun times for that girl.

Elle is settled back in Hawaii and having what she claims are “the very best days.”  She’s in a new house with mostly new roommates, is settled into all her classes, and still finds some good time to surf.  Makes me happy.

And Max, well, I just talked about him back HERE.  He is in a pretty great stage of his mission.

I wish I could remember all the things Lucy says these days.  She cracks me up, melts my heart, and drives me crazy all in unison.  We had a conversation about prayer lately.  I told her I’m trying, every once in a while, to only thank Heavenly Father for things, not ask for anything (inspired by this talk that one of the missionary letters we get recommended:

She looked at me incredulously and asked how in the world she would pray for all the people who are hurting from the hurricane?  And how would she pray for my back to get better?  (I hurt my back pretty awfully a couple weeks ago.)  And all I could do was hug her with all my might and tell her how lucky I am that she’s mine.  We did pray a gratitude prayer after that, kneeling beside her bed.  We thanked God that He inspired Lucy’s teacher to collect food for those suffering after the hurricanes, and also that He made our bodies that they can heal themselves all up relatively quickly.  And her little bedroom felt so full of love and beauty that night.

There are certainly all kinds of awfully annoying and taxing and boring things to being a mother, but the goodness fills it all in so beautifully.


  1. Man I sure love reading your blog. You always seem to inspire me! I agree your school district is amazing with those sweet IEP kiddos. My niece is special needs and in your school district and I'm so so impressed with them! You are so lucky! I have a four year old with special needs and here in Show Low there is not many resources for him ๐Ÿ™ I'm so glad your sweet Lucy has the support she does!

  2. Hi Shawni,
    Your blog is so inspiring and makes me want to be a better person every time I read your thoughts. I enjoy this post because of what you said about cell phones. I'm not married nor do I have any children but, it bugs me so much to sit in church and observe children playing games on their phones (most of the time it's the parents phone). I watch how they are not thinking of Jesus during the sacrament and how they play games throughout the talks. I just want to stand on the bench and shout "this is NOT the place for phones," Do you have any suggestions on what I could do, or maybe I can't do anything. Maybe it's the parents responsibility to teach them the importance of reverence and I should just be an example. It sure is getting bothersome though and I'm almost to the point where I can't keep my mouth shut any longer.

    1. I know you asked for Shawni's perspective, but this comment hit really close to home, so I thought I'd offer my perspective . I always say that I was the best parent before I had kids. I had visions, dreams and standards for parenting all neatly tucked in my mind. By night one, I pretty much broke my two "rules" of no pacifiers and no having the baby in our bed. I've realized over the years that things change from what we thought we would be like as parents. My 6 year old has autism. On the outside he looks "normal" but oftentimes the phone is the only thing that will keep him from having a melt down in public settings like church or restaurants . Because you don't know every families situations, I don't feel it's fair for you to intervene . If you'd really like to help, maybe make up some busy bags to hand out with new things for them to do.

    2. Thecrowls, thank you and ditto. Before cell phone we were told in school what to do when we heard a baby cry behind us or some other distraction during mass, keep looking forward. Accommodate the baby. What to do if the grandma in front couldn't kneel and was sitting in our way so we couldn't kneel properly. Accomodate the gram and either balance or do a sort of sit kneel. Same with a kid and a cell phone. Work around it.

    3. I think being an example is the best thing you can do. If they want to follow along, then great, but if they don't, remember everyone has a story. I think the "busy-bag" idea would be really sweet and the parents would probably love it!

  3. Hi Shawni. I started reading your blog many years ago because a friend posted a link and I have been hooked ever since. Anyway, my youngest has braces and I still help him brush at night and it's a struggle for me to keep his teeth clean! We have found a waterpik with different attachable heads so helpful not only for him but also my daughter as well who doesn't have braces yet. Hopefully your Lucy will find it helpful too. Good luck! Here is a link to one on Amazon that's like ours.

    1. +1
      I have what my dentist termed "a petite mouth," and she recommended a waterpik/electric toothbrush as well, when I had to have some work done on my jaw. If you use the smallest head, it really helps. And the waterpik part is useful for getting way in the back. And it's kind of fun and feels neat, so maybe that will make things easier ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. I should have mentioned that we do have a waterpik which is tough for Lucy to get used to as well. Something about that water in her mouth just bugs her. But thanks to these comments we tried the little toothbrush head last night (I forgot it had other heads!) and I think it's going to help a lot once she gets used to it. Thank you for the tips!

  4. Simon Sinek has an amazing interview on Youtube, called "Simon Sinek on Millennials in the workplace", but he touches on cell phones etc. Just watched it last night and it is well worth the 18 minutes. Quite thought provoking.

  5. I agree with you on the phones, Shawni. My daughter was only allowed to use her cel phone during her last two years of high school. I liked the cel-free years. It means they can concentrate on school at school. I liked hearing all the news at dinnertime. By the way, charter schools ARE public schools so no conflict there. The new school might be a better fit for Lucy. One size doesn't fit all in education, from preschool through grad school.

  6. Loved reading this. I work for Great Hearts Academies and I pretty sure you are talking about us! I love how determined we are to eliminate the distractions kids have surrounding them.

  7. I'm a teacher of the visually impaired in MA and charter schools are decimating our public schools. Research shows charter schools do not educate the neediest children and those who require the greatest support anywhere close to public schools. These are students who are English Language Learners levels 1-3 (newcomers), homeless students, those with emotional, and behavioral needs, and those with low incidence disabilities who require high levels of specialized services and instruction- the severely multiply handicapped, visually impaired or hearing impaired. Where are the charter school classrooms of children who are nonverbal, cognitively impaired and in wheelchairs? Students with the special needs are oftentimes counseled out, notably before the state tests are administered- and they are not required to fill those seats. Many charters have zero tolerance policies that result in students of color and disabilities to be disproportionately disciplined at higher rates than their peers. There have been issues of transparency and accountability. Also check to see if the charter is being run by a for profit educational management company.

    It appears some of these issues are happening in AZ:

    Backpack Full of Cash is a documentary about the charter school movement. It is narrated by Matt Damon, whose mother, Nancy Carlsson Paige is a professor of education and author of books on childhood/child development.

    I think there sare many well intentioned people who work in the charter industry, but please continue to do your research about charter school practices in your state.

  8. In California, charter schools are public schools. They are getting the same amount of money per student. People here still think they aren't "public" which is funny since they have to abide by the same rules, etc., it's just that there is so much more flexibility in meeting the needs of the students and spending the same amount of money in different ways.

  9. I have to help my 12 year old son with his teeth and braces. Ditto the recommendation on using an electric toothbrush! The head of ours is tiiiiny and gets right up the back of the mouth to the molars. Love it!

  10. Oh how this resonated with me. I have a huge issue with cell phones been used in school. My daughter is grade 8 and last yr she was on it constantly.. randomly I noticed she was on pinterest or instagram.. she said she was allowed once she got her work finished… then one day it was a Monday at 8:45 ( we start school at 8:20) I saw she was on pinterest.. I was told she'd finished her assignment and could go on pinterest.. I hit the roof lol…for us we live in a very small community. There are only 200 kids total from K to gr12…there really is no reason they need a phone Inc school. I agree with you it's great on occasion when they need to get ahold of you but ugh. . I hate those darn phones !

  11. My kids go to a Great Hearts school but over in Peoria, and we have a no cell-phone policy which is strictly enforced. I love it and am so grateful for it. This includes even after school unless they are calling a parent about a ride. I look forward to your post about cell phones because it is the biggest battle I face with my teenage daughters. …such a difficult wilderness to navigate!

    1. This is an option we have thought a lot about as well. We decided to go the other route for various reasons that I'll explain some day, but I think this is a great alternative.

  12. And there I am reading the blog on my phone…

    I have the feeling your sister inspired that post… You used to answer questions or give advice on parenting weekly (was it Wednesdays and on Thursdays recipes?). If you too want to do something regularly (like Charity's ten thoughts), I'd like the advice on a specific parenting question, especially for smaller ones. And I'd love for readers to add. I think it's so great to consider different opinions and experiences and then choose my way!

    1. Yes I'm trying to figure out a new system here. Trying to get back to recipes and questions as I get more organized, but also want to share more thoughts and what I'm thinking as a journal. I love how Charity and other bloggers work thoughts in so I'm experimenting. Send in your questions for sure! I'll try to get to them. I'm trying to get to one a week…there are a bunch of good ones I have waiting in line ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. My girls attend public school in Louisiana and I work for the school system as well. We have around 20,000 students in 36 schools. There has always been a zero tolerance policy for cell phones for all grade levels in all of our schools. The students can bring their phones, but they must stay turned off and in their lockers. This is a very strict policy. I don't see how students can concentrate on their work with a phone in their hand constantly. Also, how do they keep students from cheating on tests?

  14. Why not just encourage your public school not to allow cell phones. Surely there is turn off your phone during class time rule. Unless they are actually using them in class because the teacher is leading them too. Think calculator and certain apps. Don't you think though there is benefit to them having them yet resist using them? In college there will be less rules. In the world of work there will be less rules.

  15. Seems to be confusion in the comments about what are charter school is. Yes, charter schools receive public funds but they operate under a charter and are not accountable to the school board or tax payers. Operating under a charter and receiving large private donations does mean they often provide different opportunities and resources for students but it also means teachers can be alternatively certified and not through the state and the schools often have a lot of latitude accepting and expelling students. They can remove problematic students or not admit certain kids. A non-charter public school educates all children. Couple things I do like about charter schools… charter schools that operate as stand alone schools rather than through a charter network seem to be truly invested in communities and students and I also think it's really effective that in a charter school the principal is focused on teacher development and student learning while an operations manager/director deals with the logistics of the school. a lot of times in a public school a principal runs the education and operations and is stretched pretty thin.

    As a teacher there are times when I permit students to use cell phones during my lessons. We can't pretend that we don't live in the 21st century or a technology driven time. Kids need to be taught the productive uses of cell phones and other technology. I also welcome students to charge their phones in my class…if it's being charged it isn't in their hands.

  16. Our public schools ask parents to not text the kids during school and I do not – why do you need to know test scores during the day? What about fostering patience and anticipation so they can share those details face to face? Why not support indeed by having them feel and work out worries and disappointment on their own without their mother in their ear via text? Having a parent available via text is crippling our kids abilities to think and handle things on their own and not setting them up for "real life" – it isn't right to be on your phone constantly when you are in a job!! We as parents can do better – don't text them during the school day…don't text during sports events…build anticipation so they can relay that info when we just can't be there in person, foster and encourage face to face info sharing not life in text messages. We shouldn't rely on our schools to do what we as parents should and can be relaying and modeling to our children.

  17. So, NOT to spark a debate just to add some perspective. As a public educator myself, their words about " schools stepping up their game" did not sit well with me. And yes, I did read all of the great things that you said about the current Public School. But when I hear the word step up their game, I think of myself and other teachers I know who are already giving it their all with the resources that they have. It's not just a matter of trying harder. That being said, there's always room for growth.

    I don't pretend to understand everything about charter schools but unless the resources, socioeconomic status,family support,etc. are the same is it really a fair comparison on either side?

    Again, not offended & not trying to spark a debate. Just providing food for thought…

    1. Great points once again. Dang, this computer just erased some thoughts I had all written out, but the basic gist of what I was trying to say is that there are so many great teachers out there, and I, as a mother, am so grateful for those who put their heart into their work so much. It makes such a difference! There are some really not-so-great teachers that our high school keeps around which does make me frustrated. I'm sure they are trying, and maybe they're really good at lots of other things in life, but teaching is not one of them. And when kids get put in their classroom they lag behind, and then that lag is compounded the following year, which is extra tough in the key subjects. From what I understand this charter school, because it's so much smaller, can work with students in a much more intimate way and help them get teachers that speak to them in the ways they need to be taught. They counsel with college prep in a great way as well which is so important to me.

      I know everyone is trying. I know huge high schools have their hands tied in a lot of things and I appreciate that they are trying. It's just tough as a parent trying to find the best fit for your kids. My kids have had some not-so-great teachers over the years who have taught them so much in totally different ways from what they were supposed to be learning, and we are so lucky because we have the best high school counselor who, although he is is busy as can be, has helped us through a lot. (We became friends when he helped us through the whole China transfer and transfer back things and he is so awesome.)

      Bottom line is that education is so important and we as parents can't just sit around and wring our hands if something isn't going the way we want it to. So I like to think through all the options and I love all these comments as food for thought. I think good teachers should be put on a pedestal and given so much respect. They are teaching our future and that is not an easy task. I wish they were paid more and revered more because man alive, they make a difference!

    2. I went to parochial school. The classrooms are even smaller than when I went and also smaller than the public school. Itโ€™s just expensive so fewer are sending their kids. Itโ€™s also a little too controlled by one squeaky clique of parents. I would still do public school for my son because the public school has โ€˜the teamโ€™. Speech, OT, social worker, etc.. I understand that a parochial or charter can also have a crummy teacher. In life we get them, and bad bosses.

  18. I just got my braces off, and my son has braces. The biggest lifesaver for both of us is the water flosser from Costco. It cleans your teeth so well. Even when you think you have brushed well, it cleans more!

  19. My daughter with special needs just got braces this last year too. It has been a struggle. We still help her brush daily although with hand over hand practice it is getting better! Good luck.

  20. I love your blog, and I loved meeting you at the new Port Beach temple a few months ago. Anyway, about the braces one thing that really helped my son who is about Lucy's age, is a water pick, water glosser. They have them on Amazon. Good luck!

  21. All schools I know over here in Germany don't allow kids to use their phones during the school day. Mobiles have to be "invisible". It's a very easy rule, it works, and it makes so much sense.

    1. Petra wrote that cell phones have zo be knvisible. It means that kids are allowed to have them in their backpack but not to use them unless it's a case of emergency. When the kids are little and they get sick, a teacher or secretary calls the parents and normally uses a phone in the office.

  22. Maybe try having Lucy close her mouth halfway when you're getting the back teeth and gums? That's something I would try on patients when I was a dental assistant. Or like someone said a toddler toothbrush would work great!!

  23. My little brother's brackets were an issue for the first 4 months or so, and then every so often they would come off again. The dentist said it was because his teeth were putting up a fight. I do not know how true that is but there it is.
    Also, when she's water picking maybe have a favorite song that plays, and the water picking only lasts until the song is over. That way she can anticipate how long it lasts. You could start with a shorter song and have it built up.

  24. Here's a tip for brushing worth trying. When it's your turn have her lie down. I sit on the end of my bed or the side of the bathtub and my kids will lay across my lap and then I'll brush their teeth. It seems to loosen the cheeks plus I can see so much better. Hope that helps!

  25. I really like a lot of the above comments that have been made, trying to clarify what Charter Schools really are. Because charter schools are given the same amount of public funds per student as traditional neighborhood schools, I have come to specify the differences as a neighborhood school versus charter school. But this of course is further complicated by the fact that my school district's local neighborhood Elementary is a charter school. Ha! Every region has different laws. Personally, I'm a big supporter of neighborhood schools.

    I worked in Washington DC's public schools, and throughout the city most of the charter schools we're running what I'd consider unethical operations. They would bolster their rosters until the day funding kicked in, and the next morning about a quarter of their students would be kicked out and sent back to neighborhood schools. It's really important for locals to pay attention to these kinds of issues. Some areas are getting Charter Schools right, and others are not. Best of luck to you as you keep an eye on your local charter schools, whether you send your children to them or not.

  26. One school I worked at had a device that blocked cell phone service inside the school. So students and teachers had no service. You could use the school office phone in an emergency or just if you needed to for one reason or another. And if you were a teachee you could step outside the school on your lunch break if you really wanted to use your phone. It was great! Not a single cell phone in sight!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *