Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

45 Random Questions

This is a meme that my friend, Edge, invited me to do, oh, forever ago. I thought it would be fun, so I'm finally doing it.


1. Who is the last person who touched your butt? JDub, I think. Unless it was Mashuga. I have little people who touch my butt often. To them it's no different than my elbow. Just part of mommy.
2. Last awkward moment? Um, asking my neighbor to jump start our car for us for the second time.
3. Who do you find yourself crushing on currently? Well, there's always JDub. But, then there's also Seaweed and Link Larkin. But, hey, how many people have seen Hairspray recently who aren't crushing on them. Cute, cute boys.
4. Have you ever fallen backwards down a set of stairs? Sure. At east once.
5. Ever been to a friend's house and starved the whole time? Don't think so.
6. Ever found more than a dollar in a random place? Sure. I found $1.25 in my pocket a couple of days ago. Hadn't worn those pants for about a month.
7. Name someone close to you who smokes cigarettes? My wonderful Uncle Brett.
9. When a friend walks out of your life, do you go after them or let them go? Gosh, depends on the friend and why they're leaving.
10. Have you ever been corrected at your workplace? Um, I have a nine year old daughter. I am corrected in my work EVERY SINGLE DAY.
11. Has anyone ever been more important to you than a family member? Yes. That's why I married him.
12. Do you still see any of your ex's? Sure. One is kind of my brother in law. Though we were never really technically an item. Most of them, no, though.
13. Last time you smiled & laughed? Last night, at JDub. He makes me laugh every day.
14. What do you do when a telemarketer calls? Hang up or give the phone to Mashuga. He usually has PLENTY to say.
15. Would life be the same without alcohol? Yes. My life would be most decidedly better, though alcohol doesn't have much affect on my daily life. I don't drink.
16. Would you go a month without washing your hair to save a loved one? I'd give up my hair forever to save a loved one. What kind of question is that?
17. Have you had "the best night of your life"? Yes, until I have the next one.
18. Do you think your current pets will be alive ten years from now? Man, I hope not. Is that bad to say?
19. When was your last bubble bath? Oh, it's been months. Waaaaay too long.
20. Do you know anyone by the name of Dennis? Yep. I have an uncle named Dennis who likes to chase my mom around with chickens. And JDub has an uncle named Dennis.
21. What was the last thing you ate? Bow tie pasta with tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
22. Where is your pet right now? Asleep under our bed.
23. Name five things you did yesterday: Baked bread, chased Mashuga through the neighborhood, read part of a book by one of my favorite poets,
25. How many kids do u want? Ask me five years from now. I'm sure I'll know by then.
26. Current outfit: gray, drawstring yoga pants, purple long sleeved tee shirt.
27. What color are your eyes? blue
28. Did you do any chores today? Are there any days I don't do chores. Today it was: laundry, dishes, baking, shopping, diapers...
29. What are you doing tomorrow? Driving more "I'm FOR 1" signs around to nice people, cleaning my room, writing, laundry.
30. Do you know someone who likes you? JDub seems to be pretty into me. And Coco likes me soooooo much right now that he doesn't go for more than a couple of minutes without me.
31. Have you ever had a friend named Fred, Frank, or Felipe? One of my favorite cousins is named Frank. And one of our best friends' fathers is named Frank. There was a Felipe in my high school who was a friend of a friend.
32. Name three people you met in the past two months? Ben and Ray, the guys who bring me signs to drive all over the place. Who else... Um... Mike, my friend's new fiance.
33. What color is your hair? Rich mahogany brown with liberal sliver streaks.
34. What were you doing 10 minutes ago? Trying to get the kids in from the car.
35. Have you ever said "I Love You" and not meant it? Sadly, yes. I dated someone for the better part of 1996 and told him I loved him quite often when, in fact, I did not. In my defense, 1996 was a rough year for me. I don't think I realized that I didn't love him until I was able to break free of that relationship and remember what the "I" part of "I love you" meant.
36. Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend? Yep. And he's hot. And he thinks I'm hot. And I have three little boyfriends, too. They tell me how beautiful I am every day. I'm a lucky woman.
37. What is the closest green object to you? Some of the thread on my couch pillows.
39. Do you still have feelings for anyone from your past? Yes, but not like you'd think. There are several people from my past that I think of often and want very much for them to be happy. So, I care. But not, like, you know, FEELINGS.
41. Do you believe in ghosts? Sure. But not the scary kind.
42. Have you eaten popcorn in the last 48 hours? Sadly, no.
43. Do you have a lot of female friends? Yes, but not many close friends.
44. Do you have a friend with benefits? You have no idea. The benefits are amazing.
45. Who was the last person you drove with? My kinder eggs -- Kaitybean, Scud, Mashuga and Coco.

I'm just going to randomly invite anyone who wants to play along to do this meme.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Referendum 1 Q&A #2

Kim, I'm still working on your question. Derrick's is easier to answer right now because I've already done research on his. I'm still getting the facts for yours.

On to Derrick's Question:

Q: Here's a question for you. Theoretically, just to throw this out there, parents who are involved enough in their child's education to take advantage of the voucher system would more likely have children who are successful in public schools. Whereas students whose parents are less involved in their child's education would be less likely to utilize the vouchers and their children would be more "at risk". (I'm just going off the hunch that students with more involved parents tend to do better. No research as of yet.)

So, here's the question. Do you think that presence of vouchers could cause the public schools to lose higher achieving students and lead to the ghettoization or of public schools by increasingly removing the higher achieving students who have more involved parents from the public schools where they would have a powerful positive effect?

You must admit it's an interesting question at least.

A: Good question Derrick. This is a common concern among those who are unsure about school choice programs such as Referendum 1. It is also a valid concern that deserves a better response than the usual glib answers that I hear. I'll try to give you something more substantial to chew on.

Caroline M. Hoxby, a professor at the Department of Economics at Harvard University, conducted a study of the effects of school choice and school competition in the United States. In it she studies the effects of what she calls "first generation school choice programs," most of which were enacted between 1988 and 1994. In her paper she "focus[es] on evidence that is recent and that relies on the most credible empirical methods."

The term she uses for the phenomenon you have described is "cream-skimming", where charter and voucher schools end up with a selection of the better students. The evidence she gathers shows that school choice programs do not cream-skim. Her words:

"Not only do currently enacted voucher and charter school programs not cream-skim; they disproportionately attract students who were performing badly in their regular public schools. This confirms what theory predicts: there are no general results on the sorting consequences of school choice."
This confirms one of my knee-jerk, glib responses to your questions. The students who are doing well in public schools, whose parents are happily involved in their school, have no reason to leave.

Ms. Hoxby also says that public schools have responded constructively to school choice programs. They show marked improvements and better serve the students who stay in public schools. Milwaukee enacted a voucher program in 1998. The improvement in the public schools as a result was so great that "people have sometimes asked whether they might not be due to severe reverse cream-skimming. That is, perhaps the voucher schools removed all the worst students from the Milwaukee Public Schools?"

Some more quotes on "cream-skimming" from her paper:

"In short, the evidence...strongly suggests that charter schools are not cream-skimming in any conventional racial, ethnic, or economic way. They are disproportionately drawing students who have suffered from discrimination, not enjoyed undue preference, in the public schools."

"Overall, it appears that choice schools are not cream-skimming in the US. ... If anything, choice schools are disproportionately drawing students who are generally considered to be less desirable or who are already experiencing achievement problems."

She also explains that different types of school choice programs are more or less likely to cream-skim. The elements of a school choice program that is unlikely to cream-skim or negatively affect public schools are:
  1. There are plenty of public schools for a student to choose from and a student's family can choose to either move to an area where the schools are better or they can apply to the local school district to go to a public school different from their local school.
  2. Voucher eligibility is limited.
  3. Vouchers are not uniform in size, but higher or lower based on income.
  4. When a student chooses to use a voucher, only the amount of the voucher goes with them. The remainder stays in the public school budget.
Utah's Referendum 1 includes all of these factors.
  1. Because of the huge numbers of kids in Utah, there are many public schools to choose from. Most (if not all) Utah school districts allow a student to attend a school other than the one closest to him if his parents apply for him to go to a different school and make arrangements to get him there.
  2. This is a preliminary answer to your question, Kim. Because the amount of a voucher does not cover the full cost of a private school education, use of the voucher system will be self-limiting. Only those parents who are truly committed to sending their children to private school will use it.
  3. The voucher system set up in Referendum 1 offers different sized vouchers based on income.
  4. The maximum voucher amount is $3000. There is a specific clause in the language of Referendum 1 that holds a public school harmless when a student chooses to use a voucher. The extra money alloted to that student remains with his or her public school.
So, there's the answer to your question, Derrick. School choice programs like Referendum 1 have not only been shown to NOT cream-skim, they have actually been shown to disproportionately remove the students who are not being served well by public schools. In addition, public schools in other states have responded impressively to school choice programs and have shown marked improvement in student achievement and productivity.

The evidence from the last two decades of school choice programs highly suggests that Referendum 1 will improve education not only for the few students who take advantage of vouchers but also for the vast majority of students who stay in public schools. Quite the opposite of the often feared "ghettoization of public schools."

If anyone would like to read through Caroline Hoxby's paper, it can be found at votefor1.org. The title of the paper is "School Choice and School Competition: Evidence From the United States." It's a good read.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

6 Videos ALL Utahns should watch

Please take a few minutes and watch these videos. They explain how Referendum 1 will help everyone in Utah, especially public schools. Even if you only watch the short ones (I've listed length with the title), it will be well worth your time.

You should also know that KSL news and other independent sources have verified that the TV ads and videos put out in support of Referendum 1 are TRUE. The information in the ads against Referendum 1 was deemed to be FALSE. So, the ads telling you that Referendum 1 will siphon millions of dollars away from public schools, that private schools will not be accountable under Referendum 1 and so on are simply not true. The following are true and represent how Referendum 1 is an excellent measure to help us fund schooling and improve education for ALL students in our future.

Governor Huntsman Supports Referendum 1 (31 seconds)

Congressman Bishop (Former Public School Teacher) Supports Referendum 1 (31 seconds)

Public School Teachers and Administrators FOR Referendum 1 (2 minutes, 13 seconds)

Richard and Linda Eyre Use Cookies to explain how Referendum 1 benefits PUBLIC schools (31 seconds)

Richard and Linda Eyre Cookies -- Long Version (6 minutes, 55 seconds)

Truth by the Numbers -- Utah Taxpayer coalition supports Referendum 1 (10 minutes)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Mastitis and Other Updates

Thank you all so much for your well wishes and love! Also, thanks for the advice and suggestions. I will have many more ideas to draw on next time. Hopefully there won't be a next time, but at least I'll be ready.

Thankfully it did not progress to full-blown, fevered mastitis. I had the warm, swollen, burning, painful breast. And the nausea and body aches and fatigue. But no fever.

So, Coco and I slept a lot and nursed a lot and I drank a lot of water and took lots of warm baths. By Saturday afternoon I was feeling pretty much back to normal. Thank goodness.

Again, thank you all so much.

So, Saturday afternoon I had the chance to go to my sister-in-law Jamie's surprise party. I just love this woman. She is the one on the far right of the picture above. So much of the good that I am has come from knowing her. She so effortlessly loves and lifts and blesses others. She is loyal and kind. She is so smart about so many things and knows how to work hard. Add to this the fact that she's beautiful, hilarious and just plain fun to be around. She also has such an amazing testimony of our Savior and such a graceful way of always trying to be more like him. Now don't you wish she were your sister in law?

The other woman in the picture (the one in the middle with the pigtails) is my sister-in-law Trishelle. I met Trishelle when I was fourteen years old. She is actually the one who introduced me to my husband and I would be obligated to love her if that were the only good thing she'd ever done. But, she is also just so wonderful. She is beauty and light and love. She is one of the most joyful, exuberant people I have ever known. But she is also so good to help others, mindful to their needs and always willing to do what she can. She is an amazing mother, wonderful with all children and has that rare gift of being able to see good in every person and every thing. She also is a great example of faith and helps everyone around to be a better person. Again, aren't I lucky. I've said before that marrying into JDub's family has been fun because of all the brothers I get to have. I am equally honored and grateful to have such wonderful sisters. I have two other marvelous sisters that I should blog about sometime soon also. I just had this picture...

Back to the update...

After the party, we stayed at Trish's house to watch Transformers. As we were getting kids settled down and dinner made, JDub's younger brother opened the oven with Coco right by it. Coco did what any curious, walking 10 month old would do. He walked right up to the oven and put his hand on the inside of the oven door. His poor little left hand is now covered in blisters.

He was very, very upset that night, but after we got him taken care of and calmed down he slept through the night. It hasn't seemed to bother him too much since. We are, of course, keeping a close eye on it and slathering it with aloe.

So, that was my last few days. How were yours?

P.S. Jamie, I hope you don't mind that I stole your picture and your idea. I saw your blog and just couldn't help copying you. :)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Yet Another Reason Why My Daughter is Already a Better Woman Than I...

I love this girl.

I have been dealing with some pretty intense self-loathing lately. There are some things going on with me emotionally and physically that have been difficult. I haven't shared them here yet. Partly because I'm not ready to share. Mostly because I'm still in denial.

But, this daughter of mine is so wonderful. Having her around and seeing how amazing she is makes me realize that I must not be so bad after all.

Not that I can take too much credit for her amazingness. I can be a little proud, though, right?

We were making bread a few days ago and she said, "I can't wait to have children to take care of. I want to be a good mom just like you are."

My heart melted, of course.

Then she sagely said, "I guess if I want to be like you then I should start trying to be just like you now."

Wow. Talk about the greates compliment I've ever received. I know she may feel differently in a few years, but for now my daughter wants to be just like me.

Also, before this she was watching me nurse Coco and said how cute he was when he was nursing and how she was excited to nurse her babies. Ahhh...

But here's what made me most proud of her this week. We were at the grocery store at the checkout stand. Kaitybean was looking at the magazines.

She looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't get it. All the magazines with women on them and for women all have stuff like "How to lose 20 pounds' or 'How to get flat abs' and stuff. I think it's stupid. It's like they're telling us we're not good enough. I don't like it. I think women are beautiful just the way they are."

I can't tell you how proud I was in that moment. I'm sure you can imagine. She is already noticing the ways society and Satan undermine women and she is talking back!

And she's noticing the beautiful, truly wonderful things about womanhood and committing herself to being that kind of beautiful, doing those things.

Some days I wish she had a better role model, though I am doing my best and she's obviously turning out alright. I'm just so lucky to have her as my daughter.

I worry about the days when worries about boys and peer pressure will swirl around her, but I hope that this core of who she is, this strong woman will hold steady.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Oh the Pain...

I was supposed to spend yesterday driving "I'm FOR 1" yard signs around to people all over the valley. I didn't. And today I slept on the couch while Mashuga watched a movie.

You see, I'm fighting off a bout of mastitis. I can't believe that I've nursed four children for a total of 6 1/2 years and have never had mastitis.

I now understand why women who have multiple occurrences of mastitis stop breastfeeding early.

This sucks.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spoon Balloon

Mashuga invented a new game today: Spoon Balloon.

This invention came about after his first idea, Fork Balloon, didn't work out exactly the way he'd planned.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Baking Bread

One of my favorite things about autumn is that it is finally cool enough to bake bread. I love to bake bread every Monday. It makes me feel so happy and glorious.

So, I'm posting a poem that describes perfectly how I feel about my bread-making ritual. I'll also post my two favorite bread recipes.


Baking Bread
by Carol Lynn Pearson

There seemed more accusation
Than admiration
In Vivian's voice
When she said,
"Well, I wish I had time
To bake bread!"

And so sometimes when
The loaves were in the oven
And Vivian was at the door
Louise mumbled something about
Another bake sale again

And never even tried to explain
Her near-religious ritual:

How the flour on her fingers
Was the sun and the rain
And the earth

How the thump of her palms
On the dough
Was the dance of women
On the ancient threshing floor

How the smell of baking
Leavened her
And left her believing that
We rise, we rise

How the cutting
Of the first warm slice
For the first child home
Made her a bounteous goddess
With life in her hand.

Wonder Bread
(From mitten Strings For God by Katrina Kenison)

If you've never made bread before this is the recipe to start with. It is so easy and SO yummy.

Combine in a very large bowl:
4 Tablespoons Canola Oil
4 Tablespoons Honey
3 Tablespoons Salt (I prefer sea salt, but any salt will work)

8 Cups Warm Water
2 Tablespoons Yeast

Stir and wait 5 minutes, until yeast is dissolved and bubbling.

Stir in:
7 Cups White Flour
7 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 Cups Rolled Oats (Or any combination of oats, soy flour, rice flour, wheat germ, oats, bran... I always use 3/4 Cup Oats, 3/4 Cup Wheat Germ and 3/4 Cup Flax Seed Meal. It turns out perfectly.)

It is not necessary to knead the dough, but you can if you want to. (Note to experienced bread makers: This dough is a bit more sticky than most bread doughs.) Divide dough into two oiled bowls. Cover and let rise until doubled. (About 1 1/2 hours) Punch down and divide it into 6 or 7 greased loaf pans and let rise until doubled. (Again, about 1 1/2 hours.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

Whole Wheat Bread
(From Small and Simple Things by Marjorie Pay Hinckley)

Dissolve 2 packages (or 5 teaspoons) of Yeast in 1/2 cup water with 1/2 Tablespoon Honey or Sugar.

Mix the following ingredients:
3 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 cups dry powdered milk
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons salt

Add yeast mixture.

1 or 2 cups white flour
About 10 cups whole wheat flour
(Dough should be soft and pliable, but not too sticky. I generally save about 1/2 cup of flour to use for kneading and add more if necessary during the kneading process.)

Knead for about 10 minutes. Let rise until doubled.

Divide into 6 small loaves. Knead and shape. Place in greased pans and let rise until doubled.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Reduce to 300 degrees and bake for one hour, rotating halfway through baking.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Referendum 1 Q&A

My wonderful BIL just sent me an email asking me about vouchers. I will write a lot about vouchers and Referendum 1 until it goes to a vote.

I refuse to simply tell my friends and neighbors to "Vote For 1 because you like me and I'm cool and it's the best, just trust me!" I can't stand that kind of politics.

I want you to get all of the information you need, make your own decision and feel 1000% satisfied that you're making a good decision in voting for Referendum 1.

But, I understand that you may or may not have time to research it for yourself.

Since I'm sort of nerdy like this and actually ENJOY researching this stuff, I'm inviting anyone to ask me a question about Referendum 1 and vouchers. If I don't know the answer, I'll find it. I'll find sources to back it up and I'll post your question and my answer here.

Really, ask me anything about Referendum 1 or voucher/scholarship programs and I'll find the information you want.

You can ask in the comments or email me.

I'll begin with my (sorry, somewhat lengthy) answer to Jonathan's concern/question.

Q. However, what I can't wrap my mind around is why we need yet another law just so that we can get our public schools to do what we want them to do. It seems like we have a broken system when we have to make law after law to act as bandaids to a problem that needs surgery.

A. I agree. Bandaid laws for a broken system are no good. Referendum 1 is one of the first measures the Utah Legislature has taken that will actually begin to create a new, better system for Utah education. Rather than throwing money or regulations or unfunded No-Child-Left-Behind-like mandates at an outdated system, it opens up an opportunity for direct accountability and for choice.

As parents have the ability to choose which school their children will attend, schools become directly accountable to the parents and children they serve, not to a bureaucratic system that may or may not have time to watch every single child.

And here's the best part. The legislature set this voucher system up in a way that, as parents begin to choose to take their children elsewhere, the public school system will have increased funding, smaller classes and Utah taxpayers will actually SAVE MONEY! (USU has projected a savings of $1 billion over thirteen years, all while increasing per student funding in public schools AND helping parents whose children need a different choice for their education.)

I believe that as this system gets going, public schools will begin to improve to meet parents' and children's needs. (Research shows that voucher systems have this effect.) Private schools and charter schools will flourish and improve. (Referendum 1 requires private schools to test, prove financial stability, hire well-educated teachers, and publicly disclose all of this information to parents for review. Charter schools are already subject to the same standards as traditional public schools.) Schools will have more local control over budget and curriculum and will respond directly to parents. (In WI, since they began a scholarship program, principals answer directly to parents and now control 95 percent of their school budgets, which enables them to meet the needs of their students better than when state school boards and school districts controlled all of the money.)

This change is the beginning of an overhaul of Utah's education system. It's FAR from just a bandaid solution. Imagine a system where your taxpayer dollars fund public schools, charter schools and scholarships for students to attend private schools -- and all of these schools work hard to compete and meet the needs of students. AND they have the resources and local control to be able to do so. That's the intention of this law.

I think it's pretty impressive.

Here's Why I'm Voting FOR Referendum 1

In Utah we are facing an interesting challenge regarding the education of our children. In November we will have a unique opportunity to vote for a measure that will affect our education system in a very positive way.

I am overwhelmingly and passionately in favor of the voucher system that our Utah State Legislature passed last session. They have done a marvelous job of setting it up in a way that everybody wins -- Utah's children, Utah's parents, Utah's teachers, Utah's public schools and Utah's taxpayers.

There has been a great deal of misinformation circulated regarding this measure, urging voters to vote against Referendum 1 and for public schools. What many people do not understand is that one of the main motivations behind a voucher system is to BENEFIT Utah's education system.

I will be writing a few articles over the next couple of weeks about why Referendum 1 and vouchers are a win-win-win system for all involved.

But, you don't have to take my word for it.

Visit Votefor1.org and see what you think about the information there. They have links to a tremendous number of research studies done by universities throughout the country that show how the type of voucher system Referendum 1 would set up greatly benefits schools, taxpayers and students. I also really liked their "Myths vs. Facts" flyer. It really dispels alot of the myths and misinformation currently circulating about the issue.

Also, watch this video. I think this makes the issue very, very clear.

Won't you join me in securing the future for Utah's families, Utah's public schools and all Utahns?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cara De Palo

I tend to make a lot of trouble for myself by trying so hard not to make waves or hurt anyone's feelings. So, I am often not as direct as I should be or I stew for a long time about how to "approach" an issue, rather than simply approaching it.

Last night I was telling JDub that not only am I concerned about the way first grade is being taught at my children's charter school, but that several mothers have stopped me over the last week to express concerns.

It usually goes something like this:

Heather, you were in charge of the parent curriculum committee last year right? What curriculum are they supposed to be using in first grade? My child is bringing home really weird stuff that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the curriculum. Also, is the chosen math curriculum supposed to be the bulk of the math curriculum or just a supplement?

I told him that I really want to know what they are teaching and why. Especially I want to know why they are not using the program that I specifically feel is important as a good math foundation for the early grades. I have tried to champion its use in all the grades because I think its so phenomenal and they have moved it into 2nd grade as well as K and 1st.

I'm getting carried away.

So, after hearing me complain and try to decide whether to talk to the school's director or Scud's teacher or how to approach the issue I told JDub:

I just want to talk to Scud's teacher and tell her, specifically, that I am concerned that the math curriculum set forth in the charter is not being used for the bulk of math instruction as intended. I want to ask her why she isn't using it and whether or not she needs additional training and support to be able to do that.

Well, why don't you just do that? He said. Cara de palo. Just tell her what you think.

So, that's just what I did.

Here's the text of the email I sent:

Dear Teacher,

I'm writing you about a concern I have. I have been surprised at the homework and math sheets that Scud has been bringing home. At first I didn't actually know they were homework because they seemed so far beneath the level of work I thought the students should be doing in first grade. But I figured you were just starting slow and doing some fun things with them. I have noticed, though, that you are doing very little Right Start Math and that he's not bringing any of that type work home with him.

I worked as the parent curriculum committee chair last year and it is my understanding that Right Start Math is supposed to be used as the bulk of the math curriculum, with other materials supplementing it where it did not meet either Core Knowledge or Utah state objectives. It seems that things are being done the other way around, with other materials being the bulk of instruction and Right Start being used only as a supplement. This is a huge concern for me, as I am sending my children to Noah Webster in large part because I feel Right Start is such a fantastic foundation for math instruction in the early grades.

I will be meeting with the curriculum director within the next few weeks to talk to her about how I can continue to help with curriculum implementation, teacher support and parent training. Before I did that I wanted to open up a conversation with you and get a better feel for how things are going in your classroom and in first grade in general as far as curriculum implementation goes. I would love to do what I can to help in any way I can, if nothing else I'm happy to be a squeaky wheel and help you get any support you need from the school. Also, last year I worked with one of the first grade teachers (who actually ended up going to another school before school started) to map Right Start's lessons and objectives to the Core Knowledge math objectives for first grade. If it would be useful, I would be glad to send that to you.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. What I'm most interested in knowing is what your plan is, what you're working on and how you're planning on using Right Start and teaching math for the rest of the year. I don't want to make any assumptions and would love to hear what your plans are for curriculum, specifically math.

I'd love to talk to you, either through email or I'd be happy to come in and have a face to face meeting sometime. Let me know what will work best for you.

I'm eager to get a reply and get the ball rolling. If what I'm hearing is true (And I'm not assuming it is.), none of the first grade teachers are sticking to the curriculum as well as they should. For a school where many parents have come to this school specifically for the curriculum, that is completely unacceptable. And I want to do what I can to help.

Oh yes, I forgot. "Caro de palo" is one of my new favorite Spanish idioms. The direct translation is something lik "face to the stick" but it has the same general meaning as "get the the point" and "face it" kind of linked together. Doesn't translate exactly. You know how idioms are. But I love the saying.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Mom Song

Thanks, Summer, for sending this to me. Hilarious!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Where Gratitude and Anger Meet

I have a husband who is always willing to help out around the house. For that I am terribly grateful. Some would say that I should end this post right there.

I'm afraid I'm not that good.

I need to take him aside and let him know that some things should not be washed.

Last Christmas my mother-in-law, who is an exceptionally thoughtful gift-giver, gave me a lovely royal purple scarf. It was bright and beautiful, soft, silky and shiny. How I have enjoyed that scarf.

Notice the past tense.

It is nearly midnight. I am packing for a trip we're taking this weekend to Cedar City, Utah. And I opened up the dryer to see that not only had JDub simply added his load of laundry to the load already in the dryer so that everything came out damp and wrinkly, he had washed my scarf.

It is now a dull purple, wrinkled and not so soft.

And our white underwear and socks are now a soft purple.

Brushes With Murphy

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

Murphy, you rascal, I love to hate you. You keep popping into my life lately and mixing things up. I'd punch you in the nose and kick you out the door, but then the party wouldn't be nearly as interesting. Would it?

Here are the appearances you've made in my life this week:

  • On Monday night I got a call and was told that I needed to rush over and intervene in a fight between two friends. I knew it was urgent, but at that moment Coco needed to be fed. So, being the good Mommy I am, I fed him first.
  • I got there in time to be somewhat helpful, but not before the police got there and charged one of the parties with a simple assault. Ironically, they chose to cite the one on crutches who could barely move. Interesting choice, but I wasn't there for the real fireworks so who am I to judge? Murphy, you must love me. My life is never this interesting.
  • After getting there I listened to one person rage and yell and then sat on the bathroom floor to listen while the other person cried. And I felt awfully guilty for not getting there sooner and smoothing things out better. Then I realized that these were their choices, not mine. Whether I'd been there earlier or not, I simply did not have to feel guilty over the consequences of someone else's decisions. You almost got me there, buddy.
  • Because I was away from home for the better part of Monday night, JDub was left to take care of Coco. Now, I usually nurse him to sleep (Coco, not JDub) and then bring him to bed with me. We're big cosleeping proponents around here. But, I've also been feeling that it's time for Coco to learn how to sleep in his crib. Because I was gone, JDub decided to put him in his crib and let him sleep there. He whimpered a bit, didn't cry frantically like I'd been worried he would if we didn't ease him into the crib-sleeping-gig. And he slept until 6am! On his own! Yay for Coco!
  • Here's where you come in, Murph. I woke up with Triple D, rock hard breasts that were screaming in pain. I guess going from three or four night feedings to none will do that. I was very grateful to be able to feed Coco that morning. He smiled and cooed at me and ate happily.
  • Then, he projectile vomited all over both of us. I guess you can get too much of a good thing.
  • Oh yes, back to Monday. I paid the very last payment on our van. As soon as we get the title in the mail, it is officially ours. Hooray!
  • So, on Tuesday I went on a field trip with Mashuga's preschool class. Guess what happened? Really, can you guess? We got done, got all of the kids strapped into our car and it wouldn't start. Nada. Nothin' doin'. Thankfully, though, it was just a dead battery and we were able to jump start it right up.
  • Then, that afternoon I was racing out the door at 3:20 to pick up kids. I had lost track of time as I am wont to do. (I can just hear JDub in my head. "The kids get out of school at 3:15? Really? Just like yesterday? When did this happen?") I rushed to get the little boys in their car seats and guess what? Nothing. Not a beep. So, we jump started it. Again.
  • We showed up at my sister-in-law's house to pick up the kids an hour late. It really wasn't a problem, especially since she's the angel woman she is. We got Kaitybean to her last soccer game. Late, but there.
  • Wednesday went off pretty smoothly. Oh, wait. No it didn't. We went to the gym to workout, Coco and Mashuga and I. We got there at 10am and the Kids' Club (daycare) was full. Not a problem. We walked to a nearby grocery store and got a few things. Then, we went back at 10:30, waited in a line for about 5 people to pick up their children and FINALLY got Mashuga and Coco in.
  • I went upstairs to lift weights. I hadn't been working out for more than 10 minutes when I hear over the loudspeaker: "Attention members and guests, could Heather please come to the Kids' Club?" So, I went in. Coco was crying his sweet little heart out. I took him, fed him in the locker room and then dropped him back off with the nice ladies in the Kids' Club. I finished my workout and had time for a shower, even.
  • That afternoon, after getting kids home from school, Kaitybean to and from ballet and Scud dropped off at football practice, I got a call from JDub. He had a flat tire on his bike and could I please come get him. Of course. We drove for fifteeen minutes before we saw him (handsome as could be) walking along the side of the road with his bicycle. Loaded it in and after being yelled at and honked at several times for being audacious enough to use the shoulder of the road, headed back home. I dropped JDub, Mashuga and Coco off and turned right around to pick Scud up from football practice.
  • On Wednesday night I mentioned to JDub that we needed to do something about our TV. The stand we have it on isn't very sturdy and I was worried that one of our kids might pull it down on themselves. He agreed.
  • So, at 7:30 on Wednesday morning I was downstairs doing laundry and heard a HUGE thud. Scud ran down to me to tell me that he'd managed to pull the television down on himself. I went upstairs to pick it up and the screen was flashing all sorts of shades of yellow, red and orange. The AV cables had broken off so that the prongs were stuck inside the TV.
  • We cleaned up the mess and still managed to get Scud to school early. (JDub and Kaitybean take the bus to school really early on Thursday mornings so that Kaitybean can go to choir at 7:20.) We then went to the gym for yoga class, something I look forward to all week. We pulled in to a spot right in the front of the gym, walked in and SURPRISE! there was room for my boys in the Kids' Club. Woohoo! So, I got right in and thoroughly enjoyed yoga until someone came in 10 minutes before the end of class and told me to come to the Kids' Club. Coco, again, was crying. So, I signed him out and brought him in to yoga with me, only to find out that babies are not allowed in class. Oops. Not a problem.
  • So, that afternoon, I took Mashuga to dance class. I got his dance shoes and realized that, once again, I forgot to buy shoe glue to fix his ballet shoes. The soles are falling off. No problem. I duct taped them on for now and will get shoe glue by next week. If I remember. It was not a fun dance day. Mashuga was tired and had a very difficult time listening to his teachers and being nice to all of the little girls in their cute pink leotards.
  • After dance, we picked Scud and Kaitybean up from my SIL's house again. It was a comedy of errors trying to get them all in the car. I'd just get Mashuga rounded up and Kaitybean would disappear, then vice versa. So, we got home at 5:10 and had to leave by 5:20 to get Scud to his football game in time. Needless to say, Scud was late. But, we got him there. And it was a fun game to watch. Sadly, I couldn't get in touch with JDub to have him meet us and watch the game with us. Just as I was trying to call him the third time, my phone died. Which also meant that we couldn't order pizza to pick up after the game.
  • So, I drove home, ordered pizza. Waited for 45 minutes to go pick it up and it wasn't done when I got there. I got home at about 8:30 and we all ate pizza and went to bed.
  • Then, this morning, Coco (who has continued to sleep in his crib all week, hooray!) woke up at 5am and wouldn't go back to sleep. He finally fell asleep at around 6:30 and I decided that I'd join him for a little nap before I had to wake kids up for school. The next thing I know, Kaitybean is standing at the side of my bed, fully dressed and telling me it's 7:50 already. Aaaargh! We were late for school once again.
Do you want to know the funny thing about this week, though, Murphy my friend? All of the above may sound like complaining. It has been a truly nutty week. But, I am just so grateful for the gifts this week has given me.
  • I was able to learn much from Monday night's situation. I grew closer to someone I haven't had much of a chance to get to know well.
  • I was able to realize just what a treasure I have in my husband. He is my best friend. He treats me with kindness and respect. He is patient with me. He is unselfish and always trying to do what he can to make my life easier, to make me happier. We have learned through the last decade to work together, to communicate and to put our love for one another before anything else.
  • Coco learned to sleep in his crib! I have had four uninterrupted nights of sleep in a row. This morning's sleep ended earlier than I would have liked and I probably should have just stayed up, but I still got to sleep for 6 hours without being woken up.
  • My body has very quickly adjusted to Coco's new eating schedule and needs. What a miracle breastfeeding is! I am so grateful that it works so perfectly to meet his needs.
  • I have a vehicle that gets us all over -- school, football, dance, soccer, football. We've had it since 2002. It has driven 220 thousand miles and the only issue we have with it right now is either a dying battery or an alternator that might not be working properly. Small potatoes, don't you think?
  • I'm grateful to have family close and especially thankful for angel sisters and sisters-in-law.
  • I'm grateful for a cool husband who was able to take the TV apart last night and get it working again. How awesome is he? Also, so grateful that we're not all that dependent on TV. We just don't watch it that much anymore.
  • I have four beautiful, wonderful children and the means to allow them to play sports, participate in dance and choir and such. Playing taxi is a sacrifice, but how can I pity myself when I am so very blessed by such wonderful people to play taxi for.
  • Thanks to my regular yoga practice, I am feeling my body grow firmer, stronger, looser. My mind and spirit are growing along with my body. I am more joyful, more peaceful, calmer. So, I missed ten minutes of a yoga class. So, what?
  • I have one of the most amazingly beautiful and wonderful babies I could even imagine. He is such a sweetheart. And if he needs his mommy right now, rather than being able to be in the gym's daycare I understand. He is doing big things right now. Learning to sleep in a crib. He just finished getting two more teeth. He is learning to walk by himself and walking 10 or more steps at a time without holding onto anything. I'm so glad that I'm the lucky mom who gets to be there as his safe haven, the comfort he needs in order to have the strength to take on the world.
  • And I am so grateful for a gym I love, at a price I can afford and with a phenomenal daycare that I can take my children to while I take some time for me. I can wait my turn for the Kid's club.
  • I told Kaitybean last night that she would need to wake up early to finish her homework. And she did, without me even needing to get out of bed. How cool is that?
So, Murphy, this is why I love to hate you. You think you're wreaking havoc in my life, but I know better. This nutsiness and difficulty is what life is all about. And if the highs are this high, I'll take any lows you want to throw at me. Bring it on.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wisdom From My Friend Ben

"I will speak ill of no man, and speak all the good I know of everybody."
- Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The haircut post

Finally, the haircut.

I can't find a before picture. I had JDub take one weeks ago when I thought I'd be getting a haircut. Now I can't find it. Picture it longer and curlier than in our family picture.

But, here's what I look like now, in a picture taken by my Mashuga:

Not a perfect picture, but it'll do. I straighten it like this about half the time and leave it crazy and curly the rest of the time.

The haircut was an interesting experience. First off, I meant to go see my cousin's wife, who usually cuts my hair anytime I want to do something drastic. She always manages to do a PERFECT job and get my hair exactly the way I want it. She lives in my hometown and I don't mind AT ALL driving an hour and a half to have her cut my hair.

But, um, I am both phone-phobic and a huge procrastinator. So, I didn't call her until Friday afternoon. Oh, wait. I didn't even call then. I was going to get the phone, really I was. But, before I could, my Mom called to see if she could get an appointment for me. I was both embarrassed (harassing myself about not just picking up the phone days before) and grateful. Well, she was busy. Of course. What is the likelihood of getting an appointment with a good stylist at 5:30 on Friday evening? Really? Pretty slim.

So, my second choice, the woman who always did my hair as a teenager wasn't available either. And I was really ready to let go of my long hair. It just had to go. So, I decided to take my chances with someone else.

I got there, with a picture in hand of exactly how I wanted my hair. It's the way I had it about 4 years ago and I LOVED it.

She cut a little at a time. I kept waiting for inches to fall off, ready to enjoy the catharsis of watching hair fall to the floor -- taking the stories weaved among each strand with it. This was a monumental haircut for me. I have been feeling like new wine in old bottles for quite some time. I was SO ready for a change.

But, no, she took a little at a time and before my hair was even close to as short as I thought it should be, she started blow drying it.

I knew I was in trouble when she told me to lean forward for her to blow dry it. This is a good trick for people with thin or average, straight hair. A great way to add body. I have naturally curly, thick scottish highlander hair. Body ain't a problem. Getting it to calm down is usually the trick.

But, I decided that I'd trust her. She blow-dried it, and used the curling iron a bit to smooth it. Barely. Then, she started looking like she was done. And I started panicking. We're talking serious anxiety here folks.

It looked awful! It looked like a mushroom shaped Maltese had taken up residence on my head.

"Well?" She asked.

I wanted to shout "Are you kidding me????? It looks HORRIBLE! It looks NOTHING like the picture, NOTHING like what I wanted. It doesn't even look GOOD! How could you even ask me that question?!?"

What I said was, "Don't hate me. But, I think you're going to have to cut a lot more off the front."

"Oh, really?" She said. "Okay. I'd much rather cut a little off at a time and then go shorter, rather than going too short."

Understandable, but how on earth is fungus meets frizzball a good haircut?

So, again, she cut little bits at a time off. Until I finally told her she was going to have to cut off inches in the front to get it the way I wanted.

"Like the picture," I said (in my head, not wanting to be confrontational) "I really did bring the picture because I really DO want it to look like that."

We were eventually able to communicate well enough for her to get the basic shape right. Then, it came down to the thinning. Remember what I said about the Scottish Highlander hair? It doesn't like to lay flat on top of me head. So, it must be liberally thinned on the top and sides.

I told her this.

She thinned the back.

I ran my hands through the top and sides of my hair and told her again exactly where I needed it to be thinner. She didn't believe me, apparently, and again thinned the back.

I tried one more time.

Let's just say my hair lays quite nicely in the back.

I was starting to worry that I was going to run out of hair to thin in the back before I was able to help her understand what I wanted her to do.

I decided that it was time to tell her thanks and pay her before it got any worse.

So, there you go.

I do love my hair short and I am glad I had it cut, even if it's not exactly what I wanted. I got out of the shower after I got home and caught a glance at myself in the mirror.

"Oh, there I am!" I thought.

It was wonderful to look in the mirror and feel very much myself again, something I haven't felt about my appearance for some time now.

It's getting longer now and I'm about ready to break down and get it fixed. It really is a bit too heavy on the top, especially when it's curly.


I've never colored my hair and I think I might do that this time.

What do you think? Should I do blonde or red highlights? How drastic should I go with the color?