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Summer is busy!

It’s been a while, but Ben and I have been keeping busy.  My garden is… going.  I have pictures somewhere, I just gotta find them.  My squash looked like it was going to try again, but it’s gone all yellow.  There were some beautiful blossoms on my cucumbers and I have two little cucumbers growing.  My basil has been the most enjoyable, and I think I’d like to plant a few more plants next year.  Mint is still growing well… a little too well and both my Mint and Sage need to be repotted.

I made my own playdough for Ben.  He has loved it, and I love that it doesn’t smell funky like real playdough.  I got a couple of pretty funny videos that I posted on facebook of him playing with it.

My proudest accomplishment for the past few days has been that I finally crossed a hurdle with knitting.  I can finally produce three or four neat little lines.  I had watched videos, looked at books, and nothing seemed to click. I finally found a website that had a REALLY slow set of pictures step-by-step and got it!  I even figured out the “Purl” (?) stitch as well.  There is SO much more to learn about knitting, but I know that this is a great start.

Must figure out how to put instagram pics on my blog though…

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Having way too much fun

So while I don’t feel it’s fair to complain about not having a weekend, when technically I’m not working for most of the summer, it did make me sad not to see my family all weekend.  I administered the SAT for some students at my school, which took up all of Saturday and most of Sunday.  By Sunday afternoon I had only seen my son for a total of about an hour and a half in three days.  (Leaving before the sun comes up and getting home just before bedtime sucks)  So Sunday I was in serious need of some Ben time.  So we played and this is what happened.  Image










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It’s raining! It’s pouring!

And I love it!  Texas doesn’t often get rain in the summer, and yes it’s already summer here.  Summer starts in Late April/Early May, where we regularly hit 90+ weather.  Mind you, we just call it spring, or tornado season, but the rest of the world would call temps (did I mention 90% humidity?  no lie! )  summer.  It’s been thunderstorming for the last few days and I LOVE that my toddler hears the thunder and squeals “It’s RAINING!”.  I am so fortunate to have a child that is almost fearless about new things.  Knock on wood… I’ve never had to get up in the middle of a hail storm or thunder storm to calm a scared kiddo.  He just sleeps on through.  During the day, he stands on our screened in patio and watches the rain.  I had been planning on playing with sidewalk chalk today, but opened the door and “holy crap”!  There was a waterfall of water and my entire patio was flooded.  Guess that’s the end of that?  Nope, we went out to our snug, dry screened in patio and did this instead:



Honestly, that was a lot of fun too.  I needed to clean my windows anyway, so when I do, Ben and i will have a new canvas.  Best part was his reaction.  He started coloring and goes “whoah”.  Too cute.  🙂  


More on my next knitting adventure later, I still need to go to Michaels and get new supplies.  


Any fun rainy day activities that you like to do?  


Short, to be followed by long later

So I started knitting tonight (one of my 30-before 30).  I can honestly say I was less than successful.  Today was a very successful 1st day of summer for me though!  (Lots of errands run, just no working out boo)  I managed to get my yarn casted on my needle, and after watching a plethora of videos, I found one that showed me exactly what I needed.  REALLY fricking big needles and fat yarn.  So the needles are put away for the evening and I will be going to Michael’s again tomorrow for bigger needles and fatter yarn for my stupid fingers.  Eventually I’ll get it better.  In the mean time, it was fun!  

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A blog of blargh

So, lately I have wanted to sit down and blog, but then I get into the middle of it and just yargh… all piratey and whatnot.  It’s not exactly the greatest timing really.  It’s the last week of school, so between closing down my student’s files and growling at them to get their last minute assignments in I’m pretty short on time.  I also lost my debit card last week… again.  When I went to the bank to get it fixed, they said their computers were down and I couldn’t have it… after I left work early (and got in trouble to do so).  The little girl at the counter cheerfully told me they could mail me one in 5-7 days.  Bah.  On the up and happier side, I’ve been changing the way I eat and starting to work out (LOOONG overdue).  I went to the doctor the other day, and had gained about half of my baby weight back.  Mind you, I lost 40 + after I had Ben, so I had been steady for a long time below my pre-pregnancy weight, but this was not okay.  I was so embarrassed.  I have been working for about a week and a half and I’ve lost 7 pounds.  Slow, steady and healthy.  Hopefully with summer coming up I will have more time to blog, but we’ll see.  Ben is staying home for the summer with me, and i’m hoping to be going to parks, the zoo, playdates… all those mommy-ish things that I never get to do.  

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Standardized Testing and how I hate it…

So as a student growing up I took the TAAS test (Texas Assessment of Academic Skills.. kind of surprised I knew that one actually).  I was the last class to take TAAS before they changed over to TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills).  I am currently working with the LAST class to take TAKS and the first class to take STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness).  So in 10 years that’s TAAS, TAKS, and STAAR… mind blown yet?

… Yeah so are the minds of all of my sad little High Schoolers.

All of the ridiculous naming mechanisms aside, the reality is, that we are a test driven society, but it’s not really getting us anywhere.  I have a unique perspective to say the least.  I am very close to my grandparents, who were born in the 30’s.  My stepdad, who for all intents and purposes is my Dad was born in the 40’s, My Mom and Aunt were from the late 50’s-early 60’s.  Between Aunts and Siblings (and myself of course) I’ve got just about every decade covered from the 40’s-the present educationally.  What I’ve seen of the adults I know from these observations are:

1.  A bachelor’s degree was not a necessity to get a 50k or more job in previous generations.  Now, it’s necessary for 30k.

2.  While education was rote, it didn’t stop at the door.  Most of what I consider to be my family’s greatest intelligence is found outside of school.  The knowledge of cooking, mechanics, home repair, budgeting, diligence… I could go on for a while.

3.  Anything worth having is worth working for.

There are probably more, but that would involve a whole post that I’m not writing today. The first, is one that affects me directly.  My husband hasn’t finished college.  Because of this, in today’s economy, he’s worth roughly 27k a year, with 10 years of experience in his field.  If you’re curious, he graduated high school in 2002.  By the time my dad had been working for Texas Instruments for 10 years, he was making  about $7500  in 1970 (today that was valued at about 40k).  Mind you, I had dozens of friends get out of college (2007-2009 ish) who spent months looking for something better than retail and ended up going back for a master’s degree because they needed to avoid paying off loans.  They all graduated this last week… I’ll let you know in 6 months if they’re doing any better or if they’re headed to their Doctorate…

The second point, due to either differences in parenting or teaching or expectations in society as a whole, kids these days just aren’t getting it.  Society’s expectations of a 20 year old in 1960 and today were vastly different.  Most 20 year-olds had moved out of their parent’s houses, had jobs, and knew how to take care of themselves.  In contrast, most 20 year-olds that I knew were in college, or trade school.  A few of my friends went to community college, or enlisted.  Very few 20-somethings that I knew went straight to work and moved out.  In fact, a lot of my friends only moved out in the last two years or so.  I’ve read several articles in the last few months highlighting this fact.  In addition, most of my friends knew little about fixing a vehicle, planning and sticking to a budget, or a variety of other things that most of my parents generation would have considered “common sense”.  Heck, even cooking has taken a “back burner” (pardon my pun) to other life experiences.  I work with a gal who swears she doesn’t know how to boil water.

The third point, is more of a pet peeve for the up-and-coming generation.  I have worked with children between the ages of 2 and 17 for ten years in different environments.  For the verbal kids (generally 3 and up) I have seen a huge growth in the “entitlement” attitude. If my students are failing because they didn’t turn in your work, they just expect you to pass them because they say please and bat their eyelashes… never mind the fact that I gave them ample opportunity to turn in the work late without consequence and extra credit. Kids at Targets and Wal-Marts everywhere whining because they didn’t get their way. Sports teams giving everyone trophies so that they don’t feel left out. I see these freshman and sophomores who have no idea what is ahead of them. Maybe I’m old school… but life is tough! Molly-Coddling kids isn’t going to prepare them for what’s out there, and neither is giving them whatever they want without making them earn it. (somewhere in the back I can totally see my mom and dad rolling their eyes) One of the oddest phrases that still makes its rounds in my vocabulary is TINSTAAFL. I learned it in high school Economics class. There is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

So here I am on the brink of our last STAAR test, teaching test strategies to my freshman… hoping that for a singular minute, they might get it, or at the least pass. I didn’t even talk about No Child Left Behind (or the fact that it has successfully left ALL of my SpEd kids behind) or the fact that teachers these days fear for their jobs because their kids might fail the TAKS, STAAR… whatever. Next year I probably still wont teach to the test. We’ll still play LIFE on our easy days to teach money management and bill paying. (Next time I’m going to make them pay extra for the car … how’s that for reality?) I’ll probably start teaching the kids chess, or other strategy games during some of our tutoring times, so that they can learn to think outside of that little multiple choice question.

If you live outside of Texas, how often did you take standardized tests? Did the teachers make a big deal out of it, or was it something less? Do you think standardized testing is helping or hurting the up and coming generation? I’m curious to get other’s perspective on all this.

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Red, hot, and blue…

So, I know I haven’t updated like I had been, but the last few weeks have been rough for me.  I suffer from what I think is some mutant form of Eczema.  Because of the mild winter we had this year the plants have been in full bloom.  That combined with my upstairs neighbor who smokes like a chimney have left me in pretty much constant pain from my skin.  One of the most frustrating aspects about this particular skin disease is that it leaves me looking… well ugly.  It’s hard to talk to people when they get “that look” on their face where they are honestly just staring at the gigantic flakes and cracks on my skin.  Most of the time, when people get Eczema, it occurs on their knees or elbows.  Mine covers approximately 60-70% of my body including my entire face.  I’ve spent about 4 years of my life and literally thousands of dollars looking for some sort of relief and it’s only gotten worse.  I can’t sleep, it hurts even just to sit, and even eating and talking are a pain right now because I have really deep cracks around my mouth that wont heal.  I’ve started feeling some of the first symptoms of arthritis that is related to Eczema in my hands especially.  I’ve gone to extremes to try and avoid allergens.  I don’t use shampoo or conditioner (I make my own, don’t worry I’m not stinky!), I make my own soap, I make my own laundry detergent, I am giving up dairy (it’s a process, but I’m getting there).  I’ve taken oatmeal baths, bought air purifiers, had the apartment professionally cleaned, bought humidifiers etc.

It has begun to affect my relationship with my family as well.  I’m too tired, or in too much pain to play with my son at the end of the day.  My husband has had to take up the roles of both mother and father lately and it is taxing.  At this point I’m headed to the doctor for one last round of help, allergist, dermatologist… and then I’ll do a little more holistic (accupuncture?)  but after that I’m out.  I wish I had a better solution, but for the most part this is my life.  This morning as I headed out the door (after yesterday’s being pathetic and crying my head off) and I remembered a Bible verse that was particularly influential to my teenage years.  Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30.  I am reminded that my worth is not in how pretty my face is.  As superficial as it is, we don’t realize how much we take our personal appearance for granted sometimes.  I never considered myself to be a “great beauty” but I did take for granted my skin being healthy and clear.  I never needed to wear makeup.  Now, makeup would be a great luxury.  While I get frustrated about my appearance, it’s not who I am.  I’m smart, and silly and love to teach and work with my students.  I am a mother (a decent one for the most part) and a wife (I may not be a good housekeeper, but I love to cook!).  I’ll write more in a little while.  My garden is amazing!! And also probably about my school.  For the time being. Peace 🙂

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30 before 30

Check the page on the right for an update on how my 30 before 30 journey is going!

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We HAVE Asparagus!!

I came home today and found this little guy looking at me! Image

That my friends is a bonafide asparagus!!  I’m so happy I could sing!!  Instead I had to take an emergency oatmeal bath and consume copious amounts of histamine blockers for a crazy allergic reaction.  Image

My squash aren’t doing so well.  I don’t think i’m watering too much though because the soil is constantly dry.  Too little perhaps?  I planted some garlic there today too, to keep bugs and caterpillars away.  Image

Apparently some of my seeds got mixed because this pot most definitely has 2 different types of plants growing! 


My sage is doing much better, now that my cat isn’t trying to eat it.  Image 

My basil has grown about two inches… tonight we ate it on french bread pizza and it was AMAZING! 


Mint is trying to take over the world!


Asparagus roots!


Ben is helping too! 


If I were a genius…

So, like many families in America, we have two working parents and my son goes to daycare.  Unlike many working families in America, my husband and I both have had a hand in my son’s school.  My husband currently works at a nearby school in the same chain as my son’s school as a manager.  I previously worked as a manager at my son’s school.  I’ve had horror stories, which I wont write here, from another daycare where my husband previously managed.  This was MY school though and quite a few of the employees started while I was working here.  (Or they’ve been there for as long as I’ve been alive 🙂 )  This isn’t really a complaint about Ben’s school in particular.  He has amazing teachers and a great management staff.  I am a little sad that the company policy excludes kids like him.  My son is brilliant.  Yes, I know every parent thinks their child is the next Einstein or Mozart.  Honestly though, sometimes he’s so smart it freaks me out a little bit.  My cousin was the same kind of smart.  So brilliant that us “normal folks” just couldn’t quite grasp it.  I saw the same things with him too.  He would go to daycare, or school and the people that worked there would be frustrated by how smart he was.  Instead of working to challenge him, they would just leave him alone to his own devices.  The biggest difference is that, growing up, my cousin really wasn’t terribly social.  He was just as content to sit with a book or some music on his own as he was to play.  Ben is social… extremely.  I’m constantly amazed at how he greets people and talks to them, leads his class around to do what he wants them to do… etc.  In addition, I receive notes home saying things like “Ben recognized all the letters in Leslie’s name today!” Mind you, my son is not quite two, but can recognize most letters, all his animals (including a few made up ones… wookie anyone?)  cars, planes, trains, numbers, counting, music… The only thing he hasn’t got a great grasp on is colors.  He can also sign many of the same things I just listed.  So I simply want to know if his school would be willing to move him up because he has no “peers” to interact with.  The company policy however is to wait until they are 2.  Ben wont be 2 until August.  (My cousin and I by the way were both August babies too… I know his pain)  In the past they have moved children up early because they were “too aggressive” or “biting”, but they wont move a child up because he is socially or cognitively advanced.  While this may seem like little league, there is one thing I want to think about.  As I watched my cousin go through a miserable 1st grade year, where his teacher mistreated him because (in all honesty) he was probably smarter than her, I saw how public school and society failed him.  He was fortunate enough to live in a district where the GT program is actually really great.  They recognized him, and moved him to a GT school where he made friends and thrived.  I see my son’s future laid out and wonder… “Will society fail him as well?  What can I do, aside from being a crazy helicopter parent, to make sure he gets the support he needs for his gifts… or is he just environmentally gifted?  Though I am an educator, I feel bad saying this, but I don’t want him in public schools, at least right now.  Mind you we have 3 years, but the public schools in our area are a mess.  I work at a charter school and I’m not sure that is the right setting either.  As social as he is, I don’t think homeschooling would be good for him… and I’m not sure we could afford private… So I’m stuck.  Hopefully though, by the time  he hits 4- going on 5 the path will be more clear.  One last thought on my mini-social commentary that struck a chord.  I was pregnant with Ben and substitute teaching at my old elementary.  I was talking to some of my former teachers and they found out I was due in August… with a boy.  Immediately they said to me, “You’ll hold him back wont you?  You’ll wait until he’s 6?”  I was appalled.  Ben was due the day before my birthday.  He was born 2 days before. I started kinder at 5 and graduated 7th youngest out of 785 students.  My cousin was the same.  His birthday is at the end of August.  I can’t imagine being held back because my birthday was in August.  I would have been bored out of my mind.  So I wonder, why it is that people treat kids the way they do.  Smart kids punished for behaving well starting at daycare… goes on to be punished because his birthday is in August… And pushed in a corner because he’s too smart later?  Image

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