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Showing posts from 2008

Punishment to fit the crime?\

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C made a bad choice with a friend last night.

She was duly punished. And then some. But how far is too far? What is appropriate?

When she was a toddler I went to a forum run by early childhood educators about punishment. Their message was that all punishment should have a direct correlation to the crime at hand and should not involve shame. When I said that my cousins have a naughty chair that works very well, and that their kids are very well behaved, I was told that this is the wrong philosophy. What are they learning other than shame? She asked. I tried to explain that they will have a cause-effect. She said that it has to be related: e.g. if a child is caught steeling candy from your snack stash, then the kid doesn't get sweets for a while. (There is a similar debate about the use of a Traffic Light in the early grades at BRRSD. I must admit that I am not a fan - that there are plenty of other ways to punish/praise a child's behavior.) In my punishments I always seem to incl…

Mugs

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Several years ago my dad gave me something I was completely surprised to get: a set of Christmas serving bowls and dishes. They are beautiful and I use them every year, but I hadn't asked for them.

This year he gave me a set of 8 coffee mugs, a coffee (tea?) pot, creamer and sugar dish to complete the set. They are just as beautiful. What was really funny was his comment: "you should have more company!"

Is he joking???

This year in overnight guests alone (off the top of my head, forgive me if I forgot anyone) we had my brother and sister-in-law, my friend TL and her husband and 2 kids stayed for a week, my mother-in-law and niece were here for 10 days last June, my Dad for the entire month of May, we had 2 families stay with us for labor day weekend (and a promise of 2 more in 2009!!!!!), plus my Dad and my cousin (cousin only stayed for 2 nights in mid- November, Dad is still here). Now my in-laws are just finishing up a 2 week stay.

We also had a large gathering of kids an…

A rock star!

My family always discussed politics when I was growing up. My in-laws don't as much. I think my father-in-law was pretty shocked last night when he found out how politically liberal I am. Last night with my Dad and my in-laws together, Dad called Obama "a rock star". I was thinking about this today while watching one of my favorite movies "Love Actually".

How much more of a star can you get running a country than Hugh Grant? I remember watching this scene in the theater 5 years ago, and wishing that someone would say these things to the US.

I'm not expecting miracle cures for the economy or rampant changes next month in the educational system. I am hoping for a new sense of hope in the coming months that will lead to gradual change.

And a touch of Hugh Grant can't hurt!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas readers, family and friends,

Even though these days Christmas is still about being with family, eating traditional foods and exchanging gifts, when I grew up we attended midnight mass. After Communion the lights would lower in the church and by candlelight we would sing Silent Night. While I am not sure what I believe anymore, I do miss the music of my Christmases past. As I write my Dad and I are enjoying Lessons and Carols broadcast live from England.

This is my favorite Christmas Carol.

Angels we have on heard high
Sweetly singing ore the plains
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ whose birth the angels sing
Come adore on bended knee
Christ the Lord the newborn King

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria in excelsis Deo

See him in a manger laid
Whom the choirs of angels praise
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid
While our hearts in love we raise

Gloria in excelsis Deo
Gloria, in excelsis Deo
Gloria in ex…

Keeping sanity at the Craziness

My favorite "new" (meaning since we moved to NJ 5 years ago) traditions are done. We've seen the Christmas Show at Radio City and the Tree at Rockerfeller Center, baked Gingerbread Houses (from scratch!) with T's boss's family, attended T's company's party and, of course, my annual dinner with 2 girlfriends.

I have been stressed out the past weeks. I still have 6 Christmas cards to send and I never sent my sister's family's gifts (UPS overnight?). I just had to change my kids' advent calendar gift because I just couldn't handle what I was going to give them ("sleep overs" tonight), but I had to nix that. I just don't have the energy!

Last night I thought I was going to fall into a spiral of angst and stress when a girlfriend heard in my panicked voice that I just needed a little while to relax. A place of refuge... just a few blocks away. 9:45pm wasn't too late! That's a friend!!

It did the trick. I wake up today with a …

Glad to be a mom

T's company had its annual holiday party. Families flew in from all over the country (well, many of them couldn't make it because of the weather and flight cancellations). We brought my Dad and in-laws along. How many companies let you bring your extended family. We weren't the only family with three generations - there were several!

It was a great party! You could tell how much fun the kids were having when they couldn't be bothered to spend 10 minutes eating!

C and her friend SB (daughter of T's boss) were the hip pre-teens in their Christmas outfits, gorgeous hair and matching silver sparkle clutch bags. N was somewhere between the bigger 10 year olds and JB, though only 5 is as tall as N. MB said that the girls were teasing him, as they are known to do, but he said it with a smile. In a few years I'll have to keep an eye out to make sure that C behaves like a lady around this cute boy! But for now they are all very innocent and sweet.

When Santa came and all t…

No BOE for me...

I had goals for today:

Have a perfect house with my perfect family and a perfect meal for my perfect in-laws, then head to the Board of Ed meeting tonight to give my well-received opinion and be told Yes, Mrs. L. We'd LOVE to hear your opinion and we will change our policies accordingly.

DREAM ON!
House is still messy (my room at least is a disaster). The perfect family? Well, we can't even eat together since the kids have TKD - they have testing this weekend.

My perfect in-laws. Well, they are!

And the boe - well, it is a dream I'll have to pursue another Tuesday. I can't bail on the in-laws to hear next year's budget presentation.

Just don't fool reduce the libraries - or any other academic resource for things like security, sports or administration!

We haven't forgotten 2007!!!!

Off to clean up. Good daughters-in-law have a clean kitchen!

Think positively!

It was a great day today. It's the little things:

N's teacher, Miss Teacher, keeps her superstar status in my book! She called me in to speak with her about something relating to N's personality. Maybe it's something to be worried about (his physician is on vacation, so I'll wait until next week to follow up), maybe it's nothing. Either way, she noticed when few others have. Just she and his kindergarten teacher have ever mentioned this trait to me. Miss Teacher even followed up with last year's teacher. She had never noticed it (I couldn't help myself - my reply was "well, then she wasn't paying very good attention, because he does it all the time!"). Miss Teacher was concerned that maybe N gets teased about it - but he says that when kids ask him about it, he just says "it's just something I do". I'll also keep an eye on the teasing.

She really is compassionate!

My tax dollars at work? I'd say they were very well spent…

In progress

I am not sure what to do! N is still able to memorize increasingly difficult words (this week's list included the days of the week), but not able to remember to incorporate them into his regular writing. I keep hoping an answer will appear out of the sky!

With the holidays approaching and my focus turning to my incoming guests (arriving Tuesday and staying til 12/31/08), I am hoping that N's school issues don't get forgotten. Last week I forgot to write in his reading log every single day! (He did read, but God Knows what/how many pages!) Now I am not sure even where his reading log is!!! Hopefully/probably in his desk. Miss Teacher has called me in for a meeting on Monday morning at 8:15. That cannot be good, otherwise it would have been over the phone or e-mail!

I've been in such a bad mental state the past few weeks that I am making a concerted effort not to think about it.

So for now, I will put on music while I wash windows, do laundry, decorate (we have even MORE …

A mini vacation...

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Once a year I treat myself - whatever I want for dinner at one of my favorite places, I say YES to a 2nd cocktail and talk about taboo things with two girlfriends. Then we shop - sometimes finishing our Christmas shopping, other times getting new digs for a special event (I needed something hip a few years ago to hear a band). No new outfit for me this year, but it's still a night out. A night out with these two friends is a once a year event, so I really enjoy it! Imagine - the kids only having one outing per year with a certain friend.

I hope a mojito and the fabulous coconut shrimp appetizer do magic with my soul. But the real medicine is time with my friends. My kids get time planned for them with friends as a matter of course. I need to plan a more play dates for myself!!

Still learning the same lessons

Every day for several weeks I've been feeling like I'm getting worse, making more mistakes and in general not doing a very good job here in this space I call life. Just when I thought I was figuring out how to be an adult - wham-oh! I make a series of mistakes that I can't seem to forgive myself for. Small stupid things. Every day it's something new and unexpected!

When I reprimand my children, punish, yell or just want to alert them to behavior I would like them to change, I need to look in the mirror first. Remember how it feels to be reprimanded, punished (even self punishment) or alerted of my own mistakes.

It hurts to be reprimanded, so it is best to learn how to alter behavior in other ways.

If I treat my kids with respect - even when I need to work on their behavior - maybe they treat others with respect? Would they treat me with respect? Or will it make them spoiled rotten as I fear? I don't know. It would mean that *I* would have to seriously alter *my* own n…

Timed test

N came home with a timed test with a note from his teacher saying that he had continued on after the test was over, even though she asked him not to.

He was clearly ashamed when I asked him about it. He said he was jealous of the other kids who could finish on time. He said he was one of the only kids who wasn't able to finish on time. T said he was proud of N for wanting to finish it, something N hasn't always been interested in doing.

The most poignant thing for me was when N asked why I didn't yell at him. When you yell as hard and as often as I do, I guess it throws kids for a loop when you talk to them normally.

It made me sad that I yell so often that N expects it.

N may need to work on his math, but I need to work on my parenting skills!

December 6th

23 years ago today, my brother died.

My family life growing up was never "normal" but this put us well into the dysfunctional category.

When he died my Mom, sister grandmother and I were in New York City. At the same show I saw just yesterday with my children and some friends.

My mother, queen of all secrets, did not want my grandmother to know the extent of his illness. My father, I'm not sure whether he was overcome be grief or out of allegiance to Mom, refused to tell us that he died, even when asked directly multiple times. (My Mom had immediately flown west to be with his widow). My Aunt, who hadn't been in the loop on how sick D was, broke the news to us, with my grandmother's wails coming from the living room, where my Uncle was informing her.

I don't think I ever forgave my mother for putting my sister and me in such a terrible position of knowing all about D's illness, without being allowed to mention it to family, especially my grandmother. Mom c…

Pillow talk????

A co-worker who has a daughter the same grade as C (in another district nearby) came into work upset yesterday. Her daughter CT couldn't sleep Sunday night. She had been to a sleep-over on Saturday night where one of the girls read a forwarded text message on her cell phone.

It was about convicted rapists living in the area (presumably info from Megan's law). CT was traumatized - she apparently had been told what rape is and that it is happening in her town.

Mom was pretty upset, too.

I wondered: is this what 10 and 11 year olds talk about at sleepovers at my house too?

And, is this something we are supposed to be proactively discussing with 10 year olds???!!!

What a world we live in!

Losing the balancing act

I am losing it. I am not doing well enough at work and things are slipping on the home front. I forgot to get a replacement string for my daughter's violin (who knew they break so easily!), so she can't play in orchestra tomorrow morning. I look like a bad mom!

Tonight I went to book club (forgetting to bring the book that my friend will return to the library with the "book club bag"). I enjoyed it until I got home and my husband reminded me that I had missed a family tradition and the kids waited and waited for me to come home.

Must be the first time I ever forgot my cell phone!

He also informed me that the exercise club keeps billing my old credit card and then charging a fee for non-payment. More to fix.

Wish I could snap my fingers and fix this all. This blog started as a commentary on BRRSD school programs - when do I have time to even pay attention to these issues? What kind of activist am I?

A tired one.

Good night.

Kids and Sin City

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(Grandpa takes in the view in Vegas)

For the second year in a row, we have ignored Thanksgiving and taken the kids on vacation. Last year we were in Florida. This year we took my Dad with us to Las Vegas. I am glad we got to take him on vacation with us. He is 83 and in good health, but as a huge hypochondriac any trip on a plane was a hard sell. When he finally got there, he had a GREAT TIME! In fact, I think he liked it best of all!

Some of my friends might not think that Vegas is an appropriate destination for my impressionable children. "All that sex EVERYWHERE." The smokey casinos that you have to cross to get to anywhere in the hotel. The men handing out cards offering dates for men in the street.

My kids ignored it all!

What did they like best about Vegas? The expensive Cirque Du Soleil show, KA (being martial artists I thought it was a sure thing)? No. (BTW it was very cool!)

The free Pirate show outside of Treasure Island? No.

Seeing Faux Paris? Seeing the water show i…

Good news

N's conference was helpful. He is coming along with his writing and is very creative in his thought process. I can't believe how much his abilities have progressed - the first week of school he couldn't fill in open-ended sentences like "My favorite thing to do is ..." Now he can write his own ideas. At least in class.

Why can he sometimes do something very clever and other times, when asked to write very simple things, his mind goes completely blank and he cries in frustration? One of the things Miss Teacher shared today made me laugh out loud several times. Yet when we asked him to write 3 sentences about a pet (we have had several to choose from, and we reminded him of them too) he cannot come up with one thing to say on his own.

My cousin (well, my Mom's cousin) is coming today. She has come into our lives more now after my Mom died. She has been an angel to us, helping my Dad so selflessly, despite her own challenges. She tackles everything with grace and…

Breathe!

So it has been an unbelievably busy week. Work was extraordinarily stressful and demanding but I feel more confident and comfortable now. I am still feeling overwhelmed by the work-life balance question.

So I was grateful that soccer is finally over to soften the schedule.

On the homefront I always feel behind. The house is a perpetual mess and no matter how many times I run the dishwasher, the kitchen is overrun with things needing washing. Laundry: even worse!

Today we had our first somewhat negative report about C. Ever. Her math grades are dropping - she is losing interest. In language arts she is doing well, but when she doesn't apply herself it is clear. She rushes, isn't conscientiously checking her work. She does well the days she is pulled out for enrichment - even though she misses the lesson, she does the work, faster and better. She is bored otherwise. At this rate of dropping grades, she will have no chance at e. I remember this from my childhood when teachers wrote …

No time to...

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I have been remiss.

A friend of mine sent me the K-4 Language Arts and Literacy program evaluation. It's less than 40 pages, but I have not had time to read it! It seems like every moment is booked. I'm even looking forward to reading it, yellow highlighter in hand! Even the five minutes I am writing this are stolen from my before-school rush of activities. I should be... is how I feel most of the time, as in "I should be in the shower."

Tonight the BOE takes up another important issue - state testing results. Again with the shoulds... We'll see if I can turn that into "I will go". TKD is until 7:30, BOE meeting is at 8:00 and my only chance to see a gym for is between 6:30-7:25 (it's 1/4 mile from TKD).

Last night my house was full of chaos. N's boy scout den came over and made PB&J sandwiches for S.H.I.P.. Most of the boys (8 year old 3rd graders, for the most part) had never made a sandwich before! We coddle our kids too much! Although th…

Friday at home

If you've been in my house unexpected, chances are you were shocked by the chaos and mess.


So I am cleaning today. Will get kids to help - even if I have to force them.

Nobody's Nerfect

It was a great morning. The sun was shining, and I promised that no matter what happened today I wouldn't let it spoil my especially good mood.

Keeping that promise at work was a challenge - luckily my colleague A has a seemingly unlimited supply of chocolate to lift spirits.

I worked nearly 2 hours late - and left in a frenzy. When I got home at 5pm, I had to rush to pick up my son and get him to his end of soccer party. After the challenges of being on this team I felt like it was especially important to be there. I left 5 minutes later than I should have, but I didn't think it would matter. I'm always 5 minutes late.

Well, I was wrong.

1st - It took me 45 minutes to drive to Chimney Rock Inn(a little over 5 miles from here). The traffic was awful. Think LA meets the Lincoln Tunnel.

2nd - I get to Chimney Rock and NO party!!! I was at the wrong place! I open my iPhone to recheck the e-mail, but it didn't download properly and only says the time! (a reminder of how late …

Election Day's top 10

Top ten reasons to vote D today!

10) To prove to ourselves (and the rest of the world) that we aren't bigoted!

9) Obama is much cooler than McCain.

8) We need D's in both Legislative and Executive branch to balance all those years of strong-handed R rule.

7) The Democrats don't owe their power to ties with big Oil.

6) A chance to end No Child Left Behind.

5) Universal Heath Care- don't knock it til you try it!!!!!

4) "I'm pro-choice and I vote!" Well, it's true...

3) In a word: PALIN.

2) LET'S GET OUT OF IRAQ! Let's NOT go into Iran!

1) SUPREME COURT - Our next President will likely nominate one, maybe two justices.

One more day

"One day to a new beginning
Raise the flag of freedom high!
Every man will be a king
Every man will be a king
There's a new world for the winning
There's a new world to be won
Do you hear the people sing?
My place is here, I fight with you!"

I have Les Mis going through my mind this morning as I drink my coffee.

I hope my readership will vote Obama tomorrow so we can scrap or sharply redo NCLB and fix so many other mistakes of Bush - stop spending $10B/month in Iraq, restore our standing in the world and so much more.

I hope you will vote for the Dems running here in Bridgewater. I can't vote for Stender because of where I live, but maybe you can - here's Billy Boy stumping for her.

And beware of a certain local Republican in Independent's clothing! Mr. H actually said to me that kids in AI are MORE important than the other children in the district because they represent the best chance to get into top colleges. I cannot tell you how offended I was. How does he kn…

Biting my tongue on the soccer field

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I'm a woman who speaks her mind, especially when it regards her kids.

Several weeks ago I e-mailed N's coach when he only played 4 minutes of a 60 minute game. It's a township-sponsored, in-town recreation league. One hour of practice and 8 or 10 games a season. We like it because it offers N a chance to play a team sport, get some fresh air and have some fun. We don't see him turning into a soccer-star, but after this season we will have to call it quits. This hurts his self-esteem, instead of the original goal.

A bench-warmer at 8. Ouch!

So I e-mailed the coach after the first time. She sent me a long reply apologizing that she didn't notice he played so little, and because of new rules she is limited in when she can sub. She also said that kids play more when they ask to play. N is actually pretty shy and would never ask to play.

So when two weeks ago he didn't play more than a few minutes again, I fumed. I didn't want to be the typical helicopter Mom, hover…

Halloween

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It's going to be a great day! Perfect weather. Costumes done and tested twice. Candy bought. The front porch's decorations of pumpkins, gourds and fall candles will put tonight's visitors in the mood.

Enjoy, everyone!

Vote your conscious, vote for schools

As we make our final decisions regarding the election, here is the PTO Voter Guide. If your vote based on schools, you might want to check this out!

Happy reading!

VOTE ON TUESDAY!!!!

Snowy day

Snow caught me completely by surprise. I guess that is what happens when you go to bed at 9:30 with a book and don't watch TV at all (as I did last night).

I am still a novice a this work/life compromise. I miss being at home sometimes. Today I would have liked to have curled up in bed with a good book (or at least changed from my skirt into a pair of sweatpants). I think N has been late for school every day this year - but when I think back on it, he was late last year and in 1st grade a lot. I had no excuse then. I was thinking back on it - I yelled at C in 3rd grade one day for being so late that she went to school crying. Just like I made N cry today. "If you would go to bed earlier, you would get up easier and we would get out of the house on time." Sometimes it is hard to be Mom. Do my other friends yell so hard that they feel horrible too?

N was ill prepared for the weather too. He went to school with a sweatshirt. But he survived.

Now they are all in bed. Homework …

old habits die hard

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I spent my weekend much as I have spent every weekend since I had kids, focused on them.

Friday was about Halloween. Saturday was an all day tae kwon do event (you can hear my cheers if you listen hard to these pictures). Today was running around and then soccer. One of C's friends got hurt and was taken to the ER. I have to pretend it can't happen to us or else I couldn't take it. C's tkd instructor didn't sugarcoat it: if you are going to spar, eventually you are going to get hurt.

I did sneak in a few minutes of self-indulgent behavior tonight. It was delicious!!

A step forward

Ns wonderful Miss Teacher followed up.

It's good news (I think). Miss Teacher has a few more ideas for things to do with N and the committee recommended that N get special help one-on-one two times every 6 days (in Bridgewater schools run on a 6 day cycle).

They are also going to look at his "case" at the STAT team. From what I understand this group makes decisions regarding special needs matters. Numerous people have told me the modus operendi is to deny deny deny until forced to give help. We aren't anywhere near that kind of place, but I do have to remind myself that ultimately I have to actively advocate for N, as no one else will.

I was thrilled to get word that the committee had met within a week of our initial meeting with the Principal, ETS and Miss Teacher and decided to give him help regularly. It's a small but significant victory and a first step to teaching him to write.

I sent her a thank you note. She is N's 4th teacher. They were all great in thei…

Blast from the past

This year I spent a lot of time in the "land of nostalgia", due to our high school reunion. I thought about good times and talked for hours about the past with friends.

I became friends with girls I used to think hated me (some of who read this blog!). I got back in touch with HK. Ours was a friendship that fizzled in about 7th grade. HK was creative and beautiful back then. Now she has flourished into an amazing butterfly of a person and I value our transcontinental connection. We're friends again. Everything else is water under the bridge.

I got back in touch with long lost neighbors and have kept in touch thanks to Facebook. We shared pictures of our kids and talked about "night games" (neighbor kids getting together on hot summer nights to play Ghost in the Graveyard and Neighborhood Hide and Go Seek). Maybe these things still happen, but kids don't roam out streets they way we did then.

And who would have thought that the boy who sat next to me in homero…

The hump

I will admit it. I am in over my head. I came home from work, checked my e-mail and climbed into bed. Finding that even lying in bed wasn't relaxing enough, I took a hot bath. But 5:00 approached and my 2nd job was thrust upon me - soccer, dinner, homework supervision, etc. It's after 8pm, and I am longing for bed. But how many days can I go without doing dishes???? (And before child welfare shows up?)

The to do list mounts and my guilt weighs as heavily as ever. Plus I have done what I absolutely didn't want to do: Brought work home. Only mentally. I can't stop thinking about the issue I had with Outlook today. Many years ago one of my colleagues used to yell from his office "I HATE BILL GATES!" Today I feel the same way!

Everything I had on the list is still on it (I have a library book in the car that was due in early September!)!!! I had a few hours of fun this week and I am paying for it in guilt.

I feel quite overwhelmed. The thought of Halloween is stres…

Friday meeting

We met with the Elementary Teaching Specialist, Miss Teacher (who I am even more in love with than before!) and Mr. Principal. This was my first working encounter with Mrs. ETS and Mr. P. T and I sat down with them for about an hour and we got a lot of information but are still left with questions.

I explained that I have seen issues for years and I wish I'd pushed the system harder to get him evaluated. I also said that while I don't blame any individual teacher, that I feel this should have done before. As a background I spoke briefly about his K, 1 & 2 teachers and what had been said about his writing before. Mrs. Kindergarten teacher said the same thing we are still hearing: that his head is full of ideas but he can't get them down on paper.

Both Miss T and Mrs ETS started by testing his reading comprehension and we have learned that his reading and comprehension are where they should be. Beyond that he can create abstract thoughts based on what he read. So his IQ …

Running thoughts

I started this blog on Wednesday immediately after finishing my run. I had to drive N to soccer and prepare for Girl Scouts and was unable to finish it until today, Sunday.

On Wednesday, I blew off housework and cooking to enjoy the sun. After all the freedom I have had these years at home, I felt the need to catch time in the Indian summer sun.

I let my mind wander with the music. My iPod is full of memory music. Mostly from the 1980s. Most of the music I run to is sung by strong women - Beyonce starts me off:

"You must not know about me,
You must not know about me..."

Then Alanis Morissette's strong vulgarity - I wish I had her guts!

Gwen Stefanie's music takes me to the street where the Ms live. The road is a quiet, and I can even sing to myself. "If I can escape, and recreate a place that is my own world..."

Thinking about escape and "creating my own world" made me skip the next two songs to that 80's band, The Communards - "Don't leav…

When yes means no and no means yes?

Have been another round with N re: TKD. He wants to do it one minute and not another, and my dear husband is not one to part quickly with the small fortuna that this costs. But we do want N to make it to his black belt (if only to raise his low self-esteem).

Will see.

Otherwise I don't have time to blog tonight. After planning girl scouts for tomorrow night with my partner in crime, M, I realized I had to do two things: find C's cookie orders (on 3 different sheets!), then e-mail the stuff to angel A cookie-Mom! I also promised to work on a larger GS project. This is taking significantly more than the 5 minutes I allotted tonight.

My bed and my book beckon. Life of Pi. Haven't read enough to make an impression one way or another.

Not much to report. Will keep you posted about Friday's meeting at school.

Fall day

It was a beautiful afternoon in Bridgewater. I didn't have a good day at work (but since rule number 1 of blogging is never complain about your employer, I won't write any more), I just include that to emphasize how lovely it was to enjoy some of the day. Carpe Diem!

C turned down a ride home in order to walk with her friends. They found a turtle, which her Mom wouldn't let her keep. Then her friend called to invite her to ride bikes. They were out until after 6pm. That sounds like when I grew up - ride until you can't ride anymore!

N didn't believe me when I showed up to get him from school without my car. Its about 1.5 miles - and he had to WALK! It was wonderful! We talked, collected leaves, walked and spent some time alone together. He forgot to complain after a while and even ran way past me the final few blocks.

They came home, did their homework without complaining and ate all their dinners. No whining at bedtime.

While they did their homework, I brushed the co…

Tae kwon-do mommin'

Ever feel like you have jet lag, when you only traveled 25 miles?

That's how we all feel tonight.

N & C competed in "the battle of the orient", a mixed martial arts tournament. The 8 hours were grueling for them, and us.

It was stressful from the moment I woke up. When we arrived (30 minutes later than planned), the kids decided at the very last second to participate in the board break portion (unrehearsed - and it didn't go particularly well). So the stress began before we even walked into the gym.

Board breaks and weapons (which they didn't do), were followed by lunch break and a CRUSHINGLY BORING awards ceremony for the sponsors' leadership, then a cool show which took more than four hours. By the time our main events started - forms and sparring - it was after 2pm and the kids were already worn out.

The results:
N did about 1000 times better than we expected.

His forms looked relatively polished and strong - with some last minute embellishments to up an e…

Imsoniac surfs web

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In the old days when I couldn't sleep I stayed in bed with a book, these days I surf online.

I found this article about Bridgewater in the NY Times. It was in the NY Times the week my husband accepted his current job and our lives changed completely. The article contributed to our picking Bridgewater over other communities in the area. Low taxes, a tax-based largely subsidized by the mall, combined with excellent schools - or so we thought.

I also read more carefully an e-mail pushing me to vote yes on converting 25% of protected land for recreational use. There isn't much online about this - I did get this from the Courier News. I sided with the owls a few years ago when it was a hot button issue (although I didn't do anything with that opinion, like go to a Council meeting). Where are the signs on Van Holten road? Without any exposure the Mayor is going to get her way! These days my daughter does play a travel sport - but I would still rather pay the fee to use a facility…

Quickie Blog

Sometimes you only have time for a quickie. The next time I'll be home will be 12 hours from now so it's now or never.

LAL director for grade 5-8 called yesterday. C is being reevaluated for e-language arts. She doubted that she would get in. Unlike Ms. Math Supervisor, Ms. LAL Supervisor made it sound like C could be reevaluated later this year if she gets in and if Mr. Teacher isn't able to meet her needs. Mr. Teacher is giving her more math and harder books in class - and that is making a difference too. She is reading The Yearling and having problems with the language. I'll have to look at it this weekend. She said "I think it was written a long time ago, like in 1961"

N continues to work on words with T. T really has been great about plugging through the vocabulary words. Am looking forward to my meeting with Ms. ETS teacher next Friday.

Feeling the working-mom time crunch: I have to farm out the kids today, but paybacks are tomorrow. Two families are sendi…

My Daughter and My Son - Tuesday Grease songs

Part 1:

"There are worse things I could do..."

My daughter is the quintessential over-scheduled child. If I spelled out the details of today, comments would fly in from around the world about how I am doing actual harm to my 10 year old, C. "She's gonna burn out!" "Her grades will suffer!" "She is going to get run down!"

So right you are. Today she will be at extra curricular activities for about 5 hours (*THAT ISN'T THE NORM!*). I asked her what she wanted to do. She absolutely wanted to do it all! Do I tell her no and force her to choose between TKD and soccer?

And if she stayed home? She'd be watching TV after finishing her homework. She may have other options, but Project Runway is what she'd be up to. Hmm... too much exercise or sitting on the sofa watching tv and snacking.....??? (I know what I'd choose - it's a good thing my daughter isn't like me!)

***

Part 2:

"(There's) Nothin' left for me to do
You'…

Happy sounds

The lasagna is cooling, the garlic bread is heating up (gotta love Wegmans - even their frozen stuff is good!). N's scout meeting went late by 30 minutes and I had visions of fire department rescues (from smoke, not fire) but all was well and dinner was delish!

N and T are in the livingroom "studying". It sounds perfect: N trying and laughing and T saying "try again". It's good that T is in charge. When N doesn't get something I get frustrated and my tone doesn't come out right. I also get upset when N makes a joke, maybe something rhyming, followed by a "get it?" T laughs easily with him. I would think N is distracted. Is joking around conducive to studying? My brain says no, but their relaxed tone makes me wonder. On Sunday T sat with N and did spelling for nearly 2 hours. N seemed to retain the information. Clearly he is learning now too!

I want to be the Mom-of-all-trades (parent, chef, chauffeur, tutor, social attache/travel agent, cru…

Moral dilemma

Saturday morning scene chez moi:

- In PJs solving laundry crisis: soccer uniform needs to be clean by noon. Still in dryer at 11am.

- No food in house this morning to feed crew - just as I was pouring a ladle of pancake batter on the pan M shows up with fresh bagels. We ate well this morning.

- Argument with stupid XM sales woman. Call management to vent.

Dishes, straightening.

Moral question of day?

Should I blow off soccer and take the kids to see Springsteen at an Obama rally in Philadelphia???? SOOOOOOOOOOOO tempting! OH SO TEMPTING!!! Maybe if I am still tempted after the game we will have to take a road trip! Hmm... think the kids will be into it???

But I'll be a good parent and go to the game.

UPDATE:
Springsteen concert is free to PA residents. Good thing I looked it up before hitting the road. Guess growing up has its advantages.

News flash!

N got an A on his Science quiz!!!!!!!!

Why am I hearing Handel???

Study and you will succeed! Lesson learned.

signed, world's proudest mom

Friday thoughts

Balance is restored to my universe. My friend was joking yesterday and I didn't have the IQ to see through her e-mail. Sorry, M!

My friend's kid (mentioned last week who also didn't make e) got the final of final nos. Cheryl Dyer refused to meet with the Mom and gave her a no via e-mail. I am disappointed in you, CD! The line is too stringent for getting kids into harder math programs. When kids (or their Moms as their advocates) are begging for more challenge, they should let them in. Again: WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE SO ELITIST??? Well, my daughter C and her non-e friend, N, will have more time to play. But what are they going to do during the 2 hours of review in Everyday Math every day at school?

Re: N. He demonstrated again yesterday that he really can't spell. Some words are from his kindergarten list. I am going to meet with the principal and the elementary teaching specialist. I can't afford to wait for the lovely Miss Teacher (and I *do* think she is a wonderfu…

The veep-wannabees....

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Just saw the debate. I wasn't really surprised. Of course SP would come off polished - she has been doing nothing but training for it since the second she got the call from McCain.

I was disappointed with my team. Why choose a person who is a great debater and then tell him to tone it down? Why was the conversation only about McCain? Where was the Obama sales pitch? Why do I feel like the Dems have made the same mistake that they made with Kerry - they are playing the "nice card"? It doesn't win elections! Why didn't Biden attack her on the same points that JM attacked Obama last week: inexperience, "naïveté"? Where were his balls???!!! Why not attack no child left behind beyond a mention? Why not say that there is no such thing as "clean drilling" - i.e. in the arctic ocean?

Anyone else, btw, catch that SP began with an error? "Can I call you Joe?" It's "MAY I CALL YOU JOE?!" I feel the same way about our language as I …

Challenging day

It's a big juggling act - this part time working thing. I still have the same stay-at-home responsibilities and my own expectations, but I have no time to do anything.

Last night I treated myself to a 30 minute conversation with MC. She knows a lot- having 4 kids and working as a RN at a pediatricians office helps. MC suggested that maybe N might be helped by OT. She sees some kids who have writing issues that are fine motor skill issues.

We had a shower here for an expecting mom in our girl scout troop. By the time the last people left I finally got 2 minutes to ask N about homework - at 8pm he tells me he has a science test tomorrow... ARGH. Reread that first paragraph about juggling. I never read his #$%^&*( agenda (which clearly said "Test Thursday" on Monday). Frustrated I sang to him various notes to try to teach him pitch and volume. I think that he just got more and more confused. He had to guess Hertz and Decibels (loud was 100) but first he kept telling me …

Heading advice??

"So what's next?" I ask myself in reference to my son N. Clearly there has to be a next step. Do I trust the school? Do I learn from my friends' experiences? How will I know what the right course of action is?

N's teacher said I should just practice the various word wall words from this year and last at home while she works with him at school. Mrs. N said that they would probably not prioritize N because his issues are relatively minor, but eventually Miss Teacher will bring this to the evaluation team. Before the school gives him other help, she (teacher) will have to try several things at home first.

My friends say that the school doesn't want to give him any extra service and that even if I try to have him tested outside of the district that they may not accept the results for an IEP (individual educational plan???) or that they even have an issue that they don't themselves get diagnosed. It's a catch-22, from what I understand, they don't want t…

A little more upbeat?

Last week's blogs were a bit of a downer. Here is something more upbeat.

Top 10 things I like about my new job:

1) The hours. 9-3 Monday to Thursday.

2) My boss. She is similar to me: tons of stuff to juggle in her brain, but intelligent enough to keep it all up there. In her private time she is involved with preventing local poverty. Gotta respect that!

3) My colleague. Right now I only have one. She seems nice and competent. And while I can't say I have the relationships I had at my 2000-2003 jobs, I do have to remind myself that they took time to build. I remember my first conversation in February 2000 with TK who said my masters degree wasn't as good as his (we became very good friends later), but my relationship with Lilla (not her real name, so I can use it here) was so good that when she sent me a text message saying "I love you" my husband bellowed "WHO THE HELL IS LILLA???" :-)

4) A new cafeteria is opening this week. It's about priorities, min…

Banging my head against the wall

"Thank you for this very interesting conversation," the head of the math program told me after 40 minutes on the phone.

I hung up, feeling like shit!

I got the final, formal "no" from the person where the buck stops regarding getting C into e-math. It's not happening. Her scores, so Ms. Administrator tells me, are simply not high enough. But, I counter, she cries because she is bored in class - indeed the teacher told me on back-to-school night that she is reading books in math class. What do I do? Ms. Admin. tells me the mantra: targeted enrichment, differentiated teaching, blah blah blah. But no e-math. Last year's teacher recommended her highly for the program. Why can't the district put her in and see how she will do? Ms. Admin herself said that it isn't a cost issue as there are no higher costs associated with the e-program (classroom teachers teach it as part of their regular teaching load). SEM, the extra enrichment is one period per 6 day cyc…

Safer to walk?

Since I don't identify myself in this blog, at least not completely, I can say that my child walks to school every day. People have criticized me for it - even to my face - because it is unsafe.

Today, C took the bus and it would have been safer to walk!

She and her friend SJ did an after school cross country program together. I am happy that SJ motivated C to run! It's great exercise and a sport she can enjoy (as her grandfather does) until she is 83.

Since the kids stay late, the school district is generous enough to supply a late bus. As C's crossing guard had gone home, I had her take the bus 2 blocks to our cross street to avoid crossing a busy street at rush hour.

The bus driver didn't hear or didn't understand her and drove past our street. So C decided get off with SJ, about 1.5 miles from our home. But the bus driver, again, either didn't hear or chose not to let them off and kept going.

Finally the girls insisted on being let off. It was on a busy road a…

Time management

Started the new job on Monday and I LOVE IT! I love what I am doing (right now, mostly attending meetings and learning) and my new colleagues are great so far.

But I forgot how much time it takes to work. I come home mere moments before the school bus drops N off and zip into the whirlwind of my main job - Momming. Haven't been to taekwondo this week. The first two days everyone had to buy lunch because I hadn't been to the store. And exercising? Forget it! No time! I have a plan to make dinner in the crock pot before I leave for work - and keep forgetting to do that too!

Yesterday I actually forgot to pee. I realized it while fighting traffic to get home! (I am not one for bathroom humor, but forgive this one mention!) No matter how busy I ever got at home, I never forgot to eat and pee. (Monday I didn't eat until nearly one because everyone forgot to take lunch).

I also forgot the Board of Ed meeting last night - which had been in my calendar for more than a month.

Don'…

Christmas is coming, the goose (the lamb?) is getting fat!

This is the year I started making Christmas dinner on September 20th!

My husband is from a place where salted lamb is their traditional Christmas dinner, and since we haven't been able to buy the right cut of cured meat either online or at the closest market in Brooklyn, we are trying to salt the lamb shoulder ourselves this year. We went to Hind & Fore in Bridgewater where they could tell the right cut of meat from our picture. We'll have to report back when we make a test dinner in November.

It's 70F and I am cooking for Christmas!

I like to knit Christmas presents. Last year was a big scarf year. This year three babies are on their way this fall - one friend is having her 5th and 6th children (and her 2nd set of twins!!). So I cast on 121 stitches in blue cotton last night. When it's done, I'll cast on 121 more stitches in a slightly different color. Then C's former teacher is having a baby - since we don't know the gender - it'll be 121 yellow sti…

The next step

Decisions big and small are always difficult for me. Some are easy, but I still second-guess myself. My friend called yesterday and invited us to the beach for the day on Sunday. I said no because of C's soccer game, but, of course I'd rather go to the beach!

I don't where to begin with the kids.

I got the 411 on procedure for N from the school nurse It isn't quick and he will come after more serious issues. So what about the mean time? Tutoring? A neurologist?

With C... we are beginning to think that this is a good learning tool for her. She always has succeeded in everything and has always gotten exactly what she wanted. While it clearly not good that she isn't in e, it will also teach her something too.

But I still fear not getting into e may preclude her from academic success later. So I should break down doors until someone moves her. Why do they have to be so stingy in this district with time and services?

I took a 3-day hiatus from the media - no newspapers, TV …

I hate being right!

I am the pushy Mom! I volunteer a lot in the school, but I know that I get to see my kids during the day and get to know their teachers pretty well too.

Tonight it was back to school night. Even though I know it is a general overview, I waited until the end to steal time with my kid's teacher about something that I should have made an appointment for, knowing that she knew me and "it would be OK".

But the pushiness, the angst, the "budging in line" were worth it. N's teacher said he definitely has an issue. He cannot spell. Even simple words that he should have definitely could have spelled in 1st grade.

It's a two-way thing: I am grateful that it isn't all in my head. And I am heartbroken that there is an undiagnosed issue. I angst over the question of "what do we do now?"

After a lot of wine, the angst is subsided. I can go to sleep knowing that I will figure it out tomorrow - and in the weeks and months to come.

I was right. As my mother …

Judging Poppet

It's both transitive and intransitive: judging. Today a discussion of the verb "judge".

It's always the same expression in some concerned mother's eyes, "You let her walk to school?" Usually behind them is the thought that she is a superior mother because she would drive her kid. But is she really? Isn't 20 minutes of independent walking in our own neighborhood a minimum expectation of a 10 year old?

But then I caught myself doing the same thing. Judging others! I do it several times a day - and when having coffee, I do can do it 50 times per latte. (You can find examples in this blog - did you see my judgment of Michelle Obama's choice of outfit?). I also judge a lot of mother's in my son's grade for being overprotective and self-righteous.

Stay and home and outside working moms judge each other all the time! I judge them both, since I have been both, and have been judged too. My house should be much cleaner since I am a stay-at-home Mom.…

Instead of cleaning...

...I have been reading and drinking coffee with MR (thanks babe!).

I enjoyed Richard Cohen's op ed about McCain's ugly tone in the Washington Post.

I had a little geography lesson (asking if can you see Russia from Alaska) courtesy of Slate.com. Since I grew up in a state that you can see Canada from, it's good to know I'm an expert. Also, I've actually been to Russia (when it was still the USSR), and some 15 other countries - so I am (as far as the Republicans are concerned) a foreign policy expert! Do I get to count countries I have flown over, since technically I have "seen them"???

I listened to NPR about upcoming energy bills. Since we live in a state with a huge coastline (possibly my favorite part of New Jersey), they better not drill here! Is Speaker Pelosi losing her mind???

And just for kicks and giggles, I replayed Mr. Damon's interview...

Finally, I have plans to reread more of Macchiavelli's "The Prince". I read it in college…

High school all over again!

I'm waiting for the phone to ring, it's such a cliche! As in high school, I am anticipating the start of my new world (when the phone rings, that is). Also, as in high school the boys (this time they are plumbers) disappoint me.

Today is one big waiting game!

The antidote? Yard work. Pulling weeds and cleaning up so the place looks more presentable will take my mind off the silent phones.

Sunday's morning coffee

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After a long night - fear of werewolves brought the kids inside (it was, after all, a near full moon) - I read two things that caught my attention this morning:

The New York Times Editorial this weekend on Caribou Barbie...

and

a much more local issue. Lack of scrutiny in hiring bus drivers in NJ. While I am glad to have heard about the issue and not the most paranoid parent, the article in our local paper forgot one key thing I want to know: is it happening in Bridgewater??? Somerset County is not mentioned. Is this anything I should worry about? If there are former criminals driving our kids, what convictions do they have? Courier News, please follow up!

Here is the original article.

Another hot day. A new plumber has canceled for the 2nd time in 2 days. I ain't feeling the love! How does one earn good plumber karma???!!!

(Picture of melting Pikachu from last night - he was definitely yummy).

A busy Saturday

Today, it's all good! Eight years ago today N was born and we are spending a day celebrating.

He just opened more gifts than I could have imagined at his age, and I am about to make pancakes. There is the usual - soccer and taekwondo - and then just a couple of kids will sleepover in a tent in the yard.

The sun is out. It should be a great day! Today we don't worry about school, although he also got several books. Today is about having fun.

First - some starbucks!!!!!!!!!

something to read on this rainy evening

I love Gloria Steinem and a friend of mine e-mailed me this insightful piece.

Gloria's still got it!

Distraction

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I need to decide today about C - am I going to make one final e-math push or let it lie?

I need to decide today if I want to go back to work full time or part time.

I have lots of errands to run and I promised to help at the school.

I want to scream out about Sarah Palin! Who knew being a PTO president is part of a qualification to be president!!!

But my mind is elsewhere.

It is in Siena, Italy. Normally its not a bad place to be - but today I am thinking about my niece. She is only 18 and will have to sign the papers to sell her inheritance after a family dispute. It's heartbreaking that the first time she sees "her beautiful house" (she is the only child of either party and would have inherited it) in 16 years she has to sign its sales papers!

As usual my family is complicated. Someone is hurting unnecessarily and there is no solution.

This was actually the impetus that made me want to go back to work. If I had been working the last four years I'd be in Siena buying ha…

Truer words were never spoken!

"Don't compare C & N!"

That is usually the advice a parent offers a teacher. Yesterday Miss Teacher gave it to me.

While most parents don't want unsolicited advice, this thrilled me. It means N's teacher (who C had 2 years ago) isn't doing it either. This is the 2nd time N & C have had the same teacher and the second time the teacher hasn't fallen into that trap. I hope I don't either.

No matter what I say about the curriculum, the district and Bridgewater, I am grateful for my kids' teachers!

A day of talking

I have been talking all day. My head is spinning with all the voices. Lots of talk about Everyday math after last night's BOE meeting. Since I didn't attend, I'll share tidbits of today's other conversations instead.

On the phone with S: "Don't take no for an answer. Tell them that they need to look at her grades and her work over a long period of time and not just a certain test. Show her report card. Do what you have to do to get her into the e-program. I will help you!" (with moral support)

On a walk with M: "D (her son) was saved by a teacher who recognized in 1st grade that he needed more challenge and turned it into a game so that he didn't come home and say he was being punished for being smart. I wish she were still teaching!"

At lunch with T: "If X (a 2nd year teacher) had been mentored properly by the principal, R (her son) would have had a completely different year. Now he has co-teachers - one's brand new, the other has one…

EM - Every day misery?

C's homework assignment included this problem tonight:

Number model for arrays. (her answers in bold)

* * * * * (array) 1x5 (number model) 1, 5 (factors) 5 (product)

THIS IS NOT 5th GRADE WORK! This isn't even review of 4th grade work!

C was in tears this weekend about not making the e-program. We went over her scores. I told her that I have done everything I can possibly do. If she wants more she will have to fight the system herself.

Will Cheryl Dyer take her more seriously than she takes me?