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Showing posts from February, 2010

Almost perfect

It was a great weekend!!!

We drove to the Poconos through beautiful hilly scenes and small mountains filled with fresh snow. The roads were fine until just before we got to the house we rented. (Small snafu - the owner's promise to plow the driveway didn't come through until we had to threaten to sue him when the rent-a-cops said they would tow us if we didn't move the car into the driveway).

I made (if I say so myself) a great dinner while the kids played in the hot tub. Then we went tubing. Not my favorite activity - so I feel like I took one for the team - and was rewarded with a relaxing hour watching the Olympics with fine wine!

Saturday -> the slopes. A bit too crowded, but with conditions like these, who can blame them. Everyone wanted to be skiing! Two feet of fresh snow on top of a few feet of natural snow from before made the conditions unlike anything I'd skied in years. The Northeast just doesn't get enough snow most years. This was not one of them!

Let it...NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Update: typo found & fixd ;-)

One of my pet peeves is when they cancel school and the roads are fine. Twice in a month they've done it! (Once was a delayed opening).

Today is such a day. I really needed the schools to be open and they aren't. It isn't a build a snowman, drink cocoa with marshmallows kind of snow day. It's a sloshy mess - more like you want to curl up and cry - kind of snow day.

And to top things off, I signed a pact with my own personal devil. My sacrifice: my daughter's soul! Feminist me, who was reading Betty Friedan 3 days ago just wrote the check for her to do cheer. I actually hate myself, and my life today.

On that cheery note, I'll end here.

PS The Superintendent can bite my big, hairy butt for canceling school and screwing with my meeting date. That's twice this meeting was canceled for snow that didn't actually materialize (this slush is not snow!)- it takes several weeks to schedule this meeting. No wonder I'm not beg…

BOE meeting...

It was beyond Standing Room Only at the Board of Ed meeting last night. There were at least 50 people in the hallway!!! Turns out - it was mostly teachers whose union spoke for them. The union can really fill a room!!!

It was almost surreal. All those people, and hardly anyone said a word at the podium. But, naturally, I had to. Without notes (usually I spend hours crafting every single word) I said my peace: "Save academic integrity. Academics are the most important thing. This is college prep for our community. Nothing else in the end matters. If you are asking for teachers to take cuts, then I expect administrative cuts on the same percentage level."

Someone read this article where all staff (teachers, administrators, etc. ) in Stowe, Vermont voluntarily gave up their raises. The person who read it asked what how much raises (across the board) will cost the district next year. Answer: ca. $2 Mil. (I.e. only half of what Christie's cuts).

Christie's educational cut…

Big plans... Project Jedi Knight Robes

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It's good to have big plans. Like the curtains for my bathroom that I mentioned this weekend. The fabric is draped over the stairwell, just where I left it on Saturday afternoon after picking the fabric (my first choice lost).

Making it requires very little, really. It will probably take me less than an hour to measure, iron, pin, sew and hang, BUT I need  clean kitchen table to do so, i.e. to put the dishes in the dishwasher (putting away the clean dishes first) then find a place for all the papers (keep, through, put on kids' desks, and the inevitable "DO NOT LOSE" pile... hmmmmm. Then - remove the laptop. Easy peasy. Right? Should be!

I haven't even started the curtains yet. So is it a bit too much to expect that I will sew SIX Jedi robes for a mini course class I am running this spring? The directions look easy enough, right?????

That is on top of the new goal (date has been pushed back 3 times already) of finishing a sweater that I started in August (current…

Ironic?

Some music to accompany today's blog... here

According to NPR news, President Obama has called the Nation's Governors to the White House today to discuss education and changes in No Child Left Behind, and using test scores to improve schools instead of as a punishment. Our NJASK scores aren't what they should be compared to our district socio-economic group (can't remember the acronym). How does cutting funding help us???

Wonder if Christie is sitting at the White House rolling his eyes and doodling in his notebook or texting his golfing buds... Did they have to bring him by force? Maybe he blew it off??? Hmm...

Wish we could "summon" him to the BOE meeting tomorrow.... or bring him there by force. Ironic, as the President is urging Governors to improve education, Christie's cutting funding - and he's only been in the ballgame about a month!

Reader's review?

A break from parenting, ranting about the district or a discussion of politics on this Sunday afternoon.

I'm not a big mystery/thriller reader, but a few years ago my sister-in-law (the wife of my brother) sent me Before The Frost by Henning Mankell. Funny thing was, I recognized the author's name, looked at my shelf and discovered someone else had given me a book by Mankell a few years before, that I hadn't opened. If both of these people thought I should read his stuff, then I should. You can read more about his books and his life, at his website.

His books usually have a message - overt or subtle - about Western values and our society. Some of his works draw directly from his experiences living in the third world. I find it very interesting that someone who could live in a super-hip area of Stockholm, in one of the world's richest countries, chooses to live in Africa where he is faced with poverty on a daily basis.

Although he is rather prolific. He isn't real…

The $4 million dollar question

I'm thinking more and more about the $4,02 million that Governor Christie has cut that BRRSD's budget. Of course we are looking at cuts in jobs, but which position and how many jobs? And does it have to be that way?

I contacted the BOE and Superintendent with ONE message. Protect academics. If they cut, cut everything else first. My e-mail asked that if they want the BREA to make concessions, that the administrators take a cut in kind.

One of my friends had an idea that in retrospect was quite smart - a salary freeze across the board. Bottom to top. There may be contractual issues - but isn't that why there are loopholes? The Superintendent is likely to cut jobs, rather than do this (his salary would also be cut with my friend's plan) to look like he is "doing something big".

We live in a district where residents are exceptionally fiscally conservative. It is my guess that the budget won't pass in April with the climate as it is (but I thought this last …

4 dresses?

This was written on Monday - but posted on Wednesday.

Last night I watched 27 Dresses with Cecilie and a couple of friends.  When I first saw the movie a couple of years ago, it didn't seem at all about me. It's about a pretty girl invited to be bridesmaid and confidant to seemingly every woman in New York, as well as the city's most capable woman. She's an extremely organized assistant and in love with her boss though unable to share her feelings with him. Pretty much none of these things are me. (I am lucky to have my friends).

But I watched it in a new light yesterday. She's also the woman who says yes to everyone's requests. Some days I really know how she feels. She is conflicted. Like me, she genuinely LIKES being needed and enjoys helping out. On the other hand, it is such an ingrained portion of her identity, that she hardly notices until her leading man points it out to her in his very direct way.

My main squeeze also thinks it is silly that I spend …

Parenting...

I'll be the first to admit it. This parenting thing is hard.

Today was a hard day! My kids have actually been at others peoples' houses all day long, and not even at the same houses, but even though they've hardly seen each other, something went wrong very this evening.

My kids more or less never fight. So when they do I am at a complete loss for what to say or how to negotiate. Do I believe him or her? (This time I believe her more, but that is sort of besides the point if I want to stay neutral. She would say I always take his side).

I don't know what to do!

How did I parent for these 13 years and not learn the most basic of mediation skills?


Help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Addendum

Just saw this in the Courier online. Check out how our kids did in BRRSD...  Both of my kids' grades/year did BELOW expectations on LAL and ABOVE in Math. Not exactly sure what that is compared to, but is anyone really surprised???

A letter....

Dear House fairy,
Next time I leave the house, could you please clean it, wash, fold and put away all the laundry and change all the beds while I'm out? I was hoping you would have had done it while I was running errands this morning, but you forgot. Also, please help move that extra bed into the basement now that we've "upgraded" the kids' rooms. Please hang the curtain rod so that I can measure the beautiful cloth that I bought last Spring. If you hang the rod, I'll sew the curtains. 
If you can't find the time to do all these things, please give me the patience and time to accomplish it all if I run out of time before the Nor'Easter hits tomorrow. 
Finally, if we do get the "Snowpocolyps" (or whatever it was being dubbed), please don't let the power go or the pipes freeze. I can handle the snow, no matter how deep. Snow doesn't scare me. Frozen pipes do!
Your humble servant...
Poppet
PS Please explain to the dog that I'd rather he n…

A shout out...

I don't usually use my blog to plug businesses, but today I'll make an exception...

Doggie Doo & I just got back from All Pets. Not sure if I have talked about D's adventures with the vet before. We more than a little drama last summer when D cut his paw and the other vet wanted a small fortune to make it better. For about $40 I treated the little patient with lots of patience and love, and you wouldn't know now that he'd had the cut last year. After that episode we've been considering changing vets. Now, through volleyball, we've found one.

Dr. Sam's got the same philosophy. Great care doesn't have to cost a fortune.

I hope that this is one of many yearly well check-up visits... and not one of many emergency care checks, but I know Doggie Doo is in good hands if we need it.

Thanks, Dr. Sam! See you next time, too!

Let it snow...

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I love the snow and have since I was a little girl. My kids don't know the same love I had at their ages. Maybe my Mom forced us to play outside while I let them curl up inside, maybe we simply had more snow, but it is definitely their loss!

Today we got about 4 inches of the white powder. I love how it looks.

T is still recuperating so he isn't able to help with the driveway. His friend JB called to offer to shovel us out, the neighbor offered to help and someone drove by offering to help (for a fee, I'm sure). But I said no thanks. And now, sweaty and with frozen toes, I have done the driveway, walkway, front porch and back stairs on my own sans help - unless tunes from the iPod count.

Listening to my iPod I realize I have a lot of music from my past and the songs from the present are really my daughter's music. Some songs bring back to such vivid memories that I feel like I have traveled back in time.

If I listen to this song the cold air actually makes me think it…

Privatization...

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The more we try to get help for N within BRRSD, the more I think we should look outside the system.  This week we visited a local "independent college preparatory school" (i.e. private school). Just to see...

The target audience - N - was not impressed. He challenged the middle school principal (5th grade is middle school in their system) with "why can't I wear t-shirts with words on them?" Answer, we have a dress code. There is no uniform. You can wear any shirt you want as long as you tuck it in and any label or words can be covered up with your thumb. Still, it was a bad start in terms of PR.

He then asked lots of other non-educational questions of everyone seeming like a precocious child (that he usually isn't) and very fidgety. I'm sure they were rolling their eyes.

The non-target audience - C - was very very impressed and ready to sign up that night. We are giving her mixed signals - yes, education is the single most important thing right now, but…

it's an art...

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How do I say NO?

This week alone I have said yes to people at least 3 times when I wish I'd said no. All three times they were asking me to do favors (two were even for the same person - who asked me to do a 2nd favor just as I was finishing the first one). The other is a favor that I get asked for a lot, but not always from the same person. I said yes to one former neighbor, so now I feel like I have to say yes to our mutual friend who has asked for the same favor. It isn't a big deal, just my inability to say no that irks me.  On the other hand, I wish I'd said yes to help friends deliver food at the Food Pantry, but I said no...

This, of course, does not include the hundred million favors I do a week for my relations.

I've mentioned the fact that we have a lot of guests... it doesn't include that kind of favor either. I love to have guests (now that we have a 1 week maximum on non-family policy). But usually guests mean increases in the favors as well - guests a…

too early to tell...

Obama is overhauling No Child Left Behind, Bush's education program that IMHO has been a complete nightmare. It's about time! This is the NY Times article. Here is what NPR reported.  (If you want FOX's take, this is the wrong blog to follow.)

What do I think? I think that it is too early to tell. I am not sure how it will all work out. By "improving" standards, does that mean somehow states can actually lower the bar to make things seem like they are getting better? What kinds of criteria does Obama's plan use for measuring success? Just test scores? What kinds of tests? Are teachers going to be teaching even MORE "to the test"? What is a successful teacher anyway? How can you measure the importance of an excellent teacher if she/he's influence is beyond academics? So much more than just academics happens between 8:30 and 3:00. So much more!

That said, of course I want my children to learn well enough to be successful life-long learners. To rea…