Friday, September 30, 2011

Short term savings, long term idiocy

I published the part below a little while ago, then checked Facebook and my friend who (with a PhD in Ed from Columbia U) has built her career building schools in Africa published an important link. Thank you for reminding me to be grateful and to see maybe I should be putting my efforts elsewhere? My kids can probably read and write better now than the vast majority of children on the African continent. Read this.

And now back to the scheduled blog:

If you ask people what irks them about the district, there are lots of answers. But native residents my age remember very clearly that they closed a high school due to low enrollment right just about the time that the Township handed out a boatload of building permits (with a conservative estimate that there would be 1 kid per household in these 3, 4 and 5 bedroom houses/condos). And thus a major overcrowding problem was born. (That's the short version, not all of my readers live in 08807, and if you don't, you might want to stop reading now).

So when my dear friend sent me THIS (before coffee) I truly thought I was going to be ill! I have been a huge proponent of fixing the class size-imbalance - but I have NEVER advocated for closing a school.

Here is what the Patch said:

The board came into the meeting with six suggestions outlined by the administration for possibly handling the redistricting issue. They are:
  • Moving the AI program from Adamsville to decrease enrollment, with the goal that it could be done by September 2012
  • Move 42 students from Adamsville to decrease enrollment there and increase it elsewhere, with the goal of doing so by September 2012
  • Perform a district-wide enrollment shift to balance the kindergarten through fourth grade schools, to be done by September 2013
  • Perform a district-wide enrollment shift to balance kindergarten through fourth grade, and the intermediate schools
  • Close one kindergarten through fourth grade school with a district-wide enrollment shift to balance the remaining schools
  • Close the Wade Administration Building with a district-wide enrollment shift to balance the schools for grades kindergarten through eighth.

To ME fixing the imbalance has to do with busing kids from more crowded schools to the less crowded ones. An inexpensive and relatively painless fix. It can be adjusted easily year to year - although families want continuity in their children's schooling. This doesn't have to be a very big deal - lots of kids from Milltown could go to Bradley Gardens (and similar fixes on the other side of 202/206) and the kids are literally going to the same school as neighbors a few blocks away. And the disparity between Eisenhower and Hillside? A letter going to parents at all elementary schools now saying their kids may be chosen to attend Hillside instead this fall, so parents are aware and not bamboozled. Then move 100 kids (or whatever is appropriate) when the time comes.

Again, quoting the Patch:

It was that sixth recommendation, to close the Wade Building, that drew the most discussion from board members.
“I think that one is untenable,” Brookner said. “We have facilities in the Wade building that would be too expensive to duplicate, and rooms that are set up specifically to be accommodating for meetings.”
“There are things in this building that would require a lot of money to move elsewhere and duplicate elsewhere,” he added. “I don’t think it’s worth the money when there are options that I think are better.”

Closing a school is a better option than closing an administrative building?? THIS IS THE SAME MENTALITY THAT HAS PISSED OFF PARENTS FOR YEARS! We asked for cuts to administration instead of the classroom, they cut 65 teachers (and outsourced the janitorial service). Now, people are complaining about class sizes, and they are saying "close a school, but keep the Wade building in tact!" Many schools around the country, my home High School included, have district administration in the wing of a school. That would also help one of the main "concerns" about our administration: it doesn't know what's going on at schools, because the Wade building is so far removed from most of the schools. This would force the administration to be face to face with both parents and students on a regular basis. More parents are likely to address an issue, if the access to the administration doesn't require trying to find the Wade Building (if you live in Martinsville, the Wade building is easy to find, for some of us,where Washington Valley Road isn't our Main St., it's harder to find).

I like Cindy Cullen's common sense approach, but I hope she has the volume to be heard over some of the male BOE members who like to be the loudest (ie strongest) voices. Her approach has worked before, so keep it up Cindy!

It's funny, I was just writing how I hope they will open up the process to parents beyond their "close circle of friends" (I've been on this invitation-only committee list before, but most of the BOE can't wait to wear a red tie to my funeral) and an e-mail came from my son's school inviting any parent interested to help.

Way too much stress before coffee!!!

Then finally, to ruin my first cup of coffee.....

12 people applied for Anda's job and went through an open interview. Several of the candidates would have been great, but only Anda had been a board member before. Now she's leaving. I don't know Anda personally, I don't know why she's leaving (I am sure it's legit... but I'd like to think that I'd have stayed on even with personal issues that arise, which is why it the position became vacant to begin with).

All I have to say is:

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Heading homeward

It's funny - I've lived in this house for  7 1/2 years (the longest I've lived anywhere since HS graduation). I helped design the kitchen, helped pick every color on every wall, except my daughter's room. I helped pick every piece of furniture and everything on the walls. I bought or chose (from my parents art book collection) nearly every book in the living room/family room.

But I still feel like driving to my Dad's house is going home. Once a small town girl, always a small town girl. Tonight I'll sleep in my childhood bedroom. The canopy bed is gone, but the memories are all still there. As are many of my friends. I'll see a few of them too, taking very familiar routes to get from place to place.

Formally the reason for my trip is to take my Dad to a dental appointment. He has a 3 hour appointment for bridge work and he's worried he won't get up on time (and I'm worried he shouldn't drive home if they give him pain killers). But any trip home is as much about me as it is about visiting the people who live there. Can't wait. Love my home town. Wish it were closer...

Monday, September 26, 2011


Just finished a book that I read in just under 48 hours. Writing on My Forehead. It was a beautiful story and I really fell deeply into it hardly putting it down last night, even though so many generations and names of Aunts and Uncles were hard to keep track of.

I loved it...

It was about Saira, an American-born girl of Pakistani-Indian descent who lived with two distinct cultures. The American-bread culture of suburban Los Angeles, where she attends public schools juxtaposed against the conservative, yet vibrant, traditions of her parents' culture.

I was seduced into believing that this was a book praising individuality. Saira's most beloved Aunt is an "old maid" who became a professor of Literature at a women's college in Pakistan. Other than the protagonist, she is the most developed character, and certainly the most interesting. She even says in two different times that she doesn't regret her fate of an intellectual life over domestic bliss. Saira looks up to her Aunt with love and admiration.

The book chronicles several instances of family members breaking away (or being broken away from) expected social mores only to be shunned or completely ostracized by their family, but still living meaningful lives.  In this book, family is the true power. And while I accept and even appreciate the message, I love the counter message:

The people with the most interesting lives, are the ones who branch out beyond the reaches of the traditional: the protagonists grandfather who leaves his family to be part of Ghandi's movements, her own grandfather who leaves his family to start a new one with a western woman, and, of course, the protagonist who chooses to become a journalist (in tandem with her gay cousin, a talented photographer) over getting married.

(If you plan to read the book, stop here, because I'm about to give too much away)..


Still reading the blog?

So clearly I loved most of the book. It was a tennis match between the life of the pious women (married, with children, of course) and life beyond the expectations of a strong culture. I should have known better: the book begins with Saira's mother using a story with a strong moral to send a message. This was just what author was doing. It took me the entire book before realized that Saira's free spirit and intellectualism were going to lose this match to "making the right moral choice". And, that it was the author's intentions to have this as her main message.

After an entire book with Saira's adventures (starting when she plays Rizzo in Grease, which completely horrifies her mother who calls her slut and whore and shameful because she danced on stage and stage-kissed a boy), she drops her career (and her work-partner waiting for her in Afghanistan) to raise her sister's daughter after her sister's death.  That is all well and good, except it is the only decision she makes with no narrative explaining her choice. I get that she would choose to raise her sister's daughter under the circumstances (her mother's just died, her father's moved back to India after living in the US for 30-odd years). What I didn't like was the pro-life message.

And here's the real spoiler:

Saira and her middle age ex-lover are the biological parents of this daughter. She doesn't have an abortion - and instead gives the child to her infertile sister and her husband to adopt, only to end up raising her. I would be able to digest this message because having an abortion is something that many women possibly regret. I dislike the message that if you give your child up for adoption, you might get this "second chance".

What I don't get? Is her shrug and nonchalance when she sort of says "OK, I'll marry my sister's husband too because that's what a good Muslim girl does".

In the last five pages of the book she turns into her pious sister. Praying, doing housework and eventually agreeing to marry her brother-in-law. Is that really the message the author wants to send young muslim women? Don't branch out and accept Western values, because your fate will bring you back to what your mother wanted you to be?

It's like the protagonist didn't read her own story of who she is.


Maybe we are all like that. Maybe we make decisions that are so out of character that they don't seem like our own because we can't fight our culture?

If I ever write a book, I will want people to love it or hate it. But I won't want people to love it, as I have, and then hate the last five pages.

I feel cheated...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

$$ in my pocket

Newest editions to the knitting closet
Bridgewater's only yarn shop is closing. Today is A Yarn For All Season's last day. Don't tell my husband, but I spent another $90. I expected deeper cuts on the final day, but still bought more than I planned. Strictly speaking I shouldn't have spent 10 cents. I have no income at the moment and no need for any of the items I bought (I didn't have a stitch counter). But now I won't buy anything knitting related for a years!

It's sad to see another Mom and Pop (or, in this case just Mom) business close. It's sad to see more evidence that our economy is going the wrong direction. It the planets were somewhat otherwise aligned I would have loved to have my own shop.

Now that I have all this yarn, all these books and a few extra needles, I look forward to knitting pretty things for my friends and family. And also.... for myself!


By the way - last night was Back to School Night at the Middle School. I was pleasantly surprised - I liked all of C's teachers in the 10 minute superficial first impression. Have to wait until October for N's BTSN, but since I know all his teachers already (C had them), I'm in no hurry. Besides, I've got a lot to keep my hands occupied!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tolerance and Forbidden Fruits

This weekend's vice
I wrote several blogs that I didn't post this weekend. Yesterday I focused on our collective love for Forbidden Fruit (not what you think). My friend Pam wrote about this temptation for her knitting blog, In Stitches. For many of us buying something we need definitely don't need, like more yarn, is biting into a forbidden fruit. You know it's wrong but you do it anyway.  I spent the weekend knitting from yarn of the forbidden fruit (except the yarn was spun from a monastery's wool by Monks - hardly the double-F). The same day NPR had a segment on Resistance Training for temptation. It all really got thinking about the forbidden fruits of my life.

I have many!  Ice cream, Thai Food (try to resist Phad Thai - I dare you!), watching TV when I should be doing other "things", nostalgia, this blog...or simply procrastinating. And Facebook. If you are my Facebook friend, you know that's probably my biggest vice of all!

Which leads to the blog I wrote on Saturday. I was really, really mad. On Friday evening I got into a "discussion" with someone on my Facebook wall about the school district. I was critical - and perhaps exaggerated a bit - when I said that schools on one side of town are less crowded than the other partly because 7 of 9 BOE members send their children to the less crowded school (and don't experience the crowding the way we on this side do). In her attempt to make me look bad, the commentator brought up another issue from earlier this year, and she got a little too personal (not to mention that the earlier issue wasn't any of her business) so I deleted the entire exchange. The following morning (Saturday) I got an invitation to be friends with a certain BOE member. I couldn't believe that the timing of the invitation was simply coincidence. We've both had Facebook for years. Call me skeptical or cynical and I'll plead guilty, but I don't trust the motive of the BOE member who clearly wants to know what I'm saying, not to genuinely stay in touch with me. I haven't replied to the request. What should I say? My Dad always says "when in doubt, do nothing." So I didn't responded. It's surprisingly easy to get into trouble when your biggest vice is the Forbidden Fruits found on Facebook. (Again, this time it's gossip, not what you traditionally think of as Forbidden Fruit, even though Facebook has PLENTY).

But there are other kinds of Forbidden Fruits - that plenty of people in Bridgewater take part in. Saying things (or thinking things) that you wouldn't want your mother to hear, or your

Today, Tolerance in Bridgewater (or lack thereof) made the New York Times editorial and I had to repost it! I've blogged about religion before, and I've expressed my views on Bridgewater's Mosque privately. I've also expressed (publicly) my feelings on mixing the School District's interests and the Mosque issue. I don't want to spend District money to fight the Township, nor do I find it appropriate. There are plenty of children in the district whose parents agree with me, even though they aren't vocal. Still, despite the fact that we aren't physically far from New York City, I was surprised when the NY Times caught wind of our town's biggest issue and wrote about it today! I can't believe someone had the guts to publish this!!! Bridgewater is the only place I've ever lived where it's actually PC to be against freedom of religion and citizens support spending over $100K of our tax dollars happily to prevent religious freedom.

Is yarn a vice? When it's $$$ it is
I have lots of vices. I impulse buying expensive silk or cashmere yarns (sometimes they run $30 for a skein (a ball of yarn)), Eggs Benedict, reminiscing about old times with my girlfriends, coffee, wine, gossip. Facebook.

Speaking my mind the Forbidden Fruit is the hardest temptation to resist. I never learned how to bite my tongue. People are supposed to keep their thoughts on sex, politics and religion to themselves. While I have several close seconds, keeping quiet it is the hardest fruit to resist. Even harder than wine! Harder to resist than flirting - harder than candy or cake, chips or yarn.

What's your forbidden fruit?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Beautiful Sunny Fall Day

Before kids I hated Autumn.Dreary days that get perpetually shorter, colder and darker, and I couldn't wait for winter to get her and make things white. (When you grow up in western New York, you are used to a lot of snow).

Now I see Fall as something else. Cool nights that make it easy to sleep. "Indian summer days" when the temperature is perfect for walks, and knitting. Clean slates in the classroom when everyone is still optimistic about a new year. And my favorite of volunteer activities: Book fair (beginning at the Middle School next week, and Eisenhower on October 1st), when I can get the heads up on what's new in kids' lit and spend time selling reading to Bridgewater's kids.

Today I am heading to Michaels. No, not for yarn (not til I knit what I have in my stash). But for items to get my new business underway. More about that later. Fall is a time for new beginnings and the perfect time for second chances. My job didn't work out last Spring, but that doesn't mean I can't make something of myself.

I love fall. The colors of turning leaves. The fresh, clean air.

And while this Fall's weekends will be spent at a football games, watching my favorite Panther strut her stuff in a tight shirt and short mini-skirt, it's also quality time with friends, in fresh air and a chance to knit gifts to put under a Christmas tree, not so far from now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Driving parents crazy

About fifteen years ago my friend lost her daughter in an accident. Often when you meet people who have lost a child, they have a sense of tragedy floating about them. Not with LD. You would never know it if you met her. She is friendly, funny and kind. She gives selflessly and I am more than fortunate to have been the recipient of her generosity. She has been the Head Honchess of the Girl Scouts for this section of Bridgewater - one of the most thankless jobs on Planet Earth! In addition, she has two daughters, a husband and juggles several jobs! An all-around good egg, indeed.

So it was a little insulting that her comments at the Board of Ed last night were so misconstrued. Wonder what she said exactly? You can click here to replay last night's meeting. (Audio recording, September 13th, part 2, approximately 1 hour and 3 minutes into the recording).

If you don't feel like downloading the file and listening to the meeting, here is the Readers' Digest version: LD informed the Board of several very dangerous incidents involving her children and bus drivers. Each time she went through the proper channels only to be disappointed by the nonchalance of the Transportation Department's response. Last week she had another incident where a supervisor (she didn't say if he is the top manager and I don't recognize the name) left his office to rescue her daughter and a neighbor after the bus driver couldn't find the Middle School. She blamed the problem on the fact that the driver couldn't read the slip the girls showed, to confirm they were on the right bus, and then didn't have the English proficiency required to understand the girls. The Superintendent replied with "you don't need to speak English to drive a bus" (I'm paraphrasing). But you DO need the basics language skills to communicate with the children on the bus. His response came off as a CYA tactic so people wouldn't think he's advocating hiring English native speakers over foreigners.

Having been an immigrant in a foreign country, I know all too well the pressures of functioning (or not) in a foreign language. When I was in college, I had a panic attack when I had a short-term gig as a nanny, abroad: I was in Europe and the mother (in her mother tongue, not in mine) that explained that her daughter had slept over at a relatives, but I didn't understand her. (I'm sure I said yes when she asked me "do you understand?"). When I saw the daughter wasn't in her bedroom I freaked out! I learned something that day: you can't replace basic communication skills. I could play with her children, feed them, change diapers, bathe them, take them for walks, and do all the things a good babysitter does - but if I couldn't understand basic explanations by my employer, how could I manage in my job? I lasted a week.

Of course you don't need much English to drive a bus. But you DO need English to understand directions, rules and to speak with the children who are in your care. Communication skills are vital on a bus, as a lot of "social incidents" happen during that time when kids are between the school's jurisdiction and the rule of Mom and Dad. Kids often feel most vulnerable on the bus. But even moreso, if bus drivers (or kids) are lost, or there is an accident, communication is key. When I was a child our school bus had an engine fire... it was probably the most traumatic incident I ever had in school.

I am not advocating racist practice in hiring, but I do believe that every single employee of the district should be able to communicate with children. In fact I believe that kids should have contact with people who aren't like them at school.

And I also believe that when parents communicate their concerns to the District, the District should show their ability to listen, process the information, and act in a correct manner. Just as I said blindly "I understand" all those years ago when I didn't, the District should not just say "we understand" when they don't.

And more than that: they should care enough to make improvements - even if it is easier to just say yes, and move on to the next complaint. More parents need to come forward with their issues. But they don't - and based on hearing stories like LD's I can't say I blame them! Sometimes it isn't a language barrier - it's a listening barrier.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Updated Monday

I had a lot of things to do today. I am volunteering for several organizations. Tomorrow is my son's birthday and I am starting a business with much work ahead.

But instead of concentrating on these things, I spent four hours listening to my friend who has a crisis.

Today she called me in tears and needed me to listen to her (and I proved that my family is more dysfunctional than hers, which I hope lightened her mood). If I were still working with her, there is no way I could have done this for her. At my last job, colleagues spied on each other and noted (to the minute) how long others took for lunch, so I couldn't listen to her as I did today or I'd risk my job.

So I don't have a paid job, but no doubt about it: the "work" I'm doing IS meaningful. (Friendship isn't work, of course, but it's how I spent my "working hours" today). Even if it is only important to one person at a time!

Zen Soccer Mom

Friday I spent the entire day in self-inflicted suffering:

A friend posted something negative about stay-at-home Moms who write blogs on Facebook. I felt sorry for myself all day. Do career women really think that women who stay home should be ashamed of themselves? Apparently some do. It ruined my entire Friday.

The biggest detriment to women isn't that so many of us stay home and perform traditional roles.  It's that we are openly hostile to one another. No matter what we think, we do not need to judge one another for our circumstances. (This holds true for so many things.) Sometimes our roles are conscious choices, sometimes fate has brought us where we are. Sometimes it's a bit of both.

With all the reflection this weekend on who we were 10 years ago, I need to jump off the animosity superhighway. 10 Years Ago today I was fully on the other side of the working-mom scale. 10 years ago Saturday I was flying back from a business trip in Brussels, and I only by luck was home on the 11th. I had 2 small children but still managed a job with monthly international travel. 10 years ago I didn't understand WHY women would stay home with their kids by choice. I wanted to work and I LOVED my job.

Worst of all: all this conflict between women leads to self-doubt and self-hate. I've been on both sides of this working/non-working parent conundrum. Part of my life has been as a career woman. Part of me is a cookie-baking, carpooling stay-at-homer. When I worked full-time I sought balance. I still do.

I want to let go of some of the anger I have towards women (especially those who live here in 08807) who make me angry about things that have little to do with their career choices. It isn't helping that we hate each other, no matter what we do with our days. Most importantly I need to be kinder to myself. If I can't be accepting of myself, why should anyone like me for me?

Although not a particularly typical lesson of 9/11 - it's good to remind ourselves not to judge those who are SIMILAR to ourselves. The message of 9/11 is complicated. Love coming out of hate. An act of war resulting in 10 years of lingering wars. People now afraid to fly with people who "look religious". Regardless of religion, regardless of class or nationality or age. We women have to stop judging one another. And then it will be easier to stop judging ourselves. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Tired already

All I can say is "My brain is tired".

  • I was already worried about the flooding here. It seems to be worsening. Tonight I sat with several families who didn't know how they would get home from Tae Kwan Do. TKD is being housed in a temporary location because they are completely flooded. 
  • Now I don't only need to worry about my loved ones here - but the Susquehanna is flooding in New York and Pennsylvania - not far from my Dad and many other loved ones/family members. 
  • As I write this I am halfway listening to Obama's speech. The country is in a shambles, and I want to start a new business venture... in this economy it seems silly, but I need to try something. I am pretty left of center, but I think this plan leaves something out - not sure what it is, but it sounded like a pep rally more than a solution. Sorry, Obama...
  • In the mean time I keep thinking: is really more than a year until the general election? I can't take that many months of the campaigning and animosity. 
  • Local elections are coming, and I've got lots to say about that, but not tonight. As I said, my brain hurts.
  • I'm thinking about cheer leading - things aren't good there.  
My Fairy Godmother?
And today I did something sad - I went to the going out of business sale at A Yarn for All Seasons. It's sad to see more proof of our deteriorating economy. I liked supporting my local yarn shop over some unknown store online. Of course I have plenty of yarn already (even though I finished a huge project yesterday) - an entire closet full! But I really wish I had some Fairy Godmother who made it possible for me to buy this nice little yarn shop, and help people create wonderful projects with their hands. What a lovely job! Unfortunately, it's the 2nd store to go out of business in the area in the past few years. Now Bridgewater is without a yarn shop. 

Where did I get the money to splurge on myself? 

All I can say is what comes around goes around... I did a favor for someone and she forced me to treat myself to something. Luxurious yarn may bore you, but I have years of tactile paradise ahead of me. Just what I need when my brain hurts. 

I've already started on a lovely grey sweater - merino and silk. Work to keep my hands occupied when my brain needs a rest.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Time well spent?

Two year's work - DONE
Today I completed something I began on August 2, 2009: a Setesdals-sweater for my husband. Knit on airplanes, at soccer games (C still played then), waiting on the uncomfortable benches at Tae Kwon Do classes, at PTO meetings, and sitting with friends, drinking coffee.

It was a lot of work to put together. Many trials and errors and frogging ("rip it, rip it") stitches that didn't work. I redid the collar twice. But it's done. And it's a bit big on the shoulders - but otherwise...


Maybe you think hand crafts are a quaint waste of time, but if treated well, this sweater can last several generations! My kids can wear it, and so can theirs.

And my husband will have tangible proof that I care. In my life of many meaningless tasks, it's always good to do something of substance.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's not easy being green...

especially when green = money...

The Bridgewater Raritan Regional School district has a lot of parents ranting and raving! They are pissed off... at another attempt for the District to market something in a misleading way.

Call a Spade a Spade...

We're not being green... if you mean environmentally friendly

We're being green... if you mean saving money - the DISTRICT'S money.

As I write this procrastinating parents across town are all doing the same thing. While the kids are planning their outfits, packing their backpacks and worrying about if they will like their teachers, parents are forced to do what they should have done weeks ago: filling in pages and pages of paperwork.

I know I'm not the only one doing this. How do I know? Because the website is super slllooooooooow. The website isn't designed for 6,000 procrastinators like me (in my defense - worse that being a procrastinator, I'm a disorganized mess. I printed out these forms WEEKS ago and have since lost them!).

I just filled out and signed SIXTEEN forms. I only have two kids. Imagine the families with LOTS of kids. The papers jammed the printer - I fixed it. But if it took more than 30 seconds, I'm quite sure I would have given up on the entire paper-filling-out-project.

There are lots of required forms:

  • The Emergency Form (where they can get in touch with us during the day, and who they should contact if we see it is the school calling and hit IGNORE)
  • The Weapons Agreement (N's response: but I bring a deadly weapon every day - my hands)
  • The Computer Agreement (thou shalt not download porn-on school computers)
  • The Walkers Form - what we do who don't get bused
  • The "Agenda form" - the school gives them an agenda for keeping their assignments. Somewhere in this book are the school rules innocuously called "the Handbook". Including the DRESS CODE. (For you 1st time middle school families - ERR ON THE SIDE OF CONSERVATIVE! They mean business with the short shorts and short skirts)
My son's school also requires two separate forms regarding permission for children to be video taped AND photographed. (You have different options, like: Ok for my kid's picture to be on the internet, without his personal information, and then the same for video taping).  I also got a letter from a district department requesting that I send in the "enclosed form" with my e-mail address. Since all my other information coming from this department is via e-mail, and I know they have it, isn't there a missing link somewhere? Can't I just e-mail my e-mail to them? I threw away the letter and e-mailed the Supervisor at the Wade Building, CC'ing my contact at my child's school. Ridiculous waste of paper and time! 

Then there is the PTO. My son's school has three forms - which aren't formally required, but highly suggested... with a check. My daughter's school is slightly more streamlined. PTO membership and the directory form are a single form. For several years I begged the PTO at my elementary school to allow parents to send in a form saying "this is my kid's updated homeroom information. The directory information is otherwise the same as last year". Can't we save HOURS of everyone's time and only send in forms to update things that need updating? Isn't that much more green? 

Both schools' PTOs also requested a check for the membership and a donation. I spent two hours at the Middle School helping but I sent a donation "in lieu of my time". N's school doesn't get a donation (beyond the $9 to join the PTO). They traditionally get more both of my time and our funds (I usually drop $100 just at the Book Fair - my daughter doesn't want me to come NEAR the Middle School book fair, so they miss out. Nothing is lamer than your Mom coming to school to help you pick out books to read.). 

This blog may seem like I am peeved about filling out the forms and checks. I'm not. I'm peeved that the district has the audacity to call them not printing forms GREEN. I am sending in 17 pieces of paper to the school tomorrow. I printed them and signed them and sent them in (plus the checks, which a paper too). The district has ALL of this information already! It's in the new Parent Portal. I can see that my 2 emergency contacts are there. I haven't changed this information in YEARS!

There are so many things we can do online. Pay bills, fill in tax forms, apply for jobs with our resumes. Why can't we streamline this information? That way parents aren't spending hours printing forms that they sent last year, and administrative assistants aren't spending weeks re-processing the same forms. If my kid promised not to use a weapon last year, can't we assume she promises it again this year, or change the form to say "until I graduate from BRRHS, I promise I won't use the internet inappropriately"?

OK schools. You can have our kids back. Be kind to them. Be patient with them. Clearly our collective patience has run out and we are ready to hand them over to you!

And don't lose these papers - I don't want to reprint them!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Monday: Absolutely!

This week is possibly a record: I've started 3 blogs and not finished any one of them. Here's Monday's:

What not to wear: Part Deux

One of my favorite shows is Sex and the City. I love the witty women. It's like the Breakfast Club for adult women. We all have a little perfect-Charlotte, a bit of sexy-Samantha (WARNING if you think today's blog is inappropriate, this link is R-Rated), a taste of cynical-Miranda and some of Carrie_Bradshaw's perpetual self-doubt in ourselves. I think this blog echoes Carrie-Bradshaw's tone. Albeit, with a less interesting plot. So last year when I was in New York City with my friend and saw a hot pink t-shirt with "Absof---inglutely" (Mr. Big's trademark slogan) I had to get one. Besides, they were on sale....

But I rarely wear it. Let's face it, when am I *not* around kids for more than a few minutes and able to sport a PG-13 tee? 

On Monday, however, I went for a neighborhood run... and I put it on. Not 5 minutes into my workout, who do I bump into but.... Bridgewater's fashionista policewoman. Actually she's in one of the most googled blogs I've ever written.

Since then we had a "difference of opinion" regarding not my choice of dress, but my daughter's. 

Inappropriate? According to a certain Mom, yes!
Last winter C and her friends attended a bat mizvah and wore these dresses. (See left). According to my neighbor, my daughter and "some of the other girls" were offensively and inappropriately dressed - so much so, that she confronted me about it, twice. To make matters worse, she also criticized the girls' dresses (using my daughter's name, but not using the names of the friends whom she liked better) at a sporting event the following day. She even criticized C to one of my closest friends (and she knows we are close). I took the nastiness to heart, even though none of the girls had dresses that were trashy, with extra low cleavage, and they all had their shoulders covered, as is custom. One of the girls pictured to the left is Jewish. (M daughter is in gray).  If my 85 year old and very conservative father said they were tasteful, believe me, they were! He still wears a tie to the mall!

What she didn't know is that her phone call changed me. I am MUCH more relaxed about hemlines now. As long as the outfit is within reason, I don't care how short it is anymore. I'm much more worried about my daughter's appropriate behavior! So when on the Monday after the Bat Mitzvah my 'concerned' neighbor called to chastise me about C's behavior at school, I caught the neighbor off guard. She called to complain that C had spread word about my neighbor's criticism of the dresses, and it embarrassed her daughter. Her daughter might have heard about it, but not from C! What my neighbor didn't realize was that on that very Monday, my daughter was at E's funeral. She hadn't been at school the entire day. That was this day, and I've never forgotten it. On that particular day C supported her friend, and I couldn't have been more proud of her. Who cares what she was wearing two days earlier or what teenage girls said at school! 

The offending Tee
I don't know about you, but when I am exercising I don't worry about what other people will think of my attire. I wear whatever I want. So I certainly wasn't worried about offending anyone when I ran out of the house on Monday in my HBO t-shirt. But I shouldn't have let me guard down. Of course, my neighbor noticed my shirt (see right). She doesn't need to call me about offending her, or harming her children's innocence with my inappropriate T-shirt.

I know what she thinks.

Sorry ....she's already established that while she likes me as a person, she thinks I am completely inappropriate in taste, parenting and judgment. Monday's sporting attire was just further proof. My running shorts wouldn't pass the Middle School Dress Code either! They are too short.

But I don't care because the following day I bought something in size SMALL. And today I got a huge compliment on my figure! And besides, if you know me, you know I'm always offending someone. Maybe I should add a little spice to life. Maybe next week I'll have the guts to wear the t-shirt that I gave my Mom in the early 1990s. So horrific, so awful, that I don't think I've ever worn it since I inherited it 10 years ago.

What would be so awful?

It simply states:

I think, therefore I don't listen to Rush Limbaugh.

But I do listen to Carrie.... Bradshaw.  Like CB from Sex and the City, you never know what you'll catch me wearing, or thinking!