Friday, March 30, 2007

Note to Self No.253...

When you are at the local Southern Baptist church, painting an 8' x 12' mural of Noah's Ark, and you're listening to your iPod at a rather loud volume, find out if the church secretary is in the building with you. And if she is, perhaps try not to sing the lyrics to Run Around by Blues Traveler quite so loud. And maybe not dance around so much. I'm just sayin'.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The 4 D's of Our School System...





I know that I've posted before on our current public educational system and my dislike for it. After meeting with my children's Kindergarten teacher, I am truly discouraged. While the kids got excellent report cards, I feel that what they are actually being "taught" is how to take a test. This is for the testing that they will eventually have to take a few years down the road. You see, thanks to NCLB, the public schools are all about testing. The are about "accountability" and "achievements." The want to get their "report cards" up there in the scores, so they are teaching our children how to take a test. Now, I'm not against taking tests. However, when you stop teaching the child to think for themselves, there is a problem. When you stop teaching a child correct spelling, and just letting them spell as they sound it without correction, I believe that there is a problem. When, what matters most, is my child being able to finish a test of "nonsense words" in a timely matter instead of the ability to read actual words for themselves, that to me is a problem.

There is disorder in the way our children are being taught in the public school systems. They are constantly spending big bucks to "consultants" to come in and change the way teachers teach. They are not actually allowed to teach anymore, rather they are to follow certain benchmarks within a specified amount of time. They must meet their benchmarks. Now, what this means for my children is that they end up spending over a month studying the same thing. They are absolutely bored after a couple of weeks of hearing about the same subject. You understand, they are not encouraged to extend the study of the subject in the classroom, rather they must hear the same thing over and over. (kind of like you're doing now.) Why, you ask. Well, because that way, the students that are too busy stabbing each other with pencils or hitting others in the head will be able to learn it too. Screw having those disrupting the class held accountable for their actions, let's just nicely ask them to stop and hope it works.

I feel that today's public education has derogated what education should be about. (I also feel that way about today's organized religions, but that's another post.) It is no longer about the actual learning process, rather about what the school's numbers are. It is no longer about my child, rather about my child's testing ability and what that can do for the school's funding.

I kid you not when I say that my heart is heavy thinking about my children's future in the public educational system. Perhaps that's why there's so many homeschooling books strewn through my house right now. I don't take their education lightly, and to tell the truth, I'm not sure I want the responsibility of that on my shoulders should I decide to take that route. However, it's more alarming to think of what lies ahead of them if they stay the course they're on.

Take care - Me.

Battle of the Teeth...

Due to lack of patience and the desire to outdo his sister, Rokimus has "lost" his first tooth. He actually had his Grandaddy Chief pull the tooth out today when he got home from school and while I was at our house taking care of his sick sister. He did mention that it was quite a bloody experience and that he didn't feel so good right after. However, Granny gave him a cool cloth and some water and he felt fine shortly after. :) Bless his heart, he was so excited to show his toothlessness to his sister (read brag) yet she did NOT want to see the gapping hole. She refused to look at or discuss it with him! She then proceeded to have me reassure her that no, she did not have to have her loose tooth pulled out. It could & would happen naturally. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Not your average grandmother...

You know, I hear stories about some grandmothers that teach their grandchildren to knit, bake, cook, sew, etc. My grandmother taught me how to mix drinks, cuss in Norwegian and forget birthdays. Of course, we don't have a very close relationship. My sister and I grew up several states away from our relatives and that may have something to do with it. Or perhaps, just maybe, there's just something about our respective make-ups that doesn't allow us to be close to one another. I'm really trying to forget and forgive. Maybe this blogging thing will help with this as she's due at my house in just under 3 1/2 hours. Now, I don't have to deal with her very often as she lives in Wisconsin & I live in Mississippi. But, my children like her & enjoy spending time with her and it's not every day that children get to interact with their great-grandmother. She's 87 years old and still travels, goes to yard sales & bar hops. She is an incredibly strong woman who's been through hell and back. She was married and had her first child at 15, she went on to have 4 more girls over the course of 30 years. Her husband, whom I never met, was an abusive alcoholic. (To this day, she will not admit that he had a problem with drinking.) She survived his death, was married several more times and is doing better than most women that age that I know. She also had to bury her oldest child a couple of years ago - that's something that no parent should have to do, but she did it with grace. I really do wish that I could like this woman more.

You see, we have somewhat of a history. This history started way back when she would send my sister birthday cards, but not me. My birthday is about a week before hers, while Sister's is a couple of months before. That has always left me feeling a bit out with her. I mean, she's the only grandmother I've ever had. My dad's mom died well before I was born. Anyway, the shit really hit the fan a few years ago. My mom & dad were going through a nasty divorce. (Yes, after almost 40 years of marriage - Mom always did use the term better late than never.) I'm not sure what happened to make my grandmother think what she was thinking, but she called me up one morning. I was so excited to see her name on the caller id. She really had only called me, throughout my entire life, a few times. I thought she was calling to check on the kids, to talk about life. WRONG. She called furious. She cussed and ranted and raved and told me I was a horrible mother and that she hoped my kids didn't know what kind of mother they had. She was doing all of this while I was standing in our backyard watching my children play. She was accusing me of things I had no clue about. To this day, I don't know where she got those ideas, but she was mistaken and instead of asking me, she blamed. And boy, did she blame. I finally told her she could calm down and talk, or I would hang up. I hung up. She just couldn't stop. Not only couldn't she stop yelling at me on the phone, I received a letter a few days later. I took the letter to my mother & told her the next time she spoke to that woman, to tell her not to contact me at all.

This brings into the fact that I don't think I've fully forgotten that my mother chose to "over look" grandmother's rant. She felt I just needed to "let it go." I probably do need to let it go, but isn't there some rule somewhere saying a grandmother is not supposed to treat a grandchild that way? Forget the whole grandchild/grandparent thing - no person should treat another person that way. period.

I realize that my grandmother won't be around forever and that I should really try to make the best of the time I have with her. However, every time I see her or hear from her now, I cringe. I wonder if she's just going to go off as she did that time while I stood in my backyard and she broke my heart and my respect for her. She and my mother act as though nothing ever happened now. It's like I'm supposed to just erase the hurt that was caused and forget. I'm sorry, but I haven't been able to do that yet. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do that. I can be around her now, and I can smile and admire her strength for the life she's lived. I can let my children know the great grandmother they have, as she is the only great grandparent living. She loves the twins and treats them great. Perhaps one day I will feel comfortable around her, but today is not that day. I'll let you know how today's visit goes.

Take care - Me

Dessert Induced Fog, Oh and the Arts Festival...

This one is probably going to be a bit wordy, so go ahead, use that French Press, get a cup'a - I'll wait.

Got it? Good - now, on with the blogging...

I had a great weekend at the MarLo house. The Arts Festival was incredible, as it always is. I actually got to go down on Thursday without the kids in tow. That's something that doesn't happen very often. We hung out at the house on Thursday afternoon & then got to sample some of Pam & Cindy's fantastic Caramel Pound Cake that night. They are such sweet hearts to think of us, sitting there with no cake and offer that goodness to us.

Friday arrived and unfortunately, I was not awake to see the oldest MarLo girl-child dressed up in her 50's outfit. Her school has a wonderful program where the kids who are studying a certain area in history are allowed to dress the part at the end and have some form of party. This day, they attended a sock hop and those girls were just too cute in their poodle skirts and neck scarves. (Of course, I think that ordering the outfit online down to the crinoline is perhaps a bit much for a 6th grader who is only going to wear it once.) Anywho, after I got up & about, Marcus, little MarLo boy, Cindy & I went downtown to scope out the art. I really love the festival on Friday due to the lack of people. We lunched at Panini Pete's Cafe & Bakeshoppe - just wonderful! Homemade potato chips and hamburgers & then went on to buy art. :) My kind of morning! Later that day, Marcus took me to the Mobile Museum of Art for the photography exhibits. They are also running a photography contest using a Kodak Brownie camera they provide. They were out of the cameras, so I'm seeing a trip back in my near future.

After all that viewing, our next logical stop was Carpe Diem. Now, for those of you who have not had the chance to visit this little slice of heaven. SHAME ON YOU! You must go! What's that? You live too far away? No such thing. I don't care if you are sitting in Australia - get on the plane, fly into Mobile & take a taxi. But get to this place! The coffee drinks are out of this world, the atmosphere is sublime and for heaven's sake, do NOT leave without trying the tiramisu. Did you hear me?! Do not leave without trying the tiramisu! I'm thinking of just leaving my house right now & driving the 3 hours to get some. It's an orgasm in a cup. I am quite certain that I made Marcus uncomfortable while I was moaning and eating it in front of those retired Spring Hill ladies that were discussing their latest fashions. The rest of Friday is a blur. I'm sorry, but that tiramisu is all that I can remember from that moment on.

The rest of the weekend is still foggy, but we did have a great time! (see above for the reason of fog) We did the 2-mile walk Saturday morning. While I fully expected to be wheezing and falling out at the 1/2 mile mark, I actually made it the whole way. Not only did I make it the whole way, I channeled some of Speedy's racing savvy to block Marcus with 4 folks ahead of us while edging to the outside for the pass. That's right, I passed him at the last moment and finished ahead! Yea me! It does not matter that he'd been ahead of me the whole way, nor that he was pushing little MarLo boy in the stroller up & down those hills. What matters is that I finished before him. :) (No, I am not in the least bit competitive after being around Speedy for 8 years.) Later that night, we got to sample another pound cake recipe from Pam and Cindy - divine I must say, especially at midnight with a tall glass of milk. You can read more about the art here. I'll post more about activities that took place over the weekend as my tiramisu-induced fog lifts.

Hope ya'll had a great weekend also!

Take care - Me

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane...

Well, my jet plane is actually my Honda CRV.
And I do know when I'll be back again - Sunday.
Yes, every place I go, I will think of you.
So, yes, kiss me and smile for me.

My kids have been camping for the past few days with my in-laws. Today I leave for Fairhope to attend the arts festival. Although I am REALLY looking forward to this weekend, I am missing my kids already. Yes, they drive me crazy and yes, they double the amount of gray hairs I have every six months. But, today as I get things together and get ready to drive off, I am filled with a longing to have them with me.

I'm sure this will pass. Just as soon as I try a new Marcus drink recipe. So, Marcus, get the mixer out & have it ready for me please. I'm coming your way & this is your last warning. :)

Take care - me

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Walks in the woods...

This is the "Hanging House" that we walk by at the back fence line. Years ago the Momma of the house hung herself. I can relate.

Every now and then my mother-in-law, the kids & I will go walking in the woods. My in-laws own around 80 acres, including the land and house that we currently live in. I could literally throw a rock and hit their house. (I'll go into that whole thing in a later post.) Anyway, my MIL walks nearly everyday and most times the kids walk with her. It mostly depends on if anything new is on the Discovery channel as to whether or not Moosie goes. That girl loves her Mythbusters.

I normally don't walk with them. Normally, I'm working on laundry, supper, knitting, pulling my hair out, etc. Of course, there's the whole walking with MIL too. I'd rather not. However, last week I decided to ditch all housework and walk with the kids. It was a comfortable temperature around 70ยบ and the sun was shinning. I really do enjoy walking through the woods. I love the smell of the pines and the way the hills just roll into one another. I also love the fact that it's not snake season and there's no worries that one will follow me home. There are often deer and raccoon tracks to point out to the kids and hey, it's exercise too - something I don't get enough of.

So, here's some pictures that were taken on our recent walk. I hope you enjoy.

Take care - Me

There was a full moon this day. Some call it a children's moon.

This is Moosie's horse. This is the 3rd horse that Grandaddy Chief has bought for her. His parents were award winning ropers. He's now resigned to having a little girl that sings at the top of her lungs riding him. So far, this one has not bucked her off. We hope to keep it that way.

This, of course, is me. Rokimus has gotten some strange idea that it's fun to take pictures. I don't understand where that's come from. Certainly he didn't pick that up from being the darkroom with me, sitting on my lap as I work in Photoshop or helping me lug my camera equipment around as a toddler.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Note to self No.164

Is it really so wrong to wear my iPod when the kids get home from school to block them out?

Need for speed, need for hair dye...

So, you may be thinking that my husband's name, Speedy, came from a speeding ticket, or just his everyday driving style. You'd be wrong. Speedy's name comes from the fact that he races UMP open-wheel on dirt tracks. Now, the racing season ends late October, but since he just got into racing again after being off for a few years, I had forgotten how quickly the new season can sneak up on me.

We spent Saturday night at the local track testing the new welds, tachs, setup, etc. New welds? Yep, new welds. You see, last fall Speedy was going around the track pretty good (on three, sometimes two wheels) when suddenly the rear end dropped, tires went flat and generally added to my ever-graying hair. Come to find out, the welds broke right behind the drivers seat. The welds that held the transmission and rear-end mechanics in place.

Anywho, this past Saturday night was filled with red dirt underfoot, major engine roars that make your heart rate increase from the power, cars racing and sliding around a 1/4 mile track going somewhere near 150 mph and the excitement that fills the pits as a new racing year begins. That's right 150 miles. per. hour. More gray hair pops out of my head just thinking of that. Saturday was actually pretty fun for me as Speedy wasn't really racing anyone and noone wants to ruin their new car body work on a practice session. :) This really doesn't stop them from nudging one another every now and then, they're just more careful doing it.

So, in another few weeks, we'll be heading out to race for the money. Though anyone right in the head will realize that it's a big joke if you think you'll get rich racing dirt track. The engine Speedy & his dad built would sell for around $36,000. Did you get that? That's three zeros after the thirty-six. And don't even get me started on how much the racing fuel costs. But you know what? I'm damn proud of him. He's been through a lot in this life. He has no other hobbies, doesn't hunt, doesn't fish, doesn't go out partying with the guys and even agrees to not race in the first one of the season so that I can go to my yearly sabbatical Art Festival. If slinging himself around a 1/4 mile dirt track going 150 mph with only a bit of metal separating him from another car is what rocks his boat, then I say ROCK ON! There are worse ways to spend a Saturday night. If you have any questions about the racing life, let me know & I'll see what I can do about getting you an answer. (Like what kind of tranquilizer I take, etc.)

Here's a picture of Speedy getting ready to hit the track. I forgot my regular digital, so this one's from the cell phone camera.