Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It's like Willy Wonka's teacher is the one teaching K.

I swear, this year has been a pain in ALL of our sides.  For the record, I'm being nice right now.  Boy, it has just not been pleasant.

Remember the teacher from Willy Wonka?  He was talking to the kids about test schedules changing and about how now the test would be on Monday on the material before they learned it?  :hand raised high:  We are in the School of Willy Wonka Learning.

There are no fun chocolates or Umpa Loompas to craft the chocolate.

K had a math test today.  She was told about it YESTERDAY.  Her teacher had originally planned for Thursday, but since he'd be out he decided he'd do it today.

They hadn't covered all of the chapter and it was dividing major numbers into decimals and estimating hundredths and whatnot.

Plainly and politely, the chapter sucked without this challenge.

Needless to say, K didn't do super swell on it.  She was bummed, but we explained to her that regardless to the fact that her grade was not stellar, she did as we asked.  She did the very best she could do.  She said that she used 5 pieces of scrap paper to work the problems out.  (It's on computer.)

Since we know that not all of the material had been covered and that apparently that was a bit of a verbal altercation between him and another one of the 5th grade teachers about it, I will be asking for a copy of this computer test.  He hasn't been able to generate one for me in the past, but I'm certain that someone on the school grounds will be able to.  We need to see if she was tested on the materials that were not covered.

When we met with him last Thursday for the parent-teacher conference we were kind, polite and understanding.  After all, that's what Christians do.  He went over the MAP test scores and told us that K moved up an entire grade in reading just from the September to December test.  "However," he said, "she did move down a point in math."  "Mr. H, it is no secret that my child sucks in math.  I consider it a great feat that she only lost one point."  Math has ALWAYS been a challenge for her.  That's okay.  I'm not so hot at it myself.  He mentioned something about how he is dyslexic and can't spell.

That explains more than I can possibly tell you.

If he doesn't understand something, he still assigns it as homework but they don't get any instruction with it.  :tipped head:  He has NEVER taught anything at all with Health.  He just hands them a new set of worksheets to have done for the next Thursday.

"Work in groups" is the theme of the 5th grade.  I hate that, too.  They'll hand stuff out and tell the kids to work in groups.  They won't explain it. They'll just hand it out.

We're already flailing as it is.  Two of the three 5th grade teachers are retiring in early spring.  If the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing WITH full time teachers on staff, will super subs be able to pick up the slack where the others were only punching the clock?  If Mr. H is meant to lead the sub team, all is going to hell in a hand basket.

The city wide science and math celebration is coming up as a Science Fair in January.  He asked his students about a month or more ago if anyone was interested.  K was and so were a few others.  He dropped it and never mentioned it again.  I asked at open house.  "Well, I asked again and no one seemed interested, so I dropped it."  "Well, K and at least I know of C who did want to do it."  He scrounged for the paperwork & sent a copy home with K.  It is about an inch thick and made for 5th-12th graders to use.  :rolling eyes at the public school for their lack on that one:  She called me, "Mom, I have to have my science fair project picked out by tomorrow."  "Tomorrow?"  Yes, it was "tomorrow" because he found that the deadline was 12/16 for the children to participate.  He registered them online, which was kind of him.  Since we didn't have any parameters with which to work, we weren't able to craft an idea that was beyond K experimenting with beans, growing medium and manipulating light.  She would have loved to research, but she wasn't given the opportunity.

The science fair kids are to stay behind on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for a half hour to work on their projects.  K called her grandmother to tell her to get her a half hour late.  I decided to double check with him yesterday morning just to be sure.  "No.  We aren't meeting.  I have a staff meeting that I forgot about."  "Um, I'm glad I asked.  I didn't have transportation arrangements for K until 3.  You may want to tell the other kids."  He tipped his head in confusion.

5 more months.

It's not going to kill us, is it?

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A day fit for wrapping and folding.

I decided that after all of the continual running I've been doing, we deserved a day at home to wrap up some details of Christmas.

Last Saturday, we had Santa Shop.  Now, I ended up helping with Santa Shop purchasing/set-up until about 11:15 PM last Friday night.  K and I had to be back up to the school on Saturday morning to start the coffee, get the hot dogs cooking (yes, we sell hot dogs right from the start) and to get the 5th grade concessions all set.  We were there until 2:15 PM.

This is where I should add a photo of my child's Lego contest submission, but I failed to get one.  I will tell you that it had Santa's sleigh with a motorized propeller with a "push here" button, Lego peeps all dressed up in Hershey Kiss wrapper dresses and some lovely Christmas trees.  Baby girl won!  Hooray!  Mama should have taken a photo.

We had the family house cleaning session that evening.  Yes, our house is cleaned and picked up, but when you are having 12 people over to your house, you make sure the corners are free of cobwebs and that you've wiped all of the hand prints off of the light switches, walls, doors and woodwork that you normally don't see.  We worked together and got things all set.

I might add that at this point I was beat and Hubs even asked why I over schedule myself.

The tea was lovely and the desserts were delicious.  (I ask my guests to bring a dessert to share since I'm cooking everything else.)  The variety was wonderful!

I had enough soup leftover to give Julia some for her birthday on Monday and Matt enjoyed it for lunch for his birthday on Tuesday.  (Coworkers.)  I had it Sun-Tues.  It was delightful, but I could not finish the rest.  Too much soup.

What kind of soup was it? It was Butter Bean, Bacon and Button Mushroom soup.  (My coworker made it for us to have for dinner on a late decorating night.)  It was broth based with Worcester sauce and brown sugar in the broth and that was it.  For the crowd I had, the soup recipe I made was:

Toni's Butter Bean, Bacon and Button Mushroom Soup

3 x 6 oz packages of little button mushrooms
7 cans butter beans WITH the bean water
1 pound sliced, cooked & cooled bacon (I drained it twice and blotted it twice.)
About 10 shakes of Worcester Sauce
About 1/2 cup brown sugar

Clean your mushrooms.  Cook up your bacon.  Put those into a crock-pot along with all beans WITH bean water. Throw in some Worcester Sauce (to taste) and brown sugar.  Cook on low until done.  My coworker said NOT to add more water, but I did a little.  I also added some shredded carrots for color.

Delicious!

K played in her first harp "recital" the other day.  She was upset that she missed a few notes.  She told me that the camera flashes distracted her.  I told her that it was her first experience ever in doing such a thing and that I thought she did a fantastic job.  I might add that I didn't even notice the missing few notes.

The harp students then joined the rest of the 5th grade for a recorder concert.  It sounds pretty cheesy, but the kiddos did a good job!  They are working hard to learn songs to play with the symphony at a local theater here in the spring.

So it brings me to today.  This past week was busy, as usual and I needed to stop and take care of some Christmas things.  We've been wrapping and taking inventory.  I had to make sure I had everything for everyone.  I have one giant bag packed for my mom's house.  (Christmas for 4 families and Christmas Eve.)  I also have make-up birthday gifts in there for any birthdays that may not have been celebrated in mass this year.

Whew.

I also picked up a few extra names for the Christmas Eve exchange at my mom's house.  Thankfully, the shelf extras I had filled those in nicely.

I  have clothes.  They are clean.  They are on deck for folding after the extravaganza of wrapping is complete.  My folding this week kind of flew out the door.  My people have been hunter-gatherer in clean laundry baskets for the last two days.  I really must fix that.

I suppose that I should probably figure out what will be for dinner.  A nice slow roasted chicken might be in order.  I can tell you, though-- I'm not leaving the house.  We'll work with what we have here.  The one of two times of year I wear sweat pants happens to be today along with a holiday fleece sweatshirt.  I'm toasty, but I look like I fell off of the back of a pumpkin truck.  My hair is wound up into a ball on the back of my head and I have no make-up on.  I'm not going forth to share this look with anyone.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What would 5th grade be without another story?

K called me on my cell the other day.  I was at work and she typically doesn't phone.  I stepped outside to see what was up.

"Mom, Mr. H moved a few seats around today."

"Let me guess.  You are sitting next to Z."

"Yes.  He only moved about 5 kids around and he was put in front of me."

"I'll write a note tomorrow to Mr. H to ask that you be moved."

"Oh, thank you!"

You know, I am to the point where I encourage K advocating for herself.  I always have, but I really have tried to take the training wheels off.  It has been up to K to talk to her teacher about different issues she has had.

This one was a bit bigger issue than what she could handle on her own.

You see, Z is the MOST distracting child in the ENTIRE 5th grade.  I'm not exaggerating.  Truly, I'm being honest.  Imagine Pig-Pen.  Add that Pig-Pen whirling dervish of garbage, underpit smell and ADHD.  Now, I am an ADD/ADHD chick myself.  I've got it and understand that you tend to be obnoxious and don't really mean to.  However, he is uber obnoxious and he thinks it is cute.
Graphic from Peanuts Wiki.
Not cool.

I emailed her teacher to ask that she please be moved.  I said that from previous experience, we know how this will play out.  I said that Z is "distracting in a multitude of ways" and to please, please help.

He keeps poking K.  K finally got sick of it yesterday and kept getting out of her seat to step away from it.  (I told her that she needs to not do that.)  The teacher did see it and told Z that he WILL be moved.  Any day would be most excellent.  Mr. H is definitely not the most motivated teacher that K has ever had.  None of the 5th grade staff are.

Z never comes to school prepared, so the children around him are forced to share their learning materials with him because he has forgotten his book . . .  The children around him are expected to tutor him in whatever subject that he doesn't understand.  He is so busy trying to be football player/wrestler cool all combined with the ADHD that he doesn't understand most of what is given.  (I hesitate to say "taught" since teaching isn't so much what appears to be done there.)

I told Mr. H that K is having a difficult enough time in 5th grade and that this is not going to help.

Rrr.  I'm hoping that wherever 6th grade is, that it will be better than 5th.  5th is just sucking the life out of us this year.  It has been one thing after another and it is just exhausting.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A lesson from my daughter to me.

The 5th grade has been a rough year.  The teaching staff is lackluster.  (That's putting it kindly.)  The grading has been inconsistent.  K's teacher has "student graders."  With such and even with his grading, it has left M and I to re-grade K's papers whenever that blessed day arrives maybe once or twice a month.

It is at this point that I should note that one of the 5th grade teachers sent home a construction paper "file" so that we could keep the papers and if there were grading issues, then we could check them.  I understand needing to keep an eye and it is probably admirable that the teacher is recognizing that she has grading deficits.  It, however, is not my job to have to re-grade every single paper that comes home because they are so poor at handling their organization of it all.  I shouldn't have to check each paper point by point to be certain that it was logged into the system properly.  It frustrates both M and I to no end.

We have found many grading errors.  One was a 25 point difference in the letter grade on the paper.  A little bit here and a little bit there with math has made a difference of a point here and a point there. Mr. H has told K, "It didn't make a difference in your grade."  But it has.  A point here and a point there in regard to letter grade for a report card made a final difference between one grade to the next.

K called and left a message on my voice mail yesterday. "Mom, the grade I got on my reading test wasn't what you told me."  I talked to her later and said we'd figure it out when I got home.  She checked it and sadly, she's right.  He graded out a test and logged it as 33 points higher than she scored.

"Mom, I have to take this back," she said without hesitation.  "I didn't earn this grade and I cannot take this.  It isn't fair to the kids who earned that grade."

:twinge of guilt:

There was a little part of me that wanted to keep it.  The faltering reading grades for all of our 5th graders is just insane.  When you have 73 out of 76 kids pass the first reading test and you KEEP IT, there is something horribly wrong.

I told K how proud I was of her.  I did tell her the percentage ramifications of such a choice.  "Mom, that just means that I need to work harder."

Bless her heart.

She doesn't want a grade not due her, just as we don't want her not to get the grade that she deserves.  She said that she'd speak to him about it and get it straightened around today.

My heart smiles because she's doing the right thing.  She's doing the right thing by choice.  I didn't have to talk her into it or to defend it.  That is the best of all.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My husband kind of hates my Christmas list.

We do Christmas lists in my house.  Actually, M and I do them but K often skips.  She tells me that whatever Santa brings she's good with.  Raised right, that kiddo.  Well, at least in that respect.

So M handed me his list.  It will be a very Ice T Christmas.  It was a simple list to work from and his suggestion was that I work from Amazon and Half.com.  I only had one order refunded due to lack of inventory and I was able to go through AmazonSmile to benefit the Vitalogy Foundation, so it's a win-win!  I was able to order the refunded CD from someone else, I ordered something NOT on his list (shutter at the thought) and his shopping was done from the convenience of home and this here silly silver box in about an hour.

Now then, M said that he had to resort to hopping off the "list" for me because, well, I put some things on there that don't actually exist.  I told him that I was looking towards the future!

Amy’s wish list – Many pinned on Pinterest board “Music that takes me where I need to go.”  (Just for your reference.) Used is great and somewhat preferred on all.

Pearl Jam
·      Water on the Road- Eddie Vedder DVD of his 2008 solo tour.
·      Knowlden- I can pretty much tell you that you won’t find it.  It was released by PJ as a limited run back in the spring, maybe.  I’m not even certain if it is vinyl only.  Obviously, we don’t spin the black circle.
·      Into the Wild soundtrack and movie.  I’ve seen the movie for $5 at the Exchange. I’ve never bothered to look for the CD.
·      Imports.  Singles are all a fuzzy area. You know the rules.
·      PJ Christmas singles.  They will be vinyl, but they are limited so that is my only reason for asking.  You can buy some new online for $10.  Only buy if you can get a really good deal.
·      รจ Please do not buy any UNAUTHORIZED books or videos.  There are some crappy people who wrote books about them (Kim Neeley being one) and I don’t want to own any of that. They put out enough for us to buy on the resale market or directly from them.
·      No Code and Yield re-issue box set.  No, it doesn’t exist yet, but since they did both albums live & in full this fall, we know that it is just a matter of time.

Soundgarden
·      Echo of Miles: Scattered Tracks Across the Path (Coming out 11/24)  A B-sides recording.  Hold and find it used.
·      Superunknown was released as a box set back in June.  Hold on for a while.  USED! 
·      Chris Cornell- Songbook (CD)

Mother Love Bone
·      Apple
·      Shine (EP)
·      Mother Love Bone (A compliation)
·      Mother Love Bone:  A Love Bone Earth Affair – now this one is tricky and probably fairly unattainable. It was released in 1993 and not officially released onto DVD.  VHS only. 
·      There is supposed to be a release coming.  I know that it is a previously unreleased single. 

Misfits- Glen Danzig ONLY.  No other recordings, please.  Just these.  J
·      Static Age
·      Walk Among Us

Pixies
·      Doolittle
·      Wave of Mutilation

The Talking Heads
·      Talking Heads: 77
·      More Songs About Buildings and Food
·      I don’t own any of them at all and would like them, so it is a free-for-all. 
Gee, I just don't see what he's talking about!  ;)  In all seriousness, he knows that I just don't require a list.  He's the picky one.  Other than the Kindle that he bought me that wasn't quite the right one (he bought the Paper White when what I wanted was the new Kindle Fire.  Oops.  He didn't take the obvious hints that well.)

So, do you exchange with your spouse/significant other?  Is it a list required thing?  When we got married, M specified that we were to give impractical items only for Christmas.  That is why you won't see clothes, socks or underwear on any of our lists.  Those things are illegal for gifting here at the House of Bailey's Leaf-- by royal decree of Hubs.  And yes, we do have a double digit limit for each person that includes items for the stocking and for under the tree.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

I had to pull the Mom Censorship Card while waiting for my pizza at Little Caesars.

From Monday - Wednesday, I worked 12-13 hour days getting ready for our holiday open house this weekend. Thursday, I worked our Scholastic Book Fair from 7:30 AM - 6:30 PM.  Today, I worked the Book Fair from 7:50 AM - 4:30 PM.  Exhaustion set in.  K and I went to LC's for our dinner.

We bought the pretzel crust cheese pizza.  Yes, we also bought the crazy bread.  We were wild and crazy girls.  We had evening plans that involved pizza, crazy bread and some TV.

Since we ordered the cheese pretzel crust pizza without pepperoni, we had to wait.  I'm used to it.  "Hot and Ready" has never been "Hot and Ready" cheese. Since we had to wait 6 minutes, we opted to just sit in their tiny waiting area.  There were three chairs.  There were 2 chairs to the left of the door and one near the cooler, to the right.  K took the right.  There was a construction guy off to the left.  She left me to sit near him.  It's all good.  He was tired and quiet.  So were we.

They were busy humming along and making pizza.  They were chatting it up.  I was texting a few friends and so tired that thinking and typing were difficult to be done together.  The talking got louder.  Several words seemed repeated.  My ears perked up.

Are they really talking about that?

Nah.

They can't be.

I can't be hearing right.

Oh, I am.

The girl at the drive thru window was discussing periods, pregnancy tests and doctors appointments.  These things were not being discussed in hushed tones.  She kept mentioning "period."  She kept mentioning pregnancy tests.  Finally I heard enough and like sudden onset Tourette's, I couldn't take it anymore.

I leaned up a bit, the cashier had looked over at me and I said, "We don't need to know about her peeing on sticks."

"Well, she's not talking about herself," she said with a snarky, sarcastic tone.  Obviously she couldn't see a problem with it.

I looked over at the construction worker.  He looked as if he wanted to crawl under the chair.  The ongoing banter behind the counter was embarrassing him.

"This is stuff we don't need to hear and besides that, I have a 10 year old in here."

"Oh."  She was nonplussed by my Mama Bear Censorship Card being pulled.

The guy looked at me and said, "That is so inappropriate anyway, let alone wanting to look to see who the crowd is and to have a 10 year old sitting there."  "Good, then it wasn't just me."  "Um, no."

When we got back into the car, I talked with K about  it.  We've had discussion about menstruation and whatnot, but nothing like what they were talking about.  "Mom, did you hear that they were talking about killing or dead babies?"

"No!  Were they really?"

"Yes.  I heard everything, Mom."

"K, I'm sorry.  It was something that should have never been discussed out in public."  We talk about things with K.  If she asks something, we're honest.

So, have you ever had to pull the Parental Censorship Card?  I hated to do it, but I felt like it was necessary.  I can only imagine what the drive thru window patrons must have heard.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Why do people vote against safety levies?

We had a safety levy on the ballot.  It would have increased our sales tax by .25%.  It failed.
Our sheriff was quoted as saying, "This was a true need. This was not a want. ... "
A local resident had this to say:
"I’m against any more taxes.  They’re taking every damn dime out of our pockets.” 
My guess is that when that resident experiences an emergency such as a fire, rowdy neighbors, a car accident or a heart attack, they'll be calling Ghost Busters?  Uh, no.  They'll call 911.  They'll expect service.

There are many safety service levies in this area that passed.  There are many that didn't.  People vote against the levies, then complain that service is slow when they call for them in their time of need.  STEP UP, PEOPLE!  Things cost money.  Cost of living has increased for you.  Don't you think that there is a cost of operations increase for others?

UGH!