Friday, May 4, 2018

For the love that is all good and right, please stop all of this testing.


For those wondering how all of this standardized testing affects our kids, my child is in therapy for test taking anxiety and the anxiety from all of this testing has caused the kids to fall apart, causing one class to be so very disruptive that my child cannot even concentrate anymore.  She has grades suffering because of worry, lack of sleep, general ill feeling . . . Just when she thought that the AIR testing was all done, now MAP testing is coming down the pike.  Fabulous!  :scowling mama face:

Her therapist talked with her yesterday about the illing class that she has.  All year she has gotten A's and B's.  This seems to be the class that the wheels fell off the bus.  The train is no longer on the track, but she is turning everything in on time and the in class work is just sinking her.  She is trying but she cannot concentrate in this one particular class-- the class she has generally done the best in all year long.  We are dragging her through these last few weeks, hoping that this class can pull around and give her a good feeling before the end of the year.  We want to end the year on a positive note.

If the administrators who put these tests in place could just experience what the kids are feeling.  Teachers stressed to the max because their performance evaluations are riding on these test results, telling the students that they could fail the grade if they do not perform well.  (Incidentally, this is untrue.  These tests are placement tests for next years coursework.)  These are statements that further damage those amongst us with test taking anxiety.  Kids are falling apart.  Teachers are falling apart.  The educational system is teaching to test.

Please stop the madness.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Please don't stop writing thank you notes.

This was a photo that we used on some handcrafted thank you notes that K sent at the age of 4. 
I know that there are people celebrating the recent story about the "gift of no thank you cards."  How very little time it takes to write a thank you.  I have to say that it is probably far less effort for you to write a thank you than for what the person went through to choose your gift, wrap and present it to you.

Most people put a lot of thought and caring into the gifts that they give.  I know that in my house, we do.  Granted we miss the mark every now and then, but we look at the person and really try to choose something for them.

Our society has turned into quick, easy, dash in and dash out, e-mails, texts, Facebook and Twitter and how thoughtful it is to receive a handwritten note of thanks.  Not that much effort involved, but certainly very appreciated.

Please don't stop writing thank you notes.  I know that we won't.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

The one with the wardrobe malfunction.

My dear sweets had the annual Solo & Ensemble event just yesterday.  She had prepared a violin solo and was doing a string duet with a friend.  The girls go, play their string duet and do a fairly decent job.  It was a lot of shifting and frankly, other than saying that apparently that is very challenging in violin playing, I have no idea what I am talking about.  However!  The girls did a great job, particularly since they hadn't a lot of time to prepare for it.

K had worked on her solo for months.  My friend, Heather, is her violin instructor.  Bless her soul, she sees K and does not charge us for it.  She has prepared K.  She has tweaked.  The other day, she sent me a text stating, "Perfection and I don't say that to my students."

K finished playing her duet with C, then she was the very next time slot.  She had to wait for the judge to finish writing her comments about their duet before she started playing.  She patiently waited for a few minutes.  While she did that, she had the bottom of her violin resting on the top of her thigh.  When it was announced that she could begin, she raised her violin and  . . .  her dress.  The shoulder rest grabbed hold of her dress and pulled it up!  I gasped, but we all laughed.  Most importantly, K laughed.  Thankfully, she had some legging capris on under the dress, so all we saw were pants, but . . . At 14, I would have rather ended up sinking into the surface of the floor than to continue on, but she did.  She continued on beautifully.

K earned a I on her solo.  (1 out of 5, with 1 being the best.)  She and C earned a II, and both girls were elated.

It was a great lift for her, not only to her esteem, but also to her dress hem.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Advocating for our kids: Let's allow them to use their own voice.

All too often, I've run into parents too concerned about speaking on behalf of their children.  Just today, we had a woman in with her daughter and she was speaking for her.

The daughter had the ability to speak.
The daughter used that ability to speak.
The mother continued to speak for her, but when the daughter was speaking she did pause her interruption.

I believe that the daughter was mildly learning disabled.  She spoke on her own behalf.  She made her needs known in appropriate ways.  She responded appropriately.

So why was mama speaking for her?  I believe that she has probably protected and advocated for her all of her life but since this young lady is probably ball parking 16, she is going to have to have mama loosen those communicative apron strings a bit.

As parents, letting those strings out can feel uncomfortable.  As parents, letting those strings out could also cause us more work.  As parents, we need our children to learn to live outside of our protective or hovering presence.

There was another young woman who came into work to inquire about a job.  As you can guess, mom was with her.  Mom ran her over, ran to the counter, interrupted her and was completely overbearing.  The child could not speak up for herself and she was 18 and going into college.

Parents, we can't do this to our kids.

We need to teach our children how to advocate for themselves.  We need them to learn to speak their needs, themselves, and to learn to be (as my kiddo would call) problem solvers.

I was just talking with M this evening and said that it was a blessing for K to move to a school system that I have not been all involved in.  At her elementary, every teacher knew me.  I was the PTA president, was there all of the time and wrote the monthly newsletter.  K was there with me all of the time schlepping tables for book fairs, decorating things, setting up different events and I think that in some small way, this earned her a bit of a communicative pass from some of her teachers.  Now this isn't to say that K didn't communicate at all, but she was far more shy about making her needs known.

Fast forward to 6th grade.

M and I dropped K off to a strange school with a building full of kids she did not know, no one knew her mama and she had to make it on her own.

Honestly, at the end of her 6th grade year, she fell flat on her face.  It was ugly.  We knew that it was happening because of a series of poor choices, but she needed to learn.  She was in big trouble.  (Lying and not turning work in.)  Her teacher allowed her to turn her work in late, but at a maximum of 50% score.  It sucked, but we had to let it happen.

She pulled through and in the end, open enrollment continued for her 7th grade year.  (We have to re-apply every year, making this mama quite nervous.)  K dusted herself off in middle school, found the book club, volunteered at the library, helped her Language Arts teacher during lunch (we didn't even know this until the end of the year) and was chosen to be Student of the Month for October.

She did this all on her own.

It's not to say that there weren't gaffs in 7th grade, but she really pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made her needs known.  She discussed some inappropriate speak that was going on with one of the young men, asked me my opinion and I gave her both sides.  The next morning she told me, "I've decided to go speak with Mr. L about it.  I know what can happen, but what is going on isn't right and I need someone to know."  Though retaliation was a definite possibility, she spoke with the Vice Principal about her concerns and throughout the remaining part of the year, he would check in on her and make sure that all was okay.

She did this all on her own.

Children's choices may not be our choices, but we need to allow them to make decisions.  We need to allow them to learn to effectively speak for themselves, make appropriate choices and speak out when wrongs need righted.  They need to know ramifications of poor decision making. (Clearly we need to make certain that they are safe and keeping others safe.)

We need to help them to model good behavior and good citizenship.

We need to be an example to them of:
  . . . love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.  Galations 5:22-23
We need to allow them to use their voice.  We needn't speak for them.  We need to guide them.  We need to be there to listen.  We need to allow them to do it . . . on their own.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Goodbye, 7th grade.

K's last day of school was yesterday.  If you don't think that we're having what my friend refers to as a "Super Nothing Day," you have another thing coming.  M has been downstairs playing guitar.  K has been binging on TV.  I have watched TV, read more about our loss of Chris Cornell, sent a few e-mails and watched The Village.

We needed a SND.  7th grade took everything we had.

K had projects and papers, tests and exams.  This is all pretty typical.  This year was her first year for exams.  Prior to exams, she had two A's, three B's and one C.  After exams, she had two A's, one B and three C's.  You know what?  That is fabulous.  Exams for a kiddo who has severe test taking anxiety are pretty rough.  I will give credit to her social studies teacher though.  Not only did he tell the kids and parents from day one that there would be a final exam, but he had them save every paper from the entire year and helped to prepare them for their first exam.

I would love to say that the math teacher did the same, but not so much.

Mr. Math Teacher decided to tell them of the exam on 5/15.  He told them that this exam would cover the entire year and it would begin on 5/17.  It started on 5/16.  It was a group exam and despite her being grouped with some super smart kids, their grade was a 48%, which dropped her 85.5% down to a 71.4%.  Gee, Mr. Math Teacher, thanks for that kick in the gut.

She had an A or a B in math all quarter long.  If she would have ended up with a D or an F for the final quarter, she wouldn't have been in trouble.  Why?  Because she tried her best and she could only study for what she could.  You can't cram studying over an entire year just overnight.

Her social studies grade was a B, dropped less than a percentage point, but that kicked her .22% into a C.  Some teachers have kicked the teetering grades up.  If he doesn't, I certainly won't ague.  The final report card isn't posted yet.  That will be this afternoon.  Still, she rocked it out.  The 7th grade social studies curriculum that they used he referred to as "the equivalent of the pass/fail course of Ancient Civilizations that all of you parents may have taken in college."  Sweet love, he didn't lie.  I never studied the Peloponnesian War, The Roman Crusades . . . in school or in college.  It was some rough stuff to wade through.  Yet, as the teacher guaranteed, they would make it through.

There were nights I was up studying for tests with K until 12:30 AM.  There were times I had her back up at 5:45 AM studying for the same test.  John Calvin, Sir Francis Drake and others, you arrived to me in my nightmares.

Flash cards.

Chapter reviews and the 30 question kid written quiz.

Last year was rough.  Super rough.  Transition to a different school where the kids didn't really accept her all that well didn't go over particularly well.  She found a place for herself this year.  Middle school rocked for her.  She participated in Solo & Ensemble, Music in the Parks and other orchestra performances this year.  She participated in book club, she was a library helper, a class lunch time assistant, and though orthodontia made perfect attendance impossible-- the child never missed one single day of school this year.  There were a handful of days where K was late because of bracket appointments . . . nothing we could do.  (The orthodontist isn't very accommodating in regard to certain appointments.  Otherwise, they are spectacular.)

K rocked it out.  The year wasn't without a catch or a hitch.  There were certainly times I would have loved to sling her over my shoulder and haul her to the car.  (She's over 5'8" and there will be none of me doing that.)  Some mornings, girlie fell a bit behind.  Last week, I asked her if she thought that my car had wings because it certainly does not.

But . . . summer.  :sigh:  We have arrived.  😀

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Motivation to Minimize: Why do I have 3 bundt pans?

For a very long time, even before we were married, M and I discussed his want to move out west.  That want of his has never gone away.  It quieted a bit, but over the past few years, the call has been louder.  The Pacific Northwest is calling him and to the PNW we will go-- some day.

(And before any family panics, K would be out of high school so it isn't any time soon at all.)

We sit back and consider what a move to what most likely would be the Seattle area would involve.  While this move is no where in any near future, we look to now to start asking the question-- do I really need this?

We watched a documentary about The Minimalists.  Now don't think that we went all cult churchy about them, but their points are very reasonable.

We don't need all the stuff that we have.  As my title says, why do I have three bundt pans?  I can tell you how I have three bundt pans.  I can also tell you that I do not need all three bundt pans.  In fact, I forgot that I owned one of the three.

I can also tell you that I cannot recall the last time I used the bread maker.  I do admit that I used it for the first several years we had it.

I can tell you that I have tried the Cake Pop maker a few times, it sucks and I'll never use it.  I also don't need the chocolate warmer that I bought to go with it.

I have several cake carriers.

I have several odd pots and pans that my aunt purchased for me.  I have never used them because I have tried and true pots and pans.  Never had the room for them on the pot rack.

I have never used that 4 piece set of china that my neighbor gave to me not long after we moved in.  It's taking up space and I do not need them.  We do not use them.  We have never used them.

I have a crock-pot that is extra hot.  (Meaning warm is low, low is high, high is extra boiling.)  It has always been this way and I have to watch what I cook in it.

Clothes.  Shoes.  None of us are clothes horses by any stretch, but sweet love of all, I went half way through our closet and through my half of the armoire and was able to produce 2 trash bags of clothes (the white kitchen kind) with absolutely no problem.

Hello, rummage sale.  They will be getting a lot of things from us this year.

We have found that we have truly been re-evaluating what we think we need, what we have that we can re-purpose, what we have that we think that we want to replace and why . . .

Friday, March 24, 2017

Because some days you need a lil motivation to get you through the grocery aisles.

My friend and I were discussing the need to tackle the grocery today.  We have common complaints/comments about shopping.  I said that we needed to make a bingo game.  

Not everything on this list should be viewed as an irritation.  Some things are just common observations that both of us have.