Friday, November 6, 2015

First Quarter down: Of cinnamons and apple bits.

K made it through her first grading period.  She has always, always been on super honor roll, honor roll or merit roll.  Merit roll was just a 2 time thing.  This quarter, she earned none of that.  It kind of made her heart sink.  For the first time since they were available, she feels like she missed out.  I reminded her of these things:

1.  You moved from a failing school district to an excellent rated school district.
2.  She basically had absolutely NO 5th grade last year what with all of the standardized testing, two of the three 5th grade teachers retiring and, well, her teacher just not teaching or giving a hoot. Not at all consistent.  Not at all collecting papers when due, but then trying to collect them two - three weeks later.  Mis-grading, mis-logging of grades and generally being the class clown.  Oh, and not teaching. Let us not forget that part.
3.  The curriculum is so much harder.
4.  All of your grades (she has 2- A's, 2- B's and 2- C's and those are high C's) are GREAT grades!
5.  She had no late work.  Well, it wasn't late on her part.  She turned in the one "late" paper, her teacher had her write her answers in complete sentences, the bell rang, she turned it in right after the bell stopped and it was considered late.

Because of a time management issue for a series of mornings culminating into one big morning, she does have one unexcused tardy.  She was late by 2 minutes.  On a standard morning, we would have still been able to rock a 20 minute drive easily in the 30-35 minute time frame.  Unfortunately, she chipped away at part of our safety net, there was a big ole spot of traffic, a rear end collision and a flipped vehicle.  All the forces were working against us that day.  She learned and has been very good about getting out the door since then.

What are things that we have learned to improve upon for this next quarter?

1.  We still need to double check homework.  We always do, but can't do that if K doesn't pony up the work.  She knows late homework isn't okay.  She knows guessing isn't okay.  There are occasions that we find lil errors on papers that add up to big things.  We go over homework with her, help to reinforce the lesson and it is a good thing.
2.  Everything will be answered in complete sentences.
3.  We have experienced some of the return of test taking anxiety.  Her social studies started out with two very bad grades.  It was as if all wheels fell off her bus.  She was completely deflated.  She was able to pull her grade up substantially, but not without getting so stressed that she tossed grades out the door in EVERY subject that week.  We all learned that bad grades will happen and that this school is good about giving enough homework, projects . . . to help offset a bad day.  (Or eek!  A bad week!)
4.  Cinnamons and apple bits are also known as synonyms and antonyms.  Vocabulary at her previous school was just a spelling test.  They were fairly easy words and no definitions or any digging into the words themselves was done.  It is here.  Last night I decided to have K write all of her words, synonyms and antonyms on pieces of paper.  She was then set to task to match them all up.  We did it over and over and hopefully, that will help her to retain that information.  Spelling is copying words daily and spelling tests beginning Tuesday of test week.  We seem to have licked that one.  Definitions for other subjects are on index cards and quizzed.  We're working out the study pieces.  If we can keep the test anxiety down, her focus on her paper (hello ADD child of mine though not diagnosed) and encouraging her to continue to keep organized, those pieces will fall all into place and grades will continue to rise.

We are so very proud of K.  This was a HUGE jump, an ENORMOUS change and a difficult challenge for her.  We're still tweaking and figuring it out.  She's working on getting a grade certificate next time.  Until then, we work, we tweak and we study.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The open enrollment report

It may not be a good choice for all people, but it is working for K.  Considering that she essentially skipped 5th grade (except for maybe what would qualify as one grading period worth of some teaching) she is holding her own and doing well.  Her grades are what they usually are-- a combo of A's and B's and we are definitely not complaining.

The curriculum is more intuitive with math.  It is more difficult in other subjects.  She has gotten past that wonky period of "take a few tests to see how this study pattern goes . . . "  She has brought her vocabu-lit grade up from an initial 70% to a 100% this week.  My baby has got a groove with that.  The math went from a 70% to a 96%.

Can we sit for a moment and celebrate 70% as a first test score as a MONUMENTAL MOMENT?  Last year, her math scores began at 33%.

She has started violin maybe 3 1/2 weeks ago.  At 2 weeks, she was busting out Ode to Joy in the living room because, well, "Mom, I learned it last year in recorder and just knew it."  So she learned something on a non-string instrument, but took a year of harp, and translated it to an instrument that she had been playing for only 2 weeks.  Someone got her musical skillz and she certainly didn't get them from me.

My good friend, Heather, is a professional musician.  She plays, you have it right, violin.  She knows that K is technically a year behind on orchestra violin at this school, so she insisted that I bring her for a bit of an encouragement round up to get her rolling in the right direction.  She told me yesterday, "The music that they gave her for the program is second year music.  She is doing great with it.  Most kids wouldn't.  Don't worry.  She's doing well!"  So, she has second year music at 3 1/2 weeks.  :thumbs up:  My kid is musical and is holding her own.  Orchestra is two times a week and she needs to be there between 7:15-7:25 AM, ready to begin at 7:30 AM.  That leaves us leaving before 7 AM.

The spelling words are difficult, but she is consistently studying them.  We found out this last week that she has 5 bonus words per test.  Bonus to us means EXTRA points.  No, no.  They are NOT extra points.  They are from previous spelling lists and are expected to be known.  That's a great thing, but I probably would have used a term other than "bonus."

The gym teacher is more like a drill sergeant.  My heavens.  That man means business.  It's not a bad thing.  K has gotten used to boot camp for gym and not play time.

She just did a class project with a boy she was assigned to work with.  It seemed to be a good match of energy and she really enjoyed working with him.  It's a good thing.

She's making friends.  They seem to have accepted her as one of their own.

It's not something that would always work for everyone, but we have a one.  Open enrollment is working for us.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So far, so good.

Our morning commute presently starts at 7:30 AM.  My dear, sweet cousin Janeen commutes further than I do and she is in the MIDDLE of the snow belt.  We'll be entering the secondary snow belt in the winter and with that and orchestra on Fridays, our leave time will be shifted.

Heavens!  There is a HUGE difference between a poorly performing district and one that is excellent rated.  Here are some surprises:

1.  They practice vocab-lit.  Their vocabulary, which is also their spelling words, comes from literature that they will be reading chunks of.

2.  The spelling list is from the vocal-lit.  This round includes prodigious, supercilious and chivalrous.

3.  To our absolute excitement, there is NO Envision Math!  That stuff is evil.  The math seems more commonsense (for now) and K and M seem pleased.

4.  Respect and rules are strongly enforced.  They are reasonable, but without flexibility on enforcement.  That is good.

5.  D.A.R.E. is a once a week program that is already built into the curriculum.

6.  They were asked to run for 12 minutes in gym class.  K didn't quite make it, but she's working on it.

7.  The 6th grade as a whole are learning to play guitar as a part of their curriculum.

8.  Dress code is pretty relaxed.  She finally started wearing shorts this week.  The building has no air conditioning and it is getting rather warm in there.

9.  Her art teacher is one of my good customers.   They did contour drawing on day one.

10.  K has her first e-mail address.  School issues an e-mail address to every student.  They use the computers in the library and media center.

11.  All of their forms and such for the entire district are online.  They don't even print report cards!

Thus far, we are pleased with moving K onward.  It might be a little bit of a drive, but we're hoping to give her the best that we can.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


I had my open enrollment appointment this morning before work.  I had to drop K off at my mom's house then haul on up to the school board building.

I left a half hour and got there in 15 minutes.  That's good to know travel-wise for school here in a few weeks.  It is a few exits ahead on the expressway.  15 minutes early is good.  It shows them that we take this seriously.

I get to the building, get buzzed in and see someone at the window.  I stand there for a few minutes and finally figure that perhaps I should take a seat.  I hear a lot of, "Well, did you do the online enrollment?"  "Well, I did it on my tablet."  "Do you have this, do you have that?"  It seemed as though this visitor was a bit unprepared.

She steps away and the woman next to me looked to see if they needed her next.  (She was there before me.)  "No, I need Amy now."  I'm up.  :deep breath:  We went over the paperwork.  All the online enrollment was successfully completed.  All of the paperwork they needed for enrollment was sent in back in February.  They just needed to verify all of it.

-- The official birth certificate that we purchased from the county for the bargain price of $22 and had the official embossment on it wasn't good enough.  They needed the original in order to verify it.  Since the original birth certificate took 11 1/2 months to arrive, it is dated almost 2 years after K's birth date.  I figured that they would question it.  I was armed with the actual adoption decree, but it turns out that they didn't need it.

-- Immunization records needed updated.  (There was one shot in April that wasn't on the copy they had.)

-- Residency needed verified.  I had a copy of the house deed, the city utility bill and the electric bill.  Since I sent the city utility bill in February, they just verified that.

Since I was responsible and followed all instructions, I was back out of there in probably a lil over 5 minutes.  The lady thanked me profusely for having my papers in order and having everything handled.  (Adopt a county kid and you become proficient at inches of paperwork very quickly.)

Then she said something that will stay with me forever.  With a smile on her face, "Welcome to S-."

:hand on my heart:

Hoping that this venture in schooling is a wondrously positive change for K.  I pray good things for her.  I pray that she gets past her nervousness about being the "new kid."  I pray that her teachers teach.  I pray that she learns.  I pray that it is a positive atmosphere, as last year definitely was not.

I just want good things for her.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Handing off those school uniforms.

I got a call on Monday that will most certainly change my child's life in some big capacity.  She was accepted for open enrollment to the school system in the city where my in-law's live.

This open enrollment opportunity dates back to the packets of information that I sent out on February 1.  I sent open enrollment packets out to three schools.  By the end of June, we received a denial from our first choice school.  They didn't have the room for K and I knew that.  It didn't hurt to try.  A few weeks ago, we got a denial from our 3rd choice school.  We weren't real jazzed about that school for a few different reasons.  They seemed a lil snarky about open enrollment and frankly, it is an area much, much further over our financial level and basically K would end up being the poor kid.  Since it was already August, I figured by this point that school #2 was toast because we hadn't heard anything and -- IT'S AUGUST!

So the call comes through.  I try to track K down.  Now, I can most normally catch that child at some point, but my MIL and K went swimming.  I tried K's cell.  No luck.  I tried MIL's cell.  No luck.  I tried my FIL's cell.  No luck.  I tried the house phone.  Finally, my FIL answered, but said that they were out swimming.


K asked for a family meeting.  We needed to hash out some details about the transfer that would make her feel good.  We assured her that the same drop off/pick up schedule would still apply as before.  I would be able to take part in SOME PTA activities at this school, so she'd still see me around.  We also said that if she/we chose to make this switch-- this is it.  This will be her forever school and we will not transfer her out to another one.  After all of these things, she decided that she did want to go there.

A perk but not a deciding factor?  No uniforms!

We released her to make the information public.  She told some friends from elementary school.  She would have been moving on to the big, scary middle school with them.  We did discuss that though she is moving and it is joyous and there were many, many concerns we had about the middle school, these friends are still attending there and we want to be a lil low level so not to dog on their school.  She handled it well.

We mamas were talking last night and it hit me that the one could probably use the pants I had purchased for K.  I bought them secondhand, so there was no way I could return them and K assured me that there would be no way she would wear them.  (Can't blame her.)  I was running through the house last night at 10 PM gathering uniform pieces to give off.  M asked, "What are you doing?"  "GIVING UNIFORMS AWAY!"  I warned her that almost all was hanging on the basement lines and have a basement smell, but all are clean.  She can use them this year or next, but we were able to pass polos, pants, sweaters and shorts on to someone who could use them.

I don't believe K will ever wear khaki pants or polo shirts again.  Well, not unless a job requires them.

So that leads me to today's adventures.  I will, for the first time, be able to take my daughter school clothes shopping.  We're kind of excited.  We have a few stores to hit to return new shirts we bought and while we're there, we can look at fun clothes!

Aside from the clothes thing and that not being a factor into changing schools, we're taking K from a school system that is suffering into an excellent rated school system.  There are so many opportunities that will be made available to her.  She's going to try to get involved with orchestra and she's looking forward to getting details about swim team.  Academically they are so much stronger and we had major safety concerns about K at the other school.

We prayed.  We prayed that God would do his will.  We told K that this is how God answered our prayer.  I told her that we still need to pray.  She's concerned about being the new kid.  I told her I get it, but we'll get through it.

Changes.  My baby is growing up.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I swear that we still exist!

It's been a few months.  I promise we're still upright and all that.

We were all busy at the end of school just wrapping things up.  K moved on up to :sigh: going to middle school soon.  She ended 5th grade with perfect attendance for the year, honor roll and a President's Education Award.  We're busy adjusting to what middle school is going to mean and the changes that come with that.

My girlie in middle school.  Let's just sit on that for a second.  Every parent sits and says, "Just yesterday . . . "

I had the church rummage sale that ate most of June.

K has been volunteering at the local library twice a week and she's gone a few weeks with M to work to help him as a program volunteer.

My sister got married.  Wishing the union goes better than the felony charges that the two decided to rack up given their penchant for pot.

M and I have gone to a few more concerts.  You see, people usually go out to eat.  Since M can't eat a lot of what is out and about, we have just gone back to going to some occasional concerts.  We went to J Roddy Walston and the Business at Musica.  Oh, it was so good!  M got me a spot in the center front of the stage.  (Short girls up front!)

We stood in this line at Mayhem Fest for M to meet . . . 

 . . . The band members of Hellyeah.  

He's always wanted to meet Vinnie Paul and this opportunity made his day.

We've been a little bit of everywhere, and everywhere has been busy.  We still have one more month to chip away before the rigors of school kick back in.  

No school uniforms. 


Lightning bug and butterfly catching.

Mosquito bite itching.

Candy tossers in a parade. 

Birthday parties.  

Family walks at night.

Talks by the campfire.

Cool nights.

Hot days.


Goodies from the garden.

Time together.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May . . . it be a month of concerts.

It's a month of concerts.  It was that way on purpose and by happy luck.  

We'll start with Hellyeah.  Yes, I went to a band called Hellyeah.  Hubs won tickets from the local music shop he goes to.  He got 4 tickets, so we took my brother Dumpy and my friend Toni.  

This photo from Hellyeah's Facebook page. 
The concert was at the House of Blues in Cleveland.  Such a wonderful venue!  Hubs went to a different concert there in January.  He went to that one on his own.  He has another at the end of the month to go to on his own.  Sometimes I decline going not because I'm a poop about Hubs' music, but because he gets so concerned about me that he doesn't get to see the concert.  I'm pretty short, he knows I can't see.  He watches the crowd to make sure that I'm safe.  (I always am, by the way.  I stand directly in front of him.  He can easily see over my head.)  

Rob Prior was an artist painting while the band did their gig.  The gig was being taped by Yahoo, so we went upstairs to the balcony to watch.  M wasn't really thrilled about being in a pit of people being taped.  (I don't see that it is up yet.)  He also swore that I'd be squashed like a bug.  

The concert was great.  Truly.  While it isn't music that I'd be apt to plunk into my CD player in the car, the sound was great and the guys were really into it.  All of us had a wonderful time!

On Sunday night, I went to see the Pixies with my friends, Toni and Dave.  (Toni is becoming a regular ticket buddy since she went to Hellyeah, too!)  Hubs isn't so much a Pixies fan, so he had me attend this one with friends. 

Worth every cent.  My gosh.  They truly had a fantastic performance.  30 songs.  2 hours.  No gaps.  No talking.  

This one had the most unusual audience I've ever encountered.  Almost everyone sat there.  Almost everyone looked as if they were watching a movie.  In fact, when the concert started, Dave and I stood up.  (That's what you typically do at a rock concert.  You stand, show your support for the band, dance, sway and enjoy yourself.)  We were asked to sit down.  :(  We did and that was fine.  We did stand for the encore.  Even Toni stood with us.  The encore was 2 songs long.  More people were standing there.  But still.  Even the pit was just standing there.  I was stunned at the lethargy the audience displayed.  

So, Hubs has a concert coming up next week.  He'll see Sepultura.  We'll be seeing J Roddy Walston and the Business in June.  (It's a concert that I chose and it is at a small venue.)  

It's a time for concerts.  Not one we planned.  We haven't attended concerts for a long time, but we were busy being all parental.  Now that K is older, we can now go have some fun together or with friends.  That's not a bad thing at all.