Saturday, September 21, 2013

"But I just love books so much!"

My dear child.  This was her statement while standing in the middle of the kids fiction section of Books A Million yesterday.  Tears were rolling down her face so much that she needed to remove her glasses to get the puddles that had welled up underneath them.

I kid you not.  My child loves books.  That, my friends, is not a bad thing.

We'll rewind it to a few days before.  You see, K took part in the library reading program and read for  a half hour 108 days in a row.  I never have to ask the child to read.  She reads all of the time.  When we turned her slip in for the last time, they said that she was the only one to turn the slip in for 108 days of reading.  When we received a call from the library saying that K had won a prize in the reading program, I wasn't at all surprised.  I mean, obviously her chances were pretty good.  I told the caller that we'd be there straight away since K would be so excited.  When we went, they gave her a bag with some toys, allowed her to choose two books from their giveaway bin (Ramona and her Mother and Fudge-A-Mania) and told her that there was a gift card to Books A Million included.  She was thrilled!

I decided that the end of the week provided a perfect opportunity to take K to use her gift card.  It said it was for $5.00 and she had a few dollars that were floating around the top of her desk.  We set off to the store, K made herself at home in the children's fiction section and went to town.  I had to be the mama who broke her heart and told her that she had $7.00 and needed to stay in limit.

"But Mom, I'm not being unthankful.  It's just so hard to choose because the books here are a little pricey."

"I know, but there are plenty of things to choose from.  I'll let you hang out and look to see what you can find.  I'll roam around and come back for you in a few."

I found that Al Jourgensen wrote a book.  I spent some time reading the jacket.  (Hubs and I discussed needing to see if the library has it for the Kindle.)  When I returned to K, that was when the tears were flowing.  The child was overwhelmed.  I had her go from shelf to shelf with me to show me the books she was considering.  I pulled them from the shelves and the total came to 6.  By the power invested in me, I used my mommyness to deny 2 of those books (Captain Underpants and a Jessie book).  It took her down to a Geronimo Stilton book, Double Fudge, Humphrey the Hamster book and a Ramona book of sorts.  We sat down on the floor and she got that paired down to two.  I told her that once I re-shelved those, I would come back and she would need to have made a decision.   She decided to go with the hamster book.   (Surprise, surprise!)  She apologized for being such a mess and I told her that I understand and appreciate her love for books.  "I just didn't want to leave any of them behind!"  I trust the girl.  She'll be like Rory Gilmore.  Later on in life, she'll be on a date and pull a book out if things start to get boring.

We went to the register.  There was a line.  There was also discounted books on the wall behind the sales associates.  Good love, there was a Big Nate back there.  It was marked down to $3.97.  I gulped, then I called it to K's attention.  She does love herself some Big Nate.  She decided to switch the book.  It's all good.  She went to the associate, asked for Big Nate, exchanged Humphrey and all was well, right?

"Ma'am, this card is for $10.00."

"Are you sure?  It said $5.00."

"Yes, I'm positive.  I see it says $5.00, but it is $10.00."

I looked at K and laughed.  "You know K, it would have been a lot easier to choose but if you'd like to get the hamster book, you have enough money."

And she did.  She left with Big Nate and Humphrey and all is well.  She even left with a mustache button for her school sweater.

Bless her heart and those crocodile tears.  My girl DOES love her books.  Allow me not to stand in the way of that love.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A follow-up on TWISTEX

I wrote a post earlier this summer about Tim Samaras, Carl Young and Paul Samaras dying in the EF-5 tornado on 5-31-13.  I needed to know what happened.  It just didn't make sense.  It still doesn't make complete sense, but this article gives a lot of clarity to what happened leading up to their deaths.  It is well written and speaks of found equipment and so forth.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chortle and other words of the week.

K brought her vocabulary words home and there was a word that I had never heard of-- chortle.  Rachael is going to ask, "You mean that you didn't read Through The Looking-Glass?"  No, I didn't.  I wasn't really an Alice in Wonderland kind of kid and I still have no interest as an adult.  Hubs didn't even realize that it was a word.  A point to know is that chortle is a "blend of chuckle and snortcoined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass  (1871)."  Good to know!

K had some rather difficult homework this evening.  While I was at work, I got a text from one of the class parents.  She asked if I had seen the antonym paper and I told her that I wasn't home yet, but I'd text her when I had.  

Sweet love.  That thing is a hot mess. 

K and I pulled out the thesaurus and found that our desk copy was just not beefy enough.  We had to go to Webster's online.  We worked for probably 20 minutes trying to fill in 5 blanks.  Wow.  I texted the parent back, who said that they came up with the same answers that we did except for one that they had left blank.  K and I talked about it and decided that we needed to change the suffix to make it fit.  Either way, I told K to tell me tomorrow how many kids actually turn this paper in.  Honestly, it put that 7 years of college education I have to use.  Dang.  I'm not usually that involved in her homework.  I usually just check it, bring errors to her attention and if she doesn't know how to fix them, I help to guide her problem solving.  

Today, K had a vocabulary quiz in science.  That quiz involved the technical definitions for solid, liquid, gas, mass, matter, volume, density and solution.  Hubs, 2 classes shy of pre-med in college, about had a heart attack when he saw what we had to teach her.  He said that the definitions that she had looked like they came out of a college book.  He has spent the last 5 days doing wonderful experiments with her and looking videos up online so that she can know what these definitions not only mean, but why they are what they are.  However, Hubs was teaching her definitions that he found online.  He said that they were easier.  "But, they aren't what she is being tested on.  The wording she is being tested on is right here."  He was stunned.  I told him that she needed to be familiar with those particular definitions because that was the wording she was being tested on-- not what was online.  That launched Hubs into a tirade of how kids are only taught to memorize facts and if all they are doing is memorizing a set of words without knowledge of what it means.  "But I've shown her and she knows what density and volume are.  She can tell you about mass and matter!  She can tell you the difference of solid, liquid and gas!"  I get it.  I really do.  We sat down last night and did flash cards with her.  You'd be glad to know that girlie earned a 100% on her quiz.  :wipes to the forehead:  Wow. We had an interesting discussion about it at work yesterday.  The gallery director said, "But you want them to dumb it down, right?"  "I don't want the definitions dumbed down.  I want them age appropriate.  Kids can't know what all these things mean if you don't make it something that they can understand first."  

I'm not sitting and asking for my child to either be spoon-fed or not to be challenged.  I know that K's teachers are teaching what they have to and in some cases, not at all what they want to be teaching or in the manner that they would like to be teaching it.  I admit that this week has been filled with chewy words for her.  Added to the list are the words cantankerous and boisterous.  She may have heard me say boisterous, but I can tell you that I have never used the word cantankerous around her.  I do admit that we've been freely slinging the word "chortle" around all evening.  You need to get your chortle moving!  Have you fed your chortle yet?  We're all a little round in the chortle.  Yes, we know it was the complete wrong use of the word, but it sounds funny.  Why not have fun with a funny sounding word?  If it helps, K knows that it means, "To laugh heartily."  She'll even tell you that as you say it 4 different times in one sentence.  :)

Have a great night!  May the chortles be with you!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Up to our eyeballs in busy.


It seems as though I've come to the point of posting once a week.  Gosh, that was not my intention.  However, there was a certain incident where life was excessively crazy and no one got hurt and all is well but my husband made me promise to confess to my PTA Peeps my level of crazy and that my husband demanded that I cut back.  They nodded their heads, and then one kept calling and wanting and needing.  Did she not hear me talk of my crazy episode?  Sooooooo, probably by the end of the month, this side of crazy will start to calm a bit.

K has settled into 4th grade well.  A much better transition than last year.  Unfortunately, our school system is requiring an hour and a half study be put into reading and math each day (that's not unfortunate, but ...), their specials aren't to be trimmed (gym, art, music and library) so that leaves the additionals to be trimmed-- social studies, science, health and language arts (spelling.)  We're left to fill in the hole where 20 minute blocks are just not enough for each of these topics.  Heath is not taught all the time.  I think that might flip back and forth with social studies.  This is not a choice of K's particular school, but of the school system.  Hubs went over her science vocabulary with her yesterday.  Mrs. S had the children write that they have a vocabulary quiz this coming Wednesday.  Now, it would seem not that difficult, but the definitions are matter, mass, volume, density, liquid, solution, solid and gas. Hubs said that the definitions themselves are fairly complex.  He found a link online that talked about a chocolate bunny switching through several of these phases.  Still, we wonder how children make it through some of these subjects when we are essentially homeschooling the subjects that aren't permitted the time at school.  (K's teacher is so upset about it, too.)  We are very involved parents.  I was helping her with the regions of Ohio.  We were speaking of glaciation, temperate climates, map reading, history and so forth.  We spent an hour on the social studies.  It was so chewy that Hubs asked K to tell him that next day how many children actually turned it in.  (Just out of wondering.)  I'm blessed to have a partner as involved in K's education as I am.  We tag team and it works.

K's teacher gives them timed tests each Thursday.  The timed tests are considered a test grade and she is having them graph their improvement.  On the first trial test, K got a 59.  The next week, when the grade was going to count, she had improved to 88.  This past week, she missed only one (and clonks herself on the noggin) and scored a 99.  They've been testing in multiplication, but they will be testing in addition and subtraction.  Division comes in the spring.  I told Hubs that by using these as tests, it beefs up the math score and does give a little extra padding if a test should slide like it did last year.

K loves her teachers.  I did write a note to the social studies teacher just asking if we can find out when tests are a few days in advance.  I ended up running into her in the hall and explained why.  I told her that K tends to be nervous if the time to study is terribly limited.  The night before just doesn't work for her.  I told her that if that is the case, she becomes horribly nervous and vomits.  :terribly concerned face:  "We don't want to do that!"  She was kind and thanked me for talking to her about it.  I explained that K thrives best when she is given a block of time to study and take information in.  I told her that seeing it once just doesn't work for her.  I'm so glad that I was able to speak with her and have her understand that I'm not helicoptering!

As for me, my husband sat me down and talked about some ways that some responsibilities could be lifted from me.  He volunteered to take dish duty back.  It is something that he has always done, but he has had the habit of letting things pile and it drove me absolutely batty.  I took the dish duty away from him in June.  When the craziness of life had me spinning circles in the driveway, he decided that he could help out with that.  We're all working together to keep the house tidy instead of having mom, Mistress of All Things Bailey's Leaf, be responsible for it all.  Last night, I got home from a female obligation party (home parties are the worst!) and the dishes were still there-- stacked (not staked for those of you who read earlier!) all over the counters and in both sinks.  I needed to get up this morning to make brownies for Hubs for an optional-mandatory work picnic and I needed to make apple crisp for the church picnic.  I told him that as soon as I changed, I would get the dishes done.  He was a little huffy at first, but when I explained that was the reason I stripped him of the dish duty was for this very reason.  I had baking to do the next morning and had no surface to work from, which was the problem before.  He felt bad.  The dishes were done, the sinks scoured, the counters found and a promise was made not to allow it to return.  Amen.

I have reconfigured the time I commit to PTA things.  Soon that will lift.  Until then, I will dedicate only a few days a week.  Unless we have special events, I am trying to keep my in-school work to Thursdays only.  I have talked to my 100 Book Challenge advisor and she is good with it.

If I have been tired early, I have gone to bed early.  I have resisted the urge to pop open another can of Coke just to keep up.  My child and my husband require me to be here and as one person-- not some crazy spinning thing.  I shall do that for them.

In the meantime, you'll hear from me probably once or twice a week.  It's okay.  I'll be with my people.