Archive | February, 2008

I’m Back

28 Feb

Finally. So much for my 365 posts! Ha ha ha. I’m not even going to try to make this one up. My best friend just had back surgery – she’s doing great – and my husband started to take over the laptop. But I’ve finally got it back.

During this hiatus I’ve come to realize that this blog has become more of an emotional outlet instead of the educational resource that I want it to be. So, I’m starting another blog, One Crazy Kat to be used as more for my thoughts and ideas. This way I can start to redirect P&E back where I want it to be.

This also gives me a chance to try out wordpress, which I have been wanting to do for some time now. If I like it, I will probably be switching this one over.

Tax Returns!

15 Feb

We got our tax returns today. Hooray! We are in desperate need of new tires. So we trekked down to the local big box store. (Yes, we still shop there. Unfortunately for us there are not a lot of options in our area). We normally go to an independent tire dealer. Honey’s been going to him forever. But he died a couple of years ago and the son sold the business. Well, we had some household shopping to do today, so we thought “why not throw some rocks at birds” and get it all done in one trip. We signed up for an oil change and four new tires. We even upgraded to the premium oil change so we could get Penzoil instead of store-brand oil. Well, they wouldn’t change our tires. They broke off one of the lug nuts and tried to say it was like that (it wasn’t) and then their policy is they can’t remove a broken lug nut. Okay, fine, we’ll go somewhere else. Just give us our car back. But they had already changed the oil. And you know what-it was the economy service instead of the premium service. So instead of the $500 we were planning on spending they only got $25. Man, we were trying so hard to give them our money – they just didn’t want it.

50 Rules Kids Won’t Learn in School by Charles J. Sykes

14 Feb

Just finished this book. What a whopper. It was a very quick read and very witty with a lot of insight. It can come across as harsh if you are a touchy-feely kind of person. But if you are like me, and very aware that reality indeed bites, this book is a welcome reminder that it is okay that life sucks sometimes. Get over it and get on with your life because that is what really matters. This book doesn’t slap you in the face; instead it just points out the realities of life in very plain language. I plan on having Pork Chop read it. He’s going to officially become a teenager this year. We are already getting some of that back talk and sullenness. Nothing wrong with trying to nip that bad habit in the bud.

Buy this book at Amazon.com

Dating Services in Middle School

13 Feb

The middle school in our district is hosting a “data match” service. I was a little confused at first because my son came home and told me that the school had a dating service going on this week. “You know mom, like those eHarmony commercials.” So I went to the school to find out more. They laughed at me when I mentioned “dating service”, but see for yourself. Sounds like a dating service to me. Here is a copy of the letter they sent home to parents.

Dear Parents:

Team 7B is conducting a fun, spirit-building activity that will help us raise funds for school. Data-Match is a program that allows students to fill out a questionnaire about themselves with questions such as:

  • If I were a crayon, I would be…
  • My favorite subject is…
  • If I had a superpower it would be…


After students have answered the questionnaires (filled in the “Data”), the forms are shipped to the Data-Match company who will then compile the results and formulate a personal list of students (regardless of gender) for each student who participated. This means boys and girls will appear on anyone’s list as compatible buddies. It will display 15 students at CMS who answered their questionnaires similarly. Students then have the option of purchasing their list for only $2.00.

As middle school students are entering a new phase of life, this is great way to learn that many different types of people can make good friends. It’s an interesting way for students to learn that friendships and commonalities can cross differences that may exist among us. Students are not required to purchase their list, but if they choose to fill out the questionnaire, they are encouraged to.

Please note that no personal information is sold or published in any way through the use of this fundraiser. If, however, you prefer that your child not participate in this fundraiser, please instruct him or her not to complete a questionnaire.

We look forward to a rewarding experience where everyone can learn a little bit about themselves and others, and raise money for our students in the meantime!

Keep in mind that this is also taking place this week – Valentine’s Day week. Pork Chop tells me that a lot of girls are hanging around the “spot”. It doesn’t really matter if they give a list of both boy and girl names. The concept and format is still that of a dating service – and the kids know it. What really concerns me is that the faculty and staff don’t seem to realize this.

There are a lot of things about this “fundraiser” that I don’t understand. How does it raise spirit? How does this teach kids how to make friends? This sounds like a bunch of BS to me.

Moms

12 Feb

I have been missing my mom. She’s not dead; we’re just not talking any more. See, my dad is a sexual pervert. He molested me when I was a child (and I just found out, my aunt-his sister), made attempts on my oldest son, and is just creepy around my oldest daughter. For the sake of my mother and my kids I tried to maintain a relationship with them. But a couple of years ago, something came to light and I just had to draw the line. I love my mom, but I won’t knowingly put my kids in danger. So I told her that dad was no longer allowed to be around the kids. But please mom, come here and visit them. She has not. Instead we no longer even talk on the phone, and if we do she just babbles about her quilting group, and what she and dad have done. She never asks about the kids any more. We saw them briefly at Christmas when they dropped off gifts, and she called me about going to Grandma’s birthday party in January. That’s it. It’s been very hard for me and I am so disappointed in my mom. I don’t have many girl friends because I’m not much of a girly-girl and I don’t like to gossip or shop. My best girl friend works a lot (she has no family so has immersed herself in work) so can be hard to reach at times. I have a great husband. But sometimes I need to talk to someone else (especially when I want to complain about my husband!)

Sometimes I think about mom and her family. She married my dad and left Japan, never to look back. She never saw her mother again and only went back for the funeral. She told me later that she married dad to get away. She never saw her family again and it’s looking like I’m never going to see mine. How does something like this happen? I don’t want this trend to continue with my kids. I want to have a relationship with my kids until I die or the world comes to an end. I work very hard at establishing a lasting relationship. I do worry sometimes that I might be working too hard at it. I don’t want to be a freaky control mom either. Sigh.

Okay. Enough whining. On with life…

Arts Versus Crafts

11 Feb

Summer from Mom Is Teaching posted an interesting discussion about crafts. As a former public school art teacher with a BFA degree, this really struck a cord with me. Through all my art training, and even my art education training, crafts were poo-pooed as beneath any sensible and serious artist’s dignity. Crafts are a “lower” art form, and should not even be considered art at all. Okay, we’re talking about children here, and this is just too much snobbery for me (and I’ve got an art degree and collections in universities). Really. Who cares if someone wants to do crafts. I think we should support each other’s need (and attempts) for creativity. (I guess that’s why I never made it big in the “art world”).

The problem with “fine” art is that it has become so far removed from everybody’s everyday understanding. Isn’t that what made the Impressionists so important? They touched on things that “normal” people could understand-light and life. Art is important, and it makes me angry to see the segregation. Everybody should be able to enjoy art, but most of the art world shows such scathing disdain for the rest of the world; they hold themselves apart and think themselves superior. It’s totally maddening.

Now, with that said, I do hold to some important concepts. The most important thing to understand is that making crafts does not necessarily mean that you are learning or teaching about ART. If you are using paints and other art materials to illustrate something you have learned about the Civil War, you are learning about the Civil War and not art-you are just using art materials. If, while creating that illustration you learn about the concept of perspective and color theory, then you have a lesson on art.

It’s a fine line, but an important distinction. If you want to make crafts – craft away. But it’s not an art lesson unless you are learning about specific art concepts.

Listening for God

10 Feb

How do you know if the voice in your head is your own mindless chatter, your conscience, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, God, or are you just plain crazy? It is a common mandate to listen to God’s calling, but my question has always been, how do you know? Then comes the whole “finding your purpose”. Ack! I’m still looking! Why is this so hard? Greg brought up Psalm 45:9 as a reference to the smell of Jesus. This is an interesting thought. Your sense of smell is powerful and important. I’m going to try smelling while I’m listening. Sounds kind of weird, but if I pay more attention to all my senses, maybe I’ll make more sense of my world.

Something’s Rotten: Update

8 Feb

Honey called the The Recovery Group today to talk to them about last night’s incident. Turns out they really are just a bunch of jerks. They blew him off with a “that’s how this business works” nonsense. Really. They have the right to harass innocent people and disrupt their peace. They have a right to behave illegally? Bollocks. They told Honey there was no need to report to the police because they were not actually collecting anything last night. Really? That’s why the jerk showed up in a tow truck peacocking around our property and blazed the minute the police showed up. This kind of crap really irks me. This is how they do business? I hope they have good insurance (or do I?) because one day they are going to get sued or get the crap beaten out of them. At this point, I’m not sure which one I would prefer. I’m just thankful that it wasn’t Honey doing the beating. He can get pretty feisty. I’m usually the pacifist; but in this case I might have been there egging him on.

Something’s Rotten

7 Feb

We had a bit of excitement today at dinner time.

A stranger came up to our front door shined a flashlight through the window and rang the door bell. He asked for someone who didn’t live around here, but who had the same last name as I do (we have multiple last names at this house). He was driving an unmarked black tow truck. He claimed to be from a recovery service. He started to take down our license plate number and other information off our van that was parked in the street. Honey tried to get some information from him but was rudely rebuffed.

We own our van. Payed cash for it and have the title locked in a safe. Couldn’t he have noticed that our van was not the vehicle he was looking for? Shouldn’t he have had a description of the make, model, and color as well as the license plate number?

This man stayed parked in front of our house with his tow truck running. So we called the police and took down what information we could from his tow truck. Now, we only live a block away from the police station, but it seemed to take forever. But here’s the funny thing. When the police car was coming down the street the guy shouted out the window while he sped off, “Tell them to look for a black truck; they know who I am.” Luckily the cop stopped him at the corner.

Something felt fishy. We’ve had experience with repo men before. The last time they were very nice, gave us the name of the company they worked for, what items they were claiming, and who they were claiming the items for. And here’s something that you may not know, repossessors are required by law to stop at the police department first and give detailed information about what they plan to do. There was no record at the police department that this guy had any right to be here. The police officer told us that if he shows up again he will be arrested.

We looked up the information from the tow truck. After some searching (we had to do a USDOT registration search) we finally found out that the truck belongs to The Recovery Group. Let us hope that this is just some rogue employee trying to score. I’d hate to think that this is how this repo company operates. We will be calling them in the morning.

Needless to say, it was a bit scary and the kids got all worried and excited about it. After dinner they all camped by the front window with their flashlights “keeping watch for that black truck”. I guess I should be glad that they are not afraid to protect themselves.

So, word of warning out there. These guys don’t have the right to do whatever they want. This could have been some guy using a tow truck to scare people in a poor neighborhood into thinking he had the right to take their vehicle.

2008 Resolutions

6 Feb

All right, I know that it is February and that most people make their resolutions on the first day of the year. I don’t normally make resolutions because I thought they were silly. What was the point of making a resolution that wouldn’t be kept.

But I started thinking about it a different way. If I am a work in progress, then the point is to continually strive for self-improvement. Sometimes I fail; but I get up and try again. That is why I have decided to make my resolutions this year. Maybe this will be the start of a new me.

I decided to make my resolutions very specific and detailed, included time frames where I thought they were needed. I also made them in 5 different categories (based on the recommendations from Early To Rise.

My Goals for 2008

 

Health

Improve diet

  • Eliminate synthetics from my diet (including MSG, corn syrup, and preservatives)

  • Reduce or eliminate processed carbohydrates

  • Increase amount of all natural and organic foods and grass-fed/free range meats

Exercise daily

  • Step 1 – Stretch daily

  • Step 2 – Strength training 3X week

  • Step 3 – Interval training 3X week

Wealth

Increase income

  • Get interview for better paying job

  • Develop websites for income generating potential

  • ~~Blankets 4 Babies (active site by April 13th)

    1. Write copy and plan layout

    2. Implement design

    3. email registration and donation link

    4. develop support materials

    5. gifts for donors and to purchase available on site

    6. make contacts w/ other agencies to distribute blankets and support materials

  • ~~Everyday Parent

  • Complete Shamus McChan’s business plan to approach lenders

Pay off debts

  • Grandma Helen

  • Song’s Martial Arts

  • bills

Personal Development

  • Learn Spanish (be able to hold a 5 minute conversation in Spanish w/ native speaker)

  • Study 15minutes daily using Rosetta Stone

  • Learn how to knit (make a sweater)

  • Write daily in P&E blog (365 posts)

Social Development

  • Look everyone I encounter in the eye

  • Through B4B, support other young mothers in need