Monthly Archives: March 2010

Unexplained Ice Cream Pangs

It's spring break. 
Translation: the older siblings of children in my care, who are normally in school, are at my house. All day.
After lunch, when the little ones were laying down, the older ones begged to skip nap. They promised to get their drinks and go potty and etc, etc, first, and agreed that if they came in, even one time they would have to take a nap like everyone else. Swore up and down that there would be no in/out horseplay with the door. 
So when they start knocking, half an hour later, I assume there must be a significant emergency. 
"Can we have ice cream?"

I have never, EVER, given these kids ice cream. I don't even have ice cream. 
Not the brightest crayons in the box, I'm telling you. 

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Ran Across This Quote Today

"Women are angels. And even when somebody breaks our wings, we continue to fly…on a broomstick. We're flexible like that."
To whoever penned (or pecked out) those words: cheers, and here's to humor in dark places!

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The Other Washington

Some time ago, I told emjay I would take a walk around my neighborhood and post some pictures of the other Washington. 
And since my biggest gripe about an exercise program is the utter yawn factor, I decided to take my camera out yesterday and walk until I found something to smile about–something to share. I wasn't terribly optimistic–after all, we live on 
and it's not a terribly happening place. 
But walk I did. I spared you the shots of sagebrush and tried to focus on blooming things. My favorite–the weeping willows, shot straight up:
There was this house, which always makes me smile, if only because the owners, all aesthetics aside, cannot seem to resist adding on (and on, and on…)

Of course, in a desert, I suppose there's a certain amount of desperation to use your land in any other way except for planting vegetation which will need water.
Then there was this car, which if nothing else, makes my teenagers smile:

Along those same lines, one of my neighbors missed her home town enough that she actually purchased, from the city of Portland, two of their lampposts.  There are apparently some things you can take with you:
The things that really made me smile, however, I wasn't brave enough to take a picture of: 
The man with two garden shovels and a large cooler into which he was attempting to deposit the, well, deposits of the six little yapping canines who were running around his yard. Thank heaven that man has a fence. And keeps his animals in it.
The elderly neighbor who appeared to be spritzing his daffodils with  . . . Windex . . .??? 
The man wearing a shower cap and riding a Harley. I'm kidding. It just looked like a shower cap. It was a helmet. Of sorts. 
You notice they were all men; I think the women were indoors making dinner. I'd put mine in the oven and set the really loud, obnoxious and unrelenting timer for the children. You can't be Betty Crocker every day, non?
I did end up coming across this small, inventive female, however, and she did make me smile–if only because when I pulled out my camera to capture the unique amusement she had devised for herself, she began peddling away fast and furious and casting dark, suspicious glances over her shoulder. She knows my children, but probably thought I was some kind of predator:

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Sticker Shock

All this talk about health insurance got me curious as to how much it would cost to insure my entire family for basic doctor visits, immunizations, a reasonable prescription benefit, etc., so I sat down and figured out my least expensive option in the state of Washington. 
$57,600 annually. I base that on what I pay for my own health insurance as a self-employed person, times 8 to cover the other seven people who we don't buy insurance for. (Well, we do for my husband, but it's major medical, and it's a joke, even at $83/month.)
You see why Americans want healthcare reform. You see why so many are uninsured.
57,600 dollars a year. 
Who can afford that?
And yet this new bill that passed doesn't sound right, either. The whole medical/insurance/political industry is rotten on some level that I cannot identify…
If only because Pelosi is happily comparing the new healthcare bill to the Social Security program, which we all know is bankrupt and probably won't be around when I retire.
Yippeeee! I get to pay into yet another failing program!
You know what scares me? In 2014, my government is going to mandate that I buy that insurance to cover my entire family, and they assure me that it isn't going to cost $57,600 a year, and that it will cover what it needs to cover and that I won't be paying for the pedophiles' viagra pill or some career woman's abortion, but we all know how well the gov't keeps its promises don't we? Just ask the natives.
What if I don't want to buy insurance to cover my entire family or what if I want to buy different insurance than what they offer? What if I would rather put that $57600 in a savings account every year and cross my fingers? Isn't that as much an inalienable "right" as healthcare?
And what next? Will life insurance be mandated? Because burying people is better than letting them rot in the streets, right? So we better make sure that everyone can afford to be buried. And maybe we should require that everyone prepay for  their children's college educations, too, I don't know. 
I understand that something needs to be done about the skyrocketing costs of medical care, I do. 
But I'm really feeling uncomfortable about what we've done so far…

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Three Point One Four…

Was informed yesterday that my son won the pie contest at lunch. 
Make that pi.
As in memorizing the most digits. 
So I asked him about it when he got home.
He memorized the first half or so last week and the rest at lunch yesterday.
I can't even recite the names of my own children in order most of the time.
Suddenly I realized that this is the kid who seem to knows all the passwords and digits to library cards and random wireless networks and things no person in his right mind does anything with except write down in a safe place.
He doesn't have them written down; he can recite the first 80 digits of pi. 
Isn't that a symptom of autism or something?

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I keep reading about funding cuts and teacher shortages and problems with the budget. I read blogs written by bewildered, frustrated, overworked teachers. I hear horror stories about bullies on the bus and teacher misconduct from my own children.
Someone told me yesterday that Illinois is pushing for a 4 day school week to save on gasoline. 
Clearly we have problems, and although I understand the frustration that brings parents to home school their children, there is something in me that resists–something that whispers, Cheater! Sure, save your own kids. What about all the rest?

Their peers–the ones they will attend college with employ and be employed by–these people will be a product of the current system and if the system is so bad that I won't trust my own children to it, then how can I sit silently by and watch it sweep away an entire generation?
Two possibilities exist: 
Possibility #1: It isn't as bad as it seems:
I taught high school last Friday. My daughter's teacher went to see her son off to Iraq and needed a substitute. I have always thought I'd like to teach the older grades and so I made arrangements with all the families to whom I provide childcare and tested the waters with four hours in an honest to goodness high school classroom.
Okay, so it wasn't your typical classroom. I was teaching seminary; probably a lot of "troubled" teens aren't interested in what the Bible says about adversity in our lives. 
But they were public high school students. And they were polite, respectful and engaged; in one class we ran out of time for all they wanted to discuss. And after each class, they came up in pairs or all alone and said thank you. 
Are all 158 of these students enrolled in the Moses Lake seminary program truly so abnormal or are the horror stories we hear–like the couple caught doing it on the cafeteria stairs last semester–are those the minority?
Possibility #2: It is as bad as it seems:
Let's say those 158 students are extraordinary, that the rest of the students are hell-bent on ruining their lives and the lives of those who teach them and America is on the fast track to disaster when this generation gets their hands on the reins of power.
Then explain to me the difference. 
Explain to me why a class about ancient history and how it relates to our lives is the highlight of these students' day, every day.
It isn't the length of the class–90 minutes, same as all the others. It isn't that that the material or attendance policy or discipline is less demanding–if anything, it is probably more so. The class fills no graduation requirement that brings students there. The teacher isn't paid, so she's not there for a paycheck. 
Could the difference be nothing more or less than that (for whatever reason) they want to be there?
And can that possibility translate into something helpful for the public school system at large? Aside from permitting children just attend the classes they want to attend, of course–unless we could induce them to understand that taking chemistry really is in their best interest. 
But then again, maybe it isn't, you know? Not for every kid.
What would happen if we no longer defined a high school education as a list of compulsory credits and standardized test scores? 
I know, I know. It sounds terrifying. I can imagine the truly educated aristocracy that might evolve and the students who would fall through the cracks and a million other problems.
I just cringe when I hear the horror stories and I think maybe I'm completely out of my mind to pursue this teaching degree I'm signed up for. But then the naive little imp at my core says, But what if….? 

What if students could want to show up to school every day? What if we could crack the problems that besiege our public education system as it now exists? What if we really could change things?
I know, all the veteran teachers reading this are shaking their heads and smirking. 
But it has to be possible; I refuse to believe the problems are beyond repair or worse yet, inherent in the genetic code of the rising generation.
And if the problems are a result of the children themselves, then our generation is to blame. You and me. And it's up to us to do something about it, isn't it?
How can I not
(And where do I come up with the tuition…?)

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Lost and Confused

It's been one of those weeks with an important deadline, appointment or  assignment due every day; one of those weeks you take a deep breath, pick up your skirts and run like the devil's chasing you clear through the finish line.
It was so exhausting I can't even write about it. 
This morning, standing in the shower, I was seized with a sudden panic. I remembered an important appointment I had forgotten. One of those appointments you plan months ahead for. Oh no! I didn't go! What was I doing that I could have possibly forgotten?

And as I went through the week in my head, trying to remember what I had done, instead of keeping this appointment, I remembered. 
Oh…yeah… I did go. Spent almost an hour there and learned some fascinating things. How did I forget that?
I'm losing it, I tell you. (And no, that's not what I learned, thank you very much–that came later.)
On Friday my husband offered to run an errand for me, which I gladly agreed to. And then spent forty-five minutes looking for the slip of paper he needed. 
Only to realize I'd already done it. 
Or maybe I hadn't. 
I only knew I'd intended to, at some point, and moved the paper. 
He asked me if it was in my coat pocket. I told him I didn't wear a coat. After looking even longer–mad, house tearing apart looking–I repeated again that I was certain I didn't wear a coat.
It was,however, in the pocket of the coat I carried
This morning it was the turkey roaster. Looked in every cupboard, on every shelf of every room that was possibly big enough to hold a pan of that size–and probably quite a few that weren't. 
Found it an hour later in plain sight on the pot rack over my kitchen island. After I'd already roused a neighbor out of bed to bring me hers. (I shared turkey dinner with her in return and confessed my insanity, so she'll probably forgive, but still.)

Here's to hoping my head really is screwed on straight. I'd hate to go looking for it.

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When the Ceiling is Not an Option

"Kimber, why are you carrying that painting around?" 
"I'm trying to figure out where I should put it."
"Aren't you going to hang it up?"
"Uh-huh. I just don't I don't know where yet."
"Well," the child says, rolling her eyes as only a six-year-old diva can roll 'em, "You can't hang it on the ceiling, so you're going to have to use a wall."

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The Crayola Secret

It appears that I am already the mother of generations. Plural. 
Yup. Technically, Generation Y ended after my oldest three were born, and before my youngest three. 
Generation Z, to which they belong, doesn't make many headlines, but Generation Y has gotten a lot of bad press, hasn't it?
I just want my objection to go on record here.
I teach a class of more than twenty 12 and 13 year olds every week and they are amazing girls; I have three teens of my own, and yeah, sometimes they don't pick up their socks but really, given the opportunity, they consistently prove their mettle. 
It was our family's turn to clean the church on Saturday morning and lest you are imagining up a little one-room, clapboard church, let me explain that our church has over 500 linear feet of upholstered benches, a full sized gymnasium and stage, an industrial-sized kitchen, six bathrooms, a dozen or so offices, three large children's rooms, a couple dozen classrooms, a library, an employment and resume center–need I go on? It's big. And the vacuums don't necessarily all suck–and I'm using that in my generation's sense of the word. I should have taken my Dyson.
Anyway, on Saturday morning I roused the sleeping forms of my children. Early. Teens. On a weekend. And you know what? Yeah, they pretended not to hear me the first few times I called out the old rise and shine routine, but they got up and they got in the van, and not one teenager complained. Not on the way, and not during the cleaning.
Headline that on MSN. 
You wouldn't believe how they took the initiative, even for distasteful or difficult tasks. My daughter was vacuuming pews and polishing water fountains, the little ones were emptying garbages, dusting and organizing hymn books and when the elderly Sister in charge informed me that she had set my oldest son to mopping the bathroom floors you should have seen the size of my smile–this is not something I would have asked him to do–especially not the women's bathrooms!  I would have automatically taken that upon myself. But she asked him to do it, and he did. No complaints.  
And when I came home at dinner time after a long day of grocery shopping (in a town large enough to shop in, and thus far away from here) my daughter had cleaned my entire house. After giving up her Saturday morning to clean the church. And we're talking a week's worth of laundry for eight people not only washed, dried and folded, but put away; floors swept, freezer organized–the child even cleaned all the crayon off my front door outside. Have you ever tried to wash crayon off an exterior door? And do you know how much better my entire front porch looks sans crayon?
These are the days a mother thinks maybe I'm not a complete and utter failure after all… even when we know that we can't necessarily take any credit for the good.  Just breathe deep and thank God for making up the difference where our parenting skills fell short. 
So maybe hesitate the next time you want to gripe about the rising generation. They're good kids. They like to have fun and they don't always think every action through sometimes, but they are trying. And they know the secret to getting Crayola off the door. We ought to cut 'em some slack just for that, don't you think?

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Happy Belated B-day…To Me…

I'm not a home decorator type–mostly because I've always been too broke to decorate. And for the most part I like clean lines and uncluttered surfaces. 

But today I walked into a store and found this painting that I just could not walk away from. 

The photo doesn't do the picture or the frame justice. It's huge.
Now I just have to figure out where to hang it because propped up in the corner probably isn't the safest locale…

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