Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blog ranting...

By sheer nature, I tend to a person that with strong opinions that is willing to speak my mind. With that said, I also try to be aware of the havoc that personality trait can cause on others, and attempt to temper it with good listening skills and make an effort to think about things before I speak. The result is that sometimes by the time I have thought through my response on an issue, I have worked myself into a real frenzy and the recipient of my opinion gets a REAL earful. In this particular case, I'm going to blog my "earful", as there really isn't anyone in particular at which to direct my frustration. So here's the deal--take it or leave it!

Our school district has, in my opinion, a really fantastic elementary school. The administration has taken huge strides to spend money wisely to keep class sizes small, teacher competence is through the roof, and parent involvement is good (at least up until about Grade 5 or so). I could go on and on about all the terrific programs offered in our primary grades. So my hat is off to our elementary and they are specifically excluded from my about-to-be-rant. 'Nuff said.

Our high school sucks. The female students seem to do okay. The boys are a nightmare. Drug use is rampant, parent involvement is very poor overall, and our student population is comprised of far-too-many losers. Well........guess what? I've got a freshman son, and a son entering Jr. High. Just peachy! Not the greatest environment! However, we have been well aware of the issues at hand, and have stayed put for several reasons. First, we feel strongly that the teaching staff in the school is very, very good. They aren't the problem, and we feel that our children can get a good education at our school, and yes, education is a priority in our family, as opposed to athletics alone. Second, we don't feel that the correct answer is to "run" from your problems. We feel strongly that it is a more important life lesson to teach our children that you deal with life's problems with integrity and honesty, and face them head-on. So........we have chosen to stay put rather than "choice out" to one of our neighboring districts. (By the way, we also feel strongly that our neighboring districts also have many of the same problems--they are simply hiding their problems a bit better at the present time.)

So, Mike and I have attended the last two school board meetings, voiced our concerns, and have felt like we have been treated with great respect. We have been the ONLY parents in attendance over these specific issues, which is somewhat expected, but still appalling. Our school board is willing to take action, and are in the process of making some big decisions. Honestly, I'm not sure of the outcome, but I give them credit for their willingness to try to find solutions rather than just agonize over the problems.

But this evening was a student-athlete meeting at the school, and I was the only mother in attendance for a football player. By far, most of the kids had attended alone without ANY parent, despite the fact that the letter sent home had requested parent attendance. I found myself feeling like the oddball, even while my brain says that I BELONGED there. What more important thing could I possibly do on a Sunday evening than attend a meeting that explains my sons' extracurricular activity for the next 10 weeks!!!!???!!! This is important to my children, and therefore, is important to me!!!

So........I'm left with a feeling of frustration and anger for those parents that can't be bothered. Will they be able to be bothered to pay attention when their child is arrested for drug use? Or when their child doesn't graduate from high school?

Really ticks me off..........Part of me wants to say that its going to serve the parents right when their children fail, but I don't really feel that way at all. For what I see happening is parents failing their children.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

School countdown (and some mischief!)

Yesterday, our Day Care was closed for a staff training day, so since the girls were home (which means NO appraisal work will be accomplished), I scheduled the day off in my schedule and ran away for the day with my kids. :) We loaded up in the suburban with my Mom and headed an hour south for a picnic and a great day on the shore of a lake. Mike surprised us by meeting us there, and we all enjoyed some time in the sun. With football starting next week, and school starting right after Labor Day, these opportunities are slipping away. And, as much as I hate to admit it, it is always heavy on my mind that the boys are nearing an age where summer jobs and other commitments are going to encroach. So.........whenever I can, I'm going to enjoy a leisurely family picnic together!!

As always, Jennica managed to slip some mischief into the day. On the way home, we stopped for pizza at a well-known local restaurant. She had finished eating and was beginning to wander the restaurant a bit. It is one of those places that feels somewhat like a cafeteria, and it wasn't a big deal to have her circling our table, but her circles kept getting larger, while we boxed up our leftovers and prepared to leave. Suddenly, Jennica was at our table with a large piece of watermelon! She was happily munching away, while Mike and I scolded her for raiding the salad bar.

When we got out to the parking lot, I noticed that Dane and my Mom are both laughing hysterically. They finally explain that, as we were all trudging out of the restaurant, they took a gander at the salad bar and there was NO watermelon anywhere at the salad bar. I am less than amused at this point, and Jennica is still happily munching her watermelon. The following conversation proceeded while I'm buckling her into her carseat:

Me: "Jennica! Where did you get that watermelon??!!!???"
Jennica (very matter-of factly while still munching): "From the man in the black hat."
Me: "WHAT man in the black hat?"
Jennica: "The man back there in that place." (Still chewing away.)

I didn't see any man in a black hat. My Mom is laughing again and Grant is beginning to join in the hysterics also. They're definitely NOT helping.......

Me: "Jennica.........Did the man GIVE you the watermelon? Or did you just take the watermelon?"
Jennica: "I taked it." She's pretty much down to the rind now, and hands me the juicy chunk of green for disposal. UGH!

At this point, I contemplated going back into the restaurant to look for a man in a black hat and apologize for my daughter stealing a piece of watermelon from him. But then again, what would be the point? So we left. I know there were a few birthday parties going on around us, so I hope that she just non-chalantly lifted a piece of a loaded plate of watermelon at one of the parties, rather than swiping a piece of fruit off of some singular person's plate!!!

To the man in the black hat, whoever you are..............I apologize. My daughter is a very cute 4-year-old with no manners. We're working on it. What else can I say? SHEESH!!!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A week of vacation...

I have returned to "normal life" following a great week of vacation camping with Mike & the four kids in the Cascades. It was surprisingly relaxing.........a real testament to the fact that the girls are growing up and getting easier. We accomplished some serious "nothing-ness", which was exactly our goal.

I'm posting some fun photos of the kids being kids!