Tuesday, November 27, 2012

No surprise.

As soon as Hope hears her daddy's truck pull into the drive (and yes hear since we have no windows facing that direction), she begins running to the back door, hollering "CAKE CAKE!!"

Daddy doesn't bring home cake.  He brings home his I-Pad.  On his work I-Pad, is an app for Easy Bake Oven where you design, cook, and even eat your own cake.
Hope. is. addicted.

Barely two years old and has mastered the skills to navigate her way around the I-Pad, switching from game to game.  Usually with pants off, (because she usually has pants off 24/7), and one sock optional.  Santa, Mickey Mouse, and Elmo could parade in front of her and she would be none the wiser.  Cake is serious stuff, man.

So was it no surprise that yesterday at Kohl's, she very loudly yells "MOMMY, LOOK DADDY'S I-PAD!!!" as we pass a t-shirt with Angry Birds on it?  Nope.  No surprise at all.  They only surprise is that she called it Daddy's I-Pad for the first time instead of cake!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Chickens, basketball and a brickpile...what other way to celebrate Thanksgiving?!

This Thanksgiving took us to my brother's house in Rossville, IN. Just less than an hour away my girls found themselves taking in the cool air and getting their game on, on the basketball court. OK, so judging by the pictures, there really isn't room for smack talk when it comes to my girls and basketball. But hey, at least we know Hope's head can still take a good hard hit...from a ball that was shot by her cousin - nothing but net going through and bounced off the blond bombshell coming down. ;)

Happy Thanksgiving 2012!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beast Feast!

 Yesterday was the annual 1st Grade Beast Feast at Emma's school.  What a sight to be at!  They have been studying mammals along with native Indiana animals for the past two weeks.  Teachers asked that on Tuesday the kiddos dress up as an Indiana native animal for a parade around the school ending with a feast....(trail mix and fruit that was referred to as "animal nibbles").  I couldn't resist volunteering for this event and witness the student's excitement and creativity.
 Mrs. Fremion leads the parade as Indiana native, Mouse.

 I adore these elementary teachers!  Check out Mrs. Boggs....what a hoot! ;)  And how darling to see the third and fourth graders respect and honor these beast as they passed the hallways. 
 Her come some rabbits!.....are they multiplying between hallways?!?! 

 Time for a feast!

 Emma's first grade class.....a-dor-able.  So sweet, I just wanna spread 'em on a cracker.
Thank you Union Elementary for another day of making learning fun and eventful!  What a great celebration of our Indiana animals!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

28 months old and still fits.

Seriously Hope, stay outta my drawers.  hahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa  Can I get a "pipe it mommy!"?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The "housewife" blog that went viral.

The above description was used to describe a  recent post Not a typical blog entry.  Being a mom that is just trying her best to make sure lunches are packed, dinner is on, and my two year old doesn't let the dog out unnoticed, you can only imagine my shock when I saw over 10,200 (and still climbing) readers have opened my post.

Staying out of politics, and being a preaching mom that tells her children to not put anyone down, I broke my own rules.  Perhaps one of the many reasons I wrote and deleted it four times before sending, then waited hours before getting the nerve to hit publish.  Today I am humbled beyond imagination as I re-read the comments and hundreds of shares it got.

"....TRULY heartfelt reverence for "real" teachers . After reading this I felt uplifted and respected for the first the in a very long time."

"I have been so discouraged over the last four years that I wish every day that I could quit after 18 years. It does my heart good to read things like this blog! Thank you for the support!"

"Thank you for your words...as a public school teacher they give me hope..."

" Its uplifting to know that there are still people who value real education and truly put students first."

 "In the past four years, I have felt demeaned, belittled, and demoralized by our state's policies concerning education. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

" I am a teacher in Northwest Indiana and I want to thank you for this blog. It gives me hope..."

" your words here and more importantly, your thoughts and efforts in constructing them have helped bring a glorious result"

Reading words from strangers of the hope this "housewife blog" gave them melts my heart.  I am not the one to thank.  The ones that get demeaned and degraded, yet still stand in front of students with a smile deserve all the applaud.  I have made the choice to send my child to be in the care of  teachers, public educators, and a very special bus driver for seven hours a day....the thanks be to all of you.

Humbled.  Speechless.  Amazed.
Leave you with a couple pictures I took Monday as I volunteered in my daughter's school.  The first is of a long bulletin board covered in the most precious artwork I have ever seen.  Self portraits that when opened up have handwritten message from the artist stating what they want to be when they grow up.
There were all sorts of careers from doctors, veterinarians, astronauts, to princesses.  But the reoccurring profession was teaching.  Over a dozen wrote messages similar to the one below....
 "I want to be a fantastic teacher....I like to work with kids...I like to teach kids."  These artists are in first grade.  None of them said they wanted to be marketing director for a pharmaceutical company.  Of course, they want to be what they have experienced and what they know about.  I find it amazing that despite the bullying teachers have received in regards to their profession, they are still able to stand up in front of a classroom day after day and make these positive impressions on their students.

Wow.  What a week.  A plea for a few people to be informed and vote for people instead of a party, went way beyond it's expectations. (which by the way do we find it interesting that Ritz was originally a R and switched to D just to run? anyhow.....)  Thank you to EVERYONE that shared, commented and sent such heart warming messages to me.

And do you think I would really leave without giving a shout out for my #1 favorite first grader?  Check out her skills -
- and what does she want to be when she grows up?  An art teacher.  So blessed to know this still can come true now.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Not a typical blog entry.

There seems to be a pretty evident theme in my blogging.  But I'm feeling the urge to take a turn today and write on a different subject.  Being 100% out of my comfort zone, this comes deep from my heart and in the end has everything to do with my kids....so I guess you could say, I'll still be tagging Emma and Hope in this one.

Please don't stop reading just because I say the word election.  "Election." 
I couldn't be more tired of political shout outs any more than anyone else.  Admittedly, I never have been an active voter.  Voting in presidential elections, with usually a straight ticket, has been my pathetic record.  I am saddened and embarrassed.  This year, I am learning an informed vote can make a difference.  So putting all political parties aside....lets talk about people.

Dr. Tony Bennett is our current IN Superintendent of Schools.  He is up for re-election.  His opponent is Glenda Ritz.  I have caught wind of upset people in regards to the current served term of Dr. Bennett.  Having a child in the public schools and another on her way, this stopped me for a second to question what is really going on.  No better way to find out than to go directly to the source.

I resourced a wide variety of teachers - retired, soon to retire, young, experienced, elementary and secondary, from northern/southern/and eastern districts of the state.  Coming out of the teaching career before my kids were born, I understand there are teachers out there "for the summers", but I also know of teachers that are A+ and always put kids first.  (The kind that go above and beyond, after hours, spending their own money on classroom supplies, and do anything to get a kid to smile.)  These are the ones I highly respect and collected information from.  If you don't read the rest of the post, please talk to the respected teachers in your district and learn first hand the conditions of our classrooms. 

When asked about Dr. Bennett 9 out of 10 replied with one word - arrogant.  Can't argue with that, when I get totally separate emails from people that don't even know each other.  Red flag.  BIG red flag.

To continue, Dr. Bennett is testing our kids to death.  While testing and monitoring student growth, I feel is necessary for child improvement, there must be a line drawn.  Dr. Bennett has been testing, and will continue to test, our kids so much that many teachers say it is all they can do but just "teach to the test."  This is leaving VERY little room in the classroom for other teaching that is crucial to prepare students for the next level.  It leaves virtually no room for creativity in the classroom.  It is taking ALL our teachers time.  The paper trail is miles long.  Teachers are unable to do their job well due to the time commitment being forced upon them with testing.

These test are referred to as the Common Core Testing. 
Go in a classroom of 30 kids....find one thing that they all have in common and I'll erase this blog right now.  I think one of my favorite quotes from a high school FACS teacher is "I have a elephant, snake, and dolphin in my class.  Today's test is  - Go Climb A Tree."  How is that fair?

These test scores are being used to determine teacher accountability (and yes I do believe in some kind of teacher accountability).  But using these test scores to say whether or not our teachers are competent or  incompetent is absurd.  
Susie's mom is in the hospital with cancer, while Billy's family doesn't have electricity for a warm place to sleep, don't forget Jane that ate a candy bar for breakfast, and oh ya, Zak who could care less about school and never brings his pencil or books.  They all take the test.  Low scores.  So according to Dr. Bennett their teacher is incompetent.  I just might barf for a second.

Seriously, do we get to blame the dentist when our kid has a cavity?

If student test scores will be a determining factors in school ratings and teacher performance (I hate to imagine) is cheating far from around the corner?  That sure isn't a subject I'd like my child to learn.

Not long after Dr. Bennett was in office he was quoted, "the IPS (Indianapolis Public School) have low graduation rates because of incompetent teachers.  Unlike the schools in Carmel and Fishers where the teachers are better."  This makes me sick.  Switch the teachers for one year....then see if the shoe still fits buddy.

Teacher moral is way down.  Good teachers are retiring early and other are looking to move on.  I can't stand to hear that.  No one, in any job, does a good performance when they feel unsupported and degraded.  This is definitely not how I want my daughter's teacher to feel when she greets her classroom in the morning.

Just yesterday, I received a News Brief from my daughter's school sharing information regarding some of this new scoring.  Her school received an A.  It further went to share this information:
Union ISTEP English/Language Arts passage rate for grade three = 98.8%
Union ISTEP English/Language Arts passage rate for grade four = 96.1%
Union ISTEP Math passage rate for grade three = 97.5%
Union ISTEP Math passage rate for grade four = 96.1%
Union average attendance* rate for 2011-2012 school year = 97.3%
Union average attendance* rate for current school year-to-date = 97.98%
Union I-Read* (retention mandate test) passage rate for grade three = 95.3%
*These data are not included in the state’s A-F calculations. Further, performance data reflective of Union grades K-2 students’ successes are not included in the state’s A-F calculations. We heartily celebrate all of these successes as essential building blocks to student achievement and overall growth. State officials have not yet indicated the fate of the Four Star School recognition program.

Thanks Dr. Bennett for clearly stating that my first grader means nothing to you or how you grade her school.  It's nice to know you see her efforts as worthless.  [angry parent in room]

I mentioned we would talk people, and so far I seem to have only mentioned one.  So bring out the opponent Glenda Ritz.  Unlike Bennett, she IS encouraging more local power in the schools and the move to take less stress off of testing.  Bravo.  Bravo.  I can already hear a sigh of relief from my nervous test-taking daughter and her creative juices.

Is this a plea to try to get you to vote for someone just so my daughter doesn't have to sit through hours of testing everyday at school?  Nope.
It is a plea for you to understand you have the right to vote.  And you do not have to vote a straight ticket.
It is a plea for you to ask questions, talk to your kid's teachers and your grandkid's teachers, find out what is going on, find out the conditions of the classroom and make an informed vote for Indiana State Superintendent.  Make a difference.

Before my shaking knees fall off this soapbox, let me end with a fact found out today.  My children attend Zionsville Community Schools.  The ZCS high school graduation rate is 97.4% and is the 2nd highest in the state for large public high schools.  That's pretty impressive news.  I could sit back with these statistics and say "my daughter loves school....she does very well....what's to worry...we've got it made."
Nope, that would put me right back into my old voting ways....and that didn't seem to turn out so good four years ago, now did it?

A big thank you to the teachers, school officials, and administrators that continue to hold heads high and make things work.  Your efforts are not overlooked.  You are important.  You do make a difference.  I am forever grateful.
Thank you to involved parents.  Involvement from the mom/dad that volunteers every second, to the mom/dad that simply reads a book to their child every night.  Your efforts are never overlooked from those in the front of the classroom.

Shew.  If you made it through and read it all - kudos.  I hope you aren't as tired as I am! ;)

tRicK - oR - tReaT

It was a cold evening, but that never spoils the fun. We had a witch and a cow cruising the territory this year. Emma and I had much fun making her witchy skirt and broom, while Hope stayed cozy in the hand-me-down cow outfit that her big sister wore five years ago. Priceless these two.

Some people like to spoil my kids as if they are of the highest royalty.  Not mentioning any names, but they do seem to be pretty cool neighbors despite their opinions of IU. ;)

These batch of cousins made for a fun stop.  And a warm one too since we hung inside the whole time!

Neighbors!  I won't tell you which witch is the wicked witch of the west and which witch lives in the east.  (say that five times fast!)
Chiseling off the green face.  Perhaps next time, poster paint isn't exactly the best option.  Nah, she loved it.

Thanks to all our neighbors, family, and treat-ers!!!  It was a fun and frightful evening!