Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hard school year

This school year has been a tough one for Rebecca and I. A tremendous amount of effort from many sources went into her education after she was finally evaluated and it was agreed she has some learning disabilities. She spent the entire year being pulled out of class for 1/2 hr of math and 1/2 hr of reading every day designed for kids with learning problems. Sometimes that meant she missed things she wanted to do. It was a lot of work. Then she entered a program on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for an additional hour of math.
This from last year where she was excelling at math. Very frustrating. Turns out when math moves from counting to memorizing Rebecca is lost. The numbers seem to be coming from nowhere.
Here's the thing. I feel that 6 hrs. of school is enough. Then to have even more in the form of an additional class after school is pushing it. But then homework on top of it? Are you kidding?
Rebecca did catch up in her reading but the math is a project for the summer in the form of 3 different home programs, multiplication to music, and tutoring.
So this brings me to my point: I lost it with her teacher last Friday. Completely. Rebecca got into the car devastated again. Feeling like she can't meet the expectation. Again.
Gripping my steering wheel and clenching my jaw I dropped off the carpool of kids with a friendly, "Hurry up and get out!" and then tore off back to the school.
In my mind I made a choice. Either I waited until I calmed down and probably would never say anything, or I just went in now and lay it all out on the table. Obviously I chose the first.

Though I said a lot of things there were some key issues I had--

1) No one can expect every child to be able to accomplish the same thing as every other child. This no child left behind thing is crap. Incentives and prizes were great for my first two children who did their assignments with little brain effort. I never thought about the poor unfortunates who worked their butts off and still couldn't meet the expectation--until now, when it is my daughter. And it is not fair. I don't care that life is not fair. She is my daughter and until you are a mother who has watched your child's happy image of herself slowly be chipped away by every failed attempt to meet an expectation she cannot possibly understand. DO NOT TELL ME ABOUT LIFE BEING UNFAIR. I get it.

2)What is the point,exactly, of learning about how many liters is in four gallons? What about an isosceles triangle? Does this really apply to everyday life? Before she can properly read is it important that she know what a synonym, antonym, prefix and suffix is? Why does she need to know this in 3rd grade? Why am I having to rack my brain or search the internet to help my child do her 3rd grade homework? Did I mention I got all A's in my English classes I took last year at BYU? Who came up with these requirements? Does the public system know there is no such thing a well-rounded curriculum? That in California you build missions from sugar cubes, the same way that Texan children build the Alamo, or Alaskan children build igloos? Is is really important for cognitive development to build something from sugar cubes?

3) This is the most important thing. If nothing else. If no change whatsoever occurs and the halls of Art City Elementary are filled with the whispers about that ranting, crying, mess of a mother who came in and flipped out the other day knowing there were only 3 1/2 days of school left. Just remember that my daughter knows I thought she was shortchanged and I fought for her. And in the end that is really all that is going to make a difference for Rebecca. Not that I believe in fighting all of the battles my kids are going to face. I've never done anything like this before. Ever. But everyone has their limits and Rebecca needed to know it was not ok with me and I thought she worked really hard.

After I came home the kids just looked at me with wide eyes.
Then Peter, who was loading the car up for Fathers and Sons camp-out came up to pat my shoulder and walked away. Smart man.
Sarah had a friend over for a sleepover and Rebecca and I left to celebrate her school year. I gave her the brand new baby doll I bought at a yard sale where the lady finally threw in one of her homemade outfits to sweeten the deal and Rebecca was thrilled.
Then we went to Red Lobster, her favorite restaurant. The manager set her baby doll up in a high chair while we ate lobster/artichoke dip and ordered the biggest platter of seafood with the lobster tail, crab legs, and two types of shrimp. Then we ate it all. Rebecca said she wished she would never get full. We talked about how dad and I met and how he asked me to marry him. We talked about when she was a baby and about how hard she was as a toddler and how great she is now.
I did not send her to the two hour long awards ceremony on Monday where she would not receive an award. We stayed home instead. I cleaned while she watched movies and played outside. Safe from a damaging day of wondering where she messed up.
Am I sheltering my child?
You bet.

John's Preschool Graduation

Face of the boy who brings joy and variety into our lives.

Miss Peggy's Preschool graduates 2010

I want John to marry this girl in the pink. She is so adorable I can hardly stand it.
She even seems she has taken a liking to John.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

6th grade graduation

Sarah graduated from 6th grade last week, which Peter calls a "celebration of mediocrity." At least that was his excuse for playing with his itouch until I would jab him and say, "Get this one!" He was supposed to be manning the video camera while I did the still pictures. He completely missed them calling her name and her baby picture up on the overhead. Very annoying.

They sang a whole lot of songs, including "There Can Be Miracles" from Prince of Egypt, which kinda got me teary! This is the girl's number from Sarah's 6th grade program. Forgot the name of the musical--something Molly--and the boys did one from "Newsies." The last song, which is always a big production was "Footloose" and had kids doing flips down the aisles and girl/boy dancing which got the audience all hooting and howling. Peter and I had to stand through the whole hour and a half program because of a major lack of chairs. Plus we didn't get there an hour in advance.

The kids were SO glad to have this thing over with!!
And I think the teachers and parents weren't too sad either.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My new bird feeder

I hung a bird feeder over the front porch so we could see it out the living room window. It has been really cool and Peter took these pictures of them, which came out pretty good considering they were out of a window!

Silly birds keep getting stuck in the feeder when the birdseed runs out and they crawl through the holes. Then I have to go and rescue them by pulling them out the top.
This bird is looking at me like heh, are you going to do something about this or what?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Track 2010

Nathaniel finished track recently. He ended up with both jogging class and PE in the same semester and so with track practice after school he would run up to 5 miles a day on top of doing P90X in PE. I was very impressed that he did all of this and it has definitely created a more lean, even more ravenously hungry boy.

Almost looks like he is smiling here! The boys in front are fast. Some of these kids regularly run in triathlons and marathons. They are very competitive as you might imagine.

This last event was kind of left to those who stayed for the whole meet because by this time everyone is exhausted and just wants to go home. Needless to say the boys weren't going their fastest. The meets ran at least 3 hrs and the last one went all day. Peter and I took turns on that one.
He did well, scored some good points for his team and plans on doing it next year. I asked him if he was planning to try out for the high school track team (the Jr High goes through 9th grade, but you can run on the high school team if you qualify) and he said no. He wanted to be able to show up all those 7th and 8th graders. Oh Nathaniel. You kill me.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My first goaround with the Bosch

Kind of sad I didn't get to use this until yesterday, but with Peter gone this week it just didn't happen. The bread came out divine and quite light, and trust me I've made a lot of bricks so I think I can judge this with some authority.

Some people have been impressed that I actually grind the wheat. It isn't because I'm Molly Homemaker (though I try to be:) and really there are three reasons.

1) I actually get to use my wheat! We have always used our food storage in one way or another because it is easy to use beans, or sugar, or flour, but wheat? I just didn't fall in love with the smorgasbord of wheat delights we were able to sample at this Relief Society function I went to one time. Wheat cereal in my crockpot? Wheat chili? Wheat meat? Are you serious?
But bread is something we can all love and I'm kinda hard on my kids about eating whole wheat. Of course I didn't know about the difference between red and white hard wheat until I moved here, which would have been nice to know--I never would have bought so much red. I've also starting buying it in buckets instead of canning it and that has worked lots better too. I've almost gone through a whole bucket and this makes me more proud of myself than it probably should.
2) Grinding it fresh makes better bread I think. But grind it right before you use it.
3) It is SO much easier than I thought it would be. Sincerely and truly. I have a Whisper mill and love it. Works great and cleans up very easily.

Of course in here in Mormonland I have lots of neighbors who actually grind their wheat and make their own bread all the time, and have for years, which is probably what gave me the confidence to finally use my wheat grinder for the first time. I guess I thought it would be complicated and awkward to set up and take down. It's not. I promise.

The batch I made gave me 4 loaves, which is currently all I have pans for. Guess I should get more. Everyone has been devouring them and they are almost gone already. Even Mr. John picky man has been eating it all day. Very positive sign. Except that is all he will eat today.
And yesterday.
I'm wondering how this is going to affect the system...hmm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My Day after Mother's Day gift

Peter came home yesterday with this box.
Turns out he drove around for 3 hours on Saturday looking for it. Apparently he didn't understand that you couldn't just go into Target and buy one. Then by the time he found the Bosch distributor in Orem they were closed. Poor Peter! He's the man.

So here it is in all its glory. Oh the baking that I will be doing with this sweet thing. Peter said he was a little worried about getting me a domestic gift and I was like are you kidding? I'm way past that one. I'd have been thrilled out of my mind if he got me a vacuum cleaner. Not a mop though. No. Or a broom or some sort of cleaning agent.

He learned a lesson when we were engaged (for NINE months) and apart for a good part of that while he worked in CA and I was going to school in Idaho. I had my birthday and Peter sent me a cookbook. Remember in "Father of the Bride" when he gives her a blender? Picture that.
I love it when Steve Martin goes with the fiance to the bar and thinks he is going to be rid of him once and for all but ends up reassuring him instead. Then he goes in to talk to his daughter Annie suggests that her fiance he had no alternative motive. "He just thought you might like to blend something."

Peter asked me if now I will sell my Kitchen Aid. I said no, I didn't think so. Great for smaller stuff. But inferior. My friends and I have talked about how our husbands don't really grasp the difference between blender capacities/power/etc and why that is such a big deal to us, but I think it is probably just the same men and guns. I don't get why if Peter has a rifle he needs another one and then he explains to me how this one is different than that one.
I just look at him blankly and say, "Whatever. Fine by me."
Bonus points for Peter! Now I just need to find a moment to try it out because so far it has just been sitting there all lonely.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Happy Mothers Day

This was a very nice Mother's Day for me. It was very relaxing and my family gave me presents:)

I came down this morning and Sarah had made this for the fridge. Very cute I thought.
Then Nathaniel played with the letters to spell things like "Bob is Mom."

Sarah gave me another window piece and told me how they planted them at school but they all looked dead because they didn't have any sunlight or water and she brought it home resurrected it.

We had the most fun with this card. When I opened it the Hallelujah chorus belts out really loud. John couldn't get over it and Peter kept coming up with new reasons to open it like, "Sarah is graduating from the 6th grade!" (open card) "Here's what we'll be doing on the first day we drop John off for kindergarten!" (open card) or "Look! Nathaniel took out the trash!" (open card.) Very entertaining. I got a puzzle of Leonardo DaVinci's "Last Supper" which is 2000 pieces. Oh dear.

Peter gave me this. Due to my woeful computer skills you'll have to read it sideways.

The point is that there is a gift coming for me in the mail tomorrow. Nobody was talking. I asked Nathaniel to give me a hint on the store they bought it from and he said it had doors. Have I already mentioned Nathaniel is like his dad and his mouth is like a vault? He will never divulge a secret. It's like they don't have the desire--I don't get it.
I'll update when I find out.

Flowers and other plants

I have this thing for tiny vases. I collect them.
I love to put them in the kitchen window.
On the left are the 10 raspberry starters my dad sent this week waiting to be planted.

I hit some yard sales for the first time in a long time this weekend and picked up these teeny vases from Japan. They are about an inch and a half tall so these flowers are very small.

So cute!

We had a freeze the other night and Peter brought the tomato & squash plants in--which are looking a little frost burnt but are recovering in the living room.

And I had to put a better picture of these flowers we got for Sarah.
They are gorgeous!!
I think I have enjoyed them more than she has! Bonus for me:)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Nature's wonders

Snakes in my kitchen sink
(or as the kids said, daddy snake, momma snake, and baby snake)

A couple of our favorite warm weather pastimes? Catching things like bugs, snakes, and lizards. And rocks--looking for cool rocks.
I let Rebecca take two snakes in a jar for show and tell. I got a call from her later that morning asking me to pick them up because after the teacher let her share them she wanted them to go. I'll call that "show and go." Hee hee.

We let them free later that day because I have no desire to keep a stinky snake for a pet but at least one those snakes will have an adventure story to tell his friends--like how John smuggled it into the car in his barrel of monkeys and so it got to go for a car ride around town and then after we put John to bed he took it back out of the jar and tried to drive it around in the dollhouse car and it crawled down into the car and we couldn't get it out and so Peter put it outside on the porch to crawl out in the night and then John cried himself to sleep.

Yesterday we took John to Bicentennial Park in Provo with our new water nets and caught minnows for over an hour. He could have been there all day--never has an interest in the playground there because of the pond. Most of the minnows died before we got home and then the rest of them were thoroughly examined by John and his friend Courtney. And had they lived, would have some stories to tell too.


There is Sarah--waaay in the back!

Isn't this the prettiest bunch of flowers? She did great!
Most memorable part? Wherein the boy who played Diago the parrot completely readjusted himself throughout the play. I was silently pleading for him to stop. Maybe no one had the heart to go backstage and tell him. Oh--it was painful to watch!! My grandpa thought it was hilarious.
Then there is Peter who can hardly sit through the half hour performance and plays on his itouch during all the scenes Sarah is not in. Really? Is that absolutely necessary? He is visibly cringing and uncomfortable when Aladdin and Jasmine sing together.
in his life, for any amount of money would he have ever, ever played a part where he had to do that. Nathaniel doesn't look any more impressed than his dad. If I didn't laugh I would just get mad. Boys. What can you do?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Peter's last year of 30's

Today is Peter's 39th birthday and as I looked for a photo I found these recent ones of him and Daniel. I think Peter is smitten by his nephew considering all the pictures he takes of him. Of course, we are all smitten with Daniel!

For his birthday I got him an IPod touch and the book "60 places to hike within 60 miles of Salt Lake." We went out for Mexican at our favorite place, Diego's Taco Shop, and then we went bowling over at Fat Cats. Nathaniel killed us in both games with a 161 in the first one, though really didn't need a whole lot more ammo for his inflated teenage ego right now.

While we were bowling I was trying to be goofy and I told him I was thinking about giving him a 39 birthday spanks and he said he might fall asleep before I was done. I thought that was downright funny.

Some of my favorite things about Peter:
1) His laugh is the best--ask anyone who really knows him.
2) He is a hard worker
3) He loves his family
4) He is a cute kind of nerdy, which means he loves his IPod Touch even more:)
5) Contrary to popular belief, he can be kind of sentimental
6) He supports me in whatever I want to do