Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"I know, sounds like fun. Right?"

How many of us would love to have that second chance to go to the Father/Daughter dance? Mother/Son something or other, Mother/Daughter Tea, Father/Son Dinner or Camping trip?

I know that I missed out on a lot of things growing up. I know that I, for one, would love to have that chance to go to a Father/Daughter dance. But when those times are gone, they are gone, and you can't get them back.

I am not the best mother in the world, I am am a wonderful mother, as Chuck puts it, my mom puts it that way too. Thanks! I have to learn a lot, I have learned a lot, I am always willing to learn more. But when it comes to doing things with the boys, I always try to find the time to do it with them.

This Saturday we are heading to Knoxville for a free exhibit by Josh Simpson, A Visioinary Journey of Glass. Why not? It is free and educational, and it gives me time to spend time with them. It is worth it in the end. Wouldn't you think it would be?

My title came from something I saw at work the other day. I was in the process of changing my schedule a bit, to be at home and help Chuck out in this new journey of our lives. Anyway, I had to go through the slips of days requested off and I ran upon this,
"I need this date off for a Father/Daughter dance at school. I know, sounds like fun. Right?"
His daughter is 4. She may not remember this, she may remember this. But he acts as if it is a chore for him to do this. How much time will this take out of his day? He works 14 hours a week, so it is not like he is missing that much work. But to act like that, over a 30 minute dance, with his 4 year old dancing on his feet, that is sad.

One day he will be dancing at her wedding, and then maybe he will look back and realize all that he missed. Maybe not, I know his attitude towards things. It is sad that fathers can't act like daddies and mothers can't act like mommies.

Book Fair Madness

Every year I try to help out some at the school's Book Fair. I love going there, because, face it, I love books. And I want my kids to love books just like I do.

A few years ago, I helped out during one of the days. I got to run the register and help children find what they were looking for. I enjoyed it, I worked with another mother that is a friend of mine.

This year, with my easier schedule, I decided that I would help Tuesday night, the busiest for the Book Fair. Well, I get there and go behind to help the other with the register. I could add them up while she waits on the person in the front. Easy enough. But one mother decided she wanted to help with the register, since I have no clue how to run one (ok, whatever). And looks at me and tells me that I can clean up the messed up books and make sure no one walks out the door with a book. Can I do that, why sure I can... was I going to, no way.

The Mayor was reading to the children and I started walking around, fixing books with 2 other mothers and just watched as PJ listened to the Mayor read to them. I looked at a few books, looked at odds and ends, and when he got done, so did I. I told PJ that we were leaving. He had no problem with this. So, off to home we went.

Now, if this was the first time something happened, I wouldn't have said anything. In other blogs I have posted I mentioned about the time that I was stuck in another city with Eric and his football team. I was supposed to help out at the tent, but because of the delay in the game, I couldn't be there. Chuck did explain to them that I was in Charleston, and wouldn't make it back. He also offered to help them out in my place. They told him not to worry about, they would be ok. Before he was out of earshot, he heard them start talking about me. He went back to mention, again, that he would help. But that they didn't need to talk about me, it was circumstances beyond my control. They continued.

Two years later, another Fall Festival, I volunteered to help out with the class booth. It was kitchen duty. Ok, I don't mind, whatever I can do to help out, let me know. Well, I get there, and tell them I was there to help and what did I need to do. Another mother and I got on the line and out of no where here comes this one mother, "what do I need to do?" and they shoved her in between me and the other mother and told us that we can stand in the back and wait to help. Forget that, we left out the backdoor, never looked back.

This Fall Festival, I had to work. So, I didn't have to volunteer to help at all. But that didn't seem to be the end of it.

PJ made cookies for Halloween and the teacher fussed about it. That hurt his feelings. So, I don't want to cook for any of them ever again. For Christmas, I signed up for paper plates and napkins. I decided years ago that I won't make anything for the class because of the fact that there are so many allergies.

Well, while I was cleaning out the cabinets, I found a package of black paper plates and black napkins.I was gonna use them for Chuck's 40th birthday, but a wrench got thrown into that plan. Ok, I sent them to school for their party. I found out a few days later, they threw them out. They weren't "festive" enough for the mothers, they went out and bought the "festive" ones.

With the paper goods for school and the Book Fair garbage, I decided I had enough and that was all there was to it.

I don't look the part of the mother, I don't act the part either. I work as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut. I don't stay home with my kids, not that I wouldn't like that. Chuck doesn't make enough for me to stay at home, and I don't complain either.

Chuck had the opportunity to go to school for Donuts for Dads. Since he has decided to go into business for himself, he finally had the chance to do something like this. He got there and noticed something with this group of parents. Either you are well-off or you are right above the poverty level. Now, he could talk to either group, but finding a common place to talk to either group. There were only 2 or 3 of them that were standing by themselves. He went over and spoke with them for a little while and then left. He did speak with my former Pastor for a while, but he had to get home, so Chuck left too. He came home complaining about the cliques that the parents showed. And he commented that we never had this issue when Eric was in school.

It bothers me that this stands in my way to help out my child's class. It bothers me that they treat people this way, it bothers me that I am not good enough for them. I have delivered to some of these people, and they look at me and feel sorry for me. Like we are barely scrapping by. Like I can't find anything better than deliver pizzas. At least I have a job!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WOW! All I can say is WOW!

What is wrong with our school system? I don't get it.

Ok, last week it snowed, and the roads were getting a little bad, so they called to say that school was closing early. Ok, I can understand that.

Then school got back in session and were closed for MLK day, but the Friday before it was too cold to go to school and then they closed on Inauguration day for some reason too. I think because of floods. I can understand that, but being too cold to go to school. I remember times that we stood outside until the bell rang in the cold weather.

But today really got me. I decided that I was gonna have lunch with PJ. Now, he did forget his homework, so I had to take that. But, I haven't made the time to have lunch with him. So, I thought lunch would be good today.

The weather here is iffy at best. You never know what Southeast TN is gonna hand you. We have some pretty strong winds today and threat of storms later today, but nothing right now.

I get there and he tells me that they are letting out early. Why? Well, there is a tornado warning until 6pm. What the heck? The bad weather was West of Nashville, not anywhere close to us here. They could have finished school. But the Director decided that it was taking a chance.

Well, I am at school, texting Chuck to let him know that Eric would be out soon, explained to him why he was coming home soon and then shook my head.

PJ is sruggling through school right now. I don't really know why, but I do know that the school system is sorry around here. Of course the economy has something to do with the teachers assistant being let go of, so that is a lack of help right there. Then the over crowding doesn't help either, they don't have the money in the budget to build a new school. Then on top of that, the grading system that they hit the schools with is way out there:
Parents demand 'fair grading' for students
Arleah Difebbo
Banner Staff Writer
Tuesday, Feb 10, 2009

NEW GRADING SYSTEM IS ‘CONFUSING AND FLAWED’ — Rachel Southall of the Parents for Fair Grade Reports told Cleveland City Board of Education members she and the parents’ group felt the Standards Based reporting used in kindergarten through fifth-grade schools is “flawed and doesn’t give parents enough information on their child’s academic standing.” Standards Based reporting has been phased in over the past several years in the city school district. Banner photo, ARLEAH DIFEBBO
"ABC's, not 123's:" This is the crux of what the Parents for Fair Grade Reports are demanding from Cleveland City Board of Education members.

Several representatives of the parents' group were present at the board's regular meeting Monday night as spokespersons Michelle McRee and Rachel Southall voiced concern regarding the Standards Based Grading System used in elementary schools.

"The parents I represent do not feel the system has been properly implemented. A three-tiered grading system is too broad and gives parents less information," said McRee.

The parents' group also submitted a 15-page typed report to each board member which included their stance on the new grading system currently used in grades kindergarten through fifth, a resolution, Web site information on other school systems' use of the Standard Based Grading system and a petition of more than 108 parents signatures to revert to the "traditional grading system."

Standards Based reporting grades elementary children with a 1, 2 or 3, with 3 being the highest score and means a student has "mastered" a subject.

If converted from a percentage grade, a 3 would be equal to a score of 80 to 100, a 2 would be a 50 to 75, and a 1 would be below a 50.

The system uses assessments throughout each nine-week grading period given by the teacher to each student to determine what level of mastery they have achieved in a subject.

Used in school districts around the nation, the system was started in Cleveland City Schools about five years ago when it was piloted at Arnold and Blythe-Bower Elementary schools.

"This was something that was teacher initiated," said board member Dawn Robinson. "The teachers saw this national trend and came to us for permission to try it. They wanted to see if it would improve their students' reading and math scores. It has worked. Those schools' reading and math scores have greatly improved. And, the board decided that if it worked so well at those schools, we should be uniform and slowly phase it in at all our elementary schools," said Robinson.

"We voted on that a few years ago. We didn't just drop this on our schools," she said.

Since then, Robinson said Standards Based grading has been phased in over the past few years and, as of this past fall, is currently being used in all kindergarten through fifth grade city schools.

"Getting a B or C in math doesn't tell me what my child needs to work on and doesn't need to work on in math. Is it long division or multiplication tables that I need to work on with him?" said Robinson.

"When they get to middle and high school, that school can see exactly where that child needs to be much more with Standards Based reporting than with the old grading system," she said.

McRee and Southall said the members of Parents for Fair Grade Reporting feel Standards Based reporting, as written in their resolution, should "provide both educators and parents with more information. The Cleveland City School system uses a less informative variation of standards based reporting ... neglected several key steps necessary for the successful implementation of a standards based reporting system ... did not involved parents in the planning, creation or implementation ... is not implemented consistently from teacher to teacher or school to school ... makes it more difficult for both parents and students to understand students' true academic performance ... does not give parents enough information to guide their child's education ... and, does not give students enough information about their academic standing."

"These assessments are too narrow and vary from teacher to teacher and school to school," said McRee.

"Also, there is no indication of whether learning skills, homework, projects and tests are being incorporated into reporting mastery. Is mastery determined solely based on the administered assessments? Our children report an equal level of confusion. This has contributed to apathy in completing assignments, studying for tests and excelling on major projects," said McRee.

"This will cripple our students to be competitive in high school to get scholarships. They need to know how to move up on a six point scale," she said.

Other parents spoke of their dissatisfaction during the meeting: "One time, my child brought home a paper which had a 50 and a number 2 written on it. She also brought home a paper that had a 75 and a 2 written on it. How is a 50 and a 75 the same grade?" asked Jenni White.

Southall said some parents are so upset about the grading system they have removed their children from the city schools and enrolled them in private schools.

McRee said the teachers at the schools "have not been adequately and uniformly trained in the implementation of the current system."

However, Robinson strongly disagreed with the parents' group assertion that the teachers had not been "adequately trained."

"The teachers have been thoroughly trained, but this is also new for some of them and you have to allow for a learning curve," said Robinson.

The board voted to form a committee comprised of board members, Director of Schools Dr. Rick Denning and at least one parent from each school in the district.

"We need time to study the parents' group proposal," said board chairman Peggy Pesterfield.

She echoed Robinson's opinion that Standards Based grading is working, but "may need to be tweaked some."

Anytime you try new things, you will have problems that need to be adjusted. It's always important to strive to make things better," said Pesterfield.

Southall, speaking on the board's decision at the meeting, said, "I am encouraged, but I don't think (the board) understands the level of dissatisfaction with this group of parents."

In fact, Parents for Fair Grade Reporting wrote in their submitted resolution that "The Cleveland City School board should require teachers to report on measure academic standard and an average percentage for each subject area ... the board should adopt these changes in policy in spring 2009, so they can be fully implemented starting in school year 2009-2010."

Straight from the paper. Unreal. This doesn't give the children the incentive to do well in school.

Right now, I am disgusted with the school system. To close over the winds, to close over cold days, because they want to save in the heating bill, to close over rains. Why bother?

Monday, February 9, 2009

I forgot about PJ's Christmas Program

Oh my, how can I forget PJ's Christmas program. Well, if you were there you would understand how I forgot about it.

But to have to work with that many kids

I had to attend both of them. And it wasn't any better the second time around.

Now you have to understand that this was 2 days after Chuck's shoulder surgery and he really didn't want to be there, but he was. I felt bad for him. He was in so much pain, but he still went.

My dad and his wife went that morning too, they were leaving for Myrtle Beach the next day. That was cool. So, that was why I had to go in the morning.

This is what I saw with PJ.
Looks excited, doesn't he? I was taking the pics and he followed me everywhere I went. I had to make him sing several times. Now the thing is with chorus only a select few make it, don't screw it up. There was 125 students in the chorus this year. Seems like she picked them all. There are only 500 in the entire school and chorus is open starting at 3rd grade. I leave my opinion at the door for some of these students. Seems like if the parents have money, child has 0 talent they made it. PJ has a good voice and he tries very hard to please his music teacher and to please others. He has a talent, just have to really push him to use it. Um, sound familiar Patti?

I have seen a lot of these programs, this was huge. The teacher is an amazing woman. But the chorus is too big.

To be honest,the night show wasn't any better. I think she had way too much to work with in a short amount of time. Over the years they have cut out so much, only for the students to do well on the TCAP, state testing, remember those days? And it shows in the time that she had to prepare for the program.

Now, I did go back at night, someone had to take PJ there. But his grandparents were attending and I wanted to be there with them too.

PJ failed to let me know that in the morning show he could wear his Ho Ho hat. Gee, if I had known that I would have had him wear it to the morning show. He looks angelic, doesn't he? Don't let that fool you!

The program was your typical program, kids sang, kids messed up, that was the fun part. It was overwhelming for the music teacher to handle all of the students in this short amount of time.

It was fun to see him up there, it really was.

But to have to work with that many kids, in the time frame she was given, I can understand where the program went astray.

But all in all, it was nice to see him with his friends, singing and having fun.

Hopefully, next year will be better. But this is an opening for him to get into choir in Middle School. And since he was in the Christmas play in '07, this also gives him an opening for him to get into drama when he hits Middle school.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I guess I will start with Christmas

Welcome to Christmas at our house!

Now this year, the cat didn't knock over the tree. First of all, we got rid of the piece of crap that she kept knocking over. And secondly, I bought a tree that had a better base on it, and it was prelit too! Saved me hours of 'stringing up the lights' (Twelve Pains of Christmas).

On Christmas Eve, it has been a tradition since Eric was young, for the boys to open one present on Christmas Eve. Usually they open the gifts from each other. But this year, I had picked the one that Eric should open. I was more excited than they were!

Now, as always, someone has to read " 'Twas the Night Before Christmas", the past few years it has been PJ. I enjoy having him read it and show the pictures too while he is reading. It is a bittersweet moment for me.

I sit back and look at the years that Chuck and I read the story on Christmas Eve. Sometimes it was "How Santa got his Job" or "Charlie Brown Christmas". But now that the boys are old enough, I want to enjoy the moment as long as I can. Now, as with every Christmas, I buy a new Christmas book, date them and bring them out during the holidays. The neighbor started me on that, and I like the thought. I have a variety of fun Christmas books.

Christmas morning in this house isn't like any other house. Trust me on this. The past few years we have had to wake the boys up. This year, Eric set his alarm clock. How funny is that! He didn't want to miss out on anything, I guess.

Well, since we changed the great room around, we didn't have the room for the tree in there. So, we had to put it in the living room. That is fine with me, I got to put it in the window. But, the gifts had to be transported from one room to the other. We really didn't think this out very well. But it was all part of the fun of the day.

Generally we have time to make a pot of coffee, not this Christmas, but I did make sure it got made up the night before and ready for the morning. Thankfully that was getting done.

This Christmas was a little less with the gifts, but the boys didn't mind much. Usually Christmas is huge around here. But since I lost my job, we had to cut back on some things. And some of it had to do with Christmas. My kids are not lacking for anything. They have all that they ever want in life, so I knew it wouldn't be that big of a deal if they didn't have an amazing Christmas, they knew the situation and they understood. We have great kids.

I love to buy books for the boys. I don't know why, but it may have something to do with me not getting any books while I was growing up. My dad never did buy me books, so it took me forever to sit down and read. I remember growing up and waiting for the Library Bus to come around.

PJ got an MP3 player,
Charlie Brown puzzle, several books, movies and gosh, I can't remember. Eric got books, an awesome wildlife bird puzzle, movies, and some games. But the big thing was the Wii. They got that with Mario Cart, the wheel and 2 other games. Along with another controller and another game.
I bought this back in May and was so excited to give it to them.

Eric's big thing was his telescope. Now, let me explain about this. He has wanted a telescope since he was in First grade. We told him, that if he came home with good grades that he would get a telescope. Each report card was not very good and each year we stuck to our guns. A telescope is an expensive item and we felt as if you have to earn it to get one. Well, we didn't realize that he had ADD until he got to Middle School, it was a battle with him all through Elementary School. Long story short, he got on medicine at the end of the 6th grade year, brought his grades up and continued to bring home excellent grades. It was time that we followed through and get him his telescope. My mom sent money, Chuck's parents gave some too towards it. And we searched for a good one that he could use for a long time. It was something that was very special and it was something well deserved.

As for Chuck and myself, we got things that were nice. Of course with Chuck's surgery before Christmas, I bought him a good pair of slippers. But I got him a nice UT jacket, Tom Brokaw book, toolbox and a few screwdrivers and some very good chocolate. No complaints there.

As for me, I got a gorgeous dress coat, some Estee Lauder perfume and makeup and a great lounge set. I also got an adaper to put my MP3 player in the car. Delivering pizzas, I need it. I love it. It is great, because I can charge the MP3 in the car. Sorry folks, no pics for you! I look rough first thing in the morning.

We stayed around the house for a while and then took off to the in-laws. Now, it used to be that we would do this day before Christmas, makes it easier on all of us. But we couldn't get a day for all of us to get together and make it work. So, we took off over there to open gifts. It was fun. I know it is harder on the boys to go over there on Christmas, but it is Christmas and we have time with the family. I guess it is fine with me, Christmas wasn't around all the cousins and family. It was my dad and me for a long time and then to him parents. And the day after Christmas was going up to New York to spend 2 weeks with my grandparents. I really enjoy this a lot more. The boys actually know who their cousins are. They just don't know it now, but they are so blessed. One day they will realize it.

Going out to the in-laws is actually fun for me too! I look back at the pictures of years past and laugh, look how much we all have aged or how the kids have grown up. I have gorgeous neices. Ok, they aren't my neices, but I claim them as mine. I have been a part of this family for 19 years. I was there when Chuck's sisters got married, I was there when Adrienne was born, and have been a part of their lives all these years. So, yes, they are just as much my neices as they are Chuck's.

These girls are wonderful girls. I love them to death. And although I haven't had the chance to do much with them. They are still my girls.

We drew names of the children for Christmas. We have to buy for 2, and that is a lot cheaper than buying for 3. But one more isn't that much either. So, this year I got Kaitlyn and Trey, brother and sister, polar opposites! But it was fun. Kaitlyn is Eric's age, Trey is just a year younger than PJ. So, for me to get to buy for a girl, that is a TREAT!

I bought a ton of makeup for her, how much fun was that! I had a blast! She also got a Webkinz and a few other small things. Now I didn't buy her Estee Lauder, but I did get her things that your everyday, typical 13 yr old girl would like. Lots of fun makeup!

Now as for my nephew, he was harder to buy for. I should have practice, but still, different tastes. Before Steve and Barry's went out of business I picked up some really nice baseball shirts. And then it was to search for some other things, and that is hard for an 8 yr old. But Aunt Patti came through, as usual!

I remember him going to his mom, 'look, I got 2 baseball shirts!' That tickled me.

Eric got a great UT picture! It was awesome! And it is hanging in his room today.

As for my in-laws, I gave them a basket full of stuff that I made over the summer. I canned a bunch of stuff, loved every minute of it too. But, since there was so much in the house, why not share!

Christmas was wonderful. I love each and every year I get to spend with the family. I miss my mom dearly. But that is part of me living down here. But Chuck's family is my family and I treasure the moments that I have with them.

Boy, I have missed a lot

Well, it has been a while since I have blogged. I wanted to take a break from the computer and blogging. So, I did just that.
And everytime that I thought about getting online, something would come up, or I was too tired, or the computer wasn't turned on and I didn't feel like turning it on. I know, excuses, excuses. But really, I didn't want to be on the computer that much.
Actually, I have been on Facebook via my phone. So, I can't say I have taken that much of a break from the computer.
So, I will be blogging again. I have had a request from someone that I didn't even know was reading my blog. Yipee, another reader.
Give me sometime, I have something that is new and exciting too.
It's good to be back!