Monday, March 29, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

Our weekends are always packed full. They are fun, but always busy. This weekend Mike took me out on a date, we saw Grandma and Grandpa for dinner, we had swimming, tumbling and two soccer games, a baptism, a few house projects, I did a ton of laundry, we exercised as a family, went to church, and we took the kids to see The Blindside.

The kids liked the movie. Jessi slept through most of it (which I expected.) It was a great movie and it gave us a lot to talk about.

We had not been to a dollar theater in a long, long time--we usually wait for movies to come out on DVD or go to the theater near our house. Mike taught the kids about dollar theaters. Andrew is very interested in all things financial, so he was really excited about the price. Mike explained that after the movie is in the regular theater it goes to the dollar theater. He told the kids that the theater might not be as fancy, the chairs might not be as comfy, and you can't get reserved seats, but that it is a lot less expensive.

I went with Andrew to the window to buy the tickets. I didn't realize it was cash only. Our total came to $12--such a bargain for a family of six. I had eight dollar bills and a bunch of change. We let some teenagers by while I counted out $4 in change in Andrew's hand. He kept hearing the people order tickets for our movie and encouraged me to hurry so they wouldn't sell out.

When we got inside, the kids all checked out their seats. The seats rocked back and forth and bounced a bit. After checking out his chair, Andrew declared, "These seats aren't bad at all--in fact, they are quite luxurious."

As we were leaving the theater, he told us that we should only go to movies at the dollar theater. I don't know about "only," but I think we will be going more often.

Other funny things the rascals did and said this weekend:

Jessi asked if Michael Jackson was in heaven with Heavenly Father. (She LOVES Michael Jackson.) Then she asked if Heavenly Father wears the same clothes everyday. (She LOVES clothes and fashion too.) We have some deep conversations while I do her hair.

Christian's teacher pulled me aside to tell me the following story: The kids were out running/walking on the track. Christian's shoe fell off, so he stopped to tie it. When he reached the teacher he was in tears. She asked what was wrong. He said, "My shoe fell off and none of those guys gave me any sympathy." Apparently they all kept bumping into him as he tried to get his shoe back on.

One night we could not find Tiger. This happens occasionally, and it has caused us to be late for church and school. She will sometimes hide out, but she usually comes when I call her in a baby-talk voice. So, it was bedtime and we couldn't find her. We finally went to bed. The next morning we were nervous because she was still AWOL. The whole family was searching. Finally, Bev saw her tail under the couch. Apparently she had crawled under the couch when the footrest was up. Before bed, Mike had put the footrest down and she got trapped. I suppose she liked it because she stayed quiet under there. So, we got her out and we were all loving on her when Christian got teary-eyed. He said, "Mom, sometimes I get emotional when I'm not supposed to." We reasssured him that it is fine to get emotional.

Now the kids--the boys especially--keep asking if Dad ever cries. Mike tells the kids that it is okay and normal to get emotional and cry, but I keep telling Mike that he needs to let the kids see him get tears. I'm not pushing it though. I know how it will go--he will break-out in a big pretend bawling session.

Beverly got up Sunday morning and Mike and I could hear her starting breakfast with the little ones. We listened to pans clanking and the fridge opening and closing. She was trying to "direct" the other kids to help get breakfast done. They were not cooperating to her liking. Mike finally declared that he better get down to help in "Hell's Kitchen."

I cleaned out all of the backpacks on Friday. I found indications that number three has a crush. It was a heart that said, "Bev + Apollo Ohno." I showed it to her and she quickly took it away. But then she recounted the story. The story I have heard a number of times since the Olympics ended.

She is deeply offended by Apollo being disqualified in his final race. She was so mad. (It reminded me of the time we were watching the final of American Idol and David Archuleta lost to David Cook. After that, she could not stand the near mention of David Cook's name, let alone hear one of his songs.) Anyhoo, we re-watched the race many times. It was obvious to us that Apollo had only placed his hand on the other racer. When the head judge (who is Canadian) disqualified him, Bev said, "Andrew, you are wrong--the Canadians are NOT our friends." She talked about the travesty a lot over the next several weeks.

She is like me in so many ways--she can get onery while "managing people" in the kitchen and she doesn't like injustice.

Andrew was telling our friend about the movie Where The Wild Things Are. I heard him whisper to her that Jessi cried at the end of the movie. Then he said, "Yeah, she is a very sensitive African American child."

They keep me hopping...and laughing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

reaping what we sowed

My picture of the day:
Seeing these little babies come up makes me so happy. So happy we planted them last fall. So happy that they will soon bloom.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Classy...real classy

People in both parties can do some stupid things, but this is a gem:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Extreme Makeover: Craftroom Table Edition

I have been in need of a sturdy craftroom table. I didn't want to spend a lot on it, so I decided that I wanted to paint an old one. A few weeks ago, I stopped at D.I. and found the perfect table. It was the right size and it seemed sturdy. I bought it and Mike picked it up on his way home.

It sat in the garage for a few weeks because it was too cold to paint. I also had to decide on a color.

A few years ago, my friend Brittany introduced me to consignment/second-hand shopping. I have found a few cool things. One thing I found a few months ago was this fabulous organizer. It spoke to me for a number of reasons. First, I am a child of the seventies--I love avocado green. I am pretty sure my parents had avocado appliances. I suppose it wore out it's welcome with folks, but I just love it--maybe small doses is the key. Second, my grandma had something similar hanging in her kitchen. It makes me think of her.

I had a little moment with this organizer. Of course, after I brought it home, I put it in the sink to clean off all germs and dust from the previous owner. While cleaning it, I had a run-in with some old, crusty spiders from the 70's. (I have spider issues I am working though.) So, after some dry heaving and after uttering a few words that I am not proud of, I got that sucker sanitized. It became my inspiration for the table color. It is hanging in the craft room and is very useful.

It took a few minutes everyday for about a week to get it sanded, primed, painted, stained, and varnished. I loved every minute of it. There is something about taking something old and fixing it up. I purposely didn't go out and buy a new table--I love the idea of reusing something that someone else is done with.

I am now on the hunt for more old stuff to paint. I don't live near a D.I., so if we are ever near one I just have to run in and see if there is another diamond-in-the-rough that needs a facelift and a new home.

Today's Gonna Be a Good Day

Except for the fact that it is snowing--Birthday Boy isn't happy about that.

This kid is a planner (I wonder where he gets it from?) He has been talking about his birthday for months--about 6 months to be exact. I got him a calendar, because he wanted to count down the days. A few nights ago we were snuggling and he recited what would happen on the big day. He talked about his breakfast, taking treats to school, his present.

Little Man woke up, in our bed, for his birthday breakfast in bed. Breakfast consisted of pancakes, eggs and sausage, strawberries, oranges (of course) and his green cup (of course.)
We let him open his gift--the gift he has been talking about for months. It's a Green Machine. He and Dad will put it together when Dad gets home.
Christian is inappropriately interested in motorcycles. He has seen Pocket Rockets and has been asking for one for months. I got on YouTube with him to show him how dangerous they are. I showed him idoits doing crazy things on them. His eyes grew big with interest. We shut it down and had a talk about brain injuries and broken bones. He didn't seem to care about that, so I just told him that I care about his brain and his bones and that I am the mom and that he will not be getting a motorcycle. Mike helped me out and we started the brainwashing process of helping him discover that a Green Machine is really what he wanted.
He has been talking about it ever since. He was thrilled when he opened it. Yay for brainwashing!
We have a full day ahead--his Star Student poster to school, doughnuts for his class, party invites delivered, a cake to be made, and a Green Machine to assemble. Birthday Boy still has yet to decide where he wants to go for dinner.
I will be plenty distracted with a busy day. That is good because then I won't have time to think about how my baby boy is a baby no more.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jack's Baptism Surprise

Last week Jessi and I went to Disney on Ice. While we were out on the town, Mike took the other three to IFA to see the spring chicks. Then, they went to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Interesting choice of meals after looking at adorable little baby chickens, if you ask me.)

So, the kids have not stopped talking about them. They would love to have some, and I have given them a number of reasons we cannot have some. But, Aunt Mimi--she has mentioned wanting chickens.

After Jack's baptism Saturday, Mike and Andrew stopped by IFA and got three chicks with all the supplies for Jack (and Mimi.) Randy was not as thrilled as Jack and Mimi were about the new additions to the family.

I asked Jack what he was going to name them, also informing him that they are all girls. The first name he came up with was "Pecker." I don't know if that one stuck or not, but I sure hope it does.
Mike picked out Brahma chickens. They are supposedly good egg-producers and have good temperaments. I don't know about all of that, I just know that they are adorable.

Andrew loves them. He held one before we left. The little thing fell right asleep in his hand. Andrew explained that maybe the chick thought he was her mother.
As we left, my kids discussed how Jack's family is now like the Brady Bunch--three boys and three girls.
I hope they are doing well. I also hope that Randy is not the spiteful type--Christian has a birthday coming up and I can't help but remember that payback, well, she is a really mean lady.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Things Not to Say to Your Injured Child

I got up this morning with a chest-cold. I put in a load of laundry. (I relate laundry in my life to Groundhog Day--I get it done, get on top of it and then wake up to another pile.) Then, I went to turn on the news. No luck--our dish is full of snow.

Jessi and I walked into Target yesterday and we both commented on how warm it was--we saw sunshine. When we walked out it was starting to snow. I appreciate that the snow helps us out of a drought, but oh, how I love Spring.

While I have a bit of time without my precious DirectTV I will share with you our ER story for the week.

Wednesday, Andrew and Bev went to jr. swim team. They go to our local pool three times a week. It has been great--they have both improved so much, and it is great exercise. I usually go, but Mike took them that day. They came home and told me that a kid had pooped in the pool, so when they got there they couldn't swim. They went outside and ran some laps. Upon entering the pool, Andrew's foot got scraped on a metal door. They bandaged him up and they all came home.

We had dinner and Mike went to play ball. Roundabouts 10 p.m. I was getting Andrew ready for bed when I took off the bandaid. He says I "freaked out." I didn't freak out, I just sort of gasped. It was a big cut--the first layer of skin was cut through. I knew he needed stitches. I told him so and he said he just wanted to go to bed, that the people at the pool told him to put a butterfly bandaid on it.

I asked him if he wanted Mom or Dad to take him. He wanted me, so we headed out to InstaCare. They closed at 10 so we went to the E.R.

The doctor confirmed that indeed, he needed stitches.

Andrew is very sensitive. I knew this would be quite an experience for the both of us. He was teary and nervous. We said a quick prayer.

The doctor asked if he had ever had stitches before. We told him about when Andrew was four and tripped at the top of the stairs and bit his tongue in half. Getting stitches in his tongue--now that's an experience I could have done without.

So, the hardest part of the stitches was getting the shots to numb it. He was on the cot and I was leaning over hugging him. I told him to squeeze me hard. He did. He was hugging me hard and was holding onto my bra strap. Then my bra strap broke. The kid is strong and I need a new bra.

After the shots, he was obsessing about the stitches. I was trying to comfort him. I told him that the needle is like a fish hook.

Wrong thing to say.

He replied, "A fish hook? A fish hook? I wanna get outta here."

I turned the TV on to serve as a distraction. The only thing on was George Lopez. Let's just say it was not programming suited for children. I muted it after the hooker jokes. They finally came in to do the stitches. We had waited for quite a while after the shots, so he started feeling it toward the end.

We both finally got to bed at 1:15 in the morning. I got him tucked in and turned on his music. I told him I love him and went out the door. Then he said, "Mom, thanks for letting me squeeze you--did I hurt you?" I told him that he didn't, that he was brave and that I was proud of him.

Then he said, "Can I give you some advise."

I told him he could.

He said, "Next time, don't talk about fish hooks."

Good advice.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

raising rascals and raising H E double-hockey sticks

I have written this a few times and every time I stopped. I don't want to offend anyone. Just so you know, we will still be friends if we disagree. But, I believe that many citizens, taxpayers and parents do not understand what has happened with the district split and what the consequences are for our children here in Jordan.

In full disclosure, I grew up in a family that strongly believes in and values public education. My parents were both school teachers. My dad is now a middle school librarian and my mom is an elementary school principal. I used to be a school psychologist. Three of my children attend public school. I believe that every child deserves a good, quality education. I believe that it is vital for our society to have a well-educated population. I believe that what is good for my kids is good for yours.

I was talking to a friend and she expressed how hard it is to follow and understand what has happened and what is going on. I think a lot of us are in that same boat. It has taken a lot of time and research and attendance at meetings for me to have developed the opinions I have on the issue.

I have been following the situation as closely as I could since after the district split. The way the east side was allowed to split from us--allowed by the state legislature--has been disastrous for us. After looking at the numbers, I know why they wanted to dump us--we have all of the growth and less tax revenue. (However, when they were building all of the new schools, years ago, the west side helped pay for them.) So, even after being consulted by outside assessors, and after being told that the ramifications would be bad for the west side, the legislature approved the measure allowing them to create their own district. Several studies indicated that the best way to split would have been to split north and south, not east and west.

The Jordan district now operates on $1,136 property revenue per student with Canyons at $2,087.

So, if we want to identify someone to blame, it would be the state legislators that voted to allow the split to happen the way it did. You may think that surely our representatives, here on the west side, would not have voted for the bill. You would surely be wrong.

When House Bill 77 passed, it passed on a vote of 39 to 31 and the names of the west side legislators who voted for the bill are: Wayne Harper-West Jordan, Hutchings-West Jordan, Mascaro-West Jordan, Merlyn Newbold-South Jordan, Peggy Wallace (no longer a legislator.) Rep. Houge of Riverton did not attend the day of the vote.

If those west side representatives would have cast "no" votes, the split would have been stopped right then.

So, one of the major issues we citizens face is that we have elected officials that let this happen. Sorry to be blunt, but we are, by and large, very apathetic, uninformed and uninvolved in local politics. I know it is hard and takes time, but we, the citizens have to be more informed and involved. Especially us moms.

The sad thing is that people aren't and these legislators keep getting re-elected. I haven't mentioned Chris Buttars. I have some serious issues with him that have nothing to do with the split, but he is against raising taxes for education. His suggestion for the solution to the budget shortfall was to do away with the 12th grade--seriously, that's his idea.

Back in August, the school board meeting was a Truth-in-Taxation hearing. 200 people made comments to the board. I think all of them were against tax increases--that was the number one message--"don't raise our taxes." It was a very heated meeting. People were angry. People blamed the school board.

The problem is that the board didn't hear from the people that are willing to accept tax increases as part of the solution. Tax increases would only be part of the solution. We would still need cuts, but it would help stop the bleeding.

So, Jordan School District has a $30 million deficit. Senator Bird (West Jordan) wrote HB292. This bill would have equalized spending per student in both districts. The bill was shot down by the Education Committee last week, not even making it to the floor for a vote.

I attended the Jordan School District Board Meeting on January 26, where I commented that just because the school board didn't hear from 200 people that support property tax increases doesn't mean those people don't exsist.

Raising taxes is tricky. I know there are people on fixed incomes. I know we are in a tough economy. I don't want to have to pay more. However, we have a responsibility to our children to provide them with the best education possible. That takes money and drastic times call for drastic measures.

I was told by a person (a person that has several children in public schools in Jordan) that they already pay enough in taxes to cover their children's education. The fact is, they don't. We value children and education here, but by and large we don't want to pay for it.

The Jordan PTA and JEA support "increasing taxes, not class sizes."

In my never to be humble opinion, I think that the district should do everything in it's power to cut extras, be responsible with what it already has and cut any waste. Once that has been done, I support a tax increase. I agree that raising the taxes should come last--after everything extra--the biggest salaries, middle-level administrators, programs and activities that are not vital to basic education and don't directly affect the classroom have been reduced or cut. Yes, the legislature, in allowing the split to happen the way it did, did us wrong. Yes, it's not fair. No, I don't like paying more in taxes. But I think, with proper oversight in spending, it has to be a part of the solution. We have to be willing to pay to educate our children.

I have had people tell me that increasing class size by just a few students won't be that big of a deal. It is a HUGE deal. I volunteer every week in my kid's classes. Class sizes are already larger than they have been in the past. Aids have already been cut. Adding another four children to a class will drastically impact the quality of the education they receive.

In asking teachers to do more with less, one of the outcomes will be that some excellent teachers will not stay. They will seek greener pastures where they actually have reasonable class sizes, appropriate pay, and support.

The school board voted to increase class sizes by 4 students per class, along with other cuts. This means 250 teachers will lose their jobs and another 250 other employees will lose their jobs. You can see the board's budget recommendations here:

So, what's a mom like me (and you) to do. Well, I will be asking (when I can again--a person can only speak once in three months on the same subject to the board) to reconsider a tax increase as part of the solution. I have also contacted my state legislators and the governors office to share my concerns.

I am going to the meeting tonight to find out other ways to stay involved and impact change. I will let ya'll know what I find out.

In closing, (and I must thank those of you that read this to the end) I want to encourage you to do research. You may not agree with me, but read up on it and find out where you stand. Find out how this will impact your kids. Also, I encourage you to support your children's teachers. Morale is low. They are worried about their jobs. They are worried how they will be able to do their jobs next year.

Thanks again for reading this op-ed piece. And, are we still friends?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Goodbye February

Is it just me, or did February fly by?

I have been keeping up on taking at least one photo every day. I am actually doing okay at keeping up on scrapbooking them too. I love this project. I am excited for the end of the year when I will have a whole book documenting one year of our lives. It also makes me even more aware of what a blessed life I have.