Archive for April, 2008

*Like father, like son.

April 30, 2008

Last night I went to be early. Early-early, like nine pm. I haven’t been sleeping well and really needed a good night’s sleep.

It was wonderful.

Of course, there’s a BUT.

Actually two BUTS.

One, I missed the blogger bash.

Two, while I was sleeping my husband shaved my son’s head.

Apparently Taylor was hot (they had been playing basketball) and complained about needing a haircut and Chris offered up his clippers and his barbering “skills.”

In an effort to “even things up” his hair got shorter and shorter and shorter. It’s now not hair, per se, but more like “stubble.”

Three weeks to Taylor’s 8th grade graduation and he looks like a cancer patient.

Or, worse, a skin head.

Hopefully his hair will grow fast.

Or all of the photos will have to include his cap and gown!

*My husband is almost completely bald, so maybe he just wanted some company?

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SWPL #101

April 29, 2008

My kids were supposed to have a dance last Friday night. It was cancelled because the teacher that usually sponsers it was ill. No other teacher could do it? Whatever.

Disappointed, my daughter asked to attend the “30 Hour Famine,” hosted by the nearby Methodist church.

What, pray tell, is a “30 Hour Famine?”

Well, the participants don’t eat for, uh, 30 hours.

They sleep outside in cardboard boxes.

All to gain insight into the issues of world hunger and homelessness.

Maybe “needless suffering” should be added to the list of “stuff white people like.”

Because, really, who thinks this is a good idea? (Other than the church down the road from my house? and middle class white people? Oh, yah, one and the same. One and the same.)

They started not-eating at noon Friday and went to the church after school. Reagan was instructed to bring a sleeping bag, pillow and toiletries. (Because most homeless people have sleeping bags, toothpaste and hairbrushes!). Friday evening she called and asked “Can you bring me and A. two large cardboard boxes?”

“Yes, Reagan, we have two people-sized cardboard boxes just lying around the house and they are so unobtrusive you’ve not noticed them.”

Duh.

She made it through the night in the box.

The next morning they served breakfast and lunch at a shelter – the most worthwhile part of the experiment (in my mind) but also the most tortuous. Handing out donuts and sandwiches while one’s stomach rumbles? Good idea.

After working at the shelter the church took the kids to collect food for a food pantry. Also worthwhile, also difficult in the circumstances. They went door to door, carrying tissue thin plastic bags of canned goods.

We had plans Saturday night so Reagan came home early. Came home early, and ate early, twenty-eight hours into the famine; which was more than long enough for her to gain empathy for those that go hungry.

“Those that go hungry.” Due to chance, due to birth, due to life circumstances. Not because they choose to, not because it’s an interesting social experiment.

Spinach, liver and a multi-vitamin.

April 25, 2008

I’m a blood drive reject.

Yes, that tattoo I got last week, the sex I had in Africa two years ago with a man who had sex with another man who is an IV drug user, and those cow brains I ate in England, well, it all caught up with me and now they don’t want my blood.

Well, actually, my life isn’t that…. exciting? dangerous? unappetizing?

Two pricks of iron-poor blood. I offered up a third finger, but was denied.
(Boy, that sounds dirty! I’m sure MM will have a comment!)

Instead of saving a life with my O+, I’m reading a suggestion sheet of iron-rich foods. Talk about unappetizing!

Speaking of math…

April 23, 2008

Last night I was helping Taylor with his math, Algebra 1. The worksheet was entitled “Real Life Applications” and had a blurb at the top extolling the practical uses of the intersection point of two lines.

The sheet had three story problems, all with the same topic.

“Imagine you are walking in the woods along the line 5x + 10y= 35. There are bears (or geese, or squirrels) ahead in the forest, walking (flying) along the line 3y + 4x= 28. Will your path cross the path of the bears (animals?)?”*

First let me say, I love algebra. I was thrilled to solve each equation for the y coordinates, set the two equations equal to one another, solve for x, and plug that x in to get the actual y value, all the while praying this was the right method!

Lesson to son: bring home your textbook even when “it’s just a worksheet.” (2nd lesson, maybe it would be a good idea to pay attention in class so you will know how to do your homework!)

I enjoy story problems, and, yes, he would cross paths with the bears, the squirrels were on the same line, so he’d only see them if they were walking towards each other, and the geese would not fly over his head.

But how is this a real life application? I’m not a hiking expert, but I doubt that bears walk along a straight line. Or that, in planning a hiking route, one could predict that the geese would be at a slope of 3/5th’s….

*Sorry, I don’t have the worksheet with me, so these aren’t the actual equations, incase anyone out there is checking my math!

Math

April 22, 2008

Recently a friend told me about her son’s placement test for high school math. Many, many children failed the test; including her son, who is smart and a good student.

The parents were puzzled and asked to see a copy of the test.

They were shocked when it turned out to be fairly rudimentary – simple math such as fractions and percents – math an 8th grader should easily complete.

The problem?

The kids had been using calculators for the last few years, and couldn’t remember how to do the math without them.

I fear this problems is rife amongst middle schools. My kids are both good at math; it’s a class they get “A’s” in without much effort. And both seem to lack common sense math skills. They use calculators at school regularly, and if you ask either of them a question such as “How many eggs are in 2/3 of a dozen?” They will get the answer, but it won’t be immediate. (And the first guess will often be wrong!)

It seems the school assumes, “okay, we’ve mastered this objective,” and allows calculators for those functions, forgetting that math is very much “use it or lose it.”

Another example, the other day I was at our local grocery store and needed some cash back; my items totalled $6.51. I asked the clerk for $15.00 back. She looked confused and said $25? “No,” I replied, “just $15.” She said, “Oh, but how much would that be?”

I was shocked.

The girl was in high school, working at a grocery store and couldn’t add $6.51 plus $15.00?

And the other day I rented four movies with a 50% off discount card. The computer said I owed $11.00. For four rentals? Doubled (pre-discount) that would be $22.00 for movies that rent for less than $3.00 each. I questioned it; yes, the discount card was still good.

The employee looked totally bewildered, no bells rang in her head that this wasn’t a reasonable amount. I literally could not convince her that I was right because the computer screen “said so.” The manager came over, perused the screen and realized that one of the movies had been sold to me, rather than rented.

Where is the common sense? Where is the intrinsic knowledge of numbers and the ability to realize, not even so much the correct answer, but that an answer is not even “in the ballpark?”

As a consumer it’s annoying; as a parent it’s alarming. I want my to children understand numbers, to have a deeper comprehension of math – not just have the ability to punch numbers into a machine and read a resulting answer.

Expelled

April 21, 2008

Drug addicts doctor shop, looking for pain meds. My daughter church shops, not looking for God, but for fun activities. Bowling? A lock-in? She’s there. Bible Study? Not so much.

She goes to the youth group at two local churches, Methodist and Presbyterian. Despite my atheistic ways, I’ve always figured, “no harm, no foul,” assuming she’s young and will find her way.

Until now.

This past Sunday Reagan went with the Presbyterian Church youth group to a movie. Before we left for Taylor’s games I asked “What movie?” But she didn’t know. Lax Relaxed parent that I am, I figured, “it’s a church thing, I’m sure they won’t see anything rated worse than pg-13.”

And they didn’t, but worse then viewing a teen sex comedy or slasher flick; they saw “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.”

Shit. Anti-evolution propaganda.

When will people realize that evolution is not a liberal vs. conservative issue?

That someone can believe in evolution and still believe in a God?

That “scientist” is a job description that does not equate to “atheist?”

Evolution and a creator are not mutually exclusive-unless you believe in a strict intrepretation of the Old Testament (Interpreting the “Earth created in seven days” jazz as a literal 168 hours), in which case I hope you aren’t eating shrimp or wearing clothes of mixed fibers.

I asked Reagan about the movie and she said “It was REALLY BORING! I slept through half of it and so did Venus.”

When I questioned the topic she shrugged and said “You know that religion, the one named after a guy and it ends with ‘-ism?'”

“Buddism?”

“No.”

We made a few other guesses, before clues led to “Darwinism.”

“Well, they compared ‘Darwinism’ to Hitler.”

Wow… that’s the main point my daughter took away from the movie? (The half she didn’t sleep through!)

First, how grotesque, to take a world tragedy and use it to further a political agenda.

Second, it’s patently false. Equating natural selection to the willful extermination of people by Hitler is CUH-RAZY. It’s a false argument, because even IF (is there any evidence of this?) Hitler was a HUGE fan of evolution, would that mean that the theory evolution is erroneous?

A madman perverting science for his own use does not make scientific findings untrue.

And it’s pretty sickening that the movie felt compelled to use such an intellectually weak, but emotionally forceful argument.

I’m glad my daughter is smart; she’s analytical; basically, she’s pretty hard to bullshit, but how many of the other kids that saw this movie believed it?

I am disappointed in myself, for not quizzing Reagan more rigorously about the youth group plans. I’m also disappointed in the church, because regardless of the church’s views regarding evolution, I can’t believe they took them to see such revolting tripe.

If you wish to read more about the movie:
wiki post
the movie’s website

Rare Form

April 15, 2008

Both of my kids were needlessly and endlessly aggravating last night.

Reagan, who has pleaded with me not to attend her Scholastic Bowl meets (“You make me nervous!”), upon hearing that I have a hair appointment tonight said “You aren’t coming to my Scholastic Bowl meet? I feel really special. I guess you care more about your hair than your daughter!”

To which I responded “Yep.”

Taylor, when questioned about homework responded, “*Jesus! MOM! I didn’t even have class today!” (They had gone on a day long trip to the Lincoln Museum).

His Game Cube, PS2 and X-Box are now residing in my closet, not to be played for many a week.

Sometimes it just makes me think, WTF is wrong with my kids? They rarely get in trouble for their actions, it’s almost always their attitudes that are the problem.

Really, how hard would it have been for Taylor to say, politely, “I don’t have any homework today?” It would have saved him a scolding and a technological grounding.

Or for Reagan to say, “I’d really like you to go to my Scholastic Bowl meet?” (Of course, I think she didn’t say that because she doesn’t actually want me to go to the meet; she just wants me to feel bad that I’m not going.)

Recently I asked my mom if I was as difficult a teen as Reagan and even she said “Well, I don’t think you were as dramatic.”

To be honest, I wasn’t that well behaved, I went to parties and drank underage. I smoked pot (once), smoked a cigarette (once), lied about my whereabouts (thousands of times), skipped school (a few times) and generally was pretty foolish.

However, I was PLEASANT about it. I lied with a CHEERFUL demeanor. And, in an effort to stay under the radar, I had a GOOD attitude.

Again, I ponder, WTF is the matter with my kids?

*Despite our lack of religion I hate it when my son says “Jesus!;” I find it disprespectful to those who are religious and Taylor is reprimanded for saying it. (Of course, the reprimands haven’t worked yet, so we might need to work on Plan B, maybe a substitute word of annoyance, like Harold!”)

“Hiding the crazy (barely).”

April 11, 2008

Forever Awhile ago I was challenged by Lolly to write a six (or less) word autobiography.

I’ve been struggling with this; mainly because every description I come up with isn’t really about ME, but about my role in other people’s lives.

Mother

“Ruining our lives, warping our minds”

Wife

“Too much naggin’, not enough lovin'”

Friend

“Loyal, chatty, ready for adventure”

Daughter

“Scheduler, hostess, eldest”

Sister

“Bossy buttinsky”

Employee

“Lazy”

Volunteer

“Slow bleeder, great baker”

It leaves me questioning, “Who am I?” and how can I not answer this at the age of thirty-six?

Now to the fun part; I’m passing on the six word bio challange to:

Secret Server
Names Have Been Changed
Notes From the Trailorhood
Pointlessly Hypertechnical
The Legel Report
Miss Nomer’s Musings
Morton Malaise
(I won’t hold it against you if you bail!)

They’re only in 7th grade!

April 10, 2008

I just picked up Reagan from Scholastic Bowl. When she got in the car she said “I’m not supposed to tell anyone but you don’t count. ‘John’ is going to kiss ‘Amber’ at the game tomorrow night.”

Me: “Really? How does she know?”

Reagan: “He told her!”

Me: “Wow, is that a threat or a promise?”

Over the hill.

April 8, 2008

My kids’ school is very small and they attend K thru high school with all the same kids. This has some advantages, especially for my son, who has a hard time adjusting to new situations and doesn’t like large groups.

For my daughter this is a tremendous hardship; all the boys in her class are either extremely “dorky” or are her friends, rather than romantic interests. She was lamenting this since they have a dance later this month.

Attempting to cheer her up I said “Well, in a way, it’s okay, you should be focusing on your school work, extra-curricular activities, and friends. You’ll have plenty of time later, in college, to date.”

Her response, “But, Mommmmmm, then I’ll be OLD!”