Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1st Day of Umping

Last night was my son's first day of umping. This is just a picture of him playing in the last game. I'll have to get a picture of him umping. I guess he did pretty well! He only let a kid get 4 strikes one time. He said he was nervous for the first batter, then he felt confident. He made all the calls nice and loud and only had one shout out from the stands:

"STRIKE? That's more like golfing! FOUR!"

It's a good thing that happened after my husband left. He told me he would escort anyone out of there who was mean to him.

Here's my son pitching in last weeks game during the rain. It was a steady drizzle and got so dark, he couldn't even see the plate. That was pretty difficult for him.

During the game I looked over at one of the dads and saw his camera pointing at me! I thought, "I hope he's not taking one of me!". He was. He took tons of pictures of the whole team with his new fancy camera and sent them to the everyone. That was very nice of him. They came out really good, except for mine.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Anyone Watch Survivor?

For me, that was the saddest and most frustrating episode I ever saw! Early in the show yesterday, my son and I had Eric picked out as the winner. I guessed that he'd be up against Amanda for the final two. My son guessed he'd be up against Cirie.

As soon as I heard Cirie mention the plan to get his immunity idol I said, "Oh, no!". I knew it was the end. Some may call him dumb, but I just feel sorry for him! He was too trusting. The girls were just plain mean. I just hope Natalie doesn't win. My favorite one of the whole show was Jason. His pathetic ending was similar to Eric's. He decided not to use his immunity idol because he believed the others were going to vote someone else out. Here's my new pick for winner:

Don't forget to watch the season finale on Sunday. So did you see Survivor last night? What did you think? Also, who's your pick for the winner?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gas Prices Still on the Rise!

California has the highest gas prices in the US. Luckily some of the parents are starting to carpool to away games and other events. Is anyone else starting to ride their bikes and walk more? Where we live in Northwestern PA gas is at $3.61, higher than the national average. What is the price of gas where you live?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day. I didn't even realize it until we were getting my 7-year old ready for bed last night and he stated that he needed an Earth Day hat for today. "I won't be allowed to be in the Earth Day parade if I don't have an Earth Day hat made out of recycled stuff!"

(Ugh!) "Go tell your dad."

I went upstairs to put my daughter to bed and found my husband folding, taping, and cutting the comic's section of the newspaper. I looked at him with a blank look. THAT is going to be his Earth Day hat? Then I looked at my son. He had a HUGE smile on his face.

"Can I wear it on the way to school tomorrow?"

"Sure! And what a great job YOU did on that hat!"

"Dad made it."

(I know.)

I didn't realize that today was even Earth Day, but I find myself being more and more environmentally conscious all the time. What's on my mind mostly now is using less gas. I'm trying to drive as little as possible. I've been walking my son to and home from school every day. My husband even rides his bike to work. It's pretty far, about a 20 minute drive across town.

I also try not to give my kids ride to places that they can walk. Yesterday my daughter asked me if I could drive her to her friend's house that was about 5 blocks away. "No. You can walk or ride your bike. And on your way could you stop at Grandma's house and pick up her paper for her (to save me a trip)?"

Then my 12-year old son's friend called and asked if he could go golfing. "Sure. Why don't you guys walk there?" It's only a few blocks away. His friend replied, "I'm not allowed to. And could YOUR mom drive us there?"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Beautiful Day for a Day Off of School

Yesterday the kids had the day off of school. It was a built in snow day to use if we had any snow days to make up, but we didn't, surprisingly! It was also the nicest day to have the day off. It was sunny and about 70'.

One of my sons went fishing in the creek across the street.

My oldest daughter just "hung out" under a tree.

My 4-year old just runs around everyone all day.

My 12-year old played two rounds of golf and then some basketball.

What did I do? The usual - raking, washing windows, laundry, scrubbing down the back of the house.

So what do you do on a beautiful day like this?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Couple of Good Deals

I must admit, I love to shop. But what I love most of all, is a good deal. Here are a couple of good deals that I came upon recently:

Sign up for sale alerts at Kohl's online and receive a $5.00 coupon to use on anything in the store and also a 10% coupon for any online purchase.

Also, today is the last day for free shipping at Lands End. I bought myself a pair of sandals, but they have some great clearance items. For example, kids action sandals are only $7.99.

They also have TONS of women's bathing suits on sale.

I love Lands End because I can return the items at Sears, so I don't have to pay for shipping. Also, you can return any item, for any reason, at any time, even without a receipt! What store can say that nowadays?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

I'm finally back to the bloggy world! This is the longest break I've taken. I think I could spend the whole day today just reading everyone's blogs and commenting!

I've been working hard all week trying to finish my spring cleaning. BTW, I'm still not finished. I've washed windows, curtains, carpets, cleaned closets, organized bedrooms, and on and on. I still need to clean my couches, finish washing windows and curtains, clean the garage and basement, and tons of outside work. I wish I was one of the lucky ones who could just hire someone to do it!

In the middle of all this cleaning, my dryer broke! Help! I was just getting ready to do FIVE loads when my dryer wouldn't turn back on. I already had it fixed once, and it IS 15 years old, so we decided to just buy a new one. Problem was, the dryer we picked out wouldn't be delivered for a week! I have four kids and can't go one day without doing laundry, so I've been taking all my wet laundry to my mom's house. It took up a lot of my time.

So anyway, my husband found a great deal online! We paid only $260! It was a clearance model that just happened to be top of the line! How could I pass this up? There are so many buttons, that I need to study the manual just to figure out how to work it.

I'm sure I won't use all the options, but one really cool feature - the sweater dryer. You lay your sweater neatly on the rack to it doesn't get tossed around in the dryer. Hey, who knows, maybe the antibacterial cycle will come in handy! I just got it yesterday, so I play on trying it all out today, along with catching up on all my blogging!

Monday, April 7, 2008

I was tagged by Cathy at A Bit of the Blarney.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player tags 5 people and posts their name, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

What I was doing 10 years ago:

Ten years ago I only had two kids and was living in my old small house. I didn't realize how easy I had it then!

Five Snacks I enjoy:

1. Ice Cream
2. Chocolate
3. Nachos
4. Homemade Cookies
5. Chips and Dip

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. A billion dollars is a lot of money. Of course I would give to charities!
2. Buy a new house with a bigger yard.
3. Travel - England, Hawaii, Caribbean.
4. Buy a house in Hilton Head.
5. Go out to eat more often!

Five jobs that I have had:

1. Teacher
2. Pizza maker
3. Convenience store clerk
4. Wife
5. Stay-at-home mommy

Three of my habits:

1. Blogging too much!
2. Playing Spider Solitaire (I love to play the hard version).
3. Always looking at what I need to clean next.

Five place I have lived: (This is easy)

1. Northwestern, PA
2. Northwestern, PA
3. Northwestern, PA
4. Northwestern, PA
5. Northwestern, PA

(Yes, I've lived in the same city my whole life!)

Five People I Want to Get to Know Better: (a nice way of saying TAG!)

1. Thankful for Another Day
2. Renaissance Mama
3. The Journey Begins Here
4. Stuck in Frump, Striving for Fab
5. Juggling Life

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm a garbage collector

I don't go to a lot of garage sales. I usually only go to the ones in my neighborhood. What I really like to do, though, is take home the good stuff that other people are throwing away. I usually find my "treasures" while on my walks.

I picked up this really nice basket just last Sunday. We were coming home from my mom's house and I told my husband to pull over. He didn't want to, but I wouldn't take no for an answer. I told my son to go see if it looked all right. Meanwhile, hubby was practically hiding under the seat from embarrassment. Who couldn't use a basket like this? Why just let this get thrown into the landfill?

This is a makeup table I got from another neighbor's house. I didn't even know this neighbor, but I saw her putting it out and met her. It was her table from when she was little. It has a glass top which was in perfect condition. I painted it white, and now my daughter uses it every day.

I picked up this desk from another neighbor. It's actually a student desk, but I painted it white, and put it next to our bookcases in our bedroom. My husband uses it all the time to do work on his laptop.

The weirdest thing I ever picked up:
Yes, I really did. I was, once again, on my Sunday evening walk, when I noticed a bag of cat litter at the end of my neighbor's driveway. It had a sign on it :FREE CAT LITTER

I thought, what kind of joke is this? Then I saw in smaller print, "We changed the kind of litter we used." Oh, it's UNUSED litter. Well, I have a cat. He doesn't care what kind of litter is in his box. I may as well bring it home. Also, I knew this neighbor. She and her husband are both teachers at the local college. They're normal people. When I got home and walked in the door I said, "Hey, dear, you'll never believe what I brought home tonight!"

"I don't believe it!", he said.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Every Day Is Earth Day

Yesterday was such a beautiful day! It was sunny and warm. The kids were all playing outside (in the mud). I decided to take my youngest two across the street to our little park to pick up some of the garbage left over from the winter.

Usually we go over a few times a year to clean it up. I haven't been there for about a whole year. There was so much garbage! We each took a bag to fill up, and we had to dump our bags three times back at home. I've never seen anyone else over there cleaning up. Just at the end of the street there were about 6 milk cartons stuck in the bushes. All the plastic bags... We cleaned up the leftovers of a teenager's party. It was quite an adventure - fishing cans out of a lake that had formed, climbing through bushes, and stepping in what my son called (quick sand).

April 19 is the United Way Day of Caring. Our Boy Scouts will be cleaning up the beach. Afterwards, lunch will be provided. That's great. It teaches the kids that in order to keep our world clean, we all need to work together. But why do we need a special day to clean up? EVERY day should be Earth Day! We should all work together to not only keep our beaches clean, but our neighborhoods, too. I've been looking at the garbage across the street for weeks now. No one else ever goes over to help. The Day of Caring will be filled with people.

This was my recycling can that was empty before we started picking up the garbage. This does not include the non-recyclables that were thrown in the regular cans.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

My Purse

This is funny because only us women can relate. What do you carry in your purse? OHMommy challenged me to share the contents of my purse with the bloggy world. I would love to take a look into everone's purse. My hubby just can't understand why we want to know? Because we're girls! This is what we do!

I think my purse reflects me. It's nothing really that special. Having 4 kids and being a SAHM doesn't allow me to spend too much on myself. I've recently downsized. My purse is just big enough to carry my essentials, but not too big so it doesn't become a catch-all. I weed out all the junk every time I sit down to write the bills. I used to carry a large purse, but then I decided all it did for me was allow me to carry too many papers and toys.

This is my purse:

After looking at this photo, I realized my wallet has seen better days, and I need a new one! I have $61.00 in it. I always carry cash because being a mom of 4, three of which are in school, I'm always handing money out for something - lunch money, allowance, money for the book fair, etc

I also carry my checkbook, Rimmel Stay Matte powder foundation, glasses (I only use them to drive at night or to watch a movie), coupon books for the local restaurants (my mother-in-law bought these for me), 50/50 tickets that my boys are selling for their baseball teams, lip gloss, and lip liner.

In my little side pocket, I have my cell phone, insurance and library card, chap stick, Bath and Body Works lip gloss, my son's money, and tweezers (I was looking for those!).

At the bottom of my purse, I found my car keys, a cherry Halls cough drop, and a quarter.

Now I want to see what's in your purse! Will you show and tell? I challenge Lizzy, Becky Leslie, Debbie, Leah, Kila, Kitty, Mary, Dawn, Summer, BurghBaby, Zoe, Shellie, and Amy. Is there anyone else who would like to do it? Please share!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Son!

Today is my older son's birthday. He turned 12 today. I love to celebrate my kids birthdays. I love how excited they get. We're not doing anything big, just inviting a few of his friends over for pizza, cupcakes, and of course, video games.

When I was younger, I could never imagine myself with older kids. I didn't want to imagine myself with older kids! Now that I have two in middle school, I love it more than anything. They're just taking their first steps into becoming an adult by doing a lot of things for themselves and becoming more independent, but he still loves his mommy and hugs and kisses me every day. He would be embarassed if he knew I was saying this!

My now twelve-year old was both my easiest and hardest baby out of all four. I had him one week late, and knew he was going to be a large baby. I was induced at 7:00 in the morning and he literally popped out only 3 hours later, broken collar bone and all. He weighed in at... 9lb 11 oz! He's still a big baby, I mean big boy today. And I just thanked him yesterday for being the most easy-going of my kids. He replied, "Your welcome, mommy!".

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kids' Misunderstandings...

Just about as fast as my son got so terribly sick the other day, he got
better. His missed his library day at school and was very upset because
he wanted to get a magic book, so I told him I would get him one from the library. I found this neat magic book for kids with simple tricks to do. He was very excited. He learned how to do the levitating lady. Then he told me, "But mom! I want to learn how to do REAL magic tricks!". At 7, he still didn't know that magic tricks were actually tricks and not real.

Meanwhile yesterday, my 4-year old was very upset. She calls her 11-year old brother her "boyfriend". She told me that he said he wouldn't marry her, though he does love her very much. I tried to explain to her that brothers and sisters can't marry each other. She burst into tears! "But I WANT to marry him!" So cute. Next she asked me, "Then how do mommys and daddys marry each other?", as if they were always family. I wonder what else the kids are confused about!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The First Day of School

Today my kids went back to their new middle school. It was like the first day of school. They've been off school for the last 10 days for spring break. My daughter couldn't sleep last night and was up before her alarm went off.

As you may know, our middle school has been under construction for the past year and a half. This is the first time my sixth grader is going to a real middle school. My 6th and 8th grader are in the same school together now. The best part is that my daughter can sleep in! She was being bussed to an old city school and had to get up at 6 to catch the bus at 6:45. Now she can sleep in until 7 because school doesn't start until 8:20 and they can walk there! They have special "green" tshirts to wear to school today, and my daughter walked out the door in just the tshirt! It was only 29' ! I told her she had to wear a jacket and she said she had one, a sweatshirt over her arm. The sun was shining and there was no wind. For us here up north, this is considered a beautiful day.

Going back to their own middle school affects me too! Before I had to set my alarm at 6:15 to make sure my daughter was up. Then I'd go back to bed at 6:45 and reset my alarm for 7:15 to make sure my son was up. Then I'd go back to bed again for another 15 minutes and make sure he was out the door by 7:45. Now I can just get up at 7:15! Also, my daughter has soccer practice after school today and I don't have to pick her up from downtown! She can walk home with her friend! Her temp school was in a pretty bad neighborhood. When I used to pick her up, one of the city schools was just getting out of school, too. They were a rough bunch. They used to walk down the middle of the street and stare at you. One time one kid pushed another kid into my car. Another time my daughter was waiting outside the school from soccer tryouts for my husband to pick her up, and a bunch of kids from that city school were walking down the street. The kids started to walk up to my daughter and her friends with snowballs in their hands. One of the girls, and they were bigger kids, said, "I'd run if I were you!". Well my daughter and her friends DID run back into the school and told a teacher. I guess this is why EVERY student has to either take the bus or get a ride home from school there. Now we don't have to worry about that anymore.

So after having these last 10 days off, my 7-year old, the school hater, woke up sick. I was all ready to send him anyway when I noticed his cheeks were flushed... 102.9 temp! He's staying home today.

Changing subjects... I was watching my favorite The Bachelor last night when I noticed very quickly the words "The Mole" go across the screen. No commercial, just the words for a split second. Did I just see The Mole? That used to be my favorite TV show! I ran to the computer and searched for ABC The Mole and found an article about it coming back and they're casting people! No, I'm not going to tryout for it. I'm just super excited to watch it! I told my daughter about it last night when she couldn't sleep and she said, "Oh, that's just great! Now I'm REALLY not going to be able to sleep!" It's coming on this summer.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I was tagged my by new bloggy friend Maria at God's Blessings for Seven Random Things...

Rules are:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

So here are my 7 random things:

  1. I love to cook and eat! I love to try new recipes, bake cakes and pies, make fancy drinks. I wish I had more time to do it, though. Someday when the kids are older...

  2. I'm 37 and just started jogging this year. I've never been a runner, and still don't do it as much as I'd like, but I love the feeling that I actually CAN run!

  3. My favorite vacation spot is Hilton Head, South Carolina! We've gone with my family now 4 times and we have our house booked for this summer too! To me, it's the most beautiful place in the US. I've never been to Hawaii, but I bet it's the closest thing to it.

  4. I have one sister, Irene, and no brothers. Growing up, I always wished I had a big family like some of our neighbors, or The Brady Bunch, or Eight Is Enough. I always knew I wanted a large family and now have 2 boys and 2 girls. I'd have more if I had the time and money!

  5. One embarassing fact... I'm afraid to put my toes under my bed. When I make my bed, I have to stand far enough away so that they don't stick under the dust ruffle. One time I decided I wasn't going to be afraid anymore and made my bed with my toes sticking under my bed. "Ouch!" My CAT was under my bed and attacked my toes! Never again have I done that!

  6. I can't go to bed without reading. Even if I go to bed really late, I still have to read at least a couple of pages. I'm reading an Agatha Christie book now.

  7. My house is a constant work in progress. We are living in our second fixer upper and have even redone some of the rooms two times! I always have plans in my head about what I want to do next. I want to put in a gas fireplace and built in bookcases in my living room, and add a closet and paint our mudroom next.

I don't know who hasn't done this meme yet, so please do it if you haven't!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doing Jigsaw Puzzles

When was the last time you sat down and worked a jigsaw puzzle? We finally started my son's baseball puzzle yesterday that he got for Christmas. The kids really love doing them, as long as I do them with them. We found that this one is our favorite kind of puzzle. It's called White Mountain. There's so much detail and so much going on in it, that we each pick a different part of the puzzle to work on, then combine our parts and start working together. We also have the Presidents and Historic Pennsylvania ones.

It's so funny how after a while of working on a puzzle, the kids start to get so weird! My youngest two stopped for a while to dance to the music on a Finding Nemo book. My oldest was saying the weirdest comments back to them. I even found myself singing old commercials and other things that I'm too embarrassed to admit to.

Try one of these White Mountain puzzles with your kids! It's a nice changed from video games. It's also nice spending that much time with the kids. We only spent about... four hours!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


When I first married my husband, he only had a few haircuts at the barber before he started to ask me to cut his hair. At first I didn't want to. I didn't know how. He said he didn't care. "Just cut it shorter." I purchased a pair of cheap hair scissors at the grocery store and have cut his hair ever since! His hair is really short, and not to mention not very much there anymore, so you'd never guess it was done by me.

When I had kids, I cut their hair when they were little. My 14-year old only had her first real haircut just last year when she wanted to get layers. I really didn't want to try that.

Last summer my 11-year old wanted to grow out his short hair. His hair grows really fast and I didn't cut it for the end of 5th grade and the whole summer. At the end of the summer he got his first real haircut. After all, he was going to be a big 6th grader in the big middle school! I couldn't cut his hair after that because I don't know how to do anything stylish. Well tonight I decided he needed a little trim, and I didn't want to spend any money, so I gave him a haircut. I think it came out pretty good! I'm proud of myself! I even changed it a little. I parted it on the side. I don't know if I can keep this up with him without ruining it completely, but boy am I saving money doing this. Haircuts for six people would really add up fast! By the way, he liked it, too.

That's my 7-year old looking up at his "cool" big brother. I gave him a haircut tonight, too, but it's nothing very exciting.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Finally a New Computer

We got our scratch and dent Dell a couple of days ago. That's why I haven't been on anyone's blogs lately. We've been trying to fix it! Every time we get on the internet, it freezes up! We called Dell, they walked us through all kinds of steps and told us it's good as new. The next day, it froze up again. We called again, they walked us through all kinds of steps, and said it was as good as new. Yesterday, again, the computer froze up. We called AGAIN, same thing, as good as new. Well we tried it out after we got off the phone with them. It froze up again! So, anyway, we're still trying to fix it, and we're not very happy about it.

Yesterday we went to go visit the new "green" middle school that my 11 and 14-year olds will be attending after spring break. It was very nice!

The windows are arranged in a way to allow maximum sunlight, so they can cut down on the electricity. They got all new tables and chairs. I'm left-handed. I remember being in school and sitting in those desks that are made for right-handed.

This is family consumer science. Look at the beautiful appliances!

My daughter will finally have a locker again, though they look a little small. I don't know how they'll ever get a three-ringed binder in there.

My favorite part of the school is the auditorium. It's the same stage, just refinished. There are all new seats and carpeting, and the whole thing is now handicapped accessible. Also, they're going to rent out the auditorium when it is needed.

This it the courtyard. We found what they did with the old chalkboards! Maybe they're going to use it as an outdoor classroom?

The gym was beautiful! They refinished the old floors and doors, put in new bleachers on both sides of the gym, opened up the ceiling and added insulation. It used to get so beastly hot in there during the basketball games! They also added a workout room!

In my opinion, the cafeteria was the what need the most work. Before, there were only two lunch lines. When I went here, we stood in line with our lunch until lunch period was over! Now there are different counters that you pick and choose what you want and 4 places to pay. They have a pasta bar, a salad bar, a deli bar, a snack bar with fruit slushies, hot pretzels, and baked chips, an a la carte line, and the full lunch.

I'm embarrassed to say this is my daughter and her friends. She just got out of soccer tryouts. She usually doesn't look this way! I made her take off that ugly black hat. By the way, she made the team. Actually everyone who tried out made the team because there weren't enough girls. Oh, see the sink in the background of this picture? It's a demonstration sink, not for drinking or even washing hands. It's rainwater that was collected from the roof and powered by wind and the sun. For such an expensive school, I'm impressed that it's so nice, without being over-the-top.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Enjoy the Days We Get

It's March now, and for many of us, we are looking forward to getting rid of the snow we have and seeing some signs of spring.

Call me crazy, but I can actually say I'm enjoying this weather! The huge snowstorm over the weekend was exciting. The kids never had so much fun playing in the snow. The bitter temperatures of winter are gone, along with the strong cold winds. Last night I went for a run/walk (all by myself) and it was wonderful! The streets were bare, so I could actually run. There was no wind. It was just starting to get dark, but it was still a little light out. The snow was falling in thick snowflakes. Just beautiful. I'll have to go again tonight.

Take advantage of the weather we get. There's nothing we can do to change it. It's a great time to get your spring cleaning inside your house, before the weather changes and you want to spend all your time outside.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

We really got dumped on with snow this weekend. This is what it looked like today after the streets finally got cleared. Can you see my mailbox peeking out? They said it was coming, but I don't think we really believed how much. Saturday morning we woke up to about 1/2 - 2 feet of the stuff. This would have been the kids first day off for a snow day in about 10 years, if it didn't happen on a weekend! We're use to a lot of snow because we live right off the lake and get big lake effect storms. The plows are always ready. My daughter couldn't even go to her friends birthday party who lived about 2 minutes away! My son slept over his friends house the night before. I told him he had to walk home because we couldn't even get out of the driveway, let alone down the street. His friend's house was only 3 blocks away, but my son had no jacket, hat, gloves, or even boots! His friend's dad actually dropped them both off in their 4-wheel drive car, so it worked out fine.

The kids had the best weekend anyway. A bunch of the neighbors came over and they played outside all day. Then most of them slept over one of their houses, and played again all day today. Though they're all ready for spring, a huge snowstorm like this was so exciting for them. I must admit, I enjoyed it too!

Cathy at A Bit of the Blarney gave me this great friend award:
Thank you Cathy! I will send it on to Leslie.

I was also tagged for a meme by Lizzy at Life According to Lizzy.

Here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).

2. Open the book to page 123.

3. Find the fifth sentence.

4. Post the next three sentences.

5. Tag five people.

OK. This is one of the nearest books: M..... on the Orient Express. I'm going to start reading more Agatha Christie books.

" 'Shall we now see the Italian?' Poirot did not reply for the moment. He was studying a grease spot on a Hungarian diplomatic passport. "

Does it make you want to read it? I don't know who hasn't done this one yet, so if you haven't, you're tagged.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Did you see this study about homework that was done by Penn State University? It states that "Too Much Homework Can Be Counterproductive". I never had homework until I was in 4Th grade (and by the way even that was too much). Parents of young kids know all about the crazy hours when their kids come home from school, they have homework to do, the phone is ringing, you're trying to cook dinner.

I think what bothers me the most is the time it takes away from other things. When my 1st grader gets homework, I have to tell him that he can't play with his friend after school until it's done. I usually end up telling my 4-year old to be quiet and go play in the other room. I feel tension starting to rise.

I want to just be able to have conversations with my kids when they come home. I want to hear about their day. I want to have time to teach them things that I feel are important to my family. I also want them to have free time to play and get some exercise. I've heard that homeschoolers spend about 3 hours a day on schoolwork, and get way more done that in a traditional classroom. So why should my kids have to come home from a long day at school, and do even more work? Sometimes it's obviously just plain busy work. There's just so much wasted time at school, like when my son had to sit in the office during recess writing his name 10 times because he forgot to write his name on his paper.

Feel free to pass this article around.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I wasn't going to post today, because I had such a bad day yesterday. Then I decided to just post about my troubles.

I had it out with my 1st grader's teacher yesterday. Well, not literally, but it wasn't a very pleasant conversation. I had emailed her once before asking if she could get some extra help to my son for his spelling words. He's struggling learning the new words, and we're spending entirely too much time studying for his tests. I feel like he's just not learning them well enough in school. She responded by telling ME how to study more, and that she could send the words home with him over the weekend so he could start during the weekend. My son already hates school. He spends too much time doing homework already. He REALLY doesn't want to do homework every weekend. He IS only in first grade! My older kids don't even get that much homework, and when they do, it doesn't involve all my time.

Tuesday night, my husband came home from work and spent the entire evening "helping" my son make his science project, a camel made out of recyclable materials. There is NO WAY for him to do it by himself. He wouldn't know what or where to get the materials. He could not use hot glue by himself. When my son went to bed that night, I looked in his book bag and saw his other homework that was supposed to be done: a math worksheet (that I needed to read the instructions to), TWO books that he needed to read to me and have me sign, and his lovely spelling words that needed to be studied (his test was even a day early this week because there's no school on Friday).

I emailed my son's teacher yesterday morning and informed her that his homework is taking much longer than the 10 minutes allotted for first graders, more like 1/2 hour - 45 minutes, and that's time that I have to be right there to help him with. She called me. She said she didn't have any time to help my son except during his recess. She told me that was my son's choice to do his project on the last day, and that she's not going to do anything differently with the homework. I told her that was NOT my son's choice. What 1rst grader could do the project without their parent? My husband is very busy and he wanted to do it then with my son. I was surprised she would send home so much homework the night before the science project was due. She reprimanded ME by saying that it was OUR decision then to wait to do it. Then she said she didn't want to talk anymore because she didn't like where this conversation was going. The conversation ended by her telling me that I could just read the books to my son and to write a note if his homework takes too long to do. (That's basically what I did!)

Well, my son came home from school and said:

"Guess what mom? I have someone to help me with my spelling words in school! They're helping me after recess!" Wow! Maybe I DID help him, after all.

"And guess what mom? I know how to spell crayon! C-O-L-O-R!" Close enough.

Then my daughter called me at the end of the school day:

"Mom, I'm not staying after school today for ASL (Academic Sports League). I'm not in the mood. I just got detention."

"For what?"

"For wearing jeans with a hole in them."

Bad, bad girl.

Well she DID bring home her project from the music of the 30's and 40's. She got a 100%. The teacher commented that she loved the CD cover. (Good job dad!)

So now today, I have to pick her up from school at 3:20, and my 1rst grader gets out of school at 3:25 and is about 15 minutes away from my daughter's school. I always pick him up because there's always a problem with him walking home from school. Either someone chases him home trying to hit him, or the older kids complain he's walking in the street, or someone is throwing snowballs at him. So today my 1rst grader has to walk home by himself, and I may not even be home by the time he gets home. I told him to wait on the front porch if I'm not there. Lovely, huh?

So this is why my mom thinks I'm getting closer to homeschooling. I'd kind of like to, but my daughter, especially, would miss her friends.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What a beautiful day it was yesterday. We started the day with a visit to my sister's house, and ended with a million kids at my house. I use to not really believe it when people would tell me that all the kids play at their house, and they want it that way. Then they know what their kids are doing. Now I feel that way, not because I don't trust the kids, but because I just like my kids around. I also like to know their friends better. It gives my youngest something to do, too. While I was cooking dinner, all the kids and a ton of their friends were outside. I actually could talk to my husband! We were only interrupted about 10 times, instead of 100 times.

For dinner I made delicious stuffed shells with homemade sauce, garlic bread, and a salad. My husband thought it was too fattening. My boys didn't want it, so they made themselves a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. My youngest had a bite, and decided she wanted peanut butter and jelly, too. My husband did eat it, buy my daughter was the only one of my kids to eat it. She made up for the rest of them by eating seconds because it was "SO GOOD!". Aren't they crazy?

The nice weather must have put me in a good mood, because I ran out yesterday to get the next season of Gilmore Girls (season 3) to watch with my daughter. We're so hooked. I feel lucky to have someone to want to watch it with me as much as I do. Watch the prices when you buy TV seasons on DVD. Boy do they vary! I got it for $20 at Best Buy and can probably sell it on EBay used for about the same price. Across the street at Circuit City, they sell it for $60! Sometimes it goes on sale for $15 at Target.

My husband has been researching new computers. My sister Irene is getting a new Dell, so we decided to research what we could get. We were surprised how inexpensive a refurbished Dell is. Just about the same time, our computer seems to be getting worse by the minute. I think it's about to go. For a while now it has been freezing up. We took our computer in to be fixed a few months ago, and the guy told us our motherboard had melted (?) pieces in it and he didn't know how much longer it would last. Now our computer won't even turn on right. Yesterday it took FIVE tries! Hopefully we can get our new one going before this one is completely gone. If I suddenly vanish from bloggyland, you'll know why.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Family Traditions

Most everyone has some kind of family traditions. One of our's is dinner at Baba's (my mom's). We go there almost every Sunday. Tonight was pork chops, mashed potatoes, salad, veggies, and yes, wings on the side made especially by request by my son. For dessert was my other son's favorite, "The Most Dicious (delicious) Cake", chocolate cake with chocolate sour cream frosting. Usually it's the six of us, my cousin, my aunt, and my parents. Sometimes my sister and her five will be in town, too.

Tonight, though, my oldest two weren't there. They were snowboarding probably for the last time this season.
We brought home the leftovers and they SCARFED it ALL UP! After snowboarding all day with nothing to eat, they were starving.

These Sunday dinner's have become pretty regular over the past couple of years. My cousin and aunt really look forward to it. I've gotten to know my cousin a lot better because of them. I'm pretty lucky that my husband likes going there as much as I do. Well, who wouldn't? Lots of good food and cold beer in the fridge waiting for him? I guess this is what my mom meant when she said she didn't want me moving out of town when I grew up. These dinners wouldn't exist if I had. She wanted a family that would always be around, not just for the holidays. Now I'm pushing this idea on my own kids.

Bia said she also has the Sunday dinners at her mom's. I thought about her tonight. My daughter told me we're just like Gilmore Girls who eat dinner at the grandmother's house every Friday night. I hope this tradition will continue, at least at my house someday, with my own kids and grandkids.

The worst part, I ALWAYS overeat! I never can step on the scale the next day. I'm too afraid! Just a small thing to put up with, compared to what we all get out of it. So what are some of your family's traditions?
Oh, and about my son's spelling test on Friday, would you believe he actually got 7/8 correct?

Friday, February 29, 2008

How Do You Spell...

Now this picture doesn't make me feel so bad. Last night I was helping my son go over his spelling words. Today is his test. I would give him the words to spell. He wrote them down. Then we would go over the ones he missed. There were only 8 words, yet he managed to missed on average 4 every time! After about 1/2 hour I said, "Go upstairs and have your dad give them to you." Survivor was on, you know.

After about 1 minute he came back downstairs, "I got them all right mom!". Hmm... We'll see about that when the test comes back home.

This morning on the way to school, I was giving my son his spelling words again.

"How do you spell still?"


"Good! How do you spell spot?"


"No." Then he finally figured it out.

"How do you spell down?"


Huff, "No."

"Oh! D-O-W."

"How do you spell which?"



Then I quickly reminded him how to spell them.

"So, how'd I do mom?"


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Job for an 11-Year old

My 11-year old came up to me the other day and said, "Mom, I just realized! I have a job!" "Yes you do!", I said. This summer my son signed up to be an umpire for the Little League baseball games. All you have to do it sign up, go to a meeting about learning the rules, and ump one level younger than you are. It only pays $9.00/game, but hey, that's more than I give him for his allowance in one week!

I think it's a great experience for him, but I'm also kind of skeptical. Some of those parents are ruthless to the umps. Last summer I didn't think I was going to be able to take it anymore. OK, this one kid actually was a pretty bad ump, BUT he WAS just a kid who was learning, AND this WAS just Little League, not the Major League. Just like you can't get upset when one of the kids doesn't play well because they are just learning, the umps have to start somewhere too. I had to hold myself back when I heard some parents booing the ump and SCREAMING, "New ump!". I debated saying something to these parents, but then I thought they might beat ME up! I LOVED how our coach handled the situation with the bad calls. He just went up to the ump and said, "Did you see that play? Because if you didn't, you can just say that you don't know because you couldn't see. I'm just letting you know." Our coach was frusterated, too, but he treated that ump very fairly.

My son doesn't worry about being yelled at. My husbands only concern is that he will get called ALL the time to ump. I don't think that's anything to worry about. He can always just say no. One mother I talked to at a game was there watching her son ump. She told me she can barely watch the games he umps because she doesn't want to see anyone yelling at her son. I guess it's bound to happen sometime, but hopefully not too often that it makes him want to quit. Did anyone else's son ever ump? Was it a good or bad experience for them?

Yesterday I recieved an award from Marie at Marie's Random Thoughts on Love and Life. Thank you Marie! I just LOVE reading her blog. Stop by it sometime. Marie was in a car accident with her husband on New Years Eve. She was rushed to the emergency room where the doctor told her... She's pregnant! Both she and the baby were perfectly fine. This past weekend she just met her sister's daughter (her niece), that she didn't even know that she had! It's an amazing story.

I pass this award onto Girlymom at The Red Door and Kitty at Kitty's Bloggy Bits.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going Green

Our new middle school is almost complete. It's a state-of-the-art "green school". It only cost the taxpayers $28 million! Well, we were in desperate need of repairs. The school, unfortunately, had not been kept up over the years, and now we finally have our new school. They will be utilizing as much natural outside light as possible. It has a clean air system. The roof collects the rainwater for flushing the toilets. The rain gauge for this can be seen when you walk in the lobby. It's a complete learning building. The ceiling is exposed, so you can see all the pipes and where everything is. It uses geothermal heating. Did you know what geothermal heating was when you were in middle school?

The school also recycled as much of the old materials as they could. The gym's beautiful wood floor was refinished. Many of the wooden doors were refinished and used again. The cafeteria now has more options for buying food. Instead of having two long lunch lines where your only choice was the full lunch menu, now there are different lunch counters where you can get exactly what you want, with healthier lunch options.

My husband and I actually went to this school when we were young. I didn't know him back then, though, because he was a year behind me. One of the worst parts was lunch. Many, many times the lunch lines were so long that the bell would ring to go to my next class, and I would just be walking back to the table with my lunch. All I could do was set my lunch on the table, shove a couple bites of food in my mouth, and dump the rest in the garbage (a good reason right there to home school).

There were many cons of this reconstruction. The cost - $28 million! Maybe it was needed. It's supposed to save the tax payers throughout the years. That just sounds like a lot of taxpayer money to pay now. The school is within walking distance to our house. It's part of the reason why we bought our house. My daughter and son could have been walking to school together this year, the last year they will be able to. My daughter got to experience the old building for sixth grade. Then for 7Th and this half of 8Th grade she was bused off to an old school in the city that starts an hour earlier. None of these kids are getting enough sleep. My son is now in 6Th grade and he is bused off to an elementary school (when he should be in the "big kid" middle school) and gets home at 4:00 (an hour later than he usually would). By the time he does his homework, it's time for dinner. He has very little free time. I also think about the exercise the kids aren't getting. A year and a half missed of walking to and home from school. My daughter's school now doesn't even have a library in it.

Also, the new school will be a pod system. I don't think I care for this idea. They even called it a "school within a school". Each grade is divided into two groups. Each group has it's own pod of classes. The kids just switch classes within their pod. If you have a friend on the other "team", you can only see them during lunch or possibly gym class. There's no hallway to walk down. I just remember when I was little. We'd meet our friends in the hall and say hi as we went to our next class. Also, the different grades eat with their own grade. How are the sixth graders ever going to get to know the eight graders? There's no togetherness. Even to leave the school, there's a exit in every pod.

Well the kids will go to this new school after the spring break. We're all very excited. My son is going to ride his bike to school! We will get a chance to see it at an open house the week before they get there. I will take some pictures of all the cool new "green" features and post them later.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Snow again

Well, I'm glad I got out and enjoyed the past few beautiful days. This is what it looked like outside my window this morning! Ugh! I'm SO ready for spring. "OK now (this is me talking to myself), it's only February. Spring doesn't come until next month. The snow is pretty. Warm weather will be here soon enough." That's what I have to keep telling myself.

Yesterday I spent a good portion of the day working on MY DAUGHTER'S project for school. Yes, the homework subject again. She's doing a presentation about The Diary of Anne Frank and her project is the music of the 1930's and 1940's. She wanted to buy songs online to make a CD. Well, I'm not buying any songs, so I went to the library and got the Cd's to copy songs from. I decided it would only save me time by going while she was in school, so I only had to take my 4-year old, instead of ALL the kids. Even though SHE was doing the project, it was constant questions about who she should pick, does this look good, did she make any mistakes. I like the projects that are done in school. Then the kids really do it by themselves. What about the kids who don't have parents to help them at home? My daughter told me, "It's too bad everyone doesn't have a mom to go to the library for them and get Cd's." My daughter has a friend who not only has no money, her mom has no car to take her to the library. She has no computer at home. She even has a mom who once made her stay home from school to clean the house. Kids like these are at a real disadvantage when it comes to doing projects at home.

On the bright side, my daughter is really learning a lot from this activity. She's heard a couple of the songs that were popular back then, but she's never heard of any of the artists. She never heard of Doris Day or Bing Crosby! She's printing out pictures of the singers, so she can put a face to these names, too. Like most projects, getting started is the hardest part. Now she's so interested in this and is trying very hard to get all of the 100 points it's worth. So my philosophy on getting through this with her:

1. Help her. She needs some guidance in how to get started and some tips along the way. I don't want her to just rush through it because she's frustrated and doesn't know exactly what to do.

2. Show an interest in what she's doing. My daughter's a big talker and likes to know I'm interested.

3. Get her motivated. Last night we talked about how we think the easiest way to help your grade is to get an A on a project. The teachers usually give a detailed list of what they want in a project. Follow every step exactly, and maybe even add a little extra to it. This project is worth 100 points. Tests are usually 30-50 points, and it's easy to think you know all the material, then get confused when you get the test. What about pop quizzes. Those are easy to mess up too.

I always say, it's more work for me when the kids are in school. They always need something for school. They need help with homework. They need me to pick them up from after-school activities. Everything is "Hurry up!". OK, now I'm looking forward to summer vacation!