Have we Gone to Far?

Interesting article - but give me a break. I say this after I spent some time this afternoon at Cash & Carry - getting ingredients for my Mocha making. Working on some new recipes!....


I had a thought about getting a job as a barista - you know just a part-time gig. Get the recipes down and then be on my merry way.... I think I could get down the coffee art thing too....! Check this out http://www.flickr.com/photos/tonx/sets/48921/


Teaching to a Test

Well I just couldn't resist this morning. I was reading my niece's blog and the comment from my Aunt Kitty really stirred me up! She was right on in her response. I love her lurking - but I'm hoping she'll blog someday too. I love her stories...

So her comment was "As long as our schools have to "teach to a test" (No child left behind)I am afraid life skills and Yoga will be relagated as an extra curricular activity. So many young people are ill prepared for life after school. Change is in the wind, though, if other young people think as you do. Fixing our education system should start with your generation demanding it."

If you know me you'll know that I am very passionate about my children's school and their education. I had the good fortune to enroll my daughter into preschool at Chico Country Day School. I didn't know much about schools at the time, but knew the teachers from a Mother's group I was in. That winter I received a notice in Karlee's cubby that Chico Unified School District was holding a Kindergarten Workshop at CSUC. At the time I taught "Great, some direction". Not. This was rooms full of people - no direction. No instructions. Nothing. It was literally wall to wall people. I came back with some literature and read through it. Our neighborhood school was a year-round school. I knew right away that was not for us. We like spending our summers at the cabin. So that was out. So I decided to enroll Karlee into Chico Country Day School. They are a charter school. Which at the time they were 1 of 2. I had heard both good and bad - about the same for all the other schools I'd inquired about. They had a different teaching method (ITI, integrated thematic instruction) then all the others. CCDS was in the middle as far as test scores. Much higher than our neighborhood school. And they were around the corner from our house. This was our pick. They had a lottery system. So our daughters name was (literally) put into a jar with about 100 others. They held the drawing in there multipurpose room - which was shabby to say the least. But sitting there you could see how much care and effort they had and were putting into there school. This school had taken over an old commercial space that once held a motorcycle shop and turned it into a school. Now back to the drawing. When Karlee was entering Kindergarten, two classes had 10 boys and 10 girls each. That's 40 total. They no longer do that as someone cried foul and it's now discrimination to divide the classes that way - go figure! So Kyle in first grade has only 18 other boys out of 60 kids. With 3 classes that is only about 6 boys per class - now I find that discriminatory! Anyway then you take away the spots for siblings, employees children, retention and two extra spots in case they hire someone that needs the spot. That year the only thing available was 6 girl spots and 8 boy spots - I did say there were about 100 names in the jar right. The drawing begins, people are sitting there on pins and needles hoping they hear their child's name - it was so tense (now I can't help but laugh about it). And then the second name was drawn and it was our Karlee. Oh my gosh, I burst into tears. Crazy huh? Well not for the other 86 people on the waiting list.... Fortunately, I only had to do that the first year and then Kyle was in automatically.

So what got to me this morning was the "teach to the test" comment. I know I'm dragging alone here. Sorry! That's it - that is what I love about our school! We do not teach to the test. Here is some info on the ITI Method. Now what I love about this ITI method is that they learn by seeing, doing, touching, hearing, building, and even gardening. Yes they do have to include the standards, but it's how they teach that is different. At our school we have Lifelong Guidelines and Life Skills. This is introduced at the Preschool level and continued on throughout the years. We have even adapted them at home. And definitely the thing that stays with me is the community feel we have at our school. Every Friday we have an "All School Sing" where the entire school comes to the multipurpose room and sings together. This is where kids are also awarded "Life Skill Awards". If you've been seen demonstrating a Life Skill you are awarded a certificate. It's really great to see the kids come together, everyone is treated equally. You see a lot of the older kids encouraging the younger kids on the playground. Each day the entire school recites the pledge of allegiance in front of the flag together. Since my daughter was in 1st grade, I've done that with them nearly each day. Even Kyle could recite the pledge before he could write his name... These are all good touchy, feel things. But the bottom line is our test scores are flying off the charts. Here are the most current records (API). When we first started at CCDS it was about 7 years old and was about 7th in standings out of 14. We are now 2nd in the district. Each year it seems our test scores have gone up double digits, last year we went up 58 points. We are also in our new site as the district accepted (after much debate) our Prop. 39 request and put us in a school site after some shuffling and school closures. It has seemed over the years that the Charter School up rise has caused so much negativity - but why take away such a great thing. I read our newsletter last week and we will finish the year with a $100,000 surplus, and a balanced budget. How many other schools can say that? Our school ROCKS! But then again, I'm really passionate about it. As I'm sure other people are about there school's as well. You've got to find what's right for you and give it all you've got because that's what will matter most. We have some great leaders at our school and we are very fortunate that we can govern ourselves. Yes we have to answer to the district and they pretty much treat us like the redheaded step child. There loss is our gain! But how can you argue with our great success! Well long winded, but I think I got it all out there. Trying to do too much today in between writing....


And she's down...

Wow! I got hit with something. My head started hurting about noon on Sunday and hasn't stopped at this point. When I finally took my temperature around 5 pm last night it was 102. This was after hours of the chills, shakes and body aches. I had thought around 11 am I'd take a shower and maybe shake it - wrong! That only intensified the chills. I had on a long sleeved shirt, a fleece sweater, sweat pants and my favorite fuzzy purple socks - but to no avail. About 2 pm I climbed under the down comforter and dozed. A girlfriend had called yesterday morning and when she realized I was sick, had offered to pick up the kids for me! Thankfully. There was no way I would have been able to drive. My kids did so good after they got home. From my horizontal position in bed I instructed the no TV until your homework's done rule. And they actually did it. Usually they don't get to watch TV during the week - but I wasn't in a position to fight it yesterday. They came in a couple of times to ask questions and they were so quite it was worrying me. So I'd call for one or the other for an update. And if the TV was on - it was so low I never heard it. My kids were better than the telephone. Of course I had a handset next to me and it must have rang 8 times between 2 and 5. Ugh! One call from Louisiana really got to me. They must have called 3 times. Never leaving a message. So you know it's just a computer waiting for someone to pick up. And when I see that I'm getting a call from Louisiana - I don't pick it up. I don't know anyone in Louisiana. About 6 years ago I signed up for Privacy Manager through SBC. This was really slick. It was supposed to stop all computer dialed calls. It also prevents people calling that have a private number (which in the past was telemarketers). So if you have your number blocked, you either have to go through Privacy Manager or reveal your number. How the Privacy Manager works is if you can't reveal your number you go through an automated operator, you have to state your name and were your calling from. Then my phone rings and I can press "1" to hear who's calling, then press "2" to ignore the call or press "3" to send to my answering machine. This in the past eliminated all of those pesky telemarketers. I see now they have caught on....Bummer.

So today, I'm vertical for now. I have a 10 am doctors appt. The fever is gone. My ears are still bothering me and the nose and sinuses are full! The throat is not so bad - but the yucky dry cough is starting in. And lying in bed yesterday did nothing for my sore aching body. The good thing is I may be down - but not out!....


The Art of the Martini

So yesterday I went to the "Art of the Martini Party" class held at Shelley's Creative Catering. I've done this once before with my mother-in-law a few years ago. It's was really fun - both times. Yesterday I did it with a group of woman that I know from a community service group we are in together. I had a sitter yesterday since Kevin was also at a meeting - so I knew that I had to maintain myself as he wasn't going to be able to pick me up as he had done the previous time. I took the sit back and watch approach. There were 22 woman - I knew about half of them as our group was unable to fill all 24 spots (some of the gals invited friends). How this works is the group is divided into two groups, and then you partner up with someone. One group starts by making appetizers, the other group stays and makes Martini's. Then they switch and the ones from the kitchen go the the bar area and the one from the bar area head off to the kitchen. When it's all done - you have a party! We had the A group and the B group. Now the A group has special appetizers to make (they are harder), because by the time the B group comes in to make there appetizers - they've tasted 8 different martini's. Now I don't even like vodka, but I do enjoy trying the different ones. You really are only getting a taste - but keep in mind that a martini is really just vodka shaken over ice and then poured into a glass. Yes, we made Cosmo's, Lemon Drops, Apple Tini's and my fav - the Chocolate Martini. But prior to that we had Gin Martini's, Vodka Martini, Dirty Martini - and those are just straight booze! When our group finished in the bar area, we happily went to the kitchen to test our culinary skills. But first we giggled and laughed and giggled and laughed. Apparently we thought we were pretty funny. We did end up cooking, we decorated our table and got our food out to the table. Then we hooked up with the A group again - and this is where my watching people antenna came out. Now keep in mind that I am one of two in the room who is younger than all the rest by 15 to 20 years or more..... The gal that was my age (or younger) had proceeded, shall we say flirt with the bartender teaching the class, to keep drinking throughout the session. Somehow she was drinking from the martini glasses on display. We only sipped from disposable glasses. So anyway, it was funny to watch the A group interact and talk to one another. They had just finished there drinking and we had (well except the young gal and her partner) finished well over an hour or more like two hours ago. The thing that intrigued me most was that most of these woman were in there late 50's, early 60's - acting just like I might if I'd kept drinking.

At this point you can make a full size martini for yourself. And the A group was having a really hard time keeping the liquid in there glasses. It's funny to watch people who have had drinks when you are sober. And I'm sure they were thinking the same thing about us nearly two hours earlier. How all of a sudden we'd gone from the quite group listening to the guy in front of us, to the laughing, giggling group. But since I was driving - I opted out of the big martini - no big loss really - I don't even like martini's...But I'd take the class again - it's a kick! All the appetizers and drinks that we made yesterday are put into a booklet and you get to keep it. And I'd definitely make the "Wild Mushroom Pizza" appetizer again! And I signed up for some other cooking classes that Shelley puts on. I'm looking forward to it!


Coffee's On

One of my newest obsessions is coffee drinks. Now to some that may not seem like such a strange thing, considering I am nano seconds away from turning the big 4 0 ..... But I honestly never pictured myself ever drinking coffee. I'd tried it one other time in 1985, and pretty much swore I'd never (see you should really not commit yourself to never - it's way too long) drink the stuff. To me at age 18 it tasted like burnt water. I only tried it because at that time I was commuting to Reno from Janesville (72 miles) and work started at 7AM - you do the math. I worked on a construction site with my dad, by the way he did the driving. So we'd get there about 7 AM and into this dusty little trailer I'd go. So long story short I was really cold as the trailer had no heat and my dad said "Well you should drink some coffee it will warm you up" So off to the corner store I went. I remember thinking how grown up that seemed. Drinking coffee. Wow. I made the journey back with this precious thing that would not only wake me up but warm me up as well. I took one sip and that was it for me! Yucky. It took a long time to get the taste out of my mouth. And I hadn't had the desire to try it since. Even when my kids were younger and I needed a jolt to stay awake from sleepless nights I avoided it. That's probably when I decided caffeinated drinks were the thing - but never in the morning..... I would also say I wouldn't even try Mocha flavored ice cream.

Mocha....Now that is the beginning of my demise to coffee. My girlfriend introduced me to blended mocha's (my favorite, the "Cable Car Chiller", from CR Beans). I would drive across town to have one for lunch. Then winter came and I couldn't do the blended thing and the hot chocolate drinks just weren't doing it for me anymore. So I tried the "Cable Car Mocha". More pleasure! Now I'm really becoming a Mocha snob. And living in Chico where there is a coffee house on nearly every corner it's hard. My first choice is always going to be CR Beans, it's only a drive thru, which I really enjoy. I'm not a big fan of Starbucks (it's that corporate thing), however I can go to either Safeway's and get a drink and after my 7th one it's free! I like Higher Ground but I think really just for the Cranberry Orange Scone - there coffee is really bad... And I'll go to Dutch Bros. if I'm on that side of town. How lazy am I - these all have drive thrus! In my effort to be frugal I'm now making (trying) coffee at home. We've had our current coffee maker for about four years and until the first of the year we'd probably only used it 6 times, maybe! When Kevin makes coffee he uses the French Press - that's too much coffee for me. However, I just can't seem to get the mocha taste. And I still think I dislike the taste of coffee. I use lots of additives! I guess you could say I really drink creamer and have coffee with it! I'm still working on perfecting the Perfect drink. I need to find the best coffee - too many choices! I can't wait for summer and I can go back to my blended mocha. But then I'll want to figure out how to make it at home, I feel like the pig and the pancake with the maple syrup. Or if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to need milk to go with it and.....





See - This is my struggle. Now before I release the pressure here, let me first say..... My husband is wonderful! I never (rarely) have to worry about going to a meeting, girl's night out, bunko, etc. Only when work, hunting and fishing get in the way!.... Anyway, he spends a lot of time with our kids, taking them places, spending time with all of us. You name it. But there is this one small THING! Now I know I should be thankful that he fed our kids, read to them and put them to bed. The omitting of this one small thing is so huge to me. I always tell my self "no expectations", then I come home and see the mess and it all goes out the door!

This is seriously the difference between most men and woman. He sees no big deal in this. He'll do it later - sadly later never comes (and yes I can say never in this instance-because Kevin says never is a really long time). I'm the type that can't go to bed until the dishes are done. I can't even cook a meal without a clean slate. I load the dishwasher as I'm making dinner. So once again we are back to before! And yes I got us there. Should I say this is unfair? I'm sure I could say a lot of things but the reality is that I love this guy and I said yes - good, bad and indifferent! And he had me with "Wow honey, the place looks great" when he got home tonight....


Sidetracked Mama!

So here I am again not making good use of my time. This has been a topic of conversation in my house lately. Funny thing is I'm usually the one bringing it up! I told Kevin (my husband) that I was reading a new book called "Sidetracked Home Executives". This was last week when I started it, I'm on page 8 and have read 3 other books since I started it.... And here it is what feels like Monday even though I know it's Tuesday and all I've managed to do is some dishes, turn on the dryer and....Well I guess that's it. Oh and I did take the kids to school and work in my son's class for 2 hours. So see I have done somethings. Just not the things that need to be done or that I want to have done!

Anyway, back to the book. I happened to notice it on my bookshelf and pulled it down - obviously the title grab my attention. Not sure where the book came from (probably from the books my mother-in-law had) but it's first copy right date is 1977. The photo on the back just cracked me up - the authors are two sisters, and they are wearing the typical 70's outfits with typical 70's hair! Here is one more reason I thought I should read the book (from the back of the book) - "They started each day with the best intentions, swore that today they'd really clean their homes, get their kids' clothes in shape, and, for once, have dinner ready when their husbands came home from work, but...they never made it because they were SIDETRACKED HOME EXECUTIVES caught in the disorder of misplaced priorities, half-completed chores, and undirected energies. Two smart ladies who'd never used their heads in coping with their homes. So, they analyzed their lives, set up a rotating card system that scheduled their chores on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. They changed their attitudes, and it changed their lives. Now, with the understanding, humor, and patience of people who were not born organized, they show you how you can change yours!"

So are you inspired? Motivated? Life changing huh? We'll see...I just thought it was funny that this book was written in the late 70's - woman have been struggling for generations I suppose. I know I'm not alone - though I do think I'm in the minority....

Since quitting work and making the decision to once again be a stay-at-home mom I have struggled daily with this. This isn't something that has always been a problem for me. But definitely since I've had children....I never seem to finish anything I've started. I remember once I finally made the decision to not work anymore I daydreamed about all the organizing I would once again do - that has always been something I have enjoyed. My house would finally have order and I could do the crafting things I like doing. Well......I just haven't found the groove yet I suppose. But I'm staying positive - I'll get there!.... Maybe this book will be the answer I've been looking for - if I can get past page 8.....


Here goes nothing

After spending the last 6 or so years reading my dad's blog I've decided to give it a try. We'll see. Do I really have time to keep something like this up? Does it matter if I don't?

I've been having thoughts lately of writing - maybe this will be the starting point. My thoughts on writing have stemmed from all of the reading I've been doing lately. Not necessarily reading more than usual, which is probably on average 4 to 5 books a week, but it's gotten me thinking about what it takes to write a book. Could I do something like that? I've read a couple of memoirs in recent weeks (not my usual) - one by Nicholas Sparks, which I found to be a very enjoyable book. And the other by??? Ah, Augusten Burroughs, Running with Scissors. I've tried to erase it quickly from my mind as I found it to be completely vile. Ironically it's about to become a major motion picture starring Annette Bening and others. And it was also #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List. How can that be? Am I the only one who didn't get it? I found myself turning the pages and actually saying out loud "Why am I reading this book". I felt obligated to finish it as I had started it. Which is just crazy, no one was holding a gun to my head or forcing me to read it. And even more crazy was each time I'd finish a chapter I would go to the back of the book and re-read the reviews, I guess to try and encourage myself to keep reading. The one review I read over and over described the book/author as "Wickedly, ridiculously funny". I could not for the life of me get that. It was truly disgusting. Maybe I should stick to my mystery, thriller, and happy books and steer clear of the memoirs.... Oh gosh and I just don't see my self in line to see the movie - Video (maybe)!

So back to my original thought of "Gee maybe I could write a book". I can't imagine the time involved and how many times you'd start and stop. How close you'd come and then scrap the whole thing. The way my life is these days - it would probably take me many, many years to finish it. So for now I guess I'm going with the blogging!