Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Starting on the wrong foot...

I took the kids to school today so they could see where their rooms, desks and lockers are. My kids like to know what is going to happen before it happens so it is always good to prepare for the first day of school. It eliminates anxiety and those little things us parents hate called "breakdowns in public". Unfortunately I was the one that almost had a breakdown in public today because the school garbage is already starting and is evidenced in the letter I wrote upon arriving home:

Dear Mr. Principal:

It was brought to my attention today that two of my children will be expected to ride a bus to the local elementary school 2 days a week to receive physical education. As a parent that selected Our Catholic School for very specific reasons I am extremely disappointed that my children will be directly placed into an educational environment that I do not approve of. Busing our children to the public school for any type of education is not how I envisioned the curriculum obligations being fulfilled by the school we have been supporting. Furthermore, the message that Our Catholic School is sending to parents and the community is that they cannot adequately educate the children they have been entrusted with.

Per the information I was provided today, as soon the children arrive at school 2 days a week they will immediately board a bus to go the elementary school, some of these children will just have gotten off that bus and will be going right back to where they came from. On most days this shuttle bus is late so the expectation that the bus will be loaded and ready to transport the students to gym class by 9:00am is ludicrous. Furthermore, the idea is that gym class will end at 9:45am and that the students will be snuggled comfortably back into their seats at Our Lady School by 10:00am to learn. How do you expect children at these ages to transition from building to bus to building like adults? I was also informed that the teacher of the first and second grade students will accompany her students to this gym class. I am presuming this is so the Our Catholic School teacher can watch another teacher educate her students? This is obviously a poor use of the already sacred mentoring time that our teachers have with their students.

I will not disagree that children need more physical activity especially with the alarming obesity rates in our nation, but wouldn't every one's time and resources be put to better use if we keep these children at the school their parents have selected for them? It is ridiculous to spend 40+ minutes of travel time each week to get to a physical education class when we have a large playground area and sufficient room in the parish hall to provide our students exercise twice a week. In fact, gym class at the local elementary school will take 110 minutes out of the student week with only 60 minutes of that being actual "class" time. If we provide the same services at Our Catholic School the students could have 3 opportunities a week to exercise their bodies.

The time and planning it has taken to schedule this endeavor into two school schedules cannot be ignored. Why have none of the parents of the students that are involved been informed of the decision being made on their behalf sooner than the week before school is scheduled to start?

I am angry at the lack of communication between yourself and the families of Our Catholic School. At this point I will not allow my children to board the bus to attend physical education classes at the local elementary and I need to know what kind of accommodations will be made for any children that will not be participating.


Trying Not to Start On the Wrong Foot

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hello Crim!

Dear Crim,

Please let me start by apologizing for ignoring you the past 10 years. How silly I was to think it was unnecessary to meet you in person. You could become my best friend! This past Saturday you had it all: hills, heat, humidity. What a course! Flint is beautiful indeed. I don't care what anyone else says, you've got it going on. Of course the Krispy Kreme donuts somewhere around mile 4 and then beer around mile 5 does not hurt your aim to be my buddy in any way. The support of the community was amazing, everyone had hoses out and in over 80% humidity that was a life saver. And how about all that music? You know how to keep us runners going. I also love the race t-shirt and finishers medal:

And I especially love the fact that my striped beanie matches it perfectly:
I totally plan to visit next year, maybe hang out around the elite runner check-in table and introduce myself to some of those Kenyan runners. Maybe I'll even try a Krispy Kreme out on the course instead of my Luna Moons.

Late to Join the Race

Results (already!)

Maybe 08'

Looks like she can stop looking for a home and call herself Sure Thing!

She won by 4 votes, there were 3 no votes and 7 yes votes.

Welcome Home Maybe!
(and no we are not changing her name, yet...)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Election Day

The family vote is tomorrow, by secret ballot, I think her chances are looking pretty good. Maybe she ought to run for President.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Peach-Praline Cobbler

Just in case you have a large amount of peaches falling off your peach trees, as we do, or a really good produce department at your local grocery you might enjoy this recipe. It is by far my favorite thing to make with peaches. I also think it would be lovely made with apples this fall.



Rolls on Top of Peaches



Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Could I Get A Job Doing This?

It was a busy weekend that started with the Howell Melon 5k Run on Friday night, blueberry picking early on Saturday morning that morphed into jam and buckle making by afternoon, and then another race at the Montrose Blueberry Festival 5 Mile run. Apparently I can't handle race peer pressure, because I probably wouldn't have run half of the races I did this summer if one of my racing partners wasn't so insistent that I pick him up to go to such and such a race. My other racing partner is a little more laid back about the whole thing and doesn't ever guilt me into an insanely early morning so I can run my heart out (thanks Mary!).

I'm thinking I should start a new job as a race reviewer, you know the kind of person that writes about how well organized the event is, if the post-race refreshments are worth my $20-$30, the quality and design of the t-shirts, if there are an appropriate number of rest rooms for the nervous runners, if the awards have any practical use besides getting the kids all excited that mom got a medal. Oh, and most importantly, if the race course was a good one.

The Howell Melon Run qualifies for excellent in all categories except for the rest room area. They had 5 toilets for over 250 women and that left me squatting in front of over 500 people just before the race began. The course was great: part off-road, lots of hills, half of it through a cemetery, view of the lake for portions. Post race food: Melon ice cream, need I say more? (And there was more, like cut up melon chucks and tasty bread.) Very well organized and entertaining with awards relatively soon after the results were in. The t-shirt above speaks for itself and as you can see the awards were very useful and although I should have a frothy Guinness in there I opted for a berry yogurt smoothie instead.

Poor Montrose Blueberry Race. They appeared well-organized but so does my husband if you don't know him. The race started late, the course was boring with no one was calling out splits at any point during the race, they didn't have a 4 mile marker, they passed out water in 3 oz. dixie cups-the ones that fall apart in your hand and at one of the water stations you actually had to cross the two lane road (which was not closed off on the other side) to get to get to your 3oz's of water. The t-shirts are okay but were supposed to be gray with a "cool new logo". The race was timed with chips, chips that the registration people forgot to mention to everyone so some people were at the start with no chip on their shoe. Post race refreshments consisted of water, bananas, apples and popsicles. Hello, us runners like to eat, that is why we run! And if all of that wasn't bad enough the timing system had some difficulties so the results were still not posted at over 3 hours post race. So just imagine what my 3rd place age-group finish would have earned me and envision it in the other corner of my shirt. Truly, I'm scared to even think about what the possibilities might be.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kids Know Stuff

Really, these kids do know stuff. Lots of stuff so check them out! I even added them to my Essential Links so I can keep tabs on what they know, which is probably stuff I should know, but don't know because I have entered the geezer stage of knowing. Or not knowing.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Her foster parents call her Maybe because she maybe had a home with one family. But after a week of puppiness they decided that maybe they weren't dog people after all. Then there was another family that maybe wanted her but they wanted to plop her outside full-time. So we are babysitting while the foster parents are on vacation and if things continue as they are Maybe might be able to change her name to Has A Home.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

If I've Said it Once

I've said it a million times. Running is important to me and not even the possibility of having a tire mark over the center of my face is going to stop me from lacing up my shoes and heading out the door in the morning. Even if it is really foggy. And it gets so dense in these parts that they actually delay school sometimes until the bus drivers can see more than a foot in front of their face. One could say that orange is a very important color in my life.

I found this little tidbit while I was searching for an article about Ryan Hall to share with you folks. I can't say that the message in the first article is entirely why I run but I can tell you that I sometimes wish others would not question "the risks" of running when the dangers of not running are more likely to happen.

The last sentences in the second article brought tears to my eyes and even if you don't do the God thing there is a message there. I absolutely can't wait to see this young man run on Sunday the 24th.

***From the Ryan Hall article in case you don't take the time to click on over to Runner's World:

"I want you to know," says Madeline, faltering. "I want you to know that this family prays, and prays for many things. That it will be a good race, that it will be a safe race, but they never, they never," She stops now, holding her hand to her mouth as her eyes fill with tears. It takes her a moment to gather before she can speak again.

"They never pray to win."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fall Enrollment and Frustration

The prolific blooming of the black-eyed Susan's are a sure sign that the big yellow child movers will be once again speeding down the road while blurry-eyed children wait patiently for their turn to board. When we joined the "going off to school movement" after homeschooling it became apparent that there were three general attitudes about this time of the year:

1. It is a time of new things, potential growth and expectations for the year to come.

2. Thank goodness school is back in session because I can't stand my kids and want them out!

3. Disappointment that there is never enough time to experience life and once school starts there will be even less opportunity for this.

I've accepted that for now my school-aged children will attend a formal education program and do not intend to put an "I'd Rather Be Homeschooling" bumper sticker on my van. But after agonizing for five days over which extracurricular programs to put them in I am just spent on this whole school thing and it hasn't even started yet. Be aware that I do not push the additional programs, the kids beg for them almost as much as they beg for homemade biscuits. For us, the problem is twofold: the school they attend is seriously lacking in things like music, art, gym and any other school within logical driving distance is also; and we live 40 minutes from an area that offers decent after-school programs so we have to pick and choose very carefully.

I do remember way back when (not too long ago), we had an art teacher at our school, an actual bonafide teacher paid to teach us art in her own classroom that was filled with art supplies. We went there for 50 minutes twice a week and I don't know too many kids that didn't love that time. Where have all these classrooms and teachers gone? I may be a little soft and skewed in my opinion but if the only way today's kids have to express themselves is by shooting people in video games we have a dismal future ahead of us. We provide students breakfast and lunch on the almighty government dollar but we can't teach them how to nurture their feelings by making music, dancing, creating art or being physically active. Oh, but we do teach them how to write, we even have a standardized test that requires a handwriting sample. Please children, express yourselves and then we will judge it and tell you how poorly you write.

So last week I spent many hours comparing schedules, deciding how much I thought I could handle driving to the Flint Cultural Center and then committing my kids to experiencing the things that really interest them: bookmaking, elementary ballet, violin, beginning music makers, horse back riding, and ceramic & glass mosaics. It is going to be a fun fall, a full fall and a fantastic future for my kids, you know, the ones who really count.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Death by Blueberries




Which is utterly incredible and worth every labor intense minute.

Any ice cream that describes itself as "rich French-custard style" and is subtly flavored with lavender grown in your own garden and blueberries picked that day during the middle of a rainstorm is a treasure to be had.

Although I was supposed to wait for Mary and Meredith to make this amazing recipe I could not decline the eager Aunt Mary that stopped over after church and then drove home to get her never-been-used KitchenAid ice cream bowl attachment so we could create it together. Life is short so sometimes you have to live in the moment and tonight we did just that.

Don't worry, we didn't eat it all! Not yet anyway.

Friday, August 8, 2008

You Can Take A Girl Out of the City

But according to my husband you can't take the city out of the girl. I dare say he is wrong. When a girl starts to consider field corn as an ornamental grass in her flower beds I would say she has crossed the line into dirt-loving, manure scooping, egg collecting heaven and has left the city behind.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Bit of Scary

You gotta love blogging for the ability to put photos with the post because this post would be far less without the accompanying photos:

It was one of those typical days where Vinnie had his breakfast of something hot and homemade (some people think I spoil him?!?!) along with his freshly percolated coffee and he headed outside to do "man's work" while I stayed inside barefoot but blessedly not pregnant to do my general household duties. Soon after he went outside to work on "the list" I heard some rumbling and moving of machinery around the yard. This isn't too out of the ordinary because we have a yard full of stuff that requires gas and spark to move, unfortunately it is never all in gas/spark mode at the same time so Vinnie frequently has uncontrollable urges to switch up some batteries and shift things around. This usually results in a more prominent view of a fine piece of museum artifact out our picture window.

When I finally looked up from my soap filled sink I saw our daughter's namesake pulled front and center with the doors and trunk open as if he had plans to actually attend to this beauty beyond starting her up and giving her a different lot assignment for a while.

Totally original, totally.

She has had finer days. I once slept in the backseat (alone) and recall many fun but unsafe miles in her when we first met. Her brakes were never a promising feature, Fred Flintstone's feet do a better job, so when the young ones began arriving we parked her. And no, sadly, none of the brood was conceived in her.

She has a beauty of a name.
Her full title is 1960 Dodge Dart Seneca

And she comes equipped with a slant-six engine. Now if any of you girls out there are trying to impress your man just bring up a question like this: Honey, I was reading about slant-sixes the other day (he doesn't need to know it was on a fruity blog) and I was wondering if you thought they were a better design than the now popular V-8 engines? For some reason guys can talk about slant-sixes for as long as they can talk about *breasts*.

Upon closer inspection there was still a bottle on her floorboard from earlier days or maybe just post-coffee that morning. All the nature surrounding the bottle is from the varmints that invade her innards when we aren't looking.

I didn't want to seem alarmed so I casually asked Vinnie later that night if he was getting her ready for Old Gas Tractor. He likes to get into places for free and if you take a vehicle this old and disgusting to OGT they let you in the secret back way so you can park in an area where all the toothless OGT attendees can gawk at her. I know this for a fact because we have done it before. I already had a plan to paint a few of my teeth black, stuff a pillow under my shirt, dress the kids in dirty clothes with a few odds and ends stuck in their hair when he told me that he just had to move her so he could put the new sand blasting thingy in her spot. But now that I mentioned it maybe he could get her fixed up in time...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

New Girl in Town

Taking a break from pig announcements to introduce my new friend:

10 miles of ass kicking trail and this was my reward.

She will even hold a giant sized muffin.

And she fits in well with the rest of the girls.

Good food, good crowd, good run, and awesome t-shirts. Because it is all about the t-shirt.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Serious Business

I had no idea how brutal and intense showing livestock at the fair can be. I have learned more this week than I did in six years of college. I'll be back once I recover.