Indigo Robe

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Location: United States

Mum likes reading, decorating, shopping with the girls, and Starbucks. She also feels funny writing in the 3rd person. Papa (also known as Sparky) is currently looking at me with a blank stare having asked him to add something about himself to the blog. (Now he wants to say something) The only thing he loves more in life than music and Coke is his wife and kids. (Awww...) :) Little Lotte is a genius on the computer and makes me fall over laughing every day with her quick wit. She loves computers and animals. Sweet Pea abandoned her family and moved to Phoenix for work and is now married as of 2/28/06. She is beautiful and smart and the most nurturing person I know. She gave me the greatest gift ever when she made me a grandmother. I am the proud Mum Mum to Andrew Christopher. There are no words to describe the joy of having a grandson!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Weekend in Pa.

We had a quick trip back east. It was wonderful to see Sparky's family. His dad looked really good, although he is still using the oxygen. We even got to take them to dinner at their favorite restaurant, a little mom and pop diner. I miss diners! Everything comes covered in gravy though. Sparky and I decided that God made us move from Pa. because we would weigh 500 pounds and die of heart attacks before 50! So many good foods back there. Things that you can't dream of buying here in Az.

Of course no stop in Pa. is complete without coming back with an Aigner purse! It was a blast looking at all of the choices! No Aigner sunglasses though. :-(

We stuffed ourselves silly with cheesesteaks and drove the long way to the airport. We even had time on the way up to Reading to stop in Chester and visit my father's grave. The day was rainy and cool. PERFECT WEATHER! My father even came to wish us a safe flight via the beautiful rainbow that appeared briefly over the Phila. airport.

I forgot about the beautiful spring weather and flowers back there. The green, green grass everywhere, the cherry blossoms, the daffodils and tulips growing wild. Just breathtakingly beautiful.

I took over 500 photos and Sparky took tons as well so this is just a small scattering of our short visit. Enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings."

The third would be a college education at the college of their choice.

Unfortunately, I am unable to deliver. :-(

We have come to a roadblock. It seems that the nice lady who, at the Phoenix COME! TO! OUR! SCHOOL! WE! WILL! SAY! ANYTHING! YOU! WANT! TO! HEAR! Reception LIED. Well, she told a 2/3 lie.

You see, we went there seeking information on financial aid. The nice! admissions counselor explained that we didn't have to worry about money because once Little L had been in the state for one year and one day, she would then be considered a resident and pay in-state tuition!

I cried. I mean I literally stood there with tears rolling down my cheeks and cried. I thanked her for the information. I told Lauren we could borrow the first year's tuition and we could make it through because we would be able to pay in-state tution for her remaining 3 years! The nice! lady at San Diego State said so!

I know the nice! lady remembers me. I am sure not that many people get that emotional on her.

So we sent them (San Diego State University) even MORE money and have been spending all of our time and energy meeting deadlines, jumping through hoops, taking and scheduling tests, planning dorms, etc. etc.

I mentioned this "windfall" to someone at work who was gracious enough to not look me in the eye and call me stupid. This person merely stated that it sounds odd, that it's very hard to get in-state residency as a college student, and that all students would end up doing that and universities are, afterall, a for profit organization!

So me, being the Google Queen that I am, went on the ultimate search. I first contacted, by email and phone, SDSU. They would refer me over to another number. I called that number. The person was on vacation for a week. Sparky followed up. They told him pretty much the same thing the nice! lady in Phx told us. He said, "Can I have that in writing?" Uh.oh. Uh.... better call this number.

Yeah, fly that red flag, baby.

So I really start to research and I finally, FINALLY come across the answer.

There are three parts to residency. Without going into the details, yes - Little L could meet one requirement of opening a checking account or getting her license in the state of California. BUT, she also had to reside in the state for one day and one year and they would QUESTION her residency petition should she come home on spring and semester breaks.

The other requirement is for her to prove financial independence. There are a number of ways to do this:

1. Be 24 years old.
2. Be married.
3. Not be on your parents taxes for TWO YEARS PRIOR. (So even if we started to not claim her as a dependent, we would have to wait two more years and she would be a Sr. then.)
And there were more ways.

The point is - aint no way she can claim residency while a student EVEN THOUGH she did fully intend to make California her home after graduating.

Now San Diego State University has over $1000 of my money and they will refund about $750.00 of it because of cancelation fees and non-refundable fees, etc. All this wasted time! If only the nice! lady had just looked me in the eye and been straight with me, we would have known that day and we would have been looking for alternatives.

How does this woman sleep at night?

I broke the news to Little L two nights ago. She has taken it very, very well. I mean she cried, she was distraught at getting in somewhere now, she was mad, she was angry, she was accepting. And then she went through all of those emotions ( much like grieving) again and and again.

Today she is doing much better. Is it because of my great words of wisdom? Is it my motherly nurturing, my caring concern? My bright, hopeful attitude that the sun will come out tomorrow?

No. It's because her sister is the most amazing human being on the planet (equally with her sister!) and helped her through the emotions. She has been on the phone with her, listening, crying, talking, laughing, planning, counseling. Little L has now applied to the U of Az and what can we say? We love that we will have another WIldcat in the family. She declared Education as her major for lack of a better declaration at this point. He goal is to work in education and training of animals so for now, it will do.

He dream, as her sister so poetically worded it is "not dead, just delayed."

Little L can do the dream. She just might have to take a longer or different road to get there. And we all know what Robert Frost says about roads!

So this post is not meant to just be informational to family and friends. It's also meant as a tribute to the great beings of light that I happen to have the honor to call my daughters.

Their love for each other and their families, their strength and tenacity, their resolve... well, it leaves me speechless. The bond they share is a testament that something good can come from this wicked, scary world.

I love you, my angels. Thank you for teaching me something new everyday.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Little L has a birthday and advice on getting well....

Little L had a VERY important birthday this week - 18!!!!! WHERE did the time go? I will post photos later. WE had a wonderful time in Phx. with Sweet Pea.

In the meantime, my darling husband, generous being that he is, shared his FLU/COLD/COUGH/MOAN/CAN'T BREATHE crap with me. I've been soooo sick. Although our coughs remain, we are beginning to feel human again.

In the meantime, I had to go to work on Friday, sick or not. Teachers don't get the luxury of always calling in sick. There were no subs available so I showered, threw on some clothes and pulled my hair in a ponytail and called it ok.

It was pretty bad. I don't sit to teach. However, on Friday I sat at my desk. And I asked the kids to write me advice on how to get better quickly.

Keep in mind, these are the "best of" from my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders!

Here are the highlights:

~Take a chill pill.

~Get lots and lots of rest so you feel better... and look better.

~Play some video games (just joking!) <-- the kid's exact writing!!! ((Hey! These kids must not think I am fly!))

~Have some toast. It will suck up all that disgusting stuff in your stomach.

~Stay away from kids.

~Be careful outside. Be very careful. ((???!!!))

~Try to take calf medication.

~Go to CVS cuz it's cheep. It's not cheeting.

~Smile to block your gagging reflexes.

~Take a very enormous nap.

~Take "my advil"

~Get breakfast in bed - includes eggs, bacon, pancakes, french toast, sausage, toast, strawberries,milk, and burritos.

~Suck mints - green or red.

~Have some food that's not crunchy.

~Eat hellthy food.

~Make a fire and put some ocotillo leaves in because it kills viruses.

~Take naps during work.

~Ask your doctor which flu medication is right for you. ((This child obviously watches too much tv!!!))

~Be on house arrest.

~Buy a big screen tv.

These last two are just classics:

~If you see a light never go near it.Don't walk towards it, go the opposite way.

~Don't go to school, get a sub but we will sure miss you laughing. You were a great teacher.

Don't write me off just yet, kid!
Before and after pictures of me to follow...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

What's with the 2 posts in one day thingy?

Anywho... my niece posted Five Good Things and asked us to respond so I am posting my answers here. Now it's your turn. You must post or I will be forced to weave a spell over you that causes your internet to run slow and your computer to freeze up. (Disclaimer: I am NOT the cause of this on PC computers - that is the Mac gods attacking the PC's.)

Auntie M's (I am Auntie M when I posted on my niece's site) FIve Good Things

(wasn't sure if this was long term or just this weekend good things!)

* I saw a picture today of a dining room that inspired me and I wrote down everything I need to do to make my dining room look "finished".

* I bought the cutest and MOST comfortable pair of sketchers in the world.

* I decided that the color in the living room IS the perfect color so I don't have to repaint the whole living room now.

* I am making a new recipe for spaghetti tomorrow that I am excited about. The reason this is good news is because my taste buds were "off" for a few weeks and nothing - I mean NOTHING - even sounded appetizing. I think it's back now. Yeah!

* I feel at peace with my life. (Family, friends, work, etc.)

The Cheeky Lotus: Zeta Mom

The Cheeky Lotus: Zeta Mom

Best. Post. Eva!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chosen One

So Sparky and I have had quite a week. It began a week ago tonight when he got a phone call from home. His Dad was rushed to the hospital and placed in I.C.U. for pnemonia. Top that off with old age and COPD and you have a potentially fatal situation. Even the Dr. commented that they thought this might be the end. But Sparky's Dad has pulled through and is feeling much better. He is on oxygen but he is actually home as of today!

But talk about riding a roller coaster of emotions. Since I have already been through the death of both of my parents, I can completely understand how Sparky is feeling. Without going into specifics of our conversations, suffice it to say that we often just sit on the couch and hold each other these days. The other night he was thanking me for taking care of things.

And then he paused and said...

"I chose well."

I quite literally lost my breath. Those are probably the most beautiful words he has ever spoken to me. And it actually took me by surprise. Let me explain. I often talk about how *I* chose him. And I choose him again and again, every day of my life, I make the choice to be with the husband of my youth. I adore him. There is no question that I chose well. I often think about how lucky I am. But I often think about *my* choice - choosing him. It really never occurred to me before to remember that he also chose (and chooses) me!

And it's ironic that those words just confirm in my heart what I already know to be true...

I chose well.

I love you, Sparky. I'll be here for you.

Your M ~

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter Part 2

Sparky made his tradition bunny egg... and we made a new recipe for the ham this year : Nigella's Cola Ham. Sparky was all for it. He hearts his Coke and a ham cooked in Coke? Well, how bad can that be? It was DELISH! She (Nigella) was right - I will never make ham any other way again.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!~

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Could Have Saved Them the Cost of the Research...

Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom
Says more emphasis needed on teaching skills
By Greg Toppo

The typical child in the USA stands only a 1-in-14 chance of having a consistently rich, supportive elementary school experience, say researchers who looked at what happens daily in thousands of classrooms.

The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive.

*** The above portion of this article from USA TODAY is hysterical to any teacher currently in the public school system. Unbelievable funny. We "spend too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, etc." Hey! As soon as the states come up with a test that actually measures a student's problem-solving and reasoning skills, we will actually see teachers spend time on that. Everyone knows educational theory shows that problem-solving and reasoning SHOULD BE TAUGHT. However, we assess kids by having them fill in a bubble. There is no reasoning or problem-solving on my state test. And if my name is at the top of those assessments, you better believe I am spending my time making sure they can fill in those bubbles with the right answers.

As for the teacher qualification - good work, Sherlock! I totally could have saved them the money it took for this research and emailed them about this. Again, thanks to NCLB, teachers who are highly qualified are kept in the classroom, regardless of their teaching ability. And teachers who have years of experience and truly engage their students are forced from the classroom if they don't have the magic numbers created by NCLB to label them as highly qualified. The whole thing is a joke and the kids are the ones who pay.

As for science and social studies. Could we possibly get maybe one more hour in the day to get all of this taught? Between two recesses (which are mandated by the WELLNESS POLICY from NCLB) specials, assemblies, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly assessments, mandated timed for guided reading blocks and math blocks - there is precious little time left for social studies and science lessons. Did anyone notice that WRITING is missing from this equation as well? Ah heck, just throw it into your reading instruction. Teacher's don't actually TEACH writing, they just have kids "write in their journals" during independent work while they conduct the small reading groups.

The article continues:

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, education researchers spent thousands of hours in more than 2,500 first-, third- and fifth-grade classrooms, tracking kids through elementary school. It is among the largest studies done of U.S. classrooms, producing a detailed look at the typical kid's day.

The researchers found a few bright spots — kids use time well, for one. But they found just as many signs that classrooms can be dull, bleak places where kids don't get a lot of teacher feedback or face time.

Among the findings on what teachers and students did and how they interacted:

•Fifth-graders spent 91.2% of class time in their seats listening to a teacher or working alone, and only 7% working in small groups, which foster social skills and critical thinking. Findings were similar in first and third grades.

•In fifth grade, 62% of instructional time was in literacy or math; only 24% was devoted to social studies or science.

•About one in seven (14%) kids had a consistently high-quality "instructional climate" all three years studied. Most classrooms had a fairly healthy "emotional climate," but only 7% of students consistently had classrooms high in both. There was no difference between public and private schools.

Although all teachers surveyed had bachelor's degrees — and 44% had a master's — it didn't mean that their classrooms were productive. The typical teacher scored only 3.6 out of seven points for "richness of instructional methods," and 3.4 for providing "evaluative feedback" to students on their work.

Whether a teacher was highly qualified, had many years of experience or earned more mattered little, says lead researcher Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia.

Of the standard measures studied, "none of them makes a noticeable difference," he said.

Prior research has shown that highly skilled, engaging teachers can eliminate achievement gaps between rich and poor kids. Pianta says his new findings support that conclusion and suggest policymakers should focus more on how individual teachers can improve on these measures.

Kathy Schultz, director of teacher education at the University of Pennsylvania's graduate school of education, says studying how teachers teach is helpful, but ignores the reality of larger mandates such as the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Teachers, she says, are under enormous pressure to increase basic skills.