Thursday, May 20, 2010

Olympic Mascots

I was doing my usual morning check of yahoo news and came across this sports blog. I have to agree with Chris Chase, those are two goofy looking mascots.

The so called "taxi cab" light on the head reminds me of a pop up turkey timer and I simply want to push it back down. The one on the right looks like he we his pants. Heck, if I had creepy blue lobster claws for hands, I just might wet myself too!

I can't tell what the orange design is supposed to be. I can tell you that it looks like the orange guy has some serious cellulite going on around his midsection and legs, but then again, who doesn't have that issue?

The video only made me wonder how "George" is able to stand upright with such a gigantic head! Guess we'll just have to wait and see what other crazy things London does for the Olympics.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not Sure

I am not sure what to think about a situation that accrued earlier this week at work. Before I tell you what happened, let me give those of you who have no clue what I do, some background knowledge.

I run a school for juveniles who are in the court system and have been suspended or kicked out of school. My program prevents the judge from having to use tax payer dollars to lock a student just so they can get their education. At a cost of $200 a day for lock up (per kid) times the 90 (or so) students I have had over the last 3 years, I have helped save the county a lot of money. In order to keep a full house of kids (my program is run out of an older ranch house that has had some conversions done) I will take school referrals (kids who are just in trouble at school, but not legally). This helps the schools out because they can still count the students in their head count (and receive the money from the state for the kid), but they don't have to deal with their problematic behavior. I take these kids at NO COST to the schools. I have a great working relationship with all the schools in the county I work and I LOVE MY JOB. That being said, here is what happened.

I had some school officials just drop in, unannounced. They had never been here before and thought they'd stop in to check on their student. I am sure I looked like a bum. I have been fighting a bug and wore jeans and a hoodie that day to work since I didn't think I would be seeing anyone official. So, I'm sure my laid back apparel through them for a loop. Like I said, my program is run out of a small house. It isn't much, but we make it work. If I need anything, I have to write grants for the money. I don't mind, sure I may complain, but it keeps me busy. So after taking a look around, one of the officials said, "Oh, so this is it?" It was said with a nasty derogatory tone and they were standing right next to me. I must have had a shocked look on my face because they immediately said, "Oh, you weren't supposed to hear that." What did they think was going to happen? I was standing right next to them. I bit my tongue and replied, "Well, we are small, but we are able to accomplish things with these kids that the public schools can't. We truly are the definition of 'No Child Left Behind.' AND we do it all without any financial help from your school. So far this year, we have helped 38 kids, 5 of them being your districts students. We aren't much, but we can work miracles because we give the kids a chance and we work with them, not against them."

So, was my reply to snotty? I was just appalled at their comment and had to defend myself. So many of the kids I get have been written off by their schools and their parents. They just want someone to give a crap about them and take an interest in their lives. We do that, we show them that someone cares and is willing to advocate for them. What I really wanted to say was, "Look here, you guys write off these kids and we take them in. We take in the kids you refuse to help and all the baggage they carry. We work miracles when you can't and we don't even charge you. You should be happy we exist." But I didn't. I still have to wonder if my response was appropriate.

I have to wonder if administrators see me as young and a bit juvenile myself. I am 26 (I actually had to stop and do the math in my head) years old and have been doing this job for three schools years now. I truly think I have grown more in this last year, and I know I have more growing to do. I have to wonder when people will stop seeing me as a young, novice teacher and more like an experience professional that can handle the toughest kids and help them succeed.

I am excited to say that a local guidance counselor "went to bat" for me during a meeting and praised our program. It made my heart swell. It was nice to hear someone verbalize that my program is working. The judge is happy with my program (he is the brain child behind the original program) and that also makes me happy. This Thursday Senator K is actually coming to visit our program and see just what it is that we do here. I look forward to showing him how we are able to work miracles with the students who have been left behind or just plain forgotten.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Forgotten Mothers

I was chatting with a friend yesterday about Mother's Day. We both agreed that Mother's Day had gotten a bit blown out of proportion and turned more into a "Hallmark" holiday than anything else. She asked me if it was odd for me to buy someone else a Mother's Day present when I am a mother myself. I thought about it and to me it isn't odd. But that is not the part of the conversation that stuck with me. As I thought about our conversation I realized that several of my friends are mothers without haven given birth. So this is my "Happy Mother's Day" to them. I am not going to name them by name, but by initials.

C.B.: You are a mother. Each year you help mother/teach/inspire 30 kids to become great learners for the rest of their lives. You spend countless hours planning and teaching each child. You recognize their learning styles and help them become who you know they can be. You deal with problematic students on a daily basis and yet you keep going. For that, you are a mother. You help with your 5 nieces and nephews. For that, you are a mother. You care about the students your husband coaches. For that, you are a mother. So Happy Mother's Day to you!

D.Y.: I know I speak for several mothers when I say, thank you for helping us keep our sanity when it comes to our own children. You are always willing to help nanny our kids when we are at our breaking point. You take our kids so we can have a weekend away. You let our kids sleep in your bed. You take our kids trick or treating (so you can have a cut of the candy ;) ).For that, you are a mother. You deal with kids all year long during play/musical productions. You teach them how to dance, act, and sing. For that, you are a mother. You are more of a mother than you realize. Happy Mother's Day.

N.R.: You let me crash at your place in college. You provided me a place to escape a witch of a roommate. You stood up for me when said witch roommate turned me in for having a weapon (it was a freaking pocket knife!) and the police came and all that happened due to it. For that, you are a mother. I couldn't have made it through labor without you. You stood by my side the enter time (I am still surprised you didn't pass out!). You listened to me call you every name under the book through the pushing process, and yet you just calming told me, "You have to breathe. Do it for Taylor." For that, you are a mother. You helped me become a mother and helped me kick our mother (gee, guess I really didn't need to use initials on this one since that gave it away) out of the room. I see how you play with Tj and encourage him to read. For that, you are a mother. You help "mother" college students through their research projects and papers. For that, you are a mother. So Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Financial Food for Thought

While browsing on line I came across this article. I TOTALLY agree with what Jeff Yeager said, "But what we're missing is the golden epiphany of the time -- not can we save, but what do we need?"

I used to be a coupon FREAK! Scouring websites and papers and cutting out ANY coupon I found. It didn't matter if I used that product or not, it was a coupon! Who knows when I would want to save 30 cents on 5 cans of Pringles?! I finally realized I was spending time throwing out coupons that I didn't use. Now I browse the coupons and if it's a product I use (or one I know a friend uses: diapers, etc). I'll clip the coupon. 9 times out of 10, I just buy the store brand because it ends up being cheaper than the name brand (even if I had a coupon for the name brand).

I still plan our our weekly meals and use that to plan my grocery list. Make the weekly menu not only streamlines the grocery buying process, but eliminates the "What's for dinner?" question that so often used to lead to, "I don't know. I didn't get anything out to thaw so lets just go out to eat."

I also liked Yeager's thoughts on housing. Sure, I'd LOVE a bigger house, but a bigger house would lead to more space, which would lead to me feeling the need to fill all the new space with new stuff, stuff we didn't really need. I like my small house. At times I wish I had more cupboard space, or a bigger bathroom, etc. but who doesn't?

We are actually in the process of getting rid of crap we have that we don't use. If it truly is crap, it is going to to the curb for spring clean up. If it is decent and something we could sell, then it goes on craigslist, ebay or in the garage sale. Everything else gets put in a place. I think we have 3 lawnmowers right now. Only 1 of which we actually use. We have a lawn rake, it's a gas powered thing and to tell you the truth, I'm not sure what it is supposed to do. All I know is that Ayron thought we needed it so when my Dad offered it to him (My dad moved from MI to SC), Ayron took it. We have 3 snow blowers. One doesn't work. One does work, but is smaller. Our third one was given to us by Ayron's dad when they moved. It is a monstrosity, but it clears the driveway in 2 passes down and back, so I think we'll keep that one! I have boxes of Corelle dishes that I have yet to open. They were given to us as wedding presents. If I haven't used them in the five years we have been married, why am I hanging on to them?

As for "less destructive habits," we have discovered a few. About once a week we bike to the local school park to let TJ play. We get our exercise biking and he gets to run off energy in the playground. It often turns into a social event because the school is a halfway mark between our house and friends house (she also has a two year old boy who loves to run around). We go to the mentioned friend's house and feed the fish in the pond behind her house. The boys LOVE to throw the bread into the water and watch the fish fight over it. If I have a bread product that goes hard, it gets tossed in the "fish" baggie and when the baggie is full, we go feed the fish. We also let TJ play outside in the rain. That was the most entertaining for all involved. He loved it! Sure I had a muddy two year old and an equally muddy husband afterwards, but they wash, and so do their clothes.

The authors last remarks about toilet paper made me laugh. What good is buying the cheap 1 ply toilet paper when one drop of liquid makes the whole sheet disappear? I will stick with my White Cloud toilet paper thank you very much!

So I am curious. What things are you doing to keep your spending habits under control (or to change them)?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Brown Eyed Susans

I decided to try another recipe from my Grandmother's cook book. This one was incredibly easy and fast.

Brown Eyed Susans

1 1/2 C. Bisquick
1/3 C. oil
1 lrg. box instant vanilla pudding
2 eggs
1 box junior mint candies

Mix the first four ingredients. Drop by teaspoonful on ungreased baking sheet. Place a candy on top of each cookie and pat flat. Bake in a 350 oven for 12 to 14 minutes.

Here are the before and after pics.