Monthly Archives: February 2008

Friday Haiku 2/29/08

It’s Friday! It’s Hai-day! Time to get the ‘ku on.

Ya know, I think I need to change the name of this blog. Seriously? I spend waaay too much time talking about stuff that has broken around me. It’s just sad. Maybe I should call it “The Entropy Chronicles”. Anyway, in the meantime, enjoy this week’s haiku tribute to the most powerful force in my life. When you’re done here, try checking out A Mommy Story for more!

If another thing
In my possession should break
I will go insane.

What else could be left?
Everything’s already dead.
It’s my bright blue car.

Yep, the Mazda I love.
And it’s less than a year old.
Yea for warranty.

Don’t want to mess with
Getting the car tomorrow.
Spouse might have to get.

Entropy sure sucks.
Why does it always find me?
Any ideas?

Virtual Book Club is Here!

So, here’s where we’ll be for Virtual Book Club. Sorry for such lameness today, but the forces of entropy have once again taken over my life. See ya at 8:30 CST!

A Report From the Trenches: Hump Day Humm 2-27-08

Gender Politics from the eyes of my eight year old.

Written yesterday afternoon while at soccer practice for Thing 1. We were attending practice for another team our coach coaches because our schedules are bit goofy for the next week or so. This brought us to a new park that Thing 2 had never been to and he was very excited to be climbing all of the new trees. So, of course, I had to be the mean, inconsiderate mommy and drag him away for a bit…

Me: Hey! Thing 2! Come here a sec!

Thing 2: (from up high in a tree) Why?

Me: Just for a minute, I want to interview you for my blog!
(Since the kids know I won’t put their pictures on the blog, and they always see other kids on blogs, the though of actually being included in my blog was a huge incentive)

T2: What are we going to talk about?

Me: Girls

T2: Eeeew! Why?

Me: I just have a few questions, and maybe some follow-ups. Is that ok?

T2: I guess, but hurry! There’s lots of trees here! I want to climb them all! (he’s such a monkey-boy)

Me: What do you think about the girls in your class?

T2: Some of them are smart, but one of them is kind of crazy.

Me: What makes you think she is crazy?

T2: She’s crazy because she says she knows everything when she doesn’t.

Me: Why do you say she doesn’t know everything? Maybe she does.

T2: Mo-oo-oo-oo-m, she doesn’t even know her times tables! And besides, nobody knows EVERYTHING!

Me: So, on the playground, who do you hang out with? Boys or girls?

T2: Hang out with both.

Me: Do you play differently with the boys than the girls?

T2: With boys, we play games that are really scary and funny and kind of violent, too. With girls we just kind of talk.

Me: How does your teacher treat the girls and boys?

T2: Evenly

Me: Who gets called on more often?

T2: Girls! Don’t know why!

Me: Do the girls raise their hands more?

T2: No

Me: Do the boys shout out or raise their hands?

T2: Raise hands

Me: Who do you think is smarter? Boys or girls?

T2: Some boys know more than girls and some girls know more than boys.

Me: Who’s better in math?

T2: Boys.

Me: Who’s better at reading?

T2: Boys

Me: Science?

T2: Boys

Me: Music?

T2: Girls

Me: Drawing?

T2: Boys

Me: Writing?

T2: Girls

Me: Writing stories?

T2: Boys

Me: So, why do you think that?

T2: It’s what I think and what I think sticks.

Me: If you had to pick a project partner, who would you pick?

T2: A boy, because girls do all the answering and don’t let the boys work. They get bossy and take over.

Me: Is there competition between boys and girls?

T2: Yes.

Me: Who is it more important to?

T2: Boys

Me: Do you get mad if a girl is better?

T2: No, I just compliment them on a job well done.

Me: Are the girls nice to the boys?

T2: Not really.

Me: Who likes school more?

T2: Boys, by a long shot.

Me: What makes you think that?

T2: All the boys in our class like to work and all of the girls want fun.

Me: How can you say that when you say the girls always “take over”?

T2: The girls take over because they want to do it their way. They think boys do it wrong.

Me: Who is a girl in your class that hangs out with boys?

T2: “Gertrude”.

Me: Why?

T2: She likes things that boys like, she does things like a boy, and she’s nice.

Me: Can you give me some examples? How does she “do things” like a boy?

T2: She’s not as quiet, she reads lots of science fiction that girls normally wouldn’t read. She’s good at math and good at everything.

Me: Are you saying that girls can’t be good at stuff?

T2: NO! I’m just sayin’ that she’s good, but she doesn’t feel like she has to tell everyone she’s good. When the other girls tell you how much they know, they don’t really know that much.

Me: What about boys? Don’t boys brag, too?

T2: (HUGE PAUSE) Yeaaaaah. They do! And they don’t know anything either.

Me: Do you know lots of stuff?

T2: Duh! Of course I do!

Me: Tell me something you know.

T2: I know that we’re finished here and there are a lot of trees to climb. Can I go now?

And off he went…..

So, what does that little exchange tell us?

Here’s what I got from it:

First, that even at 8, he recognized that competition was more important to the boys than the girls. I’m unsure of what that means for future development, but there it is.

Second, he can already call a spade a spade. He’s not tolerating bs from anyone. Although I had to point that out to him, he did realize it when it was.

Third, he recognizes the differences. “Gertrude” isn’t as “quiet” and does different things. He senses differences in inclinations, although these are starting to turn into stereotypes of abilities. But the girl who made an effort to relate to the boys on their terms was welcomed. What does that mean?

Finally, he has an annoyance towards girls who “take over because they want to do it their way”. This is the one that disturbs me. Does he feel this way because the girl has suggested an incorrect approach and is pushing it anyway? Or does he feel this way because it is a girl who is asserting herself? Given the overall tone of the conversation, I am unable to draw a definitive conclusion. This one will bear some watching in the future.

So, there it is. What do you take from that exchange? Anything to add? Am I reading too much into it? What is your favorite tree to climb?

If you have any of your own opinions on the subject, you need to share them! Join us at Using My Words.

An Open Letter to My Cats

Dear fuzzballs,

It’s a good thing you guys are cute, else you would find yourself back out on the streets. And in this neighborhood, that means only one thing: coyote food.

I have had cats my entire life, and I can tell you that you two are the most destructive felines I have ever seen. I’m not too upset about the silhouette blinds as those already had a hole in them from something. But the leather couch in the living room is something else. I’ve figured out a way to fix it, but still…

And the door jambs? What’s up with that? You use the freakin’ door jambs as a scratching post when there is a perfectly good scratching tool not five feet away.

Your saving grace is that you are the only cats I have ever owned that don’t puke on a daily basis. At least that is something.

I’m always finding one of your toys soggy on the floor somewhere in the house. I’m sorry, did I say your toys? I meant my kids’ toys as you seem to like them pretty well. You actually open the drawer that has the rubber animals in it and drag them all over the house. But not before drowning them in your water dish. And you’d think that a Bionicle model would be safe, but no; you actively seek those out, too.

Let’s talk about my shoes. You know, the ones you have perforated? Why? Dogs do this, not cats. That needs to stop. Don’t tell me it’s because I’ve left them somewhere where they aren’t supposed to be because I’ve seen you go into my closet and do this, too. And speaking of the closet…leave my clothes on the hanger. I know you guys think that it’s a cool little cave, but don’t be dragging down my stuff. You messed with one of my favorite sweaters that way you little…

Now about your table manners. You shouldn’t have any since you are cats. You should stay down on the floor and eat. People eat at the table. You are not welcome to jump up on the table when we are eating to check it out. That thing with Thing 1′s yogurt this morning? Not cool. He shouldn’t have to fight you off for his food.

This is to you Chase (monster sized cat that you are): your sleeping habits leave a lot to be desired. You are a BIG cat and when you sprawl at the foot of my bed, you take up so much space that there isn’t room for me. I’m having enough sleep issues as it is, I don’t need this added to it. Go sleep on the floor; you do that the during the day anyway. In the middle of the kitchen floor, IN THE WAY OF EVERYTHING!

The last thing I’d like to address with you is your appalling lack of consideration while I am practicing. If you must come into the music room to hear me practice, I expect you to stay on your side of the room. DO NOT HELP ME WITH MY BOWING! Whacking you on the head (don’t freak out dear readers, it was a light whacking) with my bow only seems to encourage you more, which is unfortunate. You need to stop this.

All that aside, you are great cats. You are sweet, affectionate, and endlessly entertaining. Just remember: the people in this house have opposable thumbs and are higher up on the food chain than you.

Don’t push it.

Melissa

Just Puttering Around

I love home projects. Which is good, since this was the perfect weekend for them.

Last night, I had one of my fits of insomnia and I started playing around with the blog template. Don’t get too used to it as I’m still messing around with it. But I think it’s a little closer to what I want it to be.

Today I finally got a project that I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while completed: painting the cabinet in the downstairs bathroom and replacing the hardware on the drawers. I’ve had the materials for about six weeks and finally got a day where nothing else was going on and I could just get it done. Ahhh…now we just have to replace the sink and it will be all “matchy-matchy” like. This is one time where entropy is actually working in my favor. We are starting to lose the handles on this sink, so I don’t feel like I’m replacing it for strictly cosmetic reasons.

Next up on the docket is some rearranging in the house. We got rid of the dresser and chest of drawers in our bedroom when we installed a closet system. Ok, we just got rid of those around Christmas and we installed the closet system January ’07, but you know what I mean. I have a dressing table that I am going to take to the consignment store tomorrow, which will give me room to take the couch that is in the front room of my house (which basically serves as my music room) and put it in the bedroom to create a nice little sitting area. Almost like grown-ups live there or something. Then, I’m going to move the elfa desk I have upstairs in the playroom and put it in the front room, which will officially make that MY ROOM. We put it in the playroom about five years ago when the Things needed more constant supervision. Now their stuff encroaches upon it and they make tons of noise when they play, which makes it impossible for me to work. Drives me batty, especially since I’m going to try and take this blogging thing to the next level. So, I’ll have to take it down and put it up downstairs. This is, of course, after painting the front room to match the rest of the house. Oh, and we’ll have to repair and paint the wall upstairs, too. So that is not a minor project.

When taking on something like this, you have to figure out how long it is going to take you, and plan accordingly. You don’t want to get started on a project that is going to get dragged out. I’m doing some painting projects at the church, so that takes up time. Soccer season will be starting up soon, which means my weekends will not have huge blocks of time to devote to projects. Since I will be having two sets of houseguests in the month of March, I have to make sure that I can complete the tasks before they get there. Don’t want to have half projects sitting around with small children about. Sigh…I may have to push this until April. Ick. Don’t wanna wait that long. :(

But when you start the whole home project thing, it just sort of snowballs, doesn’t it? Now that the house is completely repainted, the doorknobs on all of the doors look really yucky. There’s nothing wrong with them, they’re just that brassy stuff that doesn’t match what we’ve going on in the rest of the house. So we want to get rid of those. Don’t worry, I’ve already planned to take those to Habitat for Humanity. Then there’s the kitchen, which, of course, is complicated by the whole dead appliance thing. What are we going to replace those with? Stick with the white or go with the more updated stainless? I want to do something with the cabinets in there, as well as replace the countertops with silestone or granite. Fortunately, since I have absolutely no counter space, I can replace my counters with really nice stuff for not a lot of money. There is so little counter to work with, I might be able to use remnants of a slab. All of this home improvement stuff isn’t so bad because I do so much of it myself. The only thing that I just mentioned that will have to be outsourced is the counters. Everything else is all me and Spouse, which reduces the cost immensely.

I’m not sure I have a point today. I’m just rambling on about my house and what I want to do next. Kind of nice to have a day where that is the most serious thing on my mind. The world will come back tomorrow, and all of the stress that goes with it. So I’ll just seize the opportunity and do something I really enjoy. I hope this weekend afforded you the opportunity to do the same.

It’s a Science Party!

Bringing Science Back!

This post is in response to the Blog Blast on Parent Bloggers Network.

How can you bring science back into the schools when there is so much teaching to the test? That is what a group of parents at our school wondered one day in November. Our answer? Create a science night for the kids at our school to have fun with science. This wasn’t a totally new idea as another school in our district had done one the previous year, but we decided to give it a try.

Our science night (which was actually this past Wednesday – had I known about this, I would have gotten the pictures for you to see!) had thirteen different experiments, fifteen local experts (parents of our students in most cases), science fair winners from the local middle school, a local weatherman with his Stromtracker truck, a representative from the hydroelectric dam, a NASA Ambassador, and a demonstration from the Physics department from the University of Texas. There was also a take-home experiment kit. We spent $675 on the entire event. It was well attended, too, with an estimated 350 kids and families attending (based on pizza sales).

Sound good to you? Give it a shot! Here are some guidelines to help you:

1.Give your group about eight to twelve weeks to plan. This will allow you time to gather your experts and have them commit. Get your PTA and administration on board (ours was a PTA project). Send notes home with the kids. You would be surprised how many parents or grandparents are amateur astronomers, entomologists, scientists, or geologists. Your local college might also have an outreach program that you can tap into. Don’t be afraid to ask! The middle schoolers who came displaying their science fair projects were excited to have another chance to show them off. Your local utility company might be interested in outreach. TV stations like to do stuff like this, too. Be creative!

2.Figure out what kind of volunteers you can get to work that evening and help gather supplies. Parents are always a plus, but don’t forget your local high school. Members of the Honor Society usually have to perform some sort of community service as part of a requirement. How many volunteers you have will have a direct bearing on #3.

3.Select your experiments. Some great online resources are zula.com, Bill Nye, and Steve Spangler. You need to consider cost, level of difficulty, age of the students, length of time (too long and the kids won’t wait, too short and it’s no fun) and material availability. Go for a WOW factor. Create procedure sheets for each one.

4.Choose your night and how long you want it to be. There is a lot to coordinate through your school, so be willing to be flexible. If you are having a demonstration, take that into consideration as it will mean less time for people to visit the experiments. The biggest complaint we had from our night was that the kids didn’t have enough time to do everything in one hour.

5.Gather your materials. Some things needed to be ordered online, so allow enough time for delivery. Most things we could get at Costco, Home Depot, or the grocery store. We anticipated 250 kids, but figured (correctly) that not each kid would be able to do each station. Each of our experiments had three stations to minimize waiting.

6.Have fun!

If it sounds easy, it really is. We did the bulk of the planning in four weekly planning sessions. Most of the stress came in the last two weeks when we were gathering supplies, but even that was minimal.

This is just a very, very brief overview of what we did. If you are interested in more specifics, I’m working on a mini-blog about it that will give all the details. Check back next Friday! Or leave a comment with an email contact, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

A science night like this is more than just fun for the kids. It brings science down to a level that is easy for them to relate to. It shows the kids that science is all around them everyday. And it shows them how important it is to understand how the world around them works.

Friday Haiku 2/22/08

Always discuss it.
Never actually do it.
Finally indulged.

I had an unexpected block of free time yesterday afternoon which allowed me to get my much sought after pedicure. I got the quick pedicure, so it was only good instead of fabulous, but I figure my bday is coming up soon, so I’ll really indulge then. Just so you know, I’m not really THAT much of a princess. This isn’t something I do weekly or even monthly. It’s a nice treat, especially after a completing a big project.

And to answer my friends in colder climes…yes, other people really do see my toes this time of year. If I could send you warmer weather, I would.

For more Japanese styled poetry, try Playgroups are no place for children.

Here’s an interesting question, why does one foot photograph well, while a pair of feet look freaky? Is it just my feet? And I just thought of the google hits I might be subjecting myself to with a foot photo. Sorry to disappoint.