Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Because She Has Older Siblings. I Think.

I had an odd call from the mom of one of S's classmates yesterday. Apparently S taught her little friend CH how to "shake his booty." The mother relayed the scene at her house in a voice mail message.

Ms. N: Connor came home from school today and said, "Mom, shake your booty!" I said, "CH, where did you learn that word and about that!" and he said, "S taught me!"

The thing is, I don't know this woman well enough to know whether she was amused or horrified that my daughter had taught her son this. There was just that much ambivalence in her voice.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oh, How Things Have Changed

Packing list for ski trip, in order of priority


  • Beer
  • Beer
  • Beer
  • Beer
  • Motrin
  • Heating pad
  • Braces for various joints
  • Wine
Goals for ski trip, in no particular order

  • Ski really hard
  • Lots of breaks for beer
  • Stay up late drinking beer and playing music
  • Curse the old ladies in the room next door ranting about how their kids are trying to sleep
  • Bonus points if you get more than one call from the front desk telling you to keep it down
  • Ski medium-hard
  • Lots of breaks for the restroom
  • Go to bed early
  • Curse the young people in the room next door who have no respect for children trying to sleep
  • Bonus points if you get a night comped due to unruly young people in the room next door

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I caught a bit of "Sicko" the other night on tv. I really want to watch it start to finish without interruptions. The issues presented in the short bit I saw were thought-provoking at the very least, and shocking in other ways. We could go back and forth and on and on about all of it. No matter what you think about Michael Moore, the issues raised about health care are important. (I loved, loved, loved, "Roger and Me," but have been mixed on his work since.)

There was a comment in the movie from an American ex-pat in Paris that keeps popping into my mind. She said something like, "In America, people are afraid of their government. In France, the government is afraid of the people." Then the movie went on to show examples of how the governments behave based on that theory.

What do you think about that?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Raised Voices

I had a confrontation with the rector of the church this morning.

Yesterday I learned that the Missions team is not going to South Carolina this year. They might try to go elsewhere, but they have no firm plans. "They" decided it wasn't right for the Missions kids to be competing for funding when the church is in rather serious financial straights. ($30K deficit last year, projected $28K deficit coming year, we owe $70K to the diocese, and budgets are already adjusted down to consider the lower pledging).

Missions is one of the few reasons we've been hanging on. C has been looking forward to the time when he could go on Missions. This changes things. I already knew R, the rector, wasn't into the Missions "thing" but H, a vestry member I know swore she'd keep it going after S, the Christian Ed director was pushed out. However, it looks like H has gone over to the dark side, as it were.

Also, I learned that members of the vestry have been instructed to keep vestry proceedings secret, including to family members. Churches+secrecy=bad things. See, Boston, Catholic Archdiocese of.

Anyway, when R spoke to me in the patronizing tone he reserves for dissenters this morning (the one that tries to say, "See, I am friendly and nice, so it's not *me* that's the issue"), I kinda lost it.

I told him how upset I was. He denied any involvement in the decision. I said he influenced it. Again he denied it. For everything, the response was, "It's not me. It's not my fault. You can blame me if you want, but it's not my fault."

Nothing, apparently, is his fault. He takes zero responsibility for any negative in the church. It's, "I can't control that," or, "It's the economy," or something else. It's never anything to do with him - in spite of the evidence that the downhill trend started immediately after his arrival.

If he were an appropriate spiritual leader, pledges might not be as high as they have been in past years, but they wouldn't be down by 45K (80K if you take into account that pledging goals were already lowered). I checked a church a couple towns north - their pledges are down 7K. When times are tough, people prioritize their giving far more carefully. People around here are not prioritizing it toward this church. Gee, wonder why.

R likes to say he can run a church like a successful business. Um...any leader of a business that oversaw this kind of decline this rapidly would have been pushed out by the board of directors already.

So, anyway, there were raised voices. I came home after the service and wrote a very strong letter to the bishop. I don't know if I will send it, but it felt good to get it on paper.

The easy - and maybe even the best - thing to do would be to walk away, find another church. But then I get angry. Why should I leave my church? I was there first! Also, knowing there are many others who are struggling, why should we shut up and let this happen? Why should we let him win?

I just don't know what will happen. I'm sad and angry all over again.

On a completely different note, we went to a hockey game this afternoon and now have a favorite minor league hockey player.

The next morning: I sent the letter. Surprise, surprise, it's already been dismissed by the bishop.

The next afternoon: Terse email from the vestry. "We received a copy of the letter. We will respond in writing." That's it.

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Dental Bargain

Now those are two words one doesn't often hear together.

When C had his dental checkup with a new dentist in early January, they did the same kind of panoramic x-ray that M had had in December (the one that discovered his extra tooth). C's panor-x showed teeth several teeth that were delayed in coming out on their own, thus impeding permanent molars below. We made appointments for extractions.

C did not like the idea of this at all. Needles were involved after all. And he doesn't do well with needles. Period.

A couple of weeks ago he told me that one of the two teeth that needs to be extracted was loose. Cool. Then I received an insurance authorization noting what our portion of the fees would be. Ouch.

Several days ago, C informed me that the loose tooth had come out. But that he'd swallowed it by mistake. After a good laugh, and canceling one of the extraction appointments, I had an idea. Could he get that other tooth out, too?

He said it wasn't loose, but that he'd try.

I gave him some incentive. I told him that we'd give him $25 if he could get that tooth on his own.

And he did, just last night.

While some might say the tooth fairy was generous, I know we got a bargain. As long as C never sees the insurance statement to see how much we would have paid the dentist, we'll all be happy.

In other news, it's Truck Day! 8 days to Spring Training! (And still no contract for Manny.)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Thanks for the Shout Out, Sarah!

This shout out is far more appropriate than the one made in the debate.

Palin rails against 'anonymous, pathetic bloggers'

Proud to be of assistance to you!

The Inconvenience Factor

Lordy. The town is up in arms again.

Several years ago one of the school councils (there are four of them as we have four schools, Pre-K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12) initiated a study on whether it would be beneficial to our kids to change the start time for the middle and high school to an hour later. Emerging research suggested that this kind of move is extremely beneficial to the kids. Then we didn't hear about it for a couple of years, aside from occasion blips in the paper of, "We're still looking at the issue!"

The school council that studied this issue came up with a formal proposal several months ago and presented it to the school committee last night for a vote. Leading up to this vote there have been several information nights, articles in the town paper and other school communication. The proposal had the support of the Superintendent and the majority of teachers.

After all the information was presented, no one could really argue with the research. Later start times are better for teenagers, and are linked to everything from better standardized test scores to lower risk for car crashes. The problems and arguments came in how it might affect the 3-5 graders. And parents.

We have four schools in town, and three bus cycles. C gets on the bus at 7AM on the middle school/high school run. M gets on the bus at 8AM for the upper elementary run. Next year S will get on the bus at 8:35 for the lower elementary run. With a time change for the middle and high schools, C and M would swap bus times; M getting on at 7AM and C getting on at 8AM. S would stay the same.

When I first heard about this, I thought, "What a pain in the ass! No way! Our family schedule is tricky enough as it is! No changes!" But then I got to thinking about this. Is my relative convenience an appropriate reason NOT to do this? Well....probably not.

An argument that many have used against the change is that they depend on older siblings to look after younger siblings in the afternoon. I totally sympathize with this. We use the extended day programs in town, and are always at risk of not getting in year-to-year because we only use it for M two days a week. I was feeling more relief as the years have gone by because I figured if we didn't get in, M could just come home those days and C would be there. That wouldn't happen any more. In addition, with a time change, the extended day program is more likely to be needed by more people exactly because of this - and we're even more likely not to get a slot. AND because the upper elementary school would be getting out earlier, the extended day program likely would cost more. Yes, this part is a pain in the patootie. Still, is this scheduling issue enough to reject a time change? I don't know.

Another argument was that the 3-5 kids need their sleep, too. Yeah, they do, but this argument fell totally flat for me. M is more alert earlier than C is. M goes to bed earlier anyway - and doesn't need to stay up later doing homework like C sometimes does. M, because he's in 3rd grade has a lower homework load.

Then the discussions and arguments went toward grades and test scores.

Our town looked at several towns with similar demographics who have made such a time change. In each case, the towns have seen steady increases in standardized test scores since the time change went into effect. Let me tell you, our town is standardized test crazy and highly competitive. I'd think on this alone it would have won wild support. There are groups in town who spend all their time comparing our yearly test scores to those of surrounding towns. "Why aren't our 9th grade social studies scores above this town to the north," and, "Why are our 4th grade English scores only 2 points above this town to the south. It should be 5 points!" (It's SO annoying!) This change gives them a likely increase, like they say they want - but then this same group starts complaining that a later start time will interfere with sports teams. Huh? What?

One group argued that in one town we looked at that had done this, test scores in their upper elementary group actually went down after the change. Okay, that's worthy of worry. Sacrificing one group in favor of another? There's some indication that it might actually be a 1-2 year blip due to a special education subgroup, but it's worth more investigation. (We've had our own issues with special education subgroups in this town.)

What's also been amusing and infuriating is the shrill group (led by the woman I mention here - who, by the way, has other interesting stuff going on for mention another day) is now, after years of "Why aren't are schools better? What are you doing to improve scores?" is now saying things like, "Our schools are great the way they are! Why are you changing a good thing?" Um, excuse me?

People seem to be forgetting that things always change. If it were success at a parent's job that required a family schedule change, they'd do that, right? And probably without much discussion.

Now, back to the school committee vote. It was last night. It went 3-2 in favor of the time change. Some groups are calling for the 3 pro committee members to be recalled. Oh boy. The two committee members I worked for in past elections voted for the change.

(One told me on email this morning that a teacher took her daughter aside yesterday and asked how her mother intended to vote. How completely inappropriate! It will be interesting to see how this plays into our town's upcoming election season. Neither of these candidates are up for reelection; a woman I mention here is running again.)

I'm not looking forward to the inconvenience factor. I'm not. I admit it. But this isn't about me and what is easiest for me, or what we're used to. It's about what is best for the kids. It's going to be an uncertain few months until we really see how September and beyond will look for our family - even though I am sure we'll all adjust. M was really annoyed this morning when I told him about the vote. He only grudgingly agreed that he might like it eventually when I pointed out he'd only have to get up really early for two years instead of seven.

Am I 100% convinced this is what is best for the kids? But I'm more than 80-90% convinced. I think we need to try.

UPDATE: C just arrived home from school and called to check in. The boy who struggles to get out of bed in the morning, who was psyched a few days ago for the possibility of sleeping in later, is now against this time change. WTF? Apparently some kids on the bus who have parents who oppose the change convinced him that it's so awful for his younger siblings to get up earlier than him for those three school years. The way C likes to tease and poke M, I was thinking we'd have to work at preventing C from teasing M on the topic. ("Ha! I don't have to get up as early as you!") What. Ever.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

On a Lighter Note

1. New "Witch Mountain" movie coming? Awesome!

(Lord, how much does that date me!)

2. S fell asleep in my lap this evening. So nice that it can still happen.

No Win

C has been sick this last week. I dismissed it at first. I thought it was muscle strain in his chest after skiing last weekend. Then it turned out to be more. Call from the nurse, fever, chest xray. Officially bronchitis, can't rule out pneumonia, then the lymphnodes in his neck became very swollen and painful. He ended up on two antibiotics and steroids - and he's doing much better now.

I feel like shit, however. I spent Friday on the edge of a panic attack.

How could I have dismissed it? What kind of a crappy mother am I? Especially after what he went through?

I am trying to rationalize that this is just another phase in processing what did happen to him. Not every illness is going to be life-threatening. I have to learn to deal with each issue on its own, evaluate it on its own. Not every virus should be colored by his big illness.

But I still feel like shit.