Thursday, March 31, 2011

So You Want a Window That Operates?

During Spring Break* this year, I got a wild hair to look at some model homes in a neighboring city. Gorgeous, doesn't even begin to describe it. The sales lady even had a British accent. I loved to hear her talk. There was one model that we thought was perfect. We walked through and noted all of the questions we had and decided to go talk to the sales lady again.

One of the things I loved about this model was the huge window above the kitchen sink. I have a window above my kitchen sink now. It's not huge by the model standards, but it's a window. I noticed that the window in the model didn't open. How bizarre. So that was a question that I wrote down for the saleslady. 

I have at least three reasons why I like to open the window above my kitchen sink:
*I've been cooking something that seems to have taken a turn for the worse, and I need an infusion of fresh air. 
*It's gotten awfully warm in the kitchen and it needs to be cooled off
*It's a gorgeous day outside, and if I can avoid turning on the a/c I will

When we got back and the saleslady asked for all of our questions we got to the window above the kitchen sink question. Her response was, "You're so cute". When I gave her the reason of just wanting to not turn the a/c on if it's not necessary, she went into the shpeal about how their homes are oh so energy efficient. Dad gum, sometimes I just want to open the window. To get that window to open would  be an upgrade. Something to think about. 

Then it came time to see what lots were available. The lots had premiums so we wanted to know what we would have to include with the cost of the house. Then she marked one lot with a NEGATIVE $55,000 on one particular lot. 

DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING DING. That noise I heard were the bells going off in my head. On her map it looked like it could have been green space. She mentioned it was an electrical substation. So. We could save the $55,000 now because we'll need it when our kids grow up and develop nervous twitches from living right next to an electrical substation. Amazingly when we drove the neighborhood to see the lots, there were other homes right up next to it. It's their prerogative. 

So, I can forgive the saleslady's pretentiousness when asking about an operable window. But, I have the wherewithal to not settle for a house that butts up against an electric substation. Even if the house was a dream house. 

*Spring Break this year was filled with looking at model homes all around Collin County. There was even a home/lot that Hubby was salivating over. But, his commute would have doubled. Unless he got a job somewhere closer to home. No pressure, dear! =) 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dear School Board

It's been all over the news lately about school districts needing to make cuts to the budget. The school district that I am in is no different. I'm not here to point fingers as to whose fault it is. It doesn't really matter at this point. We're at a crossroads and we need to work together to get through. 

In my district 223 teachers were given pink slips this week. Add to that number 120 support people. With two children in elementary school, this troubles me. Hubby and I moved to this area for the reputation of the school district. Now we find ourselves looking at private schools to ensure a quality education for our kids. My kids deserve the best and I'm not sure that my school district can provide that quality education anymore. Can I make some suggestions from a parents point of view? 

At our particular elementary school there is a receptionist and an office manager. The woman who is our receptionist is perfect for the job. She's friendly and knows everybody. The office manager sits right behind her with a plate glass window between them. If the receptionist isn't at her desk for whatever reason, the office manager will look at you and let you wait til the receptionist comes back. Why is she there in that position? If the receptionist has to be away from her desk for an extended period of time, volunteers will cover for her. Why doesn't the office manager cover for her? What is there for her to manage? 

In the months of October and March my school district has free breakfast for all of the children. Everyday. It needs to stop. Imagine how much is spent on those breakfasts each day in the entire school district. I know it's for the benefit of those children who don't get a quality breakfast before school each day. Have you seen what they serve as the free breakfast? Give me a break! It's the parents responsibility to make sure the children have a full stomach when they arrive to take on the challenges of the day. I am painfully aware that there are parents out there whose last priority is to make sure their kids have breakfast. It's time to stop being lazy and think about our children. Put them first. 

Next month the district will celebrate with an employee service and retirement banquet at Southfork Ranch. Followed the next month by a teacher of the year banquet and The Plano Centre. Why do we need a separate celebration for these? Why can't these things be celebrated in a school gym like school dances and spirit rallies? If they should be celebrated in a economic times like we are in, isn't there somewhere that's a little more budget friendly? I understand that we need to keep the morale up for our teachers, but we also need to get a grip and buckle down. There are too many people that will suffer because of budget constraints. 

The average salary of the Central Administrative support is $88,178*. That's the salary for someone who is in the pretty buildings who don't have to share bathrooms or breathing space with the kids in their school district. The average teacher salary is $52,375*. Am I the only one who sees the imbalance here? Some of the people in the pretty buildings need to visit the classrooms a little more often to see who the outstanding teachers really are. I would at least like to see them show what their value is. Why do they get paid what they get paid? Why are they an asset instead of a liability? 

I realize that teachers are making what the market calls for, but is there that much paper to be shuffled around in the pretty buildings? 

Then, there are some teachers who shouldn't be teaching. I spend an adequate amount of time in my kids school by volunteering. There are some teachers that SHOULD BE given the pink slip. There are some that just have the job because they need something to fill their days with. Bye bye! I want teachers for my kids that WANT to be there. They know going in that they don't get paid millions of dollars, but they do it for the love of spreading knowledge. They do it because they want to share in the experience of growing minds and expanding creativity. 

I don't have a degree in education. I don't have a degree in finance. I'm just a mom who wants the best for her kids. I'm a citizen of the district who wants to prevent anymore pink slips going out to teachers who love what they do and who make a difference. I'm a person who wishes that common sense was a little more common. 

When making difficult, yet necessary cuts to education spending it's irresponsible and insulting to teachers and taxpayers for administrators to suggest that in-classroom spending be the first to go**. 

Cuts need to be made in public education.....but not in the classroom. 


21 Days

It's been 21 days without facebook! The funny thing is, my world didn't come to an end. Amazeballs! Twenty one days of not worrying if so and so saw my latest post, or if I was or wasn't the intended target of someone else's post. I'm not worrying why that person sent "Happy Birthday" wishes to her and I didn't get any. It truly is out of sight, out of mind.

It's been three weeks of not getting twisted up into knots over garbage spewed out by people with opposing political/social/religious views. Isn't there enough stress in life without adding that crap to the mix? 

It's been twenty one days free of the abbreviations, LOL, ROFL, FML, FOCLOL, FTW, FOCROFLOL, BRB, BBS, and BS. Half of those I don't even know what they mean. And I don't care either. If it's not funny enough to spell the whole thing out, why bother?

I did wonder what the reaction was after Brad chose Emily. But it was so long after the fact that I was wondering that nobody would have been talking about it still. When Elizabeth Taylor died, it was on all the entertainment shows what celebrities were tweeting. Honestly, if you don't respect her enough to spell out "Rest in Peace", why bother? I'm sure 140 characters will allow you that much. 

I chose to cheat for one brief moment. There was one birthday that I wanted to acknowledge by snail mail. I had their address in my facebook messages. I checked my messages for their address. I filled out the envelope and logged out. That was it, I swear! Before Lent started I did prepare other birthday wishes by using the Hallmark facebook application. Is that cheating? 

Is it cheating when I visit a web site ( to click on the little facebook "like" button? I haven't done it since it would show up in the facebook newsfeed. Since facebook wasn't around in Jesus' time I can't really apply the question, "What would Jesus Do?". I'm pretty sure He could care less! 

I'm not trying to come across as pretentious or judgmental. This is my journey through Lent 2011. With three weeks left it's easy-cheesy-lemon-squeezy. 

P.S. I'm not blaming the tool. That would be like blaming a gun when someone shoots another person. It's the person who is to blame. I'm choosing not to play the game. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Held hostage

There's a web site I just adore. They have some of the funniest videos. EVER. This came across my email inbox and I thought this was a keeper.

Haven't we been in this situation*?

*Of course all of the children I know are angels, but the unending barrage of questions are enough to make us want to strangle the store clerk........

Monday, March 21, 2011

I Am Projected Out!

Fourth grade seems to be the year of the project. At least the second semester is anyway. And I'm beat!! I don't believe I've ever worked as hard on something as these projects. Should I be working this hard? It's not my project. I've done my schooling. But what kind of mother would I be if I didn't do anything? 

As soon as we got back from Christmas break it was announced by my fourth grader that she had a science project due. Excuse me? We had just had two weeks off  that we could have used to work on this project. But alas, that time was gone and we had to buckle down and get it planned, started and then finished in two weeks. We did a  project on density. I have to say it was pretty fun and I think we did a darn fine job. You should have seen the ones that actually got ribbons at the science fair. Augh! 

The next project was to make a travel brochure about The Alamo or any other battle site in the state of Texas. This was prompted on the day AFTER it was due by a phone call from the teacher telling us our fourth grader hadn't turned it in. Seriously, I was about to hit the roof. We hustled  to get this thing printed out. I did all of the research while my kid was at school. I told said kid to choose what she would like to put in the brochure. Hubby was in charge of getting this thing printed out with what little printer ink we had left in the printer. This was on a Wednesday. 

That very next Thursday we were building a piano out of a gift box for the music teacher. Yep! The music teacher had all of fourth grade make a music instrument. This was assigned some time ago, but my fourth grader forgot about it. Until the week it was due. Thank God the piano didn't have to make music, it just had to look like an instrument. I was mad, frustrated, flustered and wondering if there was a rock I could go hide under. 

Now I'm breathing down the back of a "Free Market" project. The kids have to come up with a product to sell to the other kids and the proceeds go to a charity chosen by the teacher. Where do I start with this one? The kids make a product and the fifth grade comes around to all the stations and buy their goods if they so choose.  Hello? Kids running out school with money? What if the "charity" is the teacher's mortgage company? If this were truly a free market project the kids would have to cover the costs of their product first then any remaining monies would be considered profit. 

The kids chose to do sand art. They would provide the sand and the plastic bottles and the kids that want to shell out the money they can make their own designs. I've seen how much colored sand costs. I'm stunned. I've seen the recipe for making my own colored sand and I have no desire to have the leftover 15 pounds of sand laying around the house. Even the least expensive plastic bottle is about $1.19 each. 

Dear teachers, I'm projected out. I've had enough. These projects are a little too much back to back. Some of these are middle school worthy projects and we don't have anybody in middle school yet. Like I said, do I just let my kiddo take a hit on her grade if she doesn't get it done?  Or, do I jump in and help? When is it too much help on the project, and when is it not enough? 

*Winter Break, Christmas Break, call it what you will. I call it what it is. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent: Day 1

This year I've decided to give up facebook for Lent. An opportunity to get closer to God and far more distanced from my computer. Closer to my Creator, and farther apart from those that might not have the best of intentions. 
Draw me closer to you, Lord. 

I've never really taken Lent seriously before I met my husband. Over lengthy discussions over time it was made clear that sacrificing something so little for such a short period of time pales to what Christ sacrificed for me. I've tried in the past, one thing or another with giving up something. It was always in the back of my mind that Sunday was coming and I could "cheat" on that day. Christ didn't "cheat". 
Remain in me, Lord. 

I guess I've always used the excuse that I'm not as strong as others and I gave in to a spirit of failure. That I'm not "as big" of a Christian as this person or that person. That it might be expected of me to not succeed. In all reality, I didn't totally depend on Christ to get me through. 
I can do anything in Christ, who strengthens me. 

Granted as I write this, it's only halfway through day one. I'm sort of praying for the desire of facebook to just go away. May this Easter season give me a stronger faith, patience, love and forgiveness that I need. 
May Jesus be my only social network. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Joining Church and a Comedy of Errors

When Hubby and I got married we knew that we wanted to raise our family in church. Following Christ and building our faith is a major part in our belief system. Hubby and I were married in a mega church here in the area. We followed the mega church when they moved, but it was easy to see that we couldn't stay. It was just too "mega" for us. Hubby came from a smaller church background so we decided as a couple to start looking for another church home.

We found another Baptist church not too far away and felt like it was a good fit. The pastor was warm and friendly and he hails from the "land of Gar" (my hometown). We met some great people in a Sunday school class. People in the same stage in life. It wasn't too much on the traditional side, but it was at that time. It was there that I had attended my firt Maundy Thursday service.

Our comedy of errors starts whenever we walk down the aisle to join the church. When we decided to join this church the pastor met us at the end of the aisle. He asked, "How do you come to us today?" Hubby says, "Fine". Now for those of us who have joined a church or two in our past we know what the pastor is asking. He's asking if we come by:
(1)transfer of letter
(2)believer's baptism
(3)professing a new belief in Christ

After laughing a little, I jumped in and said we were joining by transfer of letter*. We were on our journey of building a faith and and foundation. We were active in our Sunday school class for quite some time. Until some other friends had gotten caught up in some political game and we let them influence our heart about the church. I look back and think how disappointing that whole episode was. We should have been objective. We should have given the benefit of the doubt. Our Sunday school class was falling apart and people were leaving left and right. On to the next church....

After a short stint at a church locally, we ventured out to another city to try and worship there. It was a very traditional church. It's a church calendar following, liturgical church. We walked down the aisle there and our comedic moment there was that when it came time take a family picture there the camera broke. The minister said he would get back with us and try to take another picture, but that never happened. That's okay. The drive there was a bit tedious. I'm not sure we really ever fit in. So, Hubby agreed to start visiting churches again.

We ventured out to other denominations, but that was a waste of time. Even other denominations were turning over to the contemporary side and it was a turn-off. We finally decided to try a baptist church that we had visited a few years earlier. They had been in some transition time earlier and now they had a new pastor. I was curious. Hubby finally agreed to visit. We've been visiting since early November. I was encouraged. Hubby really enjoyed listening to the pastor. Hubby said that this pastor has given some of the best sermons that he's ever heard. Bingo! We had found a baptist church that (1)offered a traditional service (2)had a Sunday school class that felt right (3)was close to home.

Finally. We reached the point when we were ready to join. We had told the kids that they were to just leave their stuff in the pew and we would go back for it. Hubby and I started down the aisle. The kids just stand there in the pew looking at us. I kept walking, Hubby stopped. I walked right into Hubby and there was a slight collision. After I compose myself we had to stop and tell the kids to come along. After we finally made it to the front the pastor met us and we expressed our intent. The man that took our information couldn't get our names right. He was trying to write our names on name tags and he couldn't hear worth anything. At one point I wanted to yank those stickers away and just write our names myself. Then Hubby was introduced to the crowd under his legal name. That threw us off a little bit, because even the lady that introduced us knows him by the name we call him.

We actually had a minor scare as the minister was introducing us. There was a wasp or hornet** buzzing around and it landed in the minister's hair. Right on top of her forehead. She never knew. There was another family that was being introduced and the minister had mentioned they were from Alabama. When we were in the receiving line, everyone kept asking if we were the ones from Alabama. I wish I had a sign with a picture of a hand with the finger pointing to the family next to me.

Hopefully, joining another church is behind us. It seems that the comedy of errors increases as we move churches. If I don't laugh about it, I cry. Just kidding. It's good to see that God has a sense of humor.

*We still laugh about that 13 years later.
**Don't know the difference, don't care. I don't like either one.

Turning 6 and a Sleepover

My little one's birthday came and went. Thank God! She had been talking about it non-stop. That's ALL we talked about. Every day leading up she would ask if it was the day of her party. Finally it came time for the slumber party. WOOHOO!! I can finally stop hearing about it.

In a huge way I love planning the kids parties. In a huge way I hate it. It's stressful and hardly anybody RSVP's anymore. The school makes it impossible to discreetly hand out invites, you either mail the invites or you invite the whole class. I would have loved to mail them if  the PTA would have gotten the directory out by then*. Plus, there was no way I was about to invite a whole class of girls and boys to a sleepover. Don't want that many kids here OR that many gifts. It's just common sense why you can't invite boys to a sleepover anyway.

I had planned for the girls to decorate pillow cases to go with the slumber party theme. We had cupcakes and we had gotten the movie How To Train Your Dragon to watch before lights out. Everything went great. I had made a sample pillow case to show the girls. They were super easy. I got some fabric markers and once I was done with my case I tossed it in the dryer for thirty minutes to set it. 

Here's mine:
It turned out to be a fun little craft that took up a good chunk of time. I'm pretty sure the girls had fun with it. 
This is how J's turned out:

L did a great job on hers as well:
I love how my oldest did a picture of the family. Isn't it scary, crazy how the likeness is so much like Hubby? 

They've wanted to sleep on them ever since. No ink has rubbed off, everything is staying where it should. I credit for the wonderful ideas! She's a little more grown up and a little less my baby. It sort of breaks my heart. 

*What's the point of getting it out in late February? Half the year is gone. If you can' t get it out by October, don't bother. Save the money and the paper.