Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Adventures in Kindergarten

Bubba is in Kindergarten at our nearby public school.  It is a brand new school, well 3 years old.  There are SEVEN kindergarten classes.  The school has just over 1,000 students.  This is called poor planning between the school district and the city.  Regardless, it is a high performing school and his teacher seems very good.  She has been teaching for over 10 years and is as attentive and warm as you would want a kindergarten teacher to be.

I am a public school skeptic.  I don't know how this evolved.  Probably due to my skepticism of government.  And as John Stossel says, public schools are really government schools.  So I tend to see everything that Bubba does through my skeptical filter.  All in all he is enjoying it.  He has some buddies.  He is learning.  I think he is a good student so far.  It's good.

I am not going to run down all his homework (yes he has multiple assignments a week), but this evening we were working on his weekly online math assignment.  His school has a contract with IXL.  Bubba has to do 10 minutes of kindergarten level math activities on it each week.  Tonight he chose to work on telling time.  As we proceeded throughout the activities, I realized I was basically teaching him how to tell time.  The assignment is pretty vague: the student chooses a topic they want to work on and do it for 10 minutes.  The options are things like counting, adding, substracting, money, time, patterns, etc.  Great.  The problem tonight was that Bubba doesn't know much about telling time.  So I was needing to explain about the little hand and big hand.  How a time that ends with :00 means o'clock.  How the big hand being on the 12 means :00 or o'clock.  So we plodded through.  He did great!  And I love teaching him stuff.  I am happy to do it.  I am not thrilled however with the idea that I'm basically teaching him these concepts.  Shouldn't homework be reviewing concepts and topics already covered in school?  This homework site seems like it's introducing all sorts of new ideas with zero background.  So I can watch him flounder through and miss a significant portion because he has no idea what it means.  Or I can teach him some basics so he can learn and still find answers on his own, but using the basic information I have just shared with him.

This isn't the first assignment like this he's had.  I get this sense that the school is trying so hard to push the academics that they're just throwing it all at them in the name of "exposure".  I am not sure I agree with this approach.  As I type this, I think I will make a note to ask about this at conferences.  Because yes, even in kindergarten, we have conferences!  Of course.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Toys These Days!

Ok, so my mother-in-law kindly brought by two toys for the boys today.  They're these remote controlled flying figures, that attach to the controller with a cord.  The boys loved them immediately.  15 minutes into playing, Blondie's flying astronaut breaks.  Really?  15 minutes?  This is the best they could do?  He wasn't beating it on the ground or stomping on it.  It should have lasted longer.  Say, a year or two.  Would that be too much to ask?

This isn't the first time a toy has broken unexpectedly.  My parents gave the boys a beginner set of Motorola walkie talkies for Christmas.  They thought they'd have fun with them.  They did.  Until one went haywire. It kept scanning channels and if you know about walkie talkies, that means it basically doesn't work.  Even the guy at Radio Shack couldn't fix it when I took it in.  I think my parents spent about $30 on those.  They lasted maybe a couple weeks.  My children aren't overly rough on our toys and things.  That's all we get?

It's disappointing.  I know many other people experience this with toys that their children have.  I feel like you either have to buy a very expensive version of the toy, or don't even bother because anything middle of the road or inexpensive won't last.  Period.  I am pretty certain people would happily spend 20-30% more to have toys (or really anything) last.  Quality IS worth it.  Why don't manufacturers pay attention and make some changes?  I'm so tired of disposable everything.  It's a waste of money and resources.  And is just wasteful period.  And my poor little guy wouldn't have a broken toy after 15 minutes.  Boo.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Salmon Family

So, you've learned about me, who is this family I speak of?

My husband - 6 years my senior, blue eyes, works in tech, makes me laugh, we met at a pool party 10 years ago!  

My children -
Bubba - He's 5 and just started kindergarten at our local public school.  He has brown hair, brown eyes and is so sweet and helpful.  He's affectionate (gets that from Daddy more than me!), and thoughtful.
Blondie - He's 3 and in his first year at our local city-run preschool nearby.  He's our blondie and everybody says he looks like a little surfer guy.  But with the big brown eyes.  I think he's turning into our little introvert, which I love and he's cuddly and so darn cute and funny!  He loves puzzles.
Supergirl - Our beautiful girl who is just over 1.  She's walking, she loves being outside, she can now say cheese and has six teeth.  The apple of our eye and definitely going to be keeping up with her brothers.  She's busy!
Babygirl - Our surprise baby due in January.  We know she's a girl and cannot wait to meet our beautiful baby.

Our dog - What can I say.  He's 7 years old, he's black and tan and thinks he's a cat.  No really, he will curl up right in your lap even though he weighs almost 25 lbs.  He looks like a small Doberman or a large Miniature Pinscher, but we don't know what he is officially.  Besides a loud barker when somebody rings the doorbell.

I love my family.  They are the best part of my life, by far.  I cannot believe I have 3 kids (soon to be 4!), a dog, a house, and a husband.  Life is surreal.

I haven't yet decided if I want to share photos of them.  Face recognition software is getting pretty crazy these days.  Not to be paranoid.  So in the meantime, we will go without family photos.

That's us.  I hope you stick around to hear more about our salmon life.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Salmon in the Suburbs? Yup

It's 2:24 in the morning.  An excellent time to start a blog right?  Right.  I've kicked this idea around for awhile.  The truth is I don't need another commitment.  Not another reminder or something else to put on the to-do list.  I'm pregnant with baby 4 and up to my eyeballs right now with our other babies, 5, 3, and 1.  But as insomnia came for a visit tonight, I started thinking about this idea again.  And decided I'm just going to share notes.  This is going to be somewhat haphazard.  This blog will be a place for me to share links, type out ideas, ask questions, and generally think, out loud.  To the known universe.  Without much rhyme or reason or schedule.  I apologize in advance!

Who am I?  I'm a thinker, an analyzer.  I'm also a wife, mother, daughter, friend, former coworker, and the list goes on.  I'm a vacation planner, party thrower, appointment maker, house keeper, chauffeur, your usual stay at home mom jack of all trades.  I'm 36.  We live in a nice suburban area in California.  I've lived in some part of California my whole life.  As I'm now settled into domesticity and raising a family, I have lots of views that I really didn't have before.  Lots of questions.  Some ideas.  Turns out I'm somewhat of a skeptic.  Of things like our government, politicians, our schools, ... the usual suspects.  I'm a libertarian leaning conservative.  Probably more libertarian than traditional conservative at this point.  My politics color my view a lot.  We don't currently attend church but have discussed the desire.  Now to act on it... at some point.

I've also learned I have high standards for certain things.  My quality of life.  Friends.  The environment in which my children are raised.  Their education.  These things matter to me.  When I'm not being overly analytical and serious, I really enjoy lighter things like planning parties for my babies, decorating the house, reading, my perpetual attempt at regular running (I keep getting pregnant, dang it), cooking... ?, teaching the kids new stuff, sometimes sewing, and apparently writing!

Where does this all lead?  I feel like a salmon.  I feel like I do not fit into the usual flow in my environment (most people heading downstream, I'm going up).  On the one hand I'm a pretty typical suburban mom, minivan and all.  On the other, I don't take things at face value.  I question the merit and quality of our schools.  I believe in Free Range Kids and parenting in this style.  I don't mind if my kids get messy, dirty or even mildly hurt when playing.  I cannot stand princess stuff for girls.  I am seriously considering homeschooling down the road.  I am an unusual mix of traditional and ... granola?  (I'm not even sure what to call that side of myself.)  I attempt to look nice and maintain my appearance, but then a lot of times you'll find me without makeup, in yoga pants (so cliche!) and I cannot seem to make myself attend a gym to save my life.  I'm sure there are plenty of moms out there like me, but I do not know many.  If there are other salmon lurking in my stream, I don't see them too often.

So, as I figure out what the heck I'm doing, what I think, and what we will be doing, I hope you'll join me on the journey upstream.  I'll be sharing random notes, comments, thoughts, links, and really any old thing that I feel like sharing about this life.  Talk to you soon!