Math Is Not Interpretive Dance

math1222954353Our school district has been using an, um, -interesting- math curriculum for the last three years. David and I had puzzled over the work Jeffrey has brought home since kindergarten, but kind of figured the teachers must know what they were doing. Right? Rookie parent mistake. Not that the teachers didn’t know what they were doing- most of them are great, and they didn’t like the math program either. But they had to teach it.

Our math program has been “Interpretive” math. It’s been more about gleaning concepts from doing, about working with blocks and tiles and diagrams to absorb concepts. Which is a fine, nice idea- except that it’s not. Not teaching them anything that is. Math is not like art. Math is not fuzzy around the edges. Math is hard. And I mean a Hard Science, not difficult, though it may be that too.

When Jeffrey, who is generally a bright kid, struggled figuring out how add a column of numbers, alarm bells went off in Mama’s head. We’re talking basics here. His homework never contained basics- it was always things to cut out, to color, or to put into sets. David and I would sit at the table to help him, and be totally perplexed at how this was supposed to be math. A (large) group of parents began to make a lot of noise, and after some messy, loud district meetings, the Interpretive Dance Math Program was dropped.

So today I took Jeffrey to school to meet his new teacher and drop off his supplies (minus ink cartridge- don’t get me started), I was overjoyed to see the brand-spanking new textbooks on the counter. Textbooks! Not workbooks with pretty pictures and games. I picked the heavy book up and began to flip through it- and holy cow, it had actual MATH on page after page! And he will be working on a sheet of lined binder paper, from a textbook! I’m so happy I could flip. His new teacher, (and first man-teacher) was equally excited.

Who ever thought I would care about math? Me, the art major- who took business math in college to avoid any further algebra than my high-school career afforded. I can’t wait to do some long division and quiz his multiplication tables!

I’m OK, even love it, when the humanities are interpretive. But math? No way. Some things are just hard. And they need to stay that way. Funny how your priorities change when you become a mom…

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Houston, Ready or Not

America the BeautifulRoaring along the road to Houston. It’s coming up quick, and miracle of miracles, I think it’s coming together. I’m fighting wanting to share my plans with being afraid of jinxing myself.

Yesterday my vendor packet arrived, and my booth assignment is great- I’m at the end of a walkway, slightly to the right, and only one block in from the escalators. At least from the floor plan (hellloooo- huge!) it looks like a good draw. Now I just have to figure out what to order for drapes and rigging, and if I want electricity in the booth. Leaning towards yes, but I need to find an Ikea to pick up cheap-o spotlights for the quilts.

I’ve found a local printer with good rates, and the price includes some in-house design for the brochure. Of course I could do it myself, and I will give her a mock-up of what I have in mind, but honestly, I’m happy to hand some things off to other people. I’ll die if I try and do everything myself, and I’m finally smart/experienced enough to know that.

Next week, all my quilts are being re-photographed, and the pattern cover is being redesigned. I’ve got some ideas.

My airline tickets are purchased, the hotel is reserved, the rental car is on hold… Now all I need is for people to love me… (isn’t that everyones problem?)

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Pretty Little Things

In the middle of the chaos that is life, I’ve found much delight and enchantment in this little place- Papier Valise. If you like to make things and want to be inspired by random trinkets, head over there… most things are inexpensive, they take PayPal and the prices are all in Canadian dollars, so it’s even less than it at first seems…

mi1328_springgreen_crystal_pins    pa1653_vintage_pharmacy_assort

My very favorite color in the world is the glass heads of those pins. And who can resist a vintage label? Not me. I spent less than $2 and bought what you see above. Happiness costs so very little… and I get to look for the mail lady now!

Random Crap: So I Can Sleep Edition

Do you know what Do-A-Dot markers are? Think bingo stampers, but in many colors, and for kids. Biiiiiig mistake. Big. Beanie, who you would think knows better, Do-A-Dotted his bedroom carpet tonight. What was I doing while he decorated his room? Oh, changing a diaper! Thank goodness for the Little Green Clean Machine. The boys call it the Barf Sucker, cause that’s it’s major calling in life, but it works nicely on quarter-sized green dots as well.

The school district is yanking me around. Beanies IEP has been moved back yet again. So help me, if they don’t get on it, I’m giving him a Red Bull and a bag of M&M’s before we go in for our testing. They’ll listen to me then, bwa ha ha ha!

Went to a wedding shower tonight, and have another on Thursday night. My friend Betty is getting married for the first time in her mid-forties, and there is a line of people wanting to throw showers for her. She deserves it- then she’s abandoning us for Las Vegas.

Uncle Todd will be here today! Yay! We’re all happy to see him.

Politics are making me sick. I can’t stand any more of the back and forth drivel and crap both parties spew at each other. Give me a break. I was hoping one of you saps was different- looks like maybe not.

Beanie and I are taking a little trip down to California at the end of October for my brother’s 30th birthday. It was going to be a surprise, but my mom oops-it and told. It’s all good. I’m only taking Beanie, because he’s by brother’s namesake, and because well, Jeffrey got to go to SLC in August, and now it’s Bean’s turn to get away with mama. It should be wheelbarrows of fun. My mom has one of those houses so decorated for Halloween people stop and take pictures. Beanie will love it.

My birthday is friday, and I really really wanted to join Oh Happy Day’s Pretty Little Things club. When I hit up Etsy, there were none left to buy. But what a great idea. Maybe next time, eh?

At one of the last garage sales of the season, I hit up a house that was moving to Colorado, and they sold me their teak Adirondack porch chairs, table and footstool for $20. Yup. Way cool, and now my porch is totally sit-able. It’s been a moderately successful garage sale summer- I didn’t catalog my buys like last year, but I got a few things. Some antiques here and there, a piece or two of furniture, the porch stuff, some antique Christmas decorations, patterns and really, that’s about it. See? Not much.

I have a red velvet Britax Marathon I’m looking to unload. Nothing wrong with it, it’s just gigantic and doesn’t fit so well with all the other carseats and boosters in my car. Anyone want it? (the caveat is that I’m terrible terrible terrible with shipping things, and it’s so enormous I have to find a box it will fit in, and who knows what shipping will cost. I was going to send it to Heather O, but she got tired of waiting and bought another less humongous carseat. So fair warning, but I promise to try. Anyone care to grab the beast by the horns? Anyone?)

The yard is positively filling up with leaves. I think I’m ready for fall. Like fall cares if I’m ready.

I went grocery shopping tonight, throwing caution and the budget to the wind. I haven’t done that in a very long time. I’m just so sick and tired of being so… so… so frugal and careful. I bought ice cream and popsicles and some cheese that was $4. I bought the kids granola bars and I bought some fresh chicken and a box of Cheez-its and some brand-name dish soap because I liked the way it smelled. Who knew such banal things could feel so decadent?

Is anyone else scared by what’s happening in the country? I don’t know enough about economics or governmental systems to have an educated opinion, but after ten months of no job, it sure doesn’t make me feel any better. It makes me want to hold my kids tighter and close my eyes. I do know things like this have happened before, and we should learn from our history. I’m not versed enough to have a plan but I hope the people making decisions are… Oh yeah, that’s right- it seems they’re all big dummies too. Holy crap.

Stuff You Shouldn’t Even Begin to Care About

Susan has a post up about a meme that’s going around, and I’m playing along. The rules are, take the picture- no fussing, so fixing it up- just a snapshot of your life, today, as is. No one should care about any of this, but if I had the ability to see these little vignettes from when my mom was little, I was love it- so in the interests of my possible posterity, here’s life at my house today…

#1. Kitchen sink. Don’t touch it- just take a picture. Yes, my sink is full of dishes.

#2. Inside of the refrigerator. Nothing out of the ordinary here…

#3. Favorite shoes.

Well, since I hate shoes and go barefoot at any and all possibility, and I wasn’t going to go outside and take a picture of my feet in the grass with the sprinklers on… I’m granola, but not that granola.

#4. Your closet.

Oh! There’s my SLR cameras!! Seriously, I was looking for them yesterday- and there they are, I see, on the shelf on the left. I didn’t even notice when I took the picture earlier!

#5. Laundry Pile.

It’s a good thing I wasn’t doing this two days ago, cause, man oh man, that pile was up to my waist and the hampers were crawling down the hallway.

#6. What the kids are doing.

Since Abby was still asleep when I took this, and Jeffrey had already doodled off to school, it’s just Beanie, sitting on the couch in the living room, watching Tom and Jerry. You can see his little red head on the couch.

#7. Your favorite room.

Well, here’s the microcosm of the macro- I don’t have a wide enough lens to show the entirety of my disastrous sewing/creating room. But just imagine this shot times 12.

#8. Your toilet.

Ok, really, I did pick my prettiest toilet, but that’s all. This is the toile wallpaper the kids love to pick at. The chalkboard is where we all right little notes to each other. Jeff likes to write “I heart Mom”- but the other day when he was ticked at me, in little tiny letters down in the corner, it says “I love dad, not mom”. He he he.

#9. A fantasy vacation.

Well, I don’t really fantasize about vacations. I do want to take my husband here someday- it’s Wasserburg, in southern Bavaria. I went there alone a few years back for Fasching, and I dearly want to share it with David. It’ll be a long time from now, though.

#10. Self Portrait.

This one has been up before, but there was no way I was taking a pre-shower, in my jammies picture of myself and posting it!

Random Crap, The Dark Edition

I know half of you are wondering what the crap is going on here; while I’ve got porous boundaries and share much of my life, there are a few cards I hold close to my chest. Right now is one of those cards. It’s not the job. Hope you still like me.

I can feel the prayers. Really. It’s like a life-raft. Oh, and Brooke, I felt the moon howling, too. Thanks.

The boys are acting out. Jeffrey screamed that he hates me yesterday in the car. It’s OK. I can take it- I know what it feels like to be powerless over a situation and wanting to scream. Only I don’t. Usually.

A friend took them rock-climbing today, and they came back sun-kissed and exhausted. The very best combination for little boys, in case you were wondering. They gobbled their dinner of leftover pizza, and conked out as soon as their hot little redheads hit the cold pillow. Nice.

Abby is sick. She barfed orange juice and Cheetos all over me today- and I do mean all over. Poor girl.

I’m finding odd solace in doing menial tasks around the house- After listening to our master bath toilet run for the better part of a year, I went to the big Orange store and bought it new guts. While the boys were rock-climbing, Abby and I fixed the toilet. It was easy, really- just follow the directions, and now, not only does the toilet behave, it has a pretty new nickel flusher handle thingy. Go me!

One of the quilt groups I belong to is on a retreat this weekend. I’m not only a member, I’m the president. Yeah. I’m not there. Oh well. Six months of planning, I know the other women will have fun, and I’ll get to hear about it next month.

I like birds nests. Just thought you might like to know. I really like a bird’s nest under a bell jar, and if you put that birds nest on a cake stand, with a bell jar? Well, I just might be in decorating heaven.

I like green apples.

This morning, to get some clarity, I drove to the Temple and walked around the grounds. It wasn’t open yet, and it was very peaceful; I left feeling clear and calm. Worth the drive.

Sitting at my computer, I look over a lilac hedge in my yard- each day the little buds are getting greener and riper and closer to budding. I wait for the first tender little leaves like my next heartbeat. Lilacs are among my favorites- along with Peonies, Narcissus, Anemones and Tulips. Oh, and Lilies of the Valley- great bunches of them… *sigh*

Hymns make me cry right now. But I love them anyway. I read somewhere the chemical composition of tears differs based on your emotions. Angry tears are different that sad tears are different than gleeful tears. Oddly, that makes me feel good.

You know, back when I was a California girl, fall was always my favorite season. Maybe because fall is the only season you get in California- but now I find myself tearing up with joy at the budding pregnancy of spring. Soon? Please?

Weekend Update

Sick. Sick. Sick. Seriously, I haven’t been so sick in a long time. Blech. Pack your head full of cement and you’ll know how I feel. The best part was, DH got sick too- but with the stomach flu. Yippe! The kids have basically had the run of the place- what with both of us down. You can imagine our laundry room right about now. Yeah.

We missed Jeffrey’s soccer game yesterday- somehow, I don’t think they would have liked us to show up with our barf-bucket and my bottle of Ny-Quil. Beanie, conveniently, had a bye.

I just looked out the back window, to see Jeffrey, butt-naked, on the swing-set trapeze. One moment please….

Ok then.

If you’re looking for a good cold medicine, I highly recommend Alka Selzer cold and flu. Totally works, doesn’t taste nasty like Thera-Flu, and can be drank hot or cold. That, and you get to sing the “plop-plop, fizz-fizz” song in your congested head while you wait for the little tablets to dissolve.

“Oust” does wonders at getting rid of sick smell. Just thought you might like to know.

It’s finally starting to get cold here. We had our first fire of the year yesterday- which entailed Beanie flipping the switch on the wall and us all ooh-ing and aw-ing as the fire burst forth in our gas fireplace. Easy? Yup. This is my first gas fireplace, and I think something might be lost in translation. But you can’t beat if for easy.

Quote of the Day

“Let’s get out in the streets and march and protest instead of sitting at home and blogging. I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span. “

~Sir Elton John

You know, he has a point. While I’m in no hurry, or have any desire at all, to protest or be anything accept a radical mom, I know I make better art when I’m not checking on the blog-world. I suppose it all gets down to self-discipline. That, and the summer doldrums. Once school starts there will be structure to our days again, and I will be working again… but I can’t help but acknowledge: He has a point.

CF Bulbs and Mercury

Like many of us mama’s, I have been making the switch to Compact Fluorescent light bulbs. While I have not been sold on them actually lasting as long as the packages claim, and I’m not a fan of the sometimes blueish light they cast, I have made the move for the most part.

Now, I’m rethinking that move, and if you have kids, you might want to as well.

My husband was doing some poking around for information, and it seems there are some issues with Mercury and CF’s. Now, regular incandescent light-bulbs contribute to mercury in our environment through the burning of coal resources, however, when an incandescent bulb breaks, you simply have a glassy mess to contend with…

Not so with a CF. All CF bulbs actually contain mercury inside the tube, and upon breakage, toxic mercury gas is released into your home.  There are warnings on each package, and according to the EPA website, you should vacate the room, ventilate, double bag the shards, use rubber gloves and never use a vacuum to clean up the glass, as the vacuum will further disperse the mercury around the house, and your vacuum will be contaminated.  According to one Canadian website, you should have a professional come to your home and decontaminate the mercury residue. This is from one bulb breaking.

As with most issues, there is more than one side. Environmentalists claim the benefits of CF far outweighs the cost, and that they can be recycled at local recycling centers. I checked with our local station, and they only accept them twice a year. Your must then hold onto your little mercury-laden spent bulbs, hoping they don’t break, until the appropriate time to recycle.

The problem is- most folks don’t even know this much.

Thus, burnt-out bulbs are almost always tossed in the trash, contributing to tons of mercury being released from landfills- Far more than would be by incandescent bulbs.  And that doesn’t even address the issue of mercury vapor in our homes- and what we should do about it.

Mercury is linked to birth defects, spinal cord deformities, causes damage to the central nervous system, and is suspect in many other health issues.

As for me, I think I will still use them, but with great caution, and only in places my children cannot inadvertently break one and expose us all to toxic gas.

There were too many interesting articles, from different points of view, for me to link. Try using your search engine with “CF and Mercury” and see what comes up- quite informative.

That’s the soapbox for today.

Quilt Designs…

Ok, here are a couple of my quilt designs. What I do is work with a fabric manufacturer, take fabric that will be coming out, and create a quilt using my own drawings, from scratch, using the new line of fabric. It’s fun because I get my fabric for free, it’s all new stuff that isn’t in stores yet, and I own the copyright on all my patterns. Then, I write a pattern for the quilt, and they are for sale in retain quilt stores in different parts of the country. It’s fun, and I can do it from home with kids being maniacs all around me. I have 24 designs currently available, and four more currently in the hopper.  

The flag says: “And this land shall be a Land of Liberty”. The bunny one is a poem, embroidered on organic flax linen about babies going to sleep. The red heart quilt says “Love is Spoken Here” and in each heart a word about my kids, and the bottom right quilt, the four animals are looking at a little beaded caterpillar crawling on the flower…. whose going to eat him first?!