Sunday, January 25, 2009

Weird Deer

We spotted these deer at the intersection of Drahner and Barr roads. They are about half as tall as regular deer, and have unusual faces.

Heather has shown these photos to two separate sources who have both identified them as "yearlings with a winter coat." Plausible, but not as much fun as speculating about them being Leer or Ddamas.

Parental Involvement

There is a banner that hangs in the entranceway of the lower elementary school that says something to the effect of "Parent Involvement is the Key to Learning Success!" It could come across as either a warning or an invitation, depending on your interpretation.

I have seen it written that studies indicate that Parental Involvement is important to academic success , yet they often stop short of explaining just what kind of involvement they're talking about. There's the PTO which consists largely of fundraising activities which help the school as a whole but not necessarily with an individual child's performance. The school has metrics against which to measure Parental Involvement, but I have checked and they are simply counting attendance at conferences (15 minutes once a year.) I know a lot of SAHMs who love to trumpet their constant presence in the school buildings as "practically like having a job" but I think that while running copies and assembling handouts may prove convenient to the teachers it still isn't directly helpful or necessary to any individual child's performance.

So it seems to me that the most target way to ensure one's own child's success is also the least visible, which is for the parent to become intimately familiar with all of the homework assignments and personally ensure that each one is completed, and work through it with them if they are having trouble.

Except I don't do that. At our house it pretty much comes down to asking the boys if they have any homework or studying each night, and, if the answer is affirmative, kindly suggesting that they get working on it before watching yet another episode of Sponge Bob. And sure enough, not every assignment gets completed, which is reflected in their grades. I can justify that now's the time to learn from failure, rather than in High School when GPA's count towards college admissions criteria, but sometimes I just don't feel like I should have to work on that with them, it's their responsibility. I do know that other parents work through every homework assignment and project with their children, but I'm just not willing to do it. What I really want is for them to be motivated from within to excel in school, but I struggle with how to instill that.

So Jeffrey brought home his report card on Friday. He got 3 B's, a B-, a B+, and one A. I asked him how he felt about those grades, and whether he thought he could do better. He admitted that they could be improved, but then said loudly "I bet I still got better grades than TIM." Timmy looked annoyed and admitted that his report card would arrive the next day, and that it would likely include some C's. I told him that C's are unacceptable and I expect more effort next semester. He agreed to that. Jeffrey said "Yeah! Do better why don't you?" I told Jeffrey to mind his own business.

On Saturday Jeffrey came in from a trip to the library and had picked up the mail from the mailbox. "TIM! Your BAD grades are here!." I shot Jeff a look and sat down with Tim to review the report card. He got one C, a C+, a B, one A, an A- and an A+. I reminded him again that he needs to bring up those C's in the next semester. He agreed. Jeff piped in "Yeah!"

I pointed out to Jeff how Tim's card calculated his GPA to be 3.242, and that it included a scale of the numerical values for the different grades. He eagerly dug out a calculator and translated and computed his own GPA. It came out to 3.116. He looked sheepish. When Tim asked to see what it was, he broke into one of his slow big grins. Jeff got defensive. "Well that doesn't matter because I'm getting better grades next time and I'll beat you by more!" Tim said "We'll see about that 'cause I'm going to do better too."

I'm still kinda stumped about how to succeed with Parental Involvement, but I do know that they are always learning something, and now we've got motivation too.

Friday, January 23, 2009


So the blog posts have been rather scarce here so far in 2009. Hey, it's January, and nothing is happening. Every day is pretty much as the one before it, and the one after it. Inside, the Christmas decorations are down, and it looks plain now without them. Outside, everything is covered in snow, white. It has been so cold out that the screen to our doorwall has frozen shut, but today I managed to wedge it open and pitched out a half-dozen mushy apples as far as I can throw them (not very far) for some action. At work, it is quiet. I wait, and fear that everything is about to change, or that it never will.

But there's always something happening on the internet! Often it is my escape, to surf around out there for something to capture my interest, here is where I like to go, maybe you would like them too:

I have always kept a list of the blogs of my friends here in the sidebar. It is fun to learn what is happening in the lives of the people I know who chose to share it. In addition to those, I like these:

I know Sarah from my college sorority days, and she has gone on to live a glamorous life in show biz and writes her blog from where she lives now in California. The theme is geared towards women after the age of 40, but I think anyone would enjoy following the many links she puts into each post. It's like having custom news delivery.

I just came across a new blog by another sorority sister that I did not know personally. What's interesting is that she has listed out the titles of her posts for the year before she has written them. I am curious to see how that turns out, plus she lists her occupation as comedienne, so she's funny:

I also like to read the blog of Scott Adams, who writes the comic strip Dilbert. I like the way he thinks:
This one is what it says it is:
Check out Margaret and Helen, two cranky 83 year old ladies with strong liberal opinions about politics and other things:
For self-improvement advice:
In case you get bored:
And my very latest obsession:
When I first went into facebook I explained to the few people I knew in there who I "friended" that I wasn't really going to use it, I just set a page up keep up with email addressess. Well, more and more "friends" have been added and now I can't hardly imagine a world where I couldn't monitor what all these people are "doing right now." This started out as a craze for the college-age set, but now the over-40's have discovered it and are going strong! At a party recently the subject of facebook came up, and someone said "Isn't that where all the bored housewives write that they are vacuuming the stairs?" And I said "Yes! And before long you will find that you want to know whether she finished, and went on to the hallway." I'm not doing a very good job of explaining this, but if you haven't yet, sign up for it, and be my friend!

If you have links to any places that you think I might like, please send them along for me to check out!
And if anything comes along to eat up those apples, you can read about it here.
Although our backyard displays a maze of animal footprints, it doesn't look like any of them came to get the apples. I think that they sank to the bottom of the deep snow and the "tunneling type" of creatures got to them first.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paws for Reading

I was just now paging through my Detroit Free Press and came across this:

STERLING HEIGHTS: Kids can read to dogs to get some practice.
Children who love to read, are learning words or who have difficulty reading can read to specially certified dogs during the Paws for Reading program Tuesday and Jan. 27. The program, which helps reinforce reading and verbal skills, is to be held 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. both days in the Storytime Room at the Sterling Heights Public Library, 40255 Dodge Park at Utica. The program is first-come, first-served. Children can bring a story or select one there.

Reading to dogs??? Really? Am I becoming cynical or is this wacky? Has anyone heard of this? Or actually done it? I need to know more. WHY?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Michigan Winter Poem

Michigan Winter Poem

It's winter here in Michigan
And the gentle breezes blow,
Seventy miles an hour,
At twenty five below.
Oh, how I love our Michigan
When the snow's up to your butt.
You take a breath of winter
And your nose freezes shut.
Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around.
I could never leave my Michigan
Cause I'm frozen to the ground!

---Author Unknown---

I got this from Nancy, which is ironic because she's in California.

Monday, January 5, 2009

2009 Predictions

Happy New Year!

It seems to me as if my first blog post of 2009 ought to recognize the start of a fresh, new year. However, since I am lacking in anything profound to say, I have consulted with the ever-knowing Mindula Oblongatta for some predictions for the coming year. Here is what I got:

Mindula Oblongatta's Predictions for 2009

Cost-cutting measures get so severe that GM engineers are forced to burn coffee-room waste to generate enough heat and light to work in. This leads to the invention of new alternative energy sources that save the company and reduce our countries dependence on fossil fuels.

The economy crumbles even further rendering the US dollar worthless. Scrapbooking paper emerges as the new currency. Major shift of wealth ensues.

The new US president tries really hard but eventually gives up on trying to run the country and takes up selling car magnets instead. The government collapses and rebel groups take over. The Glenmoor Gals expand their reigning power.

Mindy finally cracks the code of communication of the Cranes of Powell Lake. They are actually aliens from another planet, planning their attack. In a fortuitous break, Mindy discovers their taste for mini-donuts, and is able to negotiate a trade of donuts for a peaceful co-existence.

Aunt Chris starts a blog of her own, and Kathy and Mindy leave clever comments on it.

So what do you think? Any possibilities there? Feel free to add your own.