Monday, January 31, 2011

Watch this Bruise

How bored can you get in January?
I was just looking at some pictures from this summer
Day after bike "incident"
2-3 days later
1 week later.
Isn't the human body weirdly amazing?Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Is January Over

I would like spring. Soon. January and February are the longest (figuratively) months. Cold, dark, full of working. No great vacation time. March isn't much better. I need some spring in my step, and my garden.

Just keep waiting!

Reminds of of Laura Ingalls Wilder's, The Long Winter.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

Baby Bum

My nephew already almost doubled his birth weight.  Slow down!!!
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union

Obama's State of the Union

It doesn't guarantee change.  It doesn't mean anything that I like will happen.  But if the job I've chosen to do as a career doesn't get discussed, doesn't change with time, that doesn't seem good.  As someone reminded me, people who have blogs are generally opinionated.  I disagreed at first.  Then laughed.  It's true.

Here's the transcript regarding education.  I know a message taken out of context can be misconstrued.  Let's be real. 

If you are still reading this, you probably watched the speech.  The leader of the free world, the overall "State" aka quality of our country.  No? I know, YouTube had another cool animal attack video.  No?  Your high school gym classmate posted super cool "us at the club" pictures.... so you missed it....

Let me help you out...

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success. But if we want to win the future — if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas — then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.  To me this seems just about the most obvious, but maybe everyone thinks "fix everything else," and our illiterate kids won't have to try...?

Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us — as citizens, and as parents — are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.  I'm curious if the general public really believes how awful our graduation rate is.  AWFUL! 

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.  Too bad advertising and the general public won't buy a 75 dollar jersey with their 4th grade teacher's name on it.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, "If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money."

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.  You mean not EVERY child will achieve proficiency by 2012?  It's not just my classroom?  Whew!  I was feeling like such a failure....according to the law.

You see, we know what's possible for our children when reform isn't just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.

Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school's transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said "Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing ... that we are smart and we can make it."  In the right environment students can THRIVE.  AMEN!

Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. How will this happen?  I don't know.  If it is fair, it's what we need.  I know people who desperately want to teach, but can't get a job and...hint on the other hand hint...if you don't like kids, YOU SHOULDN'T TEACH!And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child — become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That's why we've ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit — worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, "I hope it tells them to never give up."

If we take these steps — if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they're born until the last job they take — we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Christmas Remembered

The joy of a newborn.
The joy of the season.

The joy of being an aunt ( and still sleeping)

The joy of a tiny baby boy!

It is so easy to forget the message of Christmas in only a few weeks.

Relish in the joy and amazing gift we have in Christ's birth!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Book: Half the Sky


As far as current event / topic books go, this wasn't half bad!

The subtitle of the book (wordy and academic) is: Turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide.

It was challenging to read about the difficult lives and circumstances of many women around the world from sex trafficking, mutilation, under education, teenage brides and pregnancies, to maternal health standards. The vignettes are a colorful and painful reminder of the gender inequality that exists on the same planet you and I exist on. Throughout the book education came up as a key factor in changing traditions, fighting inequality, and allowing women to progress.

I found the portions discussing the lack of education available to girls around the world very interesting. We see in the United States not this type of gender inequality (that I know of) but an inequality between income brackets. The focus *gasp* wasn't on the girls test scores, progress toward national goals, or proficiencies. Their education on any level of any kind led to a better life.

"Education is the key issue for overcoming poverty, for overcoming war...If
people are educated, then women will not be abused or tortured. They will also
stand up and say, 'My child should not be married so young.' " (164)

In the chapter discussing family planning and the strongly held beliefs that almost anyone has on the subject, education comes up again!

"It appears that the most effective contraceptive is education for girls,
although birth control supplies are obviously needed as well." (135)

In preventing young girls from being married young, becoming early teenage mothers, suffering complications of difficult labor, and having a family that she or her husband may not be able to support their lives take drastic, positive, turns.

In AIDS education for girls, one successful method was:

"A third approach was to provide students with free uniforms to encourage them to stay in school longer; that cost about $12 per student and did reduce pregnancies."

Countries such as Mexico have resourcefully found ways to keep girls in school. Faced with high percentage of girls dropping out of high school, a study began essentially bribing families to keep their child in school as opposed to the traditional food subsidy programs. $10 per month for a third grader, and $66 per month for a girl in high school would be paid to the child's mother for food, supplies, immunizations, check ups etc.

"After only 3 years, poor Mexican children living in the rural areas where
Oportunidades operates have increased their school enrollment, have more
balanced diets, are receiving more medical attention, and are learning that the
future can be very different from the past...The program raised high school
attendance by 10 percent for boys and 20 percent for girls. Children in
the program grow one centimeter taller per year than those in the control
group. In essence, Oportunidades encourages poor families to invest in
their children, the way rich families already do, thus breaking the typical
transmission path of poverty from generation to generation." (174)

One centimeter per year!! If nothing else, this program shows how disadvantaged students below poverty are. Literally limiting their physical growth!

Oh~ US education system. We try to close the gap but seem to only use traditional aka out of date avenues.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Potato Chips

Happy 11111111 day.

In good frugal fashion - try it before you buy it!

A friend loaned me her slicer/shredder attachment to try on my new KitchenAid!

It took a bit of practice to get the potato wedged just right into the slicer hopper thing, but worked beautifully!

See! They were delicious!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Early Literacy

Happy 1 month old baby. Hope you've learned a lot so far!

Ever wonder if it is too early to start reading to a child.


and fyi, the Sherlock stories are quite fun!
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year, New System

Oh, how I love organization.
I'm not usually good consistently keeping it organized, but...
There is no before picture because it is too scary!

Yet when everything is finally organized, the joy!

From left to right: plastic ware for lunchbox, spatulas, small cooking utensils, small knives, spears, and spreaders. Bottom: measuring spoons and thread for yeast dough creations. Left: big spatulas, serving spoons, most favorite can opener, cookie dough scoop, garlic press, dough mixer remember!? and grater.

This is probably my favorite. We got them on our honeymoon. My kind of souvenir. Useful and something that will last!

I'd been looking and couldn't decide on any that I truly liked. I wanted stainless steel, narrow, skinny, and with at least 6 measurements. We found them and brought them home
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Friday, January 7, 2011

"My Baby" photos

Be Warned: Just like people that have babies like to post an obnoxious amount of photo's of their child doing everything under the sun, so shall I.

My new to me KitchenAid and I are becoming fast friends.

Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, Cream of Tarter

Good ol' shortening!

No wonder they are so good!

Homemade biscuits! I love baking on my pizza stone.
I've used it so much is is 100% non-stick!
I even had quiche overflow and the egg didn't stick.
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

For Thinking: Trees

January is a good time to think about life, goals, why's, how's, etc.

On a road trip to Oklahoma this last fall we drove across this sight.

Ideas as to what it could be?

My first thought is some kind of tree bug. But why not cut down the whole tree?

Then I thought perhaps some kind of tree pruning. But with no leaves, no photosynthesis, so why prune it to death?

Were the birds terrorizing the cars as they drove up the road?

Was someone really grumpy and took it out on the trees?

Do the trees from a different angle make letters and then form words?

Is it some kind of holiday decorating tactic to keep those pesky branches out of the way when you put up Christmas lights?

Cutting down on holiday joy? (pun intended)

Scene for depressing movie?

I just don't get it!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Give me an I..

Give me and I....

Driving back from Denver a beautiful blue box super store is being built. No labels yet...but I know. The Swedish goodness that will be coming soon!
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Monday, January 3, 2011

Time Off - Curtains

I know I don't use my free time as effectively as I would like.

I should reread my own words on spending that extra time being productive!

Over break, I did manage to make custom baby room curtains. We shopped for fabric together. Then I went to it cutting, sewing, lining, ironing, hemming, and hand stitching a blind hem.

With the cold weather up North, thick curtains to keep that precious little one warm.

Another "quality picture" from shaky camera.

See - coordinating dots lining the bottom of the striped curtains. Very cute!

A Christmas gift that is useful and doesn't need a gift reciept!

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Sweet Shades!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

THANK YOU is amazing!
Joint gift
SMART frugal from a dumpster....although...if...

Thanks for a wonderful gift! Oh the fluffy goodness we will enjoy.

Anyone have any amazing tips or suggestions for recipe's that are to die for with a Kitchenaid?