Saturday, July 23, 2005

Club Libby Lu Brought to You by the Public School

A few months ago, I was aghast at what parents were paying Club Libby Lu to do to their daughters.

Never fear, the local public school system is getting a piece of the pie. I guess you really have to see the pictures in the local paper to appreciate the strutting and preening of the grades 1 to 8 set. Grades 1 to 8 -- we're talking, what, like 6 years old to 14 -- these are not budding fashion designers, these are kids who would probably tell you what came between them and their Calvin Klein jeans if this were a different decade.

Can't wait to find out what the Fairfax County Public Schools Marketing Advisory Board is. Probably no big deal, just the schools trying to pair up your kids (i.e. consumers) with local businesses to take a lot of your money so the kids can look like streetwalkers or eat junk food or play video games.

But not to worry, the school system will then provide peer counselors to help your oversexualized kids; use public funding to research how to cut back on childhood obesity; and hire special education teachers to address the needs of your ADHD/ADD kid. Cause and effect or just a really efficient way to make money -- or both?

The 5 Things Meme

I've been tagged for a meme by Purple Kangaroo via my blog with Anne, chocolate and peanut butter.

The 5 Things Meme

But first the rules to this meme game:
Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place;
add your blog's name in the #5 spot;
link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Melody http://melslifeinanutshell.blogspot.com/
2. -A- http://motherswork.blogspot.com/
3. Heather http://outloudvoice.blogspot.com/
4. Purple_Kangaroo http://purplekangaroopuzzle.blogspot.com/
5. Unclimber http://unclimber.blogspot.com

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate).
You can just put blogs you read if you want to.
1. Donna at Sunny Side Up http://dgm.typepad.com/
2. Robbo at Llamabutchers http://llamabutchers.mu.nu/
3. Mike at Clanlally http://www.clanlally.com/
4. Rat Boy's blog http://homepage.mac.com/adaman2720/iblog/B1438670732/index.html
5. Julie's blog http://home.comcast.net/~jdaman1224/
Honorary 5. My cousin Kaila's blog, but I can't reveal her address lest her dad find it...
Honorary 5. Anne over at EconoMom (she's technically already been tagged via our joint blog, chocolate and peanut butter, but I want to send some linky-love her way)

Here's the game:
What 5 Things do you miss about your childhood?
1) Being in daily contact with my brother, Richard
2) Living with my family, it was a loving house and a lot of fun
3) Very few responsibilities -- doing well in school and that was pretty easy
4) The family cat
5) Vacationing with the family -- we went interesting places and had lots of fun, and I only had to pack for me!

Name your 5 favorite cartoons -- I haven't watched any of these in awhile, but I still love them
1) Simpsons
2) South Park
3) The Family Guy
4) King of the Hill
5) hmmm...I liked the Smurfs as a kid

Following the Purple Kangaroo: "I'm going to add a few more lists of 5 things I found on selkie's blog just now"

Five snacks I enjoy:
1) Nestle's Treasures -- chocolate candy with a peanut butter filling
2) Hershey's Dark Chocolate kisses
3) popcorn
4) nuts
5) cheese

Five songs I know all the words to -- I think I'll do a little creative writing here...
1) Paradise by the Dashboard Light -- Meatloaf
2) Trapped -- Bruce Springsteen
3) We're Not Gonna Take It -- Twisted Sister
4) Heart and Soul -- Ta Pow
5) Hit With Me Your Best Shot-- Pat Benetar

Five things I would do with $100 million:
1) Get therapy -- with all that money, I'd probably need it
2) Feel really, really guilty
3) Get more therapy to deal with the guilt
4) Worry about: where to give it, how to keep it, losing it, wanting more
5) Get more therapy to deal with the stress of having too much money

Five places I would escape to:
1) My home
2) Escape from what?
3) My parent's home
4) My brother's home
5) Ummm...my home

Five bad habits: easy enough, I'm probably immune to a couple of the Seven Deadly
1) Pride
2) Self-centeredness
3) Sloth
4) Not lustful enough -- sorry, but raising a couple of little kids is tiring
5) Bad language

Five things I like doing:
1) buying used books
2) scrapbooking and reading -- these are my evening activities
3) unschooling
4) volunteering with my state's homeschool organization
5) doing things with my family when no one is cranky, whining, or needs a diaper change

Five things I'd never wear:
1) a tattoo -- my views change constantly, I can't commit to something so permanent
2) a navel ring, tongue piercing, etc.
3) a studded leather collar -- well, not anymore
4) a chasubule
5) stiletto heels

Five TV shows I like: ohh, I can get all haughty here, I don't watch TV shows for myself
1) Mr. Rogers Neighborhood
2) Barney
3) Reading Rainbow
4) yeah....I've run out of steam
5) but when I did watch: Dawson's Creek, Felicity, Gilmore Girls

Gosh this is long....

Biggest joys of the moment:
1) My marriage
2) My kids
3) My family of origin
4) The freedom to spend lots of time with the above
5) The lack of worries

Five favorite toys:
1) The internet
2) Digital camera
3) My minivan
4) Whatever book I'm reading
5) My husband (and you know he's going to complain about ranking #5)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Exhausted by Religion

Do you ever feel that way? I've been feeling this way for many months now. I used to do a canned, fundy-ish Bible Study. I really enjoyed that, but then I began to feel too spoon-fed. And then I met people who were clearly Godly, but would have been labelled otherwise by the Bible Study I was taking.

Now I'm just tired. I feel a bit left behind by great minds such as Larry and Kwakersaur. I'm not bothered by that so much, God has given me a mind that works, so even if I'm passed by others, I have enough to get along.

I'm leading a lectionary Bible study session in a week at my church and I can't get excited about it. I can't get excited about Christianity at the moment and I'm not interested in looking for another religion. As I see it, as mucked us as the Christian church may be by political interests beginning with Constantine [or earlier], Jesus is my man. Maybe the church has him all wrong, maybe we all do, but Jesus is my man. I'm not looking to replace him with Mohammed or Buddha or Abraham or Sophia or anyone. He's my man and I'm sticking with him.

I just wish I could be more excited by all of it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hurry Up or You'll Get Left Behind in Kindergarten!

Oh please. My husband brought home the Wall Street Journal just so he could rile me up. He subscribed so he can read it on the train on the way to work and it usually does not make the return trip. Not today's paper, though, the possibility of an entertaining dinner hour was too tempting for him. Preschoolers' Prep made the front page of the Marketplace section today -- below the fold, but the color picture is in the center of the page, so maybe it counts as above the fold -- across the fold?

Hmmm...seems the WSJ is not feeling generous enough to make this gem available in the free part of its website. No bother, I'll summarize for you. The article discusses the growth of various tutoring and learning centers as parents fret about whether their kids have learned enough to succeed in kindergarten.

What the article neglects to mention is whether and what preschools these children have attended. Its moot to me but suggests a certain deficiency in reporting for not addressing the obvious question of whether it was the preschool that failed or the child. Opps -- there was one mention of preschool. The mother of a 4-year-old and a high-school English teacher who panicked when her son's preschool teacher reported that he couldn't write his name, identify his letters, count to 30 or wield scissors. Not that I think any of these things are panick-worthy, what I want to know is how could she not know the skill level of her child? She's a teacher and doesn't know what her own child can and cannot do? Sorry, but I can't help but read a bit of commentary into the quality of the education system itself given that she's a teacher.

Anyway, the part that chaps me is when the article gets around to presenting the "opposing view." You know, those oafs who don't care enough about their kids (or themselves, really) to pressure them to excellence; those losers who can't fork out $45 an hour for tutoring in basic skills; those idiots who couldn't possibly review colors, letters and numbers with their children themselves. They trot out David Elkind, a professor of child development, "whose books lament that children no longer have time to play." What, no column space for the titles after including important quotes like PR fluff from Sylvan and Kaplan?

I'll help you out, WSJ, Elkind is the author of Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk and The Hurried Child , among others-- and no, these books don't help sell tutoring services. Also, his point is not that kids should be sitting around 'playing' all day (the horror!), its that overcompetitive parents may actually be harming their kids when they pressure and overschedule them and don't leave them time to play, think, and dream. Maybe a 30- or 40-something has the time, understanding, and money to put into therapy but they should lay off their kids.

Honestly, the kids will learn to read, but maybe not early enough for you to brag about it to all your friends. They will learn their colors and letters and numbers -- but they may not be doing it aloud at age 2 so that you can feel proud in the grocery store or other public venue.

Elkind points out (I believe, I've only read Miseducation and that was a couple of years ago) that while you may not be able to prove that the parents are harming their children by pressuring them, they are risking it for no reason at all. Early learning and achievement are not accurate barometers of future success. The kid may go on to do wonderful things, but might have done them anyway without the pressure. Maybe they could have enjoyed their childhoods more and the parent could have enjoyed the child more without all the worrying and stress. Maybe for some kids the pressure actually prevents them from achieving their potential -- that’s the real horror and Elkind says its pointless to risk it.

Am I getting Elkind wrong? Maybe, read him for yourself, but don't dismiss him as some wacko who thinks kids should play all day -- he's got reasons for saying what he does. He's not anti-education or anti-school, he just wonders what the rush is all about.

I'm the wacko who says let the kids play all day.

Monday, July 11, 2005

This From a Priest?

My brother, who is an Episcopal priest, forwarded this list to me. Its probably all over the internet and you're yawning and thinking 'how could she have not seen this one before?' Welcome to the slow lane.

If I knew who wrote it, I'd give proper credit; but I don't, so I won't other than to say that I didn't write it.

The Guys' Rules

Finally, the guys' side of the story. We always hear"the rules"from the female side.
Now here are the rules from the male side.
Please note...these are all numbered "1"ON PURPOSE!

1.Learn to work the toilet seat.
You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down.We need it up, you need it down.You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports.
It's like the full moon or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport.
And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want.
Let us be clear on this one:Subtle hints do not work!Strong hints do not work!Obvious hints do not work!Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it.
That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said 6 months ago is inadmissible in an argument.
In fact, all comments become null and void after7 days.

1.If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something or tell us how you want it done. Not both.
If you already know best how to do it,just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1.Christopher Columbus did not need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings.
Peach, for example, is a fruit, not a color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong and you say "nothing,"we will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying,but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wearis fine...Really.

1.You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round is a shape.

1. Thank you for reading this.Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight;but did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Book List for kids -- Christianity

I'm trying to clear out my files and ran across some notes I made awhile ago. This isn't timely but I'm chucking the paper in the trash so I thought I'd preserve my notes in the blogosphere.

Giant Steps for Small Children by Kenneth Taylor
This book covers the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Engaging illustrations. Can be read in part or in whole (my 3 year-old wanted to keep going when I offered to stop). [Ed note: that would make this list about 2 years old, the child is now 5]

God Made You Special
For Veggie Tales fans, a cute, rhyming story about God's unconditional love. For those unfamiliar with Veggie Tales characters and episodes, this is probably not a very engaging book -- nor will it make much sense.

When Jesus was Born by Maryann Dotts
Simplified nativity story emphasizing actions and feelings to which young children can relate.

Prayers for Children, Illustrated by Eloise Wilkin
A Little Golden Book classic. Beautiful illustrations accompany a collection of prayers.

Arch books from Concordia Publishing House
Extensive collection, ages 5-9, but read aloud for younger children. Includes a letter to the parents with scripture references and further information.

The First Christmas, publisher Parragon Publishing
Several stories of the birth of Jesus based on scripture, interspersed with Christmas carols. Board book format, cartoonish illustrations, 'childish' font.

Looking for me? I post more frequently on chocolate and peanut butter.