Monday, July 30, 2012

My kids go to "that" school

I just want to start off by saying that homeschooling and charter schools are not an option for me.  Call me crazy, but I'm not organized enough or disciplined enough to home school and I'm tool selfish to drive my kids to another school when there is one in my very own neighborhood and a bus to get my older kids to theirs.  It doesn't mean I'm anti either of them.  I just am happy where I'm at and have no reason to change.  My problem comes from people thinking that I am ignorant about where I send my own kids as if I haven't researched my options.  It is a topic that comes up on occasion and when it does, I feel like I have to defend myself for my choice.  I'm just going to highlight a few things that have been brought to my attention recently:

Several years ago, I asked the head of security at the "other" high school in our area (he is a friend of mine) if he thought there was more problems at my school than at his.  His answer?  "Are you kidding me?  Every school has its problems, your school is no different."  My interpretation?  The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence.  I had someone mention to me that they wanted their kids to go that school because they have a sherriff's deputy on duty during school hours and they felt like their kids were safer.  I asked the security person at our school why we didn't have one and the answer I got was something like this: there had to be a minimum number of calls to the sherriff's office reported during a school day for a requisite amount of time before the city/town was required to pay for a deputy to be at the school full time.  So, it is a catch 22, right?  My school doesn't have a deputy on duty full time because there haven't been enough incidents to report.  But, the school with the deputy now has fewer incidents reported because they have the deputy at school until their incidents go down enough to not need a deputy again.  Does that make sense?  It's a vicious cycle that my school hasn't had to deal with...yet.

It is everywhere.  You can't really avoid it and at some point, your children will be put into a situation where they are going to be tempted.  It happens at private schools, charter schools, public schools and even at BYU.  I can only do my best to teach my children to avoid it the best I can.  They ultimately have agency, but when they are younger, I teach them to choose good friends and how to make good choices.

Early Morning Seminary
Several people have mentioned that they only want their kids to have release time seminary.  For those of you not familiar with my church, for one class period of the day, our children are offered a class where they can learn more about the gospel through scripture study, taught by members of our religion.  For more info on that, click here.  My school isn't able to offer it as a class during the day, so it is available as an early morning class at the church.  Our teachers are all volunteers and they are fabulous.  Besides, what a better way to start the day?  Most LDS kids have to take an early period at some point in their high school career to make up for that missing credit anyway so what is the difference?  We carpool our kids to the seminary building by 6am and they all get on a bus afterwards that takes them directly to school.  My kids say it is a great way to start their day, by getting into the scriptures and having a daily reminder to remember to do what is right.  Wether you get it in the middle of the day or before school, it is a great thing.

This is a tough subject for me as we are a huge sports family.  But, the reality is that I don't think any of my children will end up being professional athletes.  Having said that, it isn't that I don't think they are awesome enough (because I think they can do whatever they want to do and be great at it).  I just am a realist and none of my kids have showed the kind of determination and drive it would take to play in the NFL/NBA/MLB.    To this argument I admit that our school struggles.  So many of the kids that live in our boundaries are choosing other schools because of their fantastic athletic programs, we may continue to struggle for years to come.  The reality is that my kids love to participate and they are hugely competetive.  When it comes down to it, our kids decided that they would rather be a part of the game and play as many minutes possible while losing than sit on the bench and win.  It is also a proven fact that kids from smaller schools can still get athletic scholarships.  What difference is an English degree from Western New Mexico than an English degree from UofA?  Very little.  If my kid can get into a smaller college that will pay for him to play while going to school, who cares where he goes? (As long as I can come visit and watch).

Someone got it in their head that our school has terrible teachers and a less than desireable curriculum.  Where did that come from?  My kids have for the most part had fabulous teachers.  Yes, there have been one or two that I didn't particularly care for or that my kids didn't get along with, but what a great life lesson: to learn to get along with people you don't neccesarily like being around.  If I pulled my kid because they didn't get along with a teacher, what is that teaching my child?  I'm not going to college with them and picking out teachers I think he will like and I certainly am not going to go interview future employers to make sure they are a good match for my kid.  I think this is one of life's greatest lessons actually and some semesters/years my child and/or I struggle continually and sometimes their grades don't reflect what they deserve, but if they come out of the year knowing that they have learned skills that will help them for a lifetime, it is worth the struggle.  The book knowledge will come regardless of who their teachers are.  (side note:  I won't tolerate abuse of any kind and that would warrant action on my part...obviously.)

The fact of the matter stays the same.  No matter where my children go, they are going to succeed because I don't rely on the schools alone to teach my kids.  I have to do my part to make sure they are getting the education they deserve.  If that wasn't happening, I'm sure I would do something differently, but so far we're doing good.  Education isn't just book knowledge, it is learning life skills too.  I truly believe that if we put as much time watering our own grass instead of looking for greener grass elsewhere, everyone would be that much better off.  

Stepping off my soap box now.  Feel free to disagree but do it kindly in your comments please.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feeling the "excess"

Exercise?  Yeah right.  If you read my post about being overwhelmed, you will know what activity got pushed aside this summer.  I'm still struggling from my broken toe too (I know, I should go see the Dr. at this point).

For the first time in my entire life, I have felt the struggle to lose excess weight.  Usually when I start a training program, I have no problem running 2-3 miles the first day because being out of shape is different than being overweight.  Ben and I started taking the kids to the high school to run around the track and on the bleachers and I can't even run one lap without walking.  I only got a mile in the other night and that was walking/walking fast.  I can only jog as fast as I can speed walk at this point.  I didn't realize how difficult this extra weight would be to take off.  So guess what I did?  I came home and ate because I was so frustrated.  Apparently I have an eating problem.

I have had all kinds of troubles with running this week from bladder issues to intestinal struggles (do you know how much I hate to throw up?), to the discomfort of my belly bouncing as I ran.  I give props to people who have had to lose tons of weight and struggled to get started.  This is dang hard.  My ankle is giving me problems too (long story involving surgery, scar tissue and arthritis) so getting back into running is proving more difficult than I had imagined.  Now the mosquitos have come out and I'm not sure we can take the kids out at night anymore.  Man, I am full of excuses, aren't I?

My sister sold me two bikes last weekend so we are going to try more of that this week.  Less pounding on my joints and belly but still the potential for a good workout.  Wish me luck.

Monday, July 23, 2012


When I was a younger mother and my children were much smaller, I had several people regularly tell me they thought I had too many activities going on with each of my children.  I felt like I had everything under control, but apparently I looked like I didn't.  I felt like I was able to get everything in; my church calling, my homemaking responsibilities, volunteer activities, "me" time, plus get my kids to their piano lessons, sports practices and other extracurricular events.  I never once felt like I had taken on too much.  But, I felt like I was constantly having to stand up for myself and prove that I was doing it all and I was doing it just fine.  Never once did I feel overworked or stressed out to the point that I couldn't handle my hectic schedule.  (OK, let's be honest, I had my days, but they were relatively few and far between.)

Until this summer happened.

I have never felt so overworked and exhausted as I have the last two months.  It actually made me rethink some of the activities we had going on.  Fortunately, I knew it would only last about 6-8 weeks and then it would be over and life would get back to "normal."  There were days when I wondered when the last time I had gone to the grocery store was and couldn't remember the last time I actually made a home cooked meal.  It was crazy insane.  3 kids on swim team with practice M-Th and meets on Saturday morning.  Drew had football practice 5:30-7:30am then basketball from 10:30-12:30.  Throw in more than several basketball and football tournaments, Marly's work schedule and cheer practices, me working at Sunsplash, our family trip to Utah, Ben's job, his coaching and let's not forget his calling in the bishopric.  Add to that my primary class and my stake calling, two articles for the Beehive newspaper and then getting ready to be the camp cooks at girl's camp just about did me in.  I had more than several days where I was ready to throw in the towel, but then that would have created more laundry, wouldn't it?  I didn't even mention the fact that we made it to free lunch almost every day and my sweet brother and sister took my kids swimming almost every afternoon.  As for cleaning house and doing laundry?  If you come to my house, you will see just how busy we have been, let's leave it at that.

What is my point you ask?  I have no point.  Just more excuses for why the blog was ignored for most of the summer.  I am not good at structure-less time and this summer was a prime example of not having a schedule and it wearing me thin.  Thank heavens school starts soon and we can get back to a schedule or at least some kind of normalcy.  I think we'll start practicing being on a schedule this week and next prior to school starting, just to get used to it...sounds good to me.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Book Review - Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, MD

I love parenting books.  Mostly, I take what I like from this book and from that book and combine them into my own style.  I think that is what most people should do.  But, I will say that I agree with almost 99% of what I read in this book.

My little sister just had her first baby, a sweet baby girl.  She is the one who recommended this book to me even though my oldest daughter will be 18 years old soon.  I'm so glad I had a chance to read it before she flew the coop and while my other three girls are still young.  Because Marly is so much older, I am going to recommend she read it too because of the data and statistics included are just good to know.

I'm going to admit that my husband is a pretty fantastic dad and he already does so much of what the book suggests as far as being a great dad that maybe that is why it made so much sense to me.  The reality is, that nobody is perfect and there is always something we can be doing better.  That is why he is going to read it next. (Ben, are you listening?)

Dr. Meeker is a pediatrician as well as a mother and I love the subtitle of her website which says "The wisdom of a pediatrician.  The heart of a mother."  She gets it.  She is the author of several books, the next of which I am going to read is called, The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers.  I can already tell I am going to learn some new tricks for my motherhood journey.  But I digress...

Dr. Meeker gives a variety of suggestions on how to develop a relationship with your daughter that will strengthen or rebuild your bond and shape your daughter's life for the better.  Here is a list of chapter titles:

Chapter 1 - You are the Most Important Man in Her Life
Chapter 2 - She Needs a Hero
Chapter 3 - You Are Her First Love
Chapter 4 - Teach Her Humility
Chapter 5 - Portect her, Defend Her (and use a shotgun if necessary)
Chapter 6 - Pragmatism and Grit:  Two of Your Greatest Assetts
Chapter 7 - Be the Man you Want Her to Marry
Chapter 8 - Teach Her Who God Is
Chapter 9 - Teach Her to Fight
Chapter 10 - Keep Her Connected

She offers examples from real life experiences, statistics and data as well as practical ways to help your daughter become a strong and confident woman.   She is down to earth, funny at times, and practical yet old fashioned about today's world.  I wish I had this book 18 years ago.  It is a must read for fathers (and mothers) of daughters.  For more information, check out her website.  She even has a companion book to this one which is a 30 day challenge to jump start dads in the right direction.  I can't wait to get my hands on that.  Hurry up Amazon!!