5 Dollars

My life as an at-home momma of 3 amazing kids...it's kind of like shoveling snow in a blizzard.

Friday, June 30, 2006

"Truth, justice and the American way!"

Believe it or not, the writers of the new movie Superman Returns have changed Superman's motto! I haven't seen the film yet, but web reports are saying that it's now, "truth, justice and...all that stuff." How wimpy can you get?

From Say Anything -

Director Bryan Singer admits that when they made the revision to the legendary slogan, they did have the international market in mind. Which means American audiences might like to hear those words more than foreign ticket buyers. As far as the filmmakers are concerned, Superman is for all the world. And that world includes a lot of cash.”

From SuperHeroHype.com -

Question: The line that Frank Langella says, the truth and justice. Was it deliberate to leave out the American way?
Singer: Yes. They did it so well with justifying the line "truth, justice and the American way" and the original Superman she says "you're going to end up fighting every politician in Washington." He says, "you don't really mean that Lois." She says, "you've got to be kidding." He says, "Lois I never lie." And that's such a great scene because they took that expression, which I don't shy away from, and they commented on it the way Americans are very passionate, very patriotic and self-depreciating at the same time. Americans are the first people to be weirdly simultaneously patriotic and self-criticizing. It's one of our rights as Americans. We can do that. With that notion, I didn't have a better way to take the edge off it so I did it that way. But, he is an American superhero. There's no denying that. He's the ultimate immigrant, raised on a farm in Kansas. He represents what we as Americans idealistic want to be. In that way I shy away from it, but I don't know how to. But, he's not just fighting for America. He's fighting for, you know, the world. He always was. So it's not shying away from it, it's just treating it in not a better way, but a different way. I couldn't measure up to how they treated it.

I love that line. "But, he is an American superhero. There's no denying that." He's an American superhero...but we can't dare to let him be patriotic. Pathetic.

Not to mention that it's PG-13. When are they going to make a superhero movie that's truely appropriate for kids?

Children's Museum "Backpack Attack"

Back-to-School Supply Drive- Now – July 28

It is estimated that up to 78% of IPS students start the school year with inadequate school supplies – or none at all, according to the United Way. As children prepare to return to school this fall, the need for proper school supplies becomes a critical issue in many families already struggling to meet basic needs.

Please join The Children's Museum of Indianapolis in supporting the 7th annual Back Pack Attack by donating a new school supply when you visit the museum before July 28.

Supplies Needed:
Backpacks, Erasers, Rulers, Crayons, Art Boxes, Safety Scissors, Glue Sticks, Pencil Sharpeners, Ink pens, Pencils, Colored pencils, Notebook paper, Pocket folders, Calculators, Markers, Spiral Notebooks

A donation bin is available in the museum's Welcome Center. School supplies will be given to Indianapolis Public Schools through Bridges to Success, an initiative of the United Way. Supplies will also be distributed to underserved families at the museum's Back Pack Attack Festival on Aug. 10.

Thank you for helping ensure that children in our community have the right tools for success! Children who donate school supplies at the museum will receive a special participation sticker.

Interested in volunteering? With so many supplies to distribute, volunteers are needed to help sort and count school supplies, from July 31 – Aug. 10. More information is available at this link.

Two characters will die in the final Harry Potter book

"The final chapter is hidden away, although it's now changed very slightly," J.K. Rowling said in an interview broadcast on Monday on Britain's Channel 4. "One character got a reprieve, but I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die."

So...which two characters do you think will die?

Matt says it's Harry and Voldemort. I think that's too obvious. I think it's Voldemort and Snape. I am hoping Snape redeems himself by sacrificing himself to save Harry and then Harry goes on to kill Voldemort.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

So You Think You Can Dance

Ruby and I have been watching So You Think You Can Dance on FOX together every week. It's very funny because she doesn't want to miss a second of the dancing. Even if she is tired, she will only nurse during the commercials. As soon as she hears the theme music come back on, she pops back up in my lap to watch. We talk about the different dancers together and critique their performances. I think she seems to like Jessica and Benji the best. I like Dmitry, Benji, Donyelle and Heidi.

(SPOILER ALERT if you didn't see last night's show.)

Last night was the first time I have disagreed with any of the dancers who got kicked off as a result of the solo round. I thought Jaymz really should have been kicked off last night, not Ben. His solo was no more prepared than Ben's solo and he was totally out of control when he danced. It was wreckless and wild with no form and I swear he didn't mean to end up off the stage at the end, he fell off. Aleksandra was the right girl to cut. I hope Dmitry gets a better partner next week.

The cartoon characters made her do it?

The psychiatrist testified Yates said that when her children watched cartoons on television, the characters told her she was a bad mother. Ferguson, now a psychiatrist at the North Texas State Hospital in Vernon, also said she did not think Yates was faking her symptoms.

How does our garden grow?

For the first time ever, we've attempted to do some planting in our backyard.

We have a small garden plot beside the mini-barn with tomatoes, grape tomatoes, red, green and yellow bell peppers and mint growing. Kaylee is also growing sunflowers in that bed behind the garden plants.

We've planted four-o-clocks in a semi-circle around the edge of the patio. I noticed today that they are starting to get buds on them so they'll be flowering soon! I remember spending so many hours playing among my great grandmother's four-o-clocks, enjoying the flowers and hunting for the seeds so I could take some home with me. Matt has slowly been working his way around the patio with ground cloth and mulch to finish off those beds. He's maybe half-way done. Last weekend he put in stepping stone paths leading from the patio into the yard. We gave him a chimenea for Father's Day and he's got it set up on the lower end of the patio now. We haven't had a chance to burn it yet.

We also have pots with marigolds, African daisies, yellow dahlias, fushia plants and impatients in them. The kids are also growing a patch of wildflowers down by the lake. I think I am slowly killing the dahlias, but everything else seems to be immune to my black thumb and growing pretty well.

Because Blogger seems to hate me tonight.....

.....here are the rest of the zoo pictures. For some reason it wouldn't let me post the pony pix with the others.

Indianapolis Zoo

We actually spent a large portion of our zoo trip playing on the playground and in the little splash area where water sprays up out of the ground. They were excited to get to see the new meerkat exhibit. There is even a little tunnel up near the glass so you can watch them go through. When I asked Kaylee if she wanted to ride a horse, she thought I was talking about the carousel. I told her "no...a real pony" and she was all for it. She was obviously very excited to get a chance to ride the pony. She had to be sure to wear her hat since "cowgirls wear hats!"

PBS Kids in the Park

Last Saturday we spent the day at PBS Kids in the Park. They got to play in a bounce house, meet Maya and Miguel, see an animal show and pet a baby kangaroo, see a puppet show, watch Barney perform and visit with some rescued greyhounds.

Playing with (or picking on?) Daddy after lunch.

Too bad you can't splash in the fountain. The weather was hot enough that it would have felt nice.

The only characters we stood in line for were Maya and Miguel. Ruby even got to hold Paco.

Kaylee and Ruby enjoyed watching the Barney show. (You can see Kaylee up by the stage waving at the camera.)

I thought Ruby was just too cute eating this giant snowcone. I just LOVE those big eyes on this girl!

HPV vaccines for pre-teens?

A government advisory panel has recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls be routinely vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV), the sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer. The panel focused on 11- to 12-year-olds in part because children that age already routinely get two other shots. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices also said that girls as young as 9 years of age can start the series of shots.

Would you vaccinate a child this young against HPV? Do you think having the vaccine might make young ladies more likely to be promiscuous? At this young age, wouldn't parental supervision and discussions about abstinence and safe sex be more appropriate?

I found the poll results a little shocking. I'm surprised that 73% of those who have responded say they would vaccinate an 11-12 year old girl against HPV.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Weather in Washington D.C.

You've probably heard about the storms and flood watches in the D.C. area. A lot of museums and other buildings were closed today.

Evidently a tree fell on the White House grounds due to the storms. White House officials said it was at least 100 years old. Our local news reported that it was the tree to the right of the White House on the back of the $20 bill, although the Bureau of Printing and Engraving has not confirmed the report.

Could you pass the US Citizenship test?

Sort-of related to the recent education discussion.....

When immigrants want to become American citizens, they must take an oral civics test as part of their naturalization interview. The questions are usually chosen from a list of 100 sample questions, some easy and some more difficult.

How well do you think you could do on the citizenship test? I got an 85% when I took this online quiz. I wonder how well many of our high school students would do?

More education bloggings to share

Alice is blogging about teaching to the test and how her mother's support helped her through her school years.

Monday, June 26, 2006

RIP "Eddie" the dog from Fraiser

Moose, the Jack Russell terrier who played Eddie for 10 years on the former NBC show "Fraiser," passed away this past week. He was 16 years old.

Giving a nod

Ann over at Roc Rebel Granny and Is America Burning? is talking about the education issues tonight as well. Take the time to drop by and see what she and her readers have to say.

Nation-wide drop-out rates and Indiana's pitiful rankings

Indiana's graduation rate is ranked as 23rd nationally with only 73 percent of Indiana's high school students graduating on time with their classmates. The graduation rates are even more dismal when you look at the numbers based on ethnicity. Only about four in 10 black and Hispanic boys in Indiana graduate from high school on time.

A state-by-state analysis of 2002-03 federal education data, paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, underscored the findings of earlier studies, which put Indiana's graduation rate between 69 and 73 percent. (State officials have now acknowledged that their previously reported 90 percent graduation rate was inflated. A more accurate figure is expected for the class of 2006 this fall.) The national average is about a 69 percent graduation rate.

The study also pinpointed a wide range in graduation rates for the nation's 50 biggest school districts. Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana's largest district, wasn't big enough to make that list. Regardless, an estimated 39 percent graduation rate ranks IPS below all but three of the nation's largest school districts.

While Indiana's pattern may seem to match national trends, honestly, it's still pitiful. IPS should be embarassed by it's 39 percent graduation rate. If we were handing out letter grades based on these graduation rates, IPS would be failing and the State of Indiana would barely be coming in at a C average. How can this be acceptable? Simply put, it's not. Somewhere, somehow the education system in Indiana is failing a large number of our children.

Back in April, Time magazine published an article on our Nation of Dropouts. Shelbyville High School, right here in Indiana, is mentioned in the Time story. The article states, "Of the 315 Shelbyville students who showed up for the first day of high school four years ago, only 215 are expected to graduate. The 100 others have simply melted away, dropping out in a slow, steady bleed that has left the town wondering how it could have let down so many of its kids."

The No Child Left Behind Act simply isn't working. Time reports that the dropout rates have remained virtually unchanged "at approximately 30% through two decades of intense educational reform, and the magnitude of the problem has been consistently, and often willfully, ignored."

When we allow so many children to fail at school and the dropout rate to reach such an astonishing level, what are we setting them up for as adults? Is this likely to lead to a lifetime of failure for these students? Some worry that this dropout trend is creating a permanent underclass.

Dropouts in today's world are discovering that it is difficult to find even a low-income job since so many of these positions have moved overseas or been filled by immigrants. This is the era of a knowledge-based economy and advanced manufacturing where most employeers want to see at least a high school diploma in an employee's hand before they will let them advance. Being computer literate has most certainly become essential. Kids who stick it out and earn their diplomas demonstrate to potential employers that they have the discipline to commit themselves to something and achieve it.

The Time article makes the following comparison: "Dropping out of high school today is to your societal health what smoking is to your physical health, an indicator of a host of poor outcomes to follow, from low lifetime earnings to high incarceration rates to a high likelihood that your children will drop out of high school and start the cycle anew." (It appears that we're seeing this trend already as, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, kids from the lowest income quarter are more than six times as likely to drop out of high school as kids from the highest.)

Indiana legislators are trying to find ways to remedy the high drop-out rates. Indiana House Bill 1347 was signed by the Governor on Friday, March 24, 2006. Students who drop out before age 18 could now have their driver's license suspended or their work permit revoked unless their decision was first approved by a school or judge.

Can these students be encouraged to stay in school and to succeed? Perhaps the most surprising finding of the Gates survey is just how few dropouts actually reported being overwhelmed academically. Amazingly, 88% said they had passing grades in high school. When asked why they had dropped out, more respondents named boredom than struggles with course work!

How can teachers spark a flame in these students to make them want to learn and keep them interested? I can't help but wonder if these comments are a direct result of NCLB and the intense focus our schools now put on preparing for and passing standardized tests. What can be more boring than spending so much time focusing on one test, stressing about scores and then filling in the little circles? I think another issue that may play into the boredom is the amount of reviewing that seems to go on in many schools. So much time is spent at the beginning of the year reviewing what was forgotten over the summer. And then more time is spent reviewing for the ISTEP. I do think that the year-round calendar some schools have adopted seems to cut down on the amount of review time needed each year and also helps to avoid student burn out.

Are there other options for these students who are dropping out of traditional high school programs? What about vocational schools, night school, correspondence courses, online programs, or homeschooling? What about programs that would allow students to balance part-time work and school? Can we find ways to keep them learning, even if it isn't within the traditional model of a high school education?

What about those students who drop-out because they are truely struggling? What about those who start life at the bottom of our society without privilege, decent health care, adequate housing or good nutrition?

Would throwing more money at the problem help? Marcus Winters, a senior research associate at the Manhattan Institute, disagrees. "Spending more money just has not worked," he says. "We've doubled the amount we spend per pupil since the '70s, and the problem hasn't budged."

The price of a loaf of bread has more than doubled since 1970. In 1970 a loaf of bread cost, on average, about 30 cents. In 2000 a loaf of bread cost approximately $1.30. Just like everything else, the cost of a well-rounded education is more expensive now than it was over 30 years ago. If we've only doubled the amount of money we spend on education in the past 35 years or so, I'm guessing that odds are we haven't invested enough in the educational system. I think we already know that teachers are underpaid. In 1970-71, public school teachers averaged $9,729. The average beginning teacher salary in the 2003-04 school year was $31,704.

Our children are our future. Our schools need money. Our teachers need better pay. Nation-wide, schools are already struggling to provide quality services to increased numbers of disadvantaged students and students with special needs, while also implementing accountability and testing mandates. And in his 2007 National Budget, Bush is cutting funds.

According to a press release from NEA:

Bush's budget proposal does away with 42 education programs. These include career and technical education, school counseling, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, education technology grants and dropout prevention. Also on the chopping block are GEAR-UP, TRIO Talent Search, and Upward Bound, programs that have helped generations of disadvantaged students prepare for and attend college.

The President’s proposal shortchanges No Child Left Behind by $15 billion, putting more pressure on schools already struggling to meet the one-size-fits-all requirements of the law.

The budget proposal also drains $36 billion from Medicare over the next five years and at least $13.8 billion in cuts to Medicaid. Millions of Americans rely on these programs to pay for their basic health care needs - particularly America 's elders, low-income and working families and their children, and individuals with disabilities.

February 17, 2006 NEA Insider

Find out what this budget means to Indiana.

Honestly, if we want to see the graduation rates improve, I think we need to find more ways to support our schools. We need to advocate for more funding for our schools as well as higher salaries and continuting education courses for our teachers. We must find ways to get all parents more involved in the classroom and look for new ways to motivate students. All children deserve a chance at a high school diploma and a future that holds promise. When we allow this many students to drop out before graduation then we are leaving way too many children behind.

By gender:
Boys in Indiana: 68.8 percent
Boys nationwide: 65.2 percent
Girls in Indiana: 75.4 percent
Girls nationwide: 72.7 percent
By race and ethnicity:
American Indian/Alaska Native: in Indiana: 30.2 percent
American Indian/Alaska Native: nationwide: 47.4 percent
Hispanic in Indiana: 52.3 percent
Hispanic nationwide: 55.6 percent
Black in Indiana: 48.5 percent
Black nationwide: 51.6 percent
White in Indiana: 75.4 percent
White nationwide: 76.2 percent

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yesterday's ice cream recipes

The vanilla ice cream recipe I posted yesterday is the one that we've made every summer since I was a little girl. It's some sweet and yummy stuff that I've always looked forward to every summer.

The chocolate recipe I posted is a brand new one. Yesterday was the first time I've ever made it. Three words - Oh.My.God! It's amazing. Sweet, creamy, rich, smooth and yummy! It's an ice cream orgasm. If you are a chocolate lover then you really must try making this stuff. Next time I'm doubling the recipe.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

And another.....homemade vanilla ice cream

This one is the recipe my mom always used.

4 eggs
a cup of sugar
2 TBS vanilla
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 cans condensed milk
1 & 1/2 quarts dairy milk
1/4 tsp salt

Combine eggs, cream,, sugar, salt and vanilla in a bowl and mix thoroughly with mixer. Pour into, add condensed milk and stir well. Add dairy milk and stir. Freeze in canister of ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. (Takes about 1 hour in my machine.) Makes 4 qts.

(Gently stir in chocolate chips after it comes out of the ice cream machine if you'd prefer chocolate chip ice cream. The "mini" chips seem to freeze best.)

Mmmmm.....homemade dark chocolate ice cream

2/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 2/3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips


In large bowl, stir together sugar and cocoa. Add egg yolks and blend with electric mixer. Add cream a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Chill mixture in refrigerator.

While cream mixture is chilling, grate chocolate chips in blender or food processor or using a rotary grater, until fine. Stir into cream mixture. Freeze in canister of ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Indiana Mother's Milk Bank Billboards!

I was excited to see this billboard this weekend. (The picture isn't too great as it was raining when I took it.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dog saves owners life by calling 911

Now that's one smart pooch!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Indiana news.....

Prosecutors have announced that they will seek the death penalty for Katron Walker who is charged with murder in the death of his 4-year-old son Collin. Katron kidnapped both of his sons on June 13th. He was later found southwest Vigo County with the boys. He cut Collin's throat and stabbed both boys and himself. Monte Walker, age 2, was hospitalized with cuts on his neck and puncture wounds in his chest. Katron had both marijuana and methamphetamine in his system.

My thoughts? Turn him over to the boy's mother and let her rip him apart with her bare hands.

Breastfeed or else! So what do you think?

Although I think that the public health campaign (which was launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. a year ago, BTW) is a bit "out there" I still think it's very important for new moms to be targeted with this kind of information. A campaign directed at mothers (especially first time mothers) was really needed, but maybe they could have found a better way to present the message.

One of the points of this whole campaign was also to begin to change the language that we use when we talk about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is the biological norm. It's what our bodies expect to do after birth and it's what a baby's system is designed to expect for nutrition. But we don't talk about it that way anymore. The language we currently tend to use implys that formula feeding is the norm, as opposed to an alternative. Pregnancy books and prenatal classes always talk about "the benefits of breastfeeding."

Nope. Sorry folks. I'm gonna say something shocking. There are NO BENEFITS to breastfeeding. Yep...you heard me right. If something is the biological norm, how can doing it be considered beneficial? Since breastfeeding should be considered the norm, in truth it carries no "benefits." Instead, choosing not to breastfeed carries RISKS or DISADVANTAGES. Because breastfeeding should be considered the biological norm, breastfed babies should not be refered to as "healthier babies," but instead we should say that artificially-fed babies are typically ill more often and more seriously.

The Indy Star article mentions that Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), has proposed requiring manufacturers to place warning labels on cans of infant formula and in advertisements, similar to those on cigarettes. I think this is a fabulous idea. Any other product that carries such serious risks typically has a warning label of some sort on it. Why not on a can of formula?

And here's the one thing that really irks me when discussions about this subject come up. Inevitaby, some mother makes a comment like, "how can you tell me, or any other mom, that we are horrible and bad moms for not breast feeding?" In truth, they are reading into things and projecting their own feelings and opinions into what they have read or heard. The majority of the time no one has called anyone else a bad mom. Instead, what has been said is that formula AS A SUBSTANCE is inferior to breastmilk AS A SUBSTANCE. It has nothing at all to do with the people involved, their parenting skills or how much they love their children. It's a comparison of two substances.

SO...how do we look at this whole situation in a positive way? How do we encourage more mothers to try breastfeeding and to nurse their children longer? How do we get them to attempt to meet the
AAP's recommendation of nursing for at least 12 months

I think the absolute biggest problem that we face in attempting to increase breastfeeding rates in the United States is that, as a whole, our society doesn't value children and families. Babies are expected to fit into the family unit and nothing should change. Women are given little or no paid time off work when they give birth. Some women here in the USA are lucky enough to be given 12 weeks off through FMLA, but that time is unpaid. What good is time off work if you can't pay the bills for those 12 weeks? As the article states, "...urging women to breast-feed exclusively is a tall order in a country where more than 60 percent of mothers of very young children work."

When mothers do return to work, they may have to beg their employer for a place and a time where they can pump to maintain their milk supply and provide expressed milk for their child during their separation. If they are granted a time and place to pump, they may still face pressures at work that make it difficult to continue pumping. For low-income mothers, the opportunities to pump at work are often slim to none and the free formula provided by WIC is a huge temptation.

Mothers need prenatal education about breastfeeding. Caregivers need to talk to mothers about the importance of breastfeeding and the risks associated with artificial feeding. They need to know that they are welcome to attend support groups like La Leche League before the baby arrives in order to learn more about breastfeeding and build a support system for after the baby arrives.

Mothers need more time off from work after the arrival of a new baby, preferably paid time off. The 12 weeks that FMLA provides should be the minimum time a mother takes off after the birth, not the current average of a measly 6 weeks. Even if the mother isn't breastfeeding, becoming a mother is a major life change and should be treated as such!

Mothers need support from other women and health care professionals who are knowledgeable about breastfeeding. (And, in the case of HCP's...not in the formula companies' pocket.) They need easy access to La Leche League Leaders, International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) and they need follow-up care in the early weeks at home from their doctors or midwives.

Working mothers need access to good quality breastpumps that are affordable. They need places to pump privately at work. They need child care providers who are supportive of breastfeeding. If possible, on-site child care with nursing breaks would be wonderful.

In general, nursing mothers need society to grow up a bit and remember that breasts were created to nourish our young, not to be oogled on billboards, movie screens or in Victoria's Secret catalogues. Mothers need to be able to nurse in public without being harrassed, asked to nurse in a bathroom or to "not do that here."

So.....what do you think?

Garden of Glass - details

Fiori dei Bambini: A Chihuly Garden of Glass for Children, created by renowned artist Dale Chihuly, is one of the newer exhibits at The Children's Museum. So far I've found it difficult to get good shots of the pieces in this exhibit, but these are a few of my favorites.

Cousins by the dozens

OK...actually there are only 10 of them. The Texas Dollar girls have been in town so the cousins have enjoyed some time together over the past week. On Wednesday Kaylee and Ruby had a gardening class at The Children's Museum so we met up with some of the cousins there for an afternoon of fun. (No word yet on when Kaylee's stegasaurus will be on display.)

The girls on the carousel.

Reading under the treehouse.

Look at those big brown eyes!

Showing us how to blow glass.

Watching their money go down the drain, LOL!

(Yay! Blogger is finally letting me upload pictures again! There were many I've wanted to post these past two weeks that I just couldn't get to load to Blogger for some unknown reason.)

Friday, June 16, 2006

What happens when you combine Diet Coke & Mentos?

What happens when you combine 200 liters of Diet Coke and over 500 Mentos mints?

Basically, you get a Diet Coke & Mentos powered version of the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas.

Really...watch the video. It's pretty amazing.

The embeded video was driving me nuts - click the link instead.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One of those moments you *wish* you had the camera.....

I had one of those moments where I kicked myself for not bringing the camera along today. We made our weekly trek to the library today after lunch. I forgot that there was a Silly Safaris program planned there this afternoon. We saw them starting the program as we were preparing to leave with our books. The girls were interested so we slipped inside. I'm so glad we did!

The ranger showed several animals including a hedgehog, a cornsnake, a ferret, and a bearded dragon. Then she said the next was her favorite animal and that it came from the rain forest. I dared to get my hopes up that it might be one of Kaylee's favorite animals...a current obsession on which we had just checked out a book for about the 3rd time. She made a big show of how slimy the animal was before she took it out. My hopes soared higher as I watched Kaylee squirming to see what she might take out of the cooler. Could it really be? Yes! It was...a tree frog named "Jello!" I thought Kaylee was going to explode with joy. Not only did she get to see a real, live tree frog, she got to touch it and look closely into those little red eyes.

Just another thing for her to add to her list of "the best thing that ever happened to me was when...!!!" that has been growing so quickly these past few months. If only I'd brought the camera along today. Oh well...I'm sure Diego (Kaylee) and Alicia (Ruby) will be rescuing tree frogs in our backyard all week now.

Telling it like it is.....

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany -- When it came down to game time, the Czech Republic was the schoolyard bully, and the U.S. was the wimpy kid in the corner handing over his lunch money.

Of course, it didn't help that the wimpy kid was holding wads of hundreds in his hands, essentially asking for a punch in the face.

That was more or less the case when the Americans were throttled by the Czechs 3-0 on Monday in a match where nothing worked for the U.S. The Yanks were sluggish, mistake-prone and completely out of sorts against the No. 2 team in the world, which basically did what it wanted.

Read the rest of the article.

So.....does anyone think we have a prayer againt Italy on Saturday?

NY Times - Breast-Feed or Else

Very interesting read.
I may post more later but we'll see...busy day ahead.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blast Off

Keithen started his two week Blast Off camp today. He goes to school for 3 hours a day every morning for two weeks. He is getting to meet the other kids who are transitioning to the accelerated classrooms with him for second grade. Today he had a lot to say about the playground, mentioned the names of a few of the kids he met and thought it was really cool that the bus he came home on has seatbelts. (We chose to have Matt drive him to the school because they wanted to pick him up at 6:25 a.m. for an 8:00 class! Amazingly, it only took him 20 minutes to get home on the bus after the class ended.) I'm hoping that he makes a few friends who will end up at his new school with him.


One word - pitiful.

World Cup Fever

We've been watching the World Cup soccer games here. I hope that Keithen will pick up how the players work together, which is something his teams never seem to get until the end of their season.

I really enjoyed watching Mexico and Iran yesterday. The goal Omar Bravo scored when Iran's goalie messed up was pretty sweet. Seeing the England and Paraguay match end 1-0 with the only point being an own goal was something. It's gotta stink to be Carlos Gamarra right now. I'm hoping to catch at least some of the USA vs.the Czech Republic match today.

Being complete and total Americans, we had to search for something online to explain how the World Cup works. So, for anyone else out there wondering how the teams will be eliminated to find a champion, here you go -

The current finals tournament features 32 national teams competing over a month in the host nation(s). There are two stages, a group stage and a knockout stage.

In the first stage (the group stage), teams are drawn into eight groups of four. Eight teams are seeded at the draw (based on both current FIFA World Rankings and recent World Cups), and assigned a group. The other teams are drawn at random. Since 1998, constraints have applied to the draw to ensure that no group contains more than two European teams or more than one team from any other confederation. Each group plays a round-robin tournament, guaranteeing that every team will play at least three matches. The last round of matches of each group is held simultaneously to prevent collusion between nations. Since 1994, three points have been awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss (prior to this, winners only received two points). The top two teams from each group advance to the second stage (the knockout stage). If two or more teams finish level on points, tie-breakers are used: first is goal difference, then total goals scored, then head-to-head results, and finally drawing of lots.

The second round, or knockout stage, is a single-elimination round in which teams play each other in one-off matches, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the winner. It begins with the round of 16 (or last 16) in which the winner of each group (from the group stage) plays against the runner-up from another group. This is followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final. The losing semi-finalists contest a third place match.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound

The "Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound" program will take place every Saturday in June (beginning June 10). Dogs from the city pound will be available to take for a stroll from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will meet on the back patio at The National Institute for Fitness and Sports located at 250 University Blvd. Leashes and treats provided - just bring your walking shoes!

This sounds like a great idea to get our family up and moving on the weekend. I bet the kids would love this and it would be a good way to introduce them to some community service. I'm hoping we can make it to a couple of these events this summer!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

MORE Museum pix

These are from Wednesday's Museum trip for the girls' class. We were able to spend a rainy morning playing at the Museum and then Keithen and I had some time together while the girls were in class.

What's the point?

Someone tell me, what's the point of our state's ISTEP+ Graduation Qualifying Exam (GQE) if you don't have to pass it to graduate? Yes, you read that right. You don't have to pass teh GQE to graduate. More than 3,300 high school seniors graduated from Indiana public schools last year even though they flunked the state's graduation test five times.

The state does set rules about who qualifies for a waiver (a 95 percent attendance record and a C average in key classes) but the principals are the ones who decide which students receive a waiver. Unfortunately, no one monitors the system to ensure that the principals are following the guidelines!

I'm not a huge fan of standardized testing. I don't particuarly like the idea that getting a diploma boils down to passing one single test as opposed to how the child performed in school for the past 12 years. BUT.....if they failed the same test 5 times, doesn't that say something about where they are academically?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Children's Museum - June 3

The Children's Garden of Glass opened last weekend at The Children's Museum. We got to go together as a family, which doesn't happen very often. The kids were very excited to show Daddy the Fireworks of Glass and the new dinosaur. Unfortunately, Kaylee's dinosaur isn't on display yet. There are two cases of glass pieces blown of the children's artwork that will rotate while this exhibit is open. Hopefully we won't miss Kaylee's stegasaurus! (More pictures to come.....Blogger doesn't like me lately for some reason.)