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Friday, August 30, 2013

Sad Goodbyes

     You wake up each day with a plan or a to-do list, things you know you have to do and your mind starts trying to organize those thoughts into something rational, something orderly. Then something happens that alters the plans, shatters the thoughts, and throws orderly into the wind to blow away. This morning was that day. We got one of those calls you never want to get. Our wonderful Uncle Larry passed away unexpectedly last night.  It was his birthday. I am so sad that my thoughts are scattered. I am trying to focus on something good. Larry was the type person that when he came in the room, everything brightened. He almost always had a smile on his lips and a hearty laugh that made everyone else in the room laugh. He was so very talented too. He worked in radio for several years and was an on air radio personality. He also was the voice of many, many radio and television commercials for businesses and events in our local area. Too many to count. His distinctive voice coming out of the radio or on the TV never failed to make us smile and say "It's Uncle Larry!" He was also a very talented photographer with his own photography studio. I loved talking cameras with him and getting advice from him. He was so open to sharing his knowledge. He was a prankster and was known to pick up my camera at family get together's and take pictures for me to find later! 
I am thinking of his family today and my heart hurts for them. His wife, their three children, his parents, siblings..... I know we are all in shock and it is going to take time for this to sink in. The next few days are going to be tough. I'm going to miss him terribly. I will forever wish we had all had more time together.
Goodbye Uncle Larry. Thank you what you gave to all of us.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Trying To Raise A Boy In A World of GaGa's and Miley's


I feel badly for the mother's out there who's daughter's witnessed Miley's behavior at the MTV Video Music Awards. I mean the majority of people are trying to raise their kids with some self respect. I don't have a girl. I do have a few nieces and every time someone like Miley Cyrus degrades herself in public I hope they don't feel the urge to copy her or think she is "cool" or that is what is "sexy". I hope we as a family have helped guide them towards respecting themselves.

I don't have a daughter, but I do have a son. I haven't watched MTV in a long long time. There was a time when MTV actually did play music videos. Today's MTV bears no resemblance to the ground breaking channel that once introduced us to artists and their music. Which is why my son has never watched it. In fact we don't watch much network TV and are pretty selective of what we watch on satellite. We are realistic. We know he is going to hear and see things out in the world that we can't shield him from, so we try to prepare him. We learned pretty early that we would have to do this. Two weeks into Kindergarten, a little boy called him a "jackass". Little Guy had no idea what that was or why he was being called that. That afternoon after Big Guy picked him up from school and was driving down the road, Little Guy asked in a quite voice, "Daddy, what's a jackass?" Big Guy almost drove off the road! He pulled off the road and explained to LG what the word was and how it was originally used as a name for donkeys, but that people say it today in a bad way.... after that we learned that several kids in his class were hearing ALL the bad words at home on a regular basis. It was so sad! We told LG that there were some words that were on the "Bad Word List". They were words that were he was going to hear, but were not nice to say and he would get in trouble if he did. He's 12 now and we have never had any trouble with him repeating those sort of things and when he hears them on TV, in a movie or video game he knows what they are and doesn't repeat them.

He is at the age when things will start changing though. Hormones are beginning to change and having a girlfriend won't be to far off in the future. I have tried to teach him to respect people as a whole, but I also want him to respect women and not think of them a objects. People like Lady GaGa, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan, the Kardashians and any number of "celebrities" that are all over our TV screens and magazine covers act like they have no self respect and no self control. We did not watch the VWA's, (we rarely watch ANY awards shows anymore because there is bound to be someone like Miley or Kanye West behaving in a disgusting manner that is not worth watching) but the pictures began popping up on the web before the night was over. Just from the photos, it was a disgusting display of self degradation. A young person exhibiting no respect for her body or her self. These people are screaming for attention and they're getting it too. Just all the wrong kinds of attention. 
I feel badly for the parents of these people. Whether they admit it or not, I doubt many of them hoped to ever see their children exposing their bodies in public and acting like that. 

I want more for my son. I want him to respect himself. I want him to respect the girls around him. I want him to know it is okay to act decent even if people around him are not. I want him to know it's okay to walk away if anyone he's hanging out with acts like they have no respect for themselves or anyone else. I want my son to grow into a man that respects women. I want him to first see her as a human being. I want him to notice that she does have a brain in her head.  I want him to respect her feelings, her opinions and her body. I want him to live an honorable life so that if the day comes that he is getting married and he recites his vows, he fully and completely understands those words and is able to live by them. I want him to look at his wife and fully love her, be proud of her. Respect her. I want so much for him.

Right now I want him to know that REAL girls don't act like Miley Cyrus did on that show, that her behavior was not "cool".

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Milk Jug Skeleton Halloween Craft

Milk Jug Skeleton 
Halloween is once again right around the corner! Here's a craft I made after seeing a version of it on the web.
I came across this nifty DIY Halloween craft on another site and thought " How cool! That looks easy!" (eye rolling). However, I can make anything more complicated without much effort. When I gathered my milk jugs, thinking this was going to be a quickie, it didn't occur to me to document the process with pictures or video, so I'll try to remember and describe the steps as best I can.

I gathered six milk jugs, which is oddly easy for me.
First, I was prowling the web and came across the idea on two different sites, HERE and HERE The diagrams on the second one were of great help to me. 
I rinse out our milk jugs as soon as they are empty so I have a stash. A side note here: I have an old Ajax dish soap bottle that I refill with Avon Bubble Bath (a little diluted) to use for some cleaning. I have found that if you squirt a little of the bubble bath into the newly empty jug, add some water, replace the cap and shake the jug vigorously for a moment, then dump it out and rinse out the bubbles. The jug is clean with no milk odor.
Ok so I gathered my milk jugs. I didn't have a grease pencil so I grabbed what was handy - a Crayola thin marker. I first looked at the parts that required the handles of the jugs - the hands, feet and shoulders. Using the marker, I just drew out the shapes free-hand. Whenever I wasn't happy with the shape I drew or made a mistake, I used a wet rag to wipe it off so I could do it again. My hands got some of this marker on them in this process, but I was able to scrub it off fairly easy
Once I had those parts cut out I began using the jugs to cut out the head, chest and hips from those same jugs, since these three body parts didn't need the handles. I then drew and cut out the bones and knees from the remaining two jugs.
I noticed that on the page that had the diagrams for cutting, the skeleton had been painted with glow-in-the-dark paint and I loved that! I knew I was going to do something like that on mine. I am a bit OCD and a perfectionist when it comes to art and crafting. I got carried away and every part of my skeleton has designs on them. I painted all the parts before assembling the skeleton. I used both Tulip Glow In the Dark in Natural Glow and Glo-It by DecoArt. Since the Glo-It is such a small bottle, I mixed them together. The only complaint I have is neither of these glow bright enough for my taste. I wanted this thing to glow BRIGHT and outside, it doesn't. I am thinking of making another if I can find a way to really make it G-L-O-W.
I used my Dremel tool to make the holes in the locations shown on the diagrams (on the other site) and then used fishing line to tie parts together. It may have been the way I attached the shoulders, but mine moved way to much and would not stay on the sides so I used a spot of E6000 to glue the shoulders to the top of the chest jug. Worked great!

So there is my Skeleton! It was a lot of fun to make and I already have ideas running through my head for making some different ones! :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to Banging Erasers and Writing Sentences

These days they look at a smart boards and type on tablets! :)  
 Our Little Guy started school Monday. I have to admit, I was ready for him to go back and I think he was ready too. Summer just wasn't all that fun this year and boredom had really set in. He started another new school this year. Makes me think of how far he has come though. This is the third school he has attended. Four if you count the preschool he attended for one year. School has ended up being quite a drama the last few years!
     It started out well enough. He loved his preschool. The teachers were fabulous (shout out to Mrs Dana!) and he learned so much it kind of freaked me out! His dad is like freaky smart so I shouldn't have been surprised because Little Guy is a carbon copy, little me of Big Guy. The preschool only had them until age 5 so when school ended that Spring, he had just turned 5 and we had to decide whether to go ahead and start Kindergarten or hold him out for a year until he was six. We decided to go ahead with Kindergarten because he had learned so much and had a love learning. We didn't want him to lose that momentum.
     I will never forget the first day of Kindergarten. I was the only mom in the room NOT crying! I was so excited that our Little Guy would continue learning! He was excited to and wasn't terribly nervous...until he sat in his seat and looked around and saw all the crying kids and moms! That put a tense look on his face. I just told him it was okay and they would be okay once all the parents left and school started. I told him some of the kids had probably never been away from their moms for the whole day before and they were a little scared. He ended up having the greatest Kindergarten teacher you could hope for (Thank you Mrs. Hogland!). She was firm but very good at what she did. There were more leaps and bounds in his learning and it was a fun year! I learned how to be a parent helper/volunteer and loved it! First and second grade were both more of the same: great teachers and learning more and more (Thanks to Mrs Hester and Mrs. Welborn!). His excitement for learning just kept growing and it became evident he was a reader. 
     Then Third Grade happened.  It happened like a freight train hitting a brick wall at 150 miles an hour. He got THE teacher from hell! (Thanks for nothing Mrs. M!) We went to open house, she was nice as could be to everyone. She was even an alumni of the school which meant Big Guy knew her. We left open house feeling good and Little Guy's excitement was still strong. That was probably the last time he felt good about school for a year. I tried to volunteer a few times. She made it clear she didn't want anyone in her class. It wasn't long before he was coming home crying. He was so frustrated by the stuff that was happening during the day that homework was just torture for both of us. It came to the point where both of us would cry during homework nearly every night. He was telling us of her yelling and screaming at the students. The homework assignments were ridiculous. She would not photocopy the work sheets or let them tear them out of the workbooks. Instead she would write stuff on the board and they had to copy it down. She would not allow them to bring their textbooks home and actually screamed at a child that dared asked her is he could. I had to tell my child to bring his home no matter what and if she said anything he was to recite my phone number so she could call me. During the time they were studying Importing and Exporting, she sent home a study guide for the test they were taking the next day. One of the questioned asked was "Why do we import from China?" The answer she had made them write down was "So we can get our bananas" What the !?!#^@%!  I mean really! Most of the study guides were like this with obviously wrong answers. But if he had put the correct answers she would have marked it wrong. So we studied for the tests and then had to go back and teach the CORRECT answers. We didn't have an immediate solution so we could do was hold out and hope to make it through. In the last few months of the school she suddenly decided that Little Guy was a trouble maker (?) and began hauling him to the Principal's office. He had never been to the principal's office! The first time she told this fantastic tale of how he was in the hallway and began just kicking all his male classmates in the privates, she had witnessed it all and he was in the principal's office for a paddling! We were told this in a phone call, I was home without a car so I couldn't go see him in person and Big Guy was at work. He spoke to the principal and even though something sounded off about the whole thing we didn't want him thinking that behavior was acceptable. Big Guy gave the principal the conditions for being allowed to paddle. First and foremost was that the principal himself was to give one swat. He made it clear he did not want that woman touching our son. when Little Guy got home I sat him down to talk. By the time it all spilled out of him I was so angry.... it had been time for a bathroom break, he had walked in on the other boys kicking each other and laughing (LIE # 1: She DIDN'T see any of it as she had claimed. LIE #2: The other boys were involved, not just LG, as she claimed) And no one else was paddled for this behavior either. . Then we find out SHE paddled him against BG instructions.  So the next week she calls again saying he had done something and she wanted to paddle him again. I told her there would be no paddling. She was all gruff and said his behavior was totally unacceptable. I repeated that there would be NO paddling or suspension because I knew she had lied about the previous incident. She all the sudden got a sugary sweet voice and said : "I don't know what you mean." I said yes you do and I will not have it. If you touch my child I'll make sure you regret it. Now I'm going to call my husband at work and I can guarantee that he will be at the school in less than 40 minutes. You better get your story straight before he gets there. Good day to you." Her: "BBbbbut I but .." Me: "I said good day!" and I hung up. The minute I hung up the anger flooded in..I called hubby and told him of the call and he dropped everything and got out there. He spoke to the principal told him of the lies she had told in the previous incident, and amazingly the guy KNEW people were having trouble with this woman and there had been numerous complaints about her. His excuse was she was tenured and they couldn't do anything to her. LG didn't get paddled again that day and whatever was said to her, she quit dragging him to the office. Hubby left that day, went and found the County Board of Education people and began asking questions tenure and why it prevented bad teachers from being fired. Turns out it makes it a little difficult, but not impossible. A lot of people didn't really believe us about how bad she was. But by the end of the year our bright enthusiastic learner hated school, cried in the mornings as he got ready, begged to stay home.... It broke my heart to see his excitement for learning squashed. I found out sometime later that they had actually removed her from her class for over 2 years and had her doing menial work around the school.
     Over that Summer we began exploring the options. We wanted him out of the county system. We settled on a small private Lutheran elementary school. So he started Fourth grade in a new school and it was nearly instant love! Within a few weeks, a loving kind teacher (Thank God for Mr Heinze!) restored LG's thirst for knowledge and his excitement for school was back! I fell in love because there was lots of volunteer opportunities available and within a few weeks I was helping in the library. Within a few weeks more, I WAS the librarian! I absolutely loved it. seeing little kids excited to read was so gratifying. Of course being there all the time I got to see a few flaws but they didn't seem too bad after what we had just survived. The year flew by too fast. Fifth grade was more of the same. I remained as Librarian and LG had another fab teacher that helped keep the inner spark lit (The fabulous and kind Mrs Makwana!). At the end of the year though things were unraveling at the upper levels. The teachers were all wonderful great people, but the administration was making mistakes and the school board was clearly in the wrong hands. There were two women on the board that are very power hungry and they use their positions for their own desire instead of the good of the school. They told lies to the new principal and tried to set me up for embarrassment by telling her no one was the librarian and then not telling me. They knew I would show up for open house ready to give parents the tour and answer their questions. Thankfully a dear lady knew what had happened and called my the afternoon before open house. We reluctantly enrolled LG in 6th grade there because he really liked and wanted to be in that teacher's class and it was the final year because that is the highest grade there. I didn't get to volunteer anymore, but LG loved his teacher (Props go out to Mrs. Dahlke!) and despite the goings on outside the classroom, he had a decent year and his teacher worked hard to keep the class engaged and excited. I am however very relieved to be away from that school. I have heard from others recently that the quality has fallen even further and the school is barely a shell of it's former self. 
First Day of Seventh Grade

     So here we are. We made a decision and Little Guy is attending seventh grade at a very good school. It's a Catholic school (which we are not) but it is a good one and there are people all over the world that send their kids here! We visited the campus several times over the last few months and talked to many people and it seems to have been a good choice. Everyone has been super nice, the campus is an extremely peaceful place to walk around, and LG had no anxiety about starting there. Three days in he is already coming in excited to tell us things from his day. He is switching classes, has different teachers for each subject, has a locker and uniform. All new stuff for him, yet it didn't seem to faze him. I was more nervous on day one than he was!  I feel so blessed to have such a child. He teaches me new things all the time!
     The one thing about trying to ensure our son can be someone that keeps his love of learning in high gear, is the costs. I won't lie. It isn't cheap and even with a small family, it strains our budget. Sometimes you just have to go on faith when all you want is to be sure your child can learn in a drama free zone and get a good education that will propel them forward. 
I do have a fundraiser set up to try to help with the costs and if you find it in your heart to help, I could never thank you enough! The fundraiser is through Flower Power and They will give 50% of all orders. You can order flower bulbs and more from the Flower Power site 
If you don't wish to purchase anything, but still want to help, I can accept donations on my Amex Serve Card (I can invoice) or  through Paypal using email jigsawinc@yahoo.com. Please mark it as a gift. 
Again THANK YOU so much for your support!

How about you? Have you ever had to deal with a "bad" teacher?

Woolzies Dryer Ball Review

Woolzies Dryer Balls!

You have probably seen these around the web. Wool Dryer balls. I had seen them too. Well I got the chance to give them a *spin* for myself. I was sent a set of Woolzies to use, abuse and review. I gotta say, I do like them.

Woolzies have numerous benefits. Number one among them for me is that they are 100% natural. One of the reasons I quite using dryer sheets is because of the chemicals that would get deposited on my clothes as well as the lint screen in my dryer. The film left behind is nearly invisible until you run water over the screen and you watch it puddle instead of running through! That film blocks the air from moving through the screen too and creates a fire hazard. 

So in addition to being 100% natural, they claim to reduce drying time which saves energy. This did prove true for me most of the time. I noticed it immediately with jeans and towels. Those are two loads I usually have to run twice to get them all the way dry or else they get a musty mildew smell.. you know that smell.. I call it the Funky Old Laundry Smell. With Woolzies, those loads were one run and done! No more FOLS! And while static wasn't a huge problem for me (even with a laundry room that is mostly carpet), I do hear my laundry crackle with it once in awhile. I have not noticed any since using Woolzies. About the only thing we noticed is that we could hear them getting tossed around, kind of like when a tennis shoe is in the dryer... but this sound isn't like a big shoe. More like a kid's shoe... or a tiny elf's shoe! It just isn't a noise that is so distracting that it bothers us. 

Some other benefits and good points about Woolzies are:
* Helps eliminate wrinkles (less ironing! YEA!!)
* Safe for people with wool sensitivities
* Hypoallergenic
* Handmade from Fine New Zealand Wool

I can truly say I like this product and it is something I will mention to family and friends looking for alternatives in their laundry routines. 

Disclosure: I received a free product to facilitate this review, but the opinion and thoughts on this product are purely mine. Your opinion may differ as may your experience with the product. I used my Whirlpool Duet HE dryer with this product. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.