Thursday, December 30, 2004

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

Only one more day in 2004. How did the year go by so quickly?

Jack and I have been very busy this past month. School ended on December 17, and we left for Orlando on the 19th. We spent a week at Rose and Chuck's, visiting, painting, and just relaxing. Well, sort of relaxing. With all the change in scenery and presents looming in the future, Jack was quite a handful, but we survived. He got to spend a bit of time with Josh and Josh's family, so that was nice.

My friend Jenn travelled to Orlando to visit with her mom and dad on the exact same day as us, even the same time, but out of different airports, lol. Rose, Jack, and I went to the Florida Mall to visit with her and another friend Sherrie who lives in the area. This was the first time Jenn and I had seen eachother in a year or so, and it amused us to no end that we had to travel to a different state in order to visit.

We celebrated Christmas Eve there, then travelled home on Christmas Day. We made it home, unpacked a bit, then crashed. The week of not being home had taken its toll. The next day, we were on our way to Peoria for Christmas with my family, much to the cats' disappointment. They were very upset with being alone so much.

Our family Christmas was nice because Aimée and Craig were home with their boys, as well as Michael. The next day was Cameron's baptism, and Aimée and Craig asked me to be his godmother, so I accepted and attended the service. Ethan has grown up a lot since we saw him this summer, and Cameron is just too cute. A very happy baby.

Although Jack wasn't thrilled with the idea, we went home later that day (after a stop at mom's to visit with her, Aimée, and Craig some more). I drove about 175 miles that day. Add the 50 from Bloomington the day we came home and the 95 back to Peoria the day after, and I was tired of driving!

We've been home spending time with the cats and getting the house in order the last few days. Today we have a birthday party to go to for Luke, and then we will be heading back to Peoria.

I lost half my update just then because of a bad connection or something. That's no fun, but I can't rewrite it all now. It's hard to even remember what I wrote and in how much detail, so I'll abbreviate with this.

I redid the bathroom floor yesterday. Here are pictures. I have a huge list of projects to do before March so the house won't be a construction zone when Jack's birthday rolls around, as well as Rose and Josh visiting for it. I plan on getting the TV out into the livingroom and making the third bedroom a guest room. I am so mad that post got eaten. Argh.


Also, here is a video from the Holiday Recital on December 7, 2004 at Jack's school. It's not quite 3mb. He is in a red turtleneck in the front playing bells on the first clip, and he is in the back row on the second clip. Look for his little "penguin" move halfway through the song to spot him more easily. ;-)

Friday, December 03, 2004


I have been volunteering at Jack's school all this semester with the second graders during Investigative Learning. They spend about 40 minutes, 3 days a week, covering topics like cooking, science, writing, etc. The kids get to choose the topic they want to attend each 3-week session, so they are shuffled out of their normal classroom and teacher. This time, I have been with a different second grade teacher than when I first started. We have been talking about stories and creating books. Yesterday, they volunteered to read their books in front of the group. It was just amazing how some of the kids could barely write simple words and some couldn't read what they had written. It wasn't sloppy, they just didn't know what it said. Not even from remembering what they had written while someone helped them write it down.

These are second graders. No one has taken the time to teach them phonics, so eventually they may "get it" after years of being told what and how to write, but it is going to be so much harder for them. Granted, a couple of the kids were able to write out some full sentences with hardly any misspellings, but there were maybe three of those in a group of twelve. When I compare that to the kids in the first grade in Jack's room? It just reinforces why I go to work with them.

I wish people would take more time with their kids, give them credit for being able to learn something. Instead, we have kids at the school who aren't taught anything at home and have no consequences for any bad behavior they perform as a result of no guidance. Then they bring that behavior to school, and it becomes the teachers and schools responsibility to keep them in line. Not exactly fair.

Someone told me today that Urbana's school district was going to lose a large amount of funding because the school didn't pass the minimum for a test. The reason? The kids who really needed to be there for the test chose not to come to school. Way to go parents! The public schools are getting killed of by NCLB. I have a feeling it is going to become much worse before it gets better. Especially considering Margaret Spellings is now the education secretary.

Okay, done with that vent. Time for lunch, then back to work.