Monday, August 29, 2011

Bikes and cars

Fixin' your bike sometimes requires an audience:Riding off into the sunset, caring not that her brothers were sidelined by a busted chain:

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daddy, O.K.

Love this - chokes me up every time:

Thanks, Subaru.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Phone funny #1

If he's "The Help", no wonder the competition was concerned about being beaten...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Getting older bites

So I'm just 39 this year (a few weeks ago actually) but parts of me are falling apart. If you ask my darling, loving husband, he will tell you that I've been falling apart for years now - teeth (crowns and laminates), vision (bifocals), and knees (surgery at a young age), but now my back has succumb to age as well. Actually my back has given me fits on and off for years but this time it's because I painted my toenails. Yes, you read that correctly. The act of painting my toenails has caused me back pain. Last Fall it was shelving library books. The act of putting the books on the lower shelves in the school library made my back seize up. This time it's the toe nail polish, and life just isn't fair. I'm a big fan of changing my nail polish on a regular basis, but without having to hit the salon. I guess it's time now to start doing that. I better start popping in for a quick polish change occasionally or else I'll end up who knows where, but face up. But the whole can't reach my toes because it hurts thing? Well that really bites. I love my chiropractor and all, but I'm not nearly old enough to be going through this. And the worst part is - I know that this is just the beginning. Ugh.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sepak Takraw anyone?

Tom says to me last night "So, have you seen the guys who play volleyball with their feet?" I sit for a minute, thinking back to the Paralympics volleyball, but they were on their bottoms and used their hands. I had no idea what he was talking about. He snatched away my phone and found this:

It isn't the wildest thing I've seen but it sure does come close. You have to be flexible, precise, have a somewhat decent vertical jump, and one heck of a good reach with your...leg. Very strange. Apparently it's tough to play as well. It's kick volleyball played with a rattan ball, and you can use your feet, knees, head, and chest, but you still have to get the ball over the net and down into your opponent's court. It's a popular sport over in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, but who knew. What a crazy looking thing to watch - can't imagine what it's like to play.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adequate Yearly Progress

Once again the issue of Adequate Yearly Progress and the Federal mandate to have all kids passing all state achievement tests by 2014 has popped up. Several years ago I wrote about how we looked past the tests at the school that my kids attend. As my kids roll up and out of one of the best schools around, I look back on what I wrote. Along with over half of the schools in our district, we once again failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress. We made it last year so the ramifications are less than they would be had we not made it last year, but something has to give. The idea of Federal waivers that will drive states towards holding teachers accountable for test scores (and towards Race to the Top which our state withdrew from), well, that's unacceptable. We can't hold teachers hostage and at the same time accountable for test results. SO much of my kids' day is already driven by SOL tests (that's what they are called in VA). Can't imagine what life will be like if there are waivers in place that tied the teacher's hands even further and they aren't allowed to actually teach? Sigh...

But for now I'll look back on what I wrote back in 2007, after only one year at our school. Four years later I would write exactly the same thing. And I feel much more passion for this school that does such a good job of bridging the divides that we see at other schools, that reaches those kids who are left behind at other schools, and looks at the whole child as a way to educate them.

October 05, 2007

Adequate Yearly Progress

BooksI recently had a discussion with a mother whose child was in preschool and she was wondering where to send her kiddo for Kindergarden. She was concerned about the low scores and also the large number of kids on free or reduced lunch at the local elementary school, yet she'd heard so many good things about the school. There was a diconnect. While some folks in the area understand all of the dynamics of the Fairfax County schools, not everyone "gets it." I know that we didn't when we first arrived here, yet I find myself regularly explaining to family and friends why the test scores don't accurately reflect the education that my son is getting at this school. Here is a blog entry I wrote a few weeks ago in response to the report that Fairfax County failed to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress across the board, and also as an answer to the question of why we send our son to this school.

"The Fairfax County school system for the first time failed to meet academic goals under the No Child Left Behind Act, largely because many students with limited English skills struggled on reading tests that were given in response to a federal order, according to school officials and scores released yesterday." -Excerpt from the Washington Post; By Maria Glod and Michael Alison Chandler; Washington Post Staff Writers; Friday, August 24, 2007; Page A01

My child attends a school that did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) according to government standards.

My child attends a school that has not made AYP in the past as well.

My child attends a school where 45% of the students are not proficient in English.

My child attends a school where 54% of the students are on free or reduced lunch.

My child attends a school where he is a minority in many ways.

My child attends a school where 42% of the population participates in the English for Speakers of Other Languages Program.

But my child also attend a school where there are children from 40 countries that speak 20 different languages.

My child attends a school where there is true racial diversity - 14% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% Black, 48% Hispanic, 26% While, and 5% Other.

My child attends a school where there were no serious incidents or firearm violations, and only two fights last year.

My child attend a school that has had more winners of the Fairfax County Teacher of the Year than any other elementary school.

My child attends a school with an outdoor habitat learning lab, a black box theater, a museum in progress, a state of the art communication lab where students produce their own TV shows and videos, a staffed math lab and a staffed science lab.

My child attends a magnet school for the arts and sciences.

My child attends a school that has a foreign language partial immersion program in Spanish.

My child attends a school that offers about 30 before and after school classes ranging from athletics to science to band to arts and crafts. These classes cover things like photography, healthy eating, drama, basketball, sewing, soccer, science experiments, and many more. These classes are open to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

My child attend a school where kids are given a chance to learn, regardless of where they came from or what language they speak.

My child attend a school where he learns.

My child attends a school he loves.

My child attends a school that really doesn't leave any child behind, regardless of the adequate yearly progress that we do or do not make.

This was posted at Confessions of a Not So Well Behaved Woman on August 26, 2007

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflections on Turning 39

Yes, actually 39.
To the chagrin of some of my friends I'm still not quite 40. (That's going to be a fun party though.) But for now I'm one step closer to the big Four-Oh, and well, eh. Aside from the smart ass #2 kiddo telling me I looked older that morning when I got up, I don't feel any different. It took me a little longer than my 29 year old self to get up and going, but once I get going I'm a heck of a lot wiser than I was at 29. Thank goodness. And also with age comes grace...and cool pink hair.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

"How to be safe"

The wonderful Jen Lemen posted a piece on being safe that really resonated with me, so I thought I'd share it with you. She talks about being safe in regards to leaving others feeling respected and loved, and that really hit the nail on the head. As parents, Tom and I try very hard to be the safe harbor for our kids, but also each other and any friend or family member in need. While raising kids is in part pushing them out so they can explore on their own, we do so while letting them know that they can always come to us for comfort and love. So, Jen's list is perfect for us.

How To Be Safe
1. Listen. Take everything in the whole way.

2. Don’t judge. Consider whatever you receive as real and true for its own reasons. Remember the truest stories are most often secrets. Treat them as unexpected, hidden treasures.

3. Be gentle. No sudden movements. Announce great departures in logic, reason or values.

4. Be present. Let the whole of you stay for the whole story–your body, your mind, your spirit.

5. Press through resistance with the kindest truth you can find. Do so, knowing you are in the most tender territory.

6. Insist on the highest ideals available at the moment. Do so with innocence. Don’t worry if you sound naive or dumb. Everyone understands eventually that the only place worth running to for cover is Love. Yes, love can destroy, but it also heals everything in its wake.

7. Be really clear. Speak as plainly as you can imagine, and then bring it down to the ground some more. This is not easy, but you can learn how to do it. (Or so I’ve been told!)

8. Weather storms. Be unflappable in crisis. Come back when you should run away. Say words like “I can’t let you go” if only silently to yourself.

9. Set a limit. There’s no refuge where there are no boundaries. You can be a wall as well as a fortress. People may squirm but they’ll also be relieved.

10. Make your body a sanctuary. Be the kind of person who someone can come home to. Open your arms, lean in, lend your body as comfort, sustenance or kindness. You can be safe harbor. To be so only for a moment, is more than enough.

Thanks, Jen, for putting into words what we've been striving towards for so long now.