Thursday, 31 July 2008

College as a Worthy Goal? Dunno

July’s (only) topic question:

Do you agree that college for all is a worthy goal? Why or why not? Is it even a reasonable goal for all students to be “college ready”?
I have worried over this for a week now, thinking of different ways to put all my random thoughts together. How do I articulate this answer from my perspective as a student, professor, college graduate, homeschooler, and wife of a high school drop out? Whew. That was a mouthful.
From my view point as a professor of English and Literature at our local community college my perspective is that many, many students are not college ready. That means two things to me, not one. First, many can barely read and write coherently or with comprehension (but they rock the myspace hard core while I am lecturing); to me those two things are life skills not just needed for college, but that can be taught or caught up in a semester or two. Second, they are not ready in terms of critical thinking or motivation. Ask them what they want to do or be and the answer is, "Dunno." Those students are typically are studying "liberal arts" until they figure it out. They should find something else to do (perhaps get a job?) instead of wasting classroom space, in my opinion. I don't like playing babysitter to unmotivated children who are biding their time on mommy's or daddy's or the state's (ie, my taxpayer $$) money, not when there are waiting lists of students who do know what they want. These unfortunate students cannot even choose a topic for a free writing essay. They stop their research at wikipedia and just cut and paste (yeah, plagiarism), some come to class high and/or drunk if they show up at all after midterms, and they annoy the crap out me. I wish they were college ready. Try as I might, I cannot rescue them from the muck that is "Dunno".

From my view point as a college grad myself: I was not prepared for college by public school, though I was an honor student with good grades. I simply wasted my time there. Then I worked a minimum wage job for a year and continued working there even after I enrolled in college classes. I worked hard to bring myself up to the skill level of the academics who were my professors, because I decided I wanted to. I saw them as future peers and I negotiated my education as such. The difference there was that I found joy in the classes I chose, mostly poetry and history classes, knowing full well that these alone would not make me employable. College was a very expensive tool for self development. Often I would over enroll so I could drop a class that wasn't a good fit for me. I self advocated, I asked questions. I never expected anyone else to do it for me and I cared.

Then I went to graduate school. The same motivation led me there: a love of a topic. I used the resources at the University to further my knowledge in a topic I had become passionate about, I wrote my thesis on said topic. Again, a tool for me to use to grow as a student. It did not make me employable, except as a professor. I teach English and have a degree in History/Architectural Preservation/Creative Writing (a degree created by a new program and tailored to the student's interests, how cool is that!). I now teach online classes part time and stay at home and homeschool my daughters.

As a mother, a homeschooling mother, people expect me to have college as a goal for my children. That's the tricky part. If I say no, am I devaluing my own education and experience, especially since I am not working in the discipline I trained for? But I'd be lying if I said yes. College should not be the end goal, or even a middle goal. It should be a tool available, just as it was for me. Many, many directions in life do not require college. Some require additional training or studies, but those are often intense and discipline specific. I want my kiddos to find joy and follow their passions, I would hope they know themselves well enough to not ever answer some random person, "Dunno" when asked what they want to be when they grow up. Right now my oldest wants to be a Warrior Princess Pirate Kung Fu Master Chicken Farmer Super Hero Who Saves the Day, she may or may not need college algebra to achieve that goal- in fact she says she just needs another Popsicle and a better hat. As of right now, she won't need a student loan to acquire those resources.

So many students and friends of mine have experienced another pitfall of this goal mindset. College was THE goal they worked for, completed, and then expected to find a really good job, for employers to see them as "better" than. The reality is that they, like others with less education start at the entry level jobs like everyone else. They may get to move up faster, but that takes time. Some of them have debt to pay off, a lot of debt, and start of worse financially than their non-college educated peers, even if those peers make less salary/wage.

The other side of the coin is this: my Dearest Husband was a high school drop out. He doesn't regret it. He's taken some college classes recently, but mostly classes for certifications in the IT field. Motivated by his career path and interests. He's way more employable than I am. But, there has come a point in his career that he is close to the glass ceiling, the point where he has been told, "Sorry, no, you need a degree for this job." It makes him more vulnerable to lay offs and less marketable outside the company. That's unfortunate. The classes he needs to complete his AA are completely unrelated to IT "core" classes, a waste of time and brain power, time away from his family. He's not the only one in this position, just lucky that he's made it as far as he has on his abilities so far.

I'm not sure I've answered the question asked, but I don't like the wording of it. College as a goal sounds like that's the end of the road and that sentiment is misleading to people. Many people who complete college and expect the world to be handed to them after, or at least a job better than they could get before the equivalent of four years and as much student loan debt/tuition paid. Sadly, many (dare I say most) would have been better off working instead. The term "college ready" doesn't mean to those politicians what it means to me. Who are they to determine that when so many students coming out of their institutions can barely think for themselves, but they can text their buddies and have proficient thumbs and maybe know the names of the Jonas Brothers. Maybe.

Here in Iowa a few families got together and sued the IDE because their college freshmen children were not actually college ready. ?? 1) I wonder how exactly these kids lived that freshman year that they blew, I doubt they worked full time, slept normal hours, and studied hard and 2) Are they channelling Rasputin? How on earth did they convince their parents that it was not in fact their own fault and do so in a way that led them to the lawyers? Gah.

Maybe the terminology is wrong for us as a society. Why do we value the four (five) year University of liberal arts education over vocational and site specific training? Why are we focusing our time and resources arguing that specific place and experience is the goal? Why does it have value over other experiences?

Maybe the goal should be redefined: the goal is to raise your children and yourself to be civilized and capable. Put a value on kindness too. Stop shifting the blame when that goal isn't met.


Yikes. Is it July 31 ALREADY?!?!?!?!

I have to:
Get my ART FOR FOOD entry in the mail. (Any of you local moms have entries? I'll mail them in my box if you get them to me this weekend.)
Can my raspberry jam for the Iowa State Fair
Clean my house for a playdate
Wash (find) towels, because apparently a sock goblin graduated into a towel goblin and they are ALL missing!?!?!?!
Get the dog vax'd and groomed
Submit grades for my online classes
Finish creating courses for fall and have live online by MONDAY?!?!?
Drop off entry for ISF on Saturday
Get JMcG the promised list of local homeschool support group contacts, almost finished
Submit Thinking Parents Wiki...done late last night.
RSVP for Adjunct Dinner
Make vet appointment (see above)
Order (and blog about) more cloth baby wipes
Set up Sewing Machine
Sew first project (shhhh it's a secret)
Set up Fall playdates and craft days (since everyone else is making their lesson plans, now is the time to do it, right?)

.....and still feed, clothe, bathe children (maybe myself?). Lil'Bug has an ear infection, her first ever, and Blueberry is growth spurting (ie feeding every hour it seems).

Oh and poor Aunt Bee is fretting over a wedding location. Any ideas for a space/location for both a wedding and reception? I've got a list going to send her, but she reads here too and any suggestions would be welcome. I'll even allow anonymous!

How Can You Learn Nothing?

Learn Nothing day was July 24th.

We failed miserably. It was raining so we stayed inside. We tried not to watch TV or go outside or clean or cook, but Lil'Bug really wanted to play a new board game and we had to eat.......

Then we just had to read books. The rain let up and Lil'Bug escaped to the back yard where she found a new bug and some ripe-ish tomatoes. We made a salad for lunch and she experimented with what toppings taste good together.

Then, I couldn't stop her, she got out the crayons and paint.....

You get the idea.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Cool Beans

Win the Essential Babywearing Stash from Along for the Ride (one Beco Butterfly, one Hotsling baby pouch, one BabyHawk Mei Tai, one Zolowear Ring Sling, and one Gypsy Mama Wrap)

Over the course of the week I have been approached three times, twice by children, about the "puppy" in my baby carrier. Um, no, it's a which the reaction is surprise and shock.

Why is it that people expect a puppy in a baby carrier and children on leashes? (Thanks LD) Also, nobody ever worries about spoiling a puppy by holding her too much or answering a cry in the middle of the night. Bah.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

First Harvest of Summer 2008

A small first harvest. We'll blame the tons of rain.

Ok, if we are being honest, the one red tomato is the only early one that survived Lil'Bug's budding culinary artistry, ala green tomato secret soup for the birds. Secret as in hidden for a week in the heat and found by a, "Hmmmmm, what is that awful smell and where is it coming from?"
First tomato was quickly eaten as was the first pepper.

Ha ha. The tot gets the prize.

What's this? A small green pepper? Mmmmm. Yum. Wait a minute.

What happened next? Mama had to put the camera away and assist with an emergency mouth is burning OMG help crisis from the tot who licked the pepper seeds out of the case. A Serrano pepper. Water, milk, strawberry ice cream, lots of tears, and eventually just time. Learning happens everyday!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Cute Pictures of the Wee Ones

Pirate Kung Fu Warrior Princess. I don't know. That is what she called herself.

The "masters" helped her train all day at the park. She is to become the dragon panda tiger warrior. Or something.

It is not a hair do. I can't make it "do" anything but stand straight up. Her hair will actually pop off hats. It is almost two+ inches long. Yes, she is once again asleep. Really she is awake sometimes!

Wednesday Smiles and Dental Thing Plus Meme

Sharon challenged me to a meme: 6 things I have not written about before, that you don't know about me......

1) Until today I hated my dental hygienist. She creeped me out by asking about my husband every time I had my teeth cleaned. Not normal questions, but things like shoe and shirt size, favorite food, sports team......weird. Today she tried really hard to do her job while I wore a fussy Blueberry in my Moby wrap and Lil'Bug danced around trying to help her clean my teeth. She was patient and wonderful and we all walked out happy. Not. One. Meltdown. Awesome.

2) I stopped wearing make up about 6 months ago because of pregnancy. I didn't want to absorb the cosmetics into my skin and harm the baby. Silly? Maybe. I figured I go back to caking it on after she was born BUT my skin has never felt so good. I actually don't get the old sinking feeling when I look in a mirror in the morning. I don't need foundation "for sunscreen" anymore either. Maybe I am not meeting the standard for beauty, but I feel great and not slimy. I expected to look in the mirror for the first time post delivery and see a splotched, bloated, frazzled version of myself but I was pleasantly surprised. It was surreal.

3) I once hugged Tori Amos. However I clawed my way through a crowd to do it and that kind of ruins the memory for me.

4) I once talked the ear off of the former Governor of Iowa at a luncheon. He listened and asked questions about my thesis for close to two hours. I had no idea who he was. I thought "Governor Ray" was a nickname or something. Seriously. Later he sent a lovely note to my boss at the museum with a list of additional resources he thought would be useful to me in research. So he was actually interested! Still, I had no idea who he was until my boss told me. For those outside of Iowa- Governor Ray was in office for 14 years and has a giraffe named after him at our zoo.

5) Cooking with lard grosses me out. I do cook with bacon grease. I know it is the same thing, but scooping out lard is yucky. I feel the same way about making gravy. Yucky. But I'll eat gravy.

6) I love science fiction books from the 1940's and 50's. Theodore Sturgeon is my favorite. He wrote the short story that E.T. was based on.

I tag my current blogroll, lazy I know, but I have laundry to attend to!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Flogging Molly is Good Cleaning Music

I've listened to Flogging Molly for years, passively, but enjoyed every bit. A friend once said it was good music to clean to; my preferred clean the house quick and furiously music was anything by the Beastie Boys but now that is not kid appropriate, not really.

Question for you all....what music, if any do you clean to? Do you use different music for daily mundane chores than you do for the fast and furious this-must-be-done-quickly-OMG-AGH! cleaning?

Mucking Mucky Muck

How can our house be so messy when we left it 2 days ago clean and tidy? Oh yeah, storm clean up chaos.

I am stuck in the muck, tired, sour bellied, and just worn out. How can I clean? So I am standing bewildered in my kitchen unable to figure out where to start while both my girls are very, very, busy. Sigh.

Anyone know how to get play dough "birthday cake" (ie florescent orange and brown play dough mixed with too much water) out of red velvet upholstery?

Power to the People

That's us, yo.

We have our power back on.

Will blog later when I am finished mucking out the fridge. Then I have to figure out what we need to buy for the week. Oh, and make my house smell less like spoiled food.

I'm keeping good humor. At least we had no structural or familial damage (ie, we worked together and only hung up the phone on each other twice...LOL!).

Friday, 18 July 2008

Dr. Horrible

"Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog"

So very funny and only free until Sunday night so hurry! IMO Act II is funnier than Act I. Neil Patrick Harris + that guy from Firefly + Joss Wheadon = very funny stuff, a super villain musical? LOL.

*Hat tip to Mama B for posting this link on our local homeschool forum.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

In Friendship

My next blogorific task I am setting out to do is to comment more on other blogs. At least for this week, to let people know I am still reading. I have about 30 blogs in my reader. More that I am a sometimes visitor to.

So my first challenge to you all is to comment on some of your favorite blogs too! Especially if you never have before. Some of my current favorites I found through people commenting and/or my stat reader letting me know a lot of traffic was directed from and lo and behold- I'm on their blogroll! LOL

My second challenge is to find two new blogs you like and tell me (or on your own blog) about them. New to you. How? I'm going to take my blog ring for a spin and see what I can find. Sometimes I get curious about blog names in others' blogrolls, sometimes a blog is mentioned in a post and I check out the link.

*Edited to add- my blog rings are not working. Gah. I'll fix them later tonight.

So there you have it. Happy 10,000+!

Art For Food


I wish sometimes that I had the time and energy to jump back into the local Historic Preservation movement. I did some good work for it, but the movement flows on without me just fine, whereas my family does not. I admire LB's efforts to do something for a cause she cares about in a neat way. I plan on sending her a photo (snail mail printed). For my 10,000 visitor celebration, I'd like to invite any readers who are artists to consider this very worthy cause.

Also, if anyone has a favorite photo of mine that you think I should enter, place your vote! Here are four I am considering:

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

WOW! 10,000+

I just noticed my ticker. I am amazed and in awe that people read this blog, but thank you. This little blog has helped me vent, record, develop a photography habit (I mean hobby!), keep in touch with relatives, and despite my inability to pick up a phone (sorry LB! The floods happened and even though we weren't underwater, I got distracted! I plan on calling soon.....) develop friends, local and online, and that has been a real blessing.

I plan on coming up with something to celebrate 10,000! You, know, once I find my kids under the laundry and feed them. LOL!

Monday, 14 July 2008

Berry Berry Good

Two days; cherries, strawberries, and gooseberries. Good times!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The Troll and the Battle for Mt. Patience

Lil'Bug has been feeling angry and rude inside. She is very frustrated about it and has painted some lovely expressive art that starts with a rainbow of colors and ends with the spectrum being covered with black paint.

She said her feelings are turning her into a troll, that's how trolls are made you see. She wants to be a princess, not a troll. She said she needs patience. I think what she may be saying is that either she needs to be patient or I need to be patient with her more. Or both, maybe both would be better.

I'm not sure how to help her with what she is feeling. I am eternally grateful she is able to express it verbally and artistically. I thought that starting back with play dates and field trips and park days would help, but they don't so much. Also, aside from very few isolated incidents (usually at play dates) she's been cheerful, helpful, and awesome- the normal state of Lil'Bug! That's why I'm so surprised she is articulating her sadness and anger, outwardly she seems fine.

As for me, I am content and blank. I'm just not feeling super happy or super sad or frustrated or overwhelmed. No extremes. Just getting by. I decided to start getting up at 5 am when Blueberry does and in the morning I enjoyed the quiet and the sunrise. It was a nice start to the day. Then she shifted to waking at 4am and then sleeping until 7am. I'm not getting up at 4 and everyone is up by 7. Ah, it was nice while it lasted.

So while I am feeling very vanilla inside, little one is rocky road mud pie with sprinkles. Perhaps that is a balanced mix. Hopefully we will work through it well.

Friday, 11 July 2008

What I Did This Morning, aka the Tornado Tot Strikes Again

Tornado Tot strikes again and again. Her mess started migrating to take over the house, I knew I must hold it back, wrangle it into bins, or Dearest might have to send a search party to find us one of these days......

Didn't take long at all. I'm no Martha Stewart, but at least it is tidy and dust free. Lil'Bug, once transformed back into sweet child, said, "Thank you, Mama!" and started in on rebuilding the mess.

Ah. Oh well. At least I now have pictures to remember it clean by. My lovely floors.......I will miss you again in a couple of hours......

Adoption Gratitude

I've been pondering this all week and then Christine posted this today.

We have a legacy of adoption in our family. My Dearest was adopted, Nana was actually abandoned in a bassinet to a family that adopted her. There is so much love in our family, and I am so grateful to both birth moms, the sacrifices they made so our family could be the one it is today.

Having just carried Blueberry in my belly for nine months, the idea is fresh in my mind that not only is it traumatic for the baby, but for the birth family too; what a loss the families might feel too, the fathers, the grandparents. I had anxiety when the nurses held her to check vitals and even though I knew they would hand her back, I felt at a loss. My God, how would I feel if I never, ever saw her again? My heart cannot even fathom it. Yet my family is what it is because two mothers made the heart wrenching decision that their babies would be better cared for by someone else and after nine months of knowing and loving their babies, handed them over to very wonderful mothers.

And those mother welcomed the sleepless nights, the poopy diapers, the vomit and fevers, the heartbreaks, the ER visits (lots of them in Dearest Husband's childhood!), and trials of childhood. Those mothers get the love of and get to love those children. Those mothers get a lifetime of motherhood which is a full palate of emotions, grief, joy, anger, fear, and lots of love. Grandchildren, great grandchildren.

So today, I am feeling especially thankful for my mother-in-law and her mother and both of the birth moms that gave Nana and Dearest to our family.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Great Clippers

Lil'Bug really wanted to use scissors this week. So I let her. I even bought her her own pair of blunt tip kid scissors. She clipped and clipped and snipped all day, until the floor was littered with paper and glue and paint. An explosion of motor skills and creativity. Lovely.


Until she cut her own hair. That's a right of passage, isn't it? I was right there with her and she was simple too quick for me to stop her. She looked at me in amazement and said, "Mama, my hair is falling out?" Aghk. Luckily, she merely cut more of those stupid layers that the multiple Great Clips hair "artists" butchered her hair with so, really, you can't tell.

The bright side is that at age three she has a marketable skill, she can cut hair for Great Clips! Ha. (For those who don't remember we gave instructions for NO LAYERS and the hair cut lady cut lots of layers so we went to a GC across town and asked a different lady to fix it but cutting it really short to get rid of the layers and she cut MORE LAYERS AND GAVE LIL'BUG A SUCKER AND THEN TOOK IT AWAY FROM HER WHEN SHE STARTED CRYING! OMG).

Still, Dearest had been skeptical about letting Lil'Bug had scissor privilage. Upon seeing the carnage of her hair on the floor, he reminded me of his objections. Bah. He turns to her and asks, "Lil'Bug, how old are you?"


"Thank you sweety, now I won't have to do an I was right dance for Mama," he snickered.


Caterpillar Buddy, the Eulolgy

Caterpillar buddy cocooned, but he never emerged. That was weeks ago. Yesterday Lil'Bug realized there was something wrong with his "coon" and I explained to her what happened. She cried. She's never had a pet or a loved one die. She'd seen movies where characters die and I think she somewhat understands the concept, but still, her heart hurt her to know that caterpillar buddy was dead. We set him out in a shady place for the wind to take him to heaven. That was her idea.

Goodbye caterpillar friend. You were very special to my sweet child. May you eat lots of broccoli leaves and flutter with delicate wings on the breeze.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Slug baby!

The first photo reminded me of the stylized baby photos that studios do. LOL. Anyway, this is our bug find for the week!

Punk Rock Girl Baby

Ah, a happy family moment. :)

"Blphbbbbbb........are you making fun of my hair?" Blueberry is considering her own fashion line. No, I did not do this to her hair, this hair do is despite my best efforts to comb, shape, or direct her lovely locks. Also, proof that she is in fact AWAKE sometimes!