Saturday, January 29, 2011

School Divides Students Based On Race, Gender - Education News Story - WGAL The Susquehanna Valley

Are we trying to move forwards or backwards?

I admit, I flipped out yesterday after reading an article about segregating homerooms by gender and race – in the state I live in!  You read correctly.  In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a high school has split the homerooms up by gender and race with a teacher that “looks like them.”  The thinking behind it is “studies show students do better in school when they have a strong mentor.”  So, where does race tie in?  The city/town where the program is being implemented is only a skip and a hop away from us.  What’s to stop them from doing this statewide?  While I applaud the school for trying a new program to achieve excellence, I have a few qualms about this approach.

One: Where do biracial or multi-racial children go?  Do you put them with the teacher that has the most in common with them racially or the one that looks most like them?  Either way you’re going to think the “other” part of you is not worthy.  To me, you’re learning intolerance more than anything.  In the real world, you work with many different people and don’t get a choice as to whether you want to work with a white, black, Latino or Asian person.  If you want a job, you go with the flow or go.

Two: How much impact does 15 minutes a day really have?  If you are only with that teacher for homeroom, where most of the time is being spent on announcements, where does the mentorship come in?  Passing out paper and making announcements would not make.  Does it not make more sense to mentor after school a couple days a week where you would get more one-on-one attention?

Three: Why not hold parents accountable?  I know not everything is a parents fault, but sometimes that is the case.  When a parent doesn't care, why should a child?  Unfortunately, there are cases where a child's education is left solely to the school district and they can only do so much.  I was recently at a school meeting to explain the new reading program they were rolling out.  A parent was very verbally upset about the assignment, as the school district was making her child read EVERY DAY and since he doesn't like to, she has to "make" him.  Um, yeah, that's your job as a parent.  What if we let our kids get away with things they didn't like to do: like not brush their teeth, not shower and not change their underwear?  Ew.  Essentially, she was mad the school was making her "work".  God forbid you should care.  Believe it or not, if you show an interest in what your child is doing, they'll be okay.  You know what happens when you get a job and decide not to do something because you don't like it?  It's been my experience that you get FIRED.

While I don't agree with the segregation, at least the school district is trying to do something so kids won't fail.  They're not just giving up on them.  I think what rubs people the wrong way is that there are 2 black homerooms (male/female) and 4 homerooms for those learning English.  You can imagine where the rest go.  There's a book I highly recommend reading called Inside Delta Force by Eric Haney.  It's his story about creating one of the elite military counter-terrorism units of the same name.  A lot of what a human can deal with is 90% mental.  A quote from the book that always stuck with me, and would do well to keep in mind when thinking of your work ethic: You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.       

Monday, January 24, 2011

It Smells Like...Team Spirit?

I almost died today.

Along with most of the people in my work space, we were attacked by a most vicious odor...poo fumes.

I know we all do it.  We all eat, digest and get rid of waste, and I know none of it smells pretty.  I've even been around that mustard crap that comes out of babies that is most foul.  And the explosive, watery diarrhea?  That shit smells like liquefied dead fish!  Today's assault was so much worse than that. 

I walked into the public restroom (with no windows) and was immediately assaulted by the stank.  I almost walked back out.  I really had to go though, so I figured I'd breathe through my mouth.  Ugh!  I felt like I was eating turds.  I tried breathing through my sweater but that did little to hold back the stench.  I wiped, flushed and washed my hands as fast as humanly possible and did what every other person in my place would: I ran into my friend's office to tell her of my ordeal.

Thank goodness she's a good friend - I made her sniff me.  I was so sure the poo fumes had permeated into my clothing.  She said no, but I wasn't sure.  I literally bathed in orange-scented antibacterial hand sanitizer, but the odor was still wafting through!  I couldn't let my fellow comrades fall into the same trap, so I went to warn them. 

Too late.  The rest of the office had already sent our token office man to see how long he could hang in the bathroom.  He said it couldn't possibly be worse than the men's restroom.  We disagreed.  As we gagged in the hallway, he came out a few seconds later saying it was the worst thing he had ever smelled in a bathroom.  Ever.

We barely survived.  The scent wafted through the hallway and into the inner confines of my office before dissipating.  I write this in a joking manner, but I was really feeling sick to my stomach.  There was gagging going on and one girl looked pretty pale.  My question is this: Is it better get rid of your load or wait to get that kind of illness out elsewhere?  In this case, I vote for option two.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

English As A Second Language

I didn't learn to speak English until I was 5 years old.  That's right, up until my Kindergarten years I spoke only my native language, EspaƱol.  Hearing me speak, you wouldn't know this.  I don't speak with an accent and my pronunciation is spot on.  My features aren't an indication of my heritage.  Unless I tell you, you wouldn't know I was of Hispanic descent.  As a matter of fact, when I do mention it, people are surprised. 

That bothers me.  I grew up with my parents and family speaking nothing but Spanish to me and we celebrated all Mexican holidays.  I listened to Mexican music and watched nothing but Spanish TV.  All things American were foreign to me, even though I lived in the USA.  My parents raised me as they were raised, and figured I'd learn through experience in America.  You would think that would make me as paisa as they come! 

Only for a bit.  When I finally entered this brand new school for half day Kindergarten, I realized how paisa I was.  In school, we had to sit and pay attention and that was real hard considering I had no idea what anyone was saying!  I remember having no idea who Santa was and wondering why people sang a song to the flag (yes, it was the national anthem). 

I got over this real quick.  Being the social butterfly I am, I talked to everyone (whether they knew what I was saying or not) and I got to go to my special class.  I know a lot of people may say that it was wrong of my parents to not teach me any English, but in reality, I learned the language quite easily.  By the time I joined first grade, I was translating in class for the students that didn't know English, to help the teacher out. 

Growing up in California, I think people expect you to be Mexican, due to the close proximity to Mexico.  Over here in Pennsylvania, it's a surprise that a Mexican lives here.  I must have adapted well.  I love to see the look of surprise on people's faces, but that's not why I tell them.  Teaching others of my culture helps bring about tolerance, and everyone should help erase the hate.

So while my family celebrates Christmas with Santa and eats macaroni and cheese, they know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day and display both our Mexican & American flag with pride.  I do have little tendencies that "call out" the Mexican-ness in me.  Piss me off and see how Mexican I become! 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Senseless Drug Killings in Mexico

People die all the time. Senseless murders happen. Why? Not everyone appreciates life.  Not too long ago, my grandfather died from natural causes.  My dad flew down to Mexico to bury the man, and arrived in time to get more bad news: his nephew was gunned down and killed.  They would be having a double funeral.

Our family is very large and close, so even though we all lived in different countries, when we were able to visit it's like we've lived next door all our lives.  I remember going down to Mexico and playing with my primo, Koki.  He was my age and I was such a tomboy - I had lots of fun running around.  To read of his untimely death is hard, considering we've been out of touch for at least 15 years.  He became a cop, got married and had a child during that time!  He was living an adult life and it was so cruelly taken from him.  I suppose in this day and age, no one blinks twice about shooting a person five times.  

In his death, he leaves behind a wife and 2-year-old child.  While his wife and daughter will have support from both sides of the family, no one wants to go through life without a spouse or without a dad.  I think, what the hell would I do if my husband was murdered at the age of 30?  How would I deal?  I don't know if I could.  Yes, I'd go through day to day activities to keep the kids and me alive, but a big chunk of me would be gone. 

My advice to anyone is this: think twice before you say or do anything.  It might save a life or at the very least, some heartache.  That boy could have easily been your brother, cousin, uncle, father,'s such a waste.  Every life is precious.  Treat it as such.

Monsters Under My Bed

I'm too grown to believe in monsters under my bed or in my closet.  That doesn't mean things don't prevent me from falling asleep.  I wrote a blog I chose not to post for the moment.  A lot of feelings were written out that could be damaging.  Question: Is it better to tell the truth when it can be hurtful to others, but good for your soul or best to keep quiet and bury it in the backyard?  These are the things that keep me up at night.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Peanut, The Toddler

As a parent, the terrible twos SUCK.  Since my household is toddler-free, I have more tolerance for their free spirit.  The little imps happen to be my favorite age group!  I love having the 2-3 year old kids in my life come over: they are full of life, raring to go and everything they see is super cool.  They notice and appreciate everything, even the lint from their belly button.  I should know, I watched as Peanut picked it out and showed it to me this morning. 

As you may have guessed, Peanut the Toddler graced us with her presence today, courtesy of a dentist appointment.  I was comatose as her mom dropped her off.  I so wanted to slap the chipper off her face, but I hadn't had my coffee yet, so I could barely even say hello.  Watching TTH hover made me giggle inside; it reminded me of my younger mom days when I didn't want to leave my kids for anything.  Now they're lucky to even get walked to the baby sitter's door!

Like all children that came before her, Peanut had no problem fitting into our sanctuary.  She ran around, threw every spherical object she could get her hands on and giggled at everything the older kids were doing.  She pet the cat, shied away from the toddler dog, and babbled incoherently about this and that.  All in all, a pretty awesome morning.

Of course, TTH was probably having a heart attack leaving her baby in a new place, so she came and picked her up after 3 hours.  Seeing as poor Peanut had 4 people and 2 pets to entertain, this was not nearly enough time.  Perhaps I can bribe her haggard mother to leave her a little bit longer next time?  I think I smell a date night coming up...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Green Haired Nurse

At one point in my life, my greatest ambition was to be a nurse.  With green hair.  Green was my favorite color, so why not? 

Since I was so sure of my future profession, I was super excited for my Kindergarten assignment of drawing what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I started right away.  I proudly walked my finished creation up to my teacher and expected a gasp of surprise at my artistic abilities, plus a first place finish (though there was no prize). 

Instead I got a steely stare.  I was promptly told no one had green hair and to do it over.  Dreams crushed. 

I fully believe some people are made to be teachers: those that inspire and love learning.  Then there are those that need to find a new line of work, prison warden perhaps?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Go Packers!

My house is a nuthouse, especially during football season.  My husband has managed to make my daughter a Redskins fan, but I've been a Packer fan all my life.  And my son?  He vehemently states, "God made me to love the Eagles."

As you can imagine, loud words are exchanged in our home.  We don't hold back and enjoy watching the games immensely.  Sometimes crying is involved, either in disappointment or anger.  Sometimes stuffed animals are destuffed.  Regardless of the outcome, my kids have learned an important lesson: no matter what, you stick with your team, in good and bad moments.

Does that mean that I have any fellow cheerleaders for tonight's Green Bay game?  Absolutely not!  I just really wish I had a cheesehead sombrero as a companion...


Yesterday was the start of our gluttonous year: The Pennsylvania Farm Show.  True, a lot is going on during this week-long event, but our family favorite thing to do is to chow down of the scrumptious deliciousness served each year: pulled pork sandwiches, fried veggies, chicken corn soup, honey ice cream, baked potatoes and my favorite THE MAPLE STAND.  This is the reason why we waited at least 20 minutes in the freezing cold to catch the shuttle to the front door.

Crazy, you say?  We were not alone.  Many families, young and old, stood in line to wait for these busses.  The food alone makes the wait worth it.  All the food stands are sponsored by associations: The Bee Keepers, The Potato Growers, The Vegetable Growers, The Livestock Association, etc.  The food is to die for.  You would think going year after year you would get tired of the fare.  YOU DON'T. 

This year, the maple stand had a surprise for me - maple frozen yogurt!  YUM!  It was so heavenly, that when I gave my son a spoonful, he spent $3 of his own cash to get his own cup, rather than share with me.  Greedy little bastard.

It's not all about the food; there are other attractions.  We saw cows, goats, pigs, horses, llamas & alpacas.  We got to pet bunnies, see chicks hatch and watch a mama pig feed her baby piggies.  We got to see articles of clothing made from sheeps wool, from step 1 (shearing the sheep) to the end (the final product).  It's amazing the amount of work that goes into a simple shawl!  All this, and more, while trying to dodge piss spots and piles of poop.

So, while this isn't for everyone, it's nice to see where our food comes from and how it gets to the grocery store.  At the end of the day, with tired feet and an empty wallet, we went home with 2 dozen potato donuts.  Fat and happy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

It's The Thought That Counts

Chocolate covered cherries are the devil in my house.   Every year, without fail, my husband gets a package of them as a Christmas gift as a reminder of that one mistake he made years ago…

One Valentine’s day, my husband at the tender age of 16, was scouring the stores looking for a gift for his dear mother.  He just couldn’t find that special present that would express all the wonderful things his mother was: kind, patient, loving.  And then he found it.  He heard the angels singing and saw the light shine on the gift that would change his life forever: a box of chocolate covered cherries.

Okay, it didn’t really happen like that.  The tard forgot, and when he realized that his sister had something and he didn’t, he ran to the closest gas station and bought his mom the first thing he could lay his hands on.

As you can imagine, they were not well received.  Now, it has become a Christmas tradition to never let him forget the inconsiderate gift he bestowed upon his mother all those years ago.  The funny part is that the gift comes from his DAD.  We see it coming every year and we all get a good laugh.  In reality, when it comes to gifts, it’s the thought that counts.  My kid better be running to the nearest store if he forgets a gift for me!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Taking The Scenic Route

Sometimes, I take the scenic route home.  Since it snowed the previous night, I would like to say it’s because I wanted to see the beauty of the landscape…but in reality, I took a wrong turn.  This is something that happens to me quite often.  Monday through Friday I am fairly routine based, so anything that alters that route tends to throw me in a jumble. 

Case in point: my loop around the west shore yesterday after work.  Instead of heading home, I was to go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for some lasagna.  Being the engaging parent that I am, I was asking my children about their day in school and wasn’t paying attention to where I was going.  I noticed last minute I was about to get on the highway to go home.  I made that split second decision to go left and ended up on the highway going the opposite direction.  Oops.

Since nothing is ever my fault, I called my husband to blame him.  If he hadn’t messed my route up, this would have never happened!  (I know it all seems to be weird logic to you men, but it totally makes sense.)  Of course, being the sane person he is, he attempts to calm me down in his passive voice, which just pisses me off more.  In my anger, I miss my exit to turn around and end up making this giant circle through THE WEST SHORE. 

There’s this imaginary divide on the Susquehanna River.  It’s a rivalry.  The east and west side of the river do not mix.  East shore folks call west shore folks snobs, west shore folks call east shore folks ghetto.  Whatever, we’re all people.  I go wherever I want BUT…I do get lost on the other side.  I don’t know it as well as my hood, thus, the scenic route home. 

Through all my panic, I eventually make it somewhere recognizable to find my way home.  I completely bypassed the grocery store – no way was I going to mess with all the inconsiderate people there.  An hour and half after my work day has ended, I hoof it up my stairs and quickly change into my comfy clothes.  As I eat my spicy chicken nuggets, I saw the silver lining to my hectic drive home: my kids were the most quiet they have ever been in the backseat of my car!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


This is defiinitely a world of instant gratification.  Why?  Technology.  No home is complete without televisions, computers, cell phones and internet.  Who reads newspapers made of paper anymore?  Why wait until Saturday morning to watch cartoons?  You can watch any show or movie at the click of a button.  Why wait?  You don't have to!  Our kids are so advanced compared to us geezers due to this overload.

I watch as my kids play online games and think, I didn't even learn how to type until high school!  They are already doing their homework on Microsoft Word, learning to research on the net, taking computer art clases - and they're only in elementary school.

On the flip side, my mom can't even text.  One of her friends made her a facebook page so she could be my "friend" and be able to see pics of her grandkids.  Since she's on the other side of the US map, this would be a great medium to see the lives of the kiddos and keep in touch.  We could even skype!  Eh, not so much.  She still hasn't accepted my friend request.  To be fair, she doesn't know how...

Whenever I tell my kids that I didn't have a computer, I didn't have cable and that I only had cartoons on Saturday morning as a child, they just can't believe it.  They are in shock!  My daughter gasped, "How did you survive?!"  Well, I played outside, I read and used my imagination.

I know I'm starting to sound old when I wish for the good old days of QUIET.  My kids need something to do at all times.  If the TV or computer isn't on they get bored.  I am honestly okay with a blanket and a good book to read.  Then again, I may just be lying to myself.  I'm typing this on my laptop with the TV tuned into the latest Masterpiece Theater selection on PBS while downloading pictures and checking my iPhone for the latest update on facebook and instagram.  Yeah, I'm a sucker for technology, too! 


We had snow Saturday!

I don't know what it is about the white stuff that kids like.  Maybe I don't understand because I didn't grow up with mounds of snow, but to the kids (and dog) it's like a brand new playground sprouted up overnight.  There's really no point to this story except that I hate snow, and the rest of my family does not.  How do I survive?  By their laughter and fun...

Cris Jr:  Climbing a mountain or crawling on the floor?

My beautiful Maya.

Kicking the imaginary ball!

Too much fun!

Walking the Griffyndor!

Walking Gryffin Part II.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Love Muffin

My son is sooooo cheesy.  He's all into girls now and has picked up the cheesiest lines.  He heard somewhere, "If you were a burger at McDonald's, you'd be called a McBeautiful."  REALLY?!  I'd laugh at you!

Today though, he busted out with the cutest line!  We were at the grocery store and had finished our early morning shopping and we were waiting in line.  Since we were getting about an inch of snow, some of the crazies were out buying up all the water, milk and bread.  So to keep busy, we were playing I-Spy.  I spied something blue, my daughter something pink and my son something orange (an actual orange).  When it was his turn again, he said, "I spy with my little eye...something beautiful."

We go through all the flowers, balloons, bears and chocolate boxes in the store.  He says, "No, it's you Mommy."

Awww, he's gonna have some girl eating out of his hand one day.


I'm either a good parent or a bad one.  Since there is different styles of parenting, it really depends on your views and how you choose to bring up your children.  The way I see it, you cannot decide where your children go in the world.  Once they're of age, the choices are theirs.  The best you can do is teach them what will help them along their path and hope for the best.  This is why I'm such a relaxed parent. 

My daughter likes watching scary movies, my son likes playing video games like Modern Warfare.  They're free to use what words they like, as long as they don't hurt feelings.  (Calling someone fat then saying, "No offense." is NOT allowed.  Jerks tried to get it through with that loophole).  Our favorite pasttime is throwing up the middle finger (just not at crazy drivers). 

That does not mean there are no rules or consequences in my home.  One weekend after lunch, I spent THREE HOURS waiting for my daughter to clear the table and unload/reload the dishwasher.  Three hours for something that should have only taken 15 minutes tops.  After all the whining and fit-throwing, she realized she was not going anywhere until she did her chore AND because of all the attitude, part of her allowance was taken away.  Why?  Because she took MY valuable time...and just because I said so :)

Didn't you just love when your parents used the "because I said so" line?  It's my favorite.  I made you, so what I say goes.  All this explaining why you have to do things?  I'm being nice to you.  When I give you options?  I'm being nice to you.  You think you have a say in how your life goes, really?  I make the bucks so the final decision is MINE.

You know why kids think the world revolves around them?  Why they think they deserve everything?  Maybe, just maybe, it's because they're every whim is being indulged.  My mom yelled, screamed, gave us the occasional spanking and let us kids know that it was her world and her rules.  I learned there was a consequence for every action: if I didn't do my chores - ass beating; if I did do my chores - I got to live another day.  And you know what?  I'm a better person for it.  I learned RESPONSIBILITY.

My kids pretty much can do what they want AFTER all their chores are done.  They've learned that the faster you get your shit done, the faster you can have your own time.  What happens if it's not done?  It doesn't go away, it just piles up.  I'm not doing it!  The weekends when you should be relaxing and having fun?  Say good-bye to all the fun because I'm working you like a mule!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Past Lives

My son has been here before.  He tells us all the time.  He recalls experiences and places he's been and we have no idea what he is talking about.  His favorite phrase is, 'not with you, this was before.'  He says a lot of things that throw us off.  I don’t recall a past life, but who knows?  I can't even remember what I ate for breakfast yesterday. 

So last night, we're watching Great Migrations on National Geographic channel.  It consisted of migratory patterns of the elephant seal, African elephants and monarch butterflies.  Being a California girl, as soon as I see the seals I'm psyched to watch it.  The star of the show though, is the monarch butterfly.  I see my son's eyes glaze over in boredom and to try to bring him back I go off tangent and talk about San Juan Capistrano and the birds that flock there every year.  Of course, he doesn't care.  In the middle of my saying how beautiful the mission is, he turns to me and says, "Do you know that Monarch butterflies are poisonous?" 

What the H-E-double hockey sticks?  I don't see any stingers.  They can't bite you.  What are they going to do, inject their poison into you with their antenna?  So I'm telling him he's full of shit and he's adamant that they're poisonous.  So of course, we head to the trusty computer to find out….he was right.

Monarch Butterfly--Danaus plexippus.  The Monarch is a common poisonous butterfly that eats poisonous milkweed in its larval stage and lays its eggs on the poisonous milkweed plant. The caterpillar's first meal is its own eggshell.  After that, Monarch caterpillars eat the poisonous milkweed leaves to incorporate the milkweed toxins into their bodies in order to poison their predators.

I should know better by now not to doubt the weird-o things my child says; he seems to know his stuff.  So yes, I still looked at him in disbelief and exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, you were right!"

He answered oh-so-humbly, "I told you so."

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Holiday Gifts NOT wanted

What's the worst gift anyone can possibly get for the holidays?  Everyone can deal with the really cool sweater grandma gives you or the appliances your husband attempts to squeeze by as gifts.  The most horrible gift EVER is weight gained.

This morning I finally had the nerve to weigh myself and I shrieked in despair! I saw 4 more pounds on the scale.  That's my grand total of weight gain for the holidays.  After my shock wore off, I realized that 4 pounds was not that bad.  I gave myself a pat on the back and ate a cookie (I didn't). Seriously though, in the many holiday gatherings and tins of cookies that passed my way, 4 pounds sounds like cake to lose! 

Then I thought of all the things that weighed 4 pounds (a chihuahua, a premature baby) and I got depressed.  I gained my nephew over the holidays!  So I celebrated by eating Outback Steakhouse and living in the moment.  I can lose 5 pounds just as easily as 4, right?   

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Printer

I feel like I have super powers. I got a new wireless printer as an early Christmas present for my husband and me (okay, really only for me) but just got around to setting it up and using it. Today, I wirelessly printed from my iPhone for the first time:

My husband has said what a great picture of our puppy this was, so instead of forwarding the pic by text, I used my awesomeness and printed it out 4X6 style. He super appreciated it. Really.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dream House

In case there was ever a zombie apocalypse, this is the child who would save me.

My son is someone I swear has been here before. He's always said things that are too adult for him, in the correct context, and he just knows things. He'll casually start a conversation of someone or something he "knew before" and makes my death, which was weird. Other than that, it's awesomely cool.

We always have a hard time buying things for him because he never wants anything. He likes to watch Eagles football and play video games. He likes sports, peace and quiet. He doesn't makes lists of wants unless we ask him to, and even then he gives us the you're-a-dumb-ass look and says, "I like the Eagles and video games."

This year we went hog wild and got him a book. Not just any book either. It was Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Do it Yourself Book. It's like a diary (shhh!). You answer a bunch of questions and have a little look-see into the mind of an 8-year-old boy. That should be funny when he's 35!

The big TA-DA in the book was a blank page asking you to draw your dream home. I was so sure of how well I knew my son I thought, "The first room he's going to draw is an entertainment room for his video games."

I was half right. He drew a room with a line down the middle and labeled it POLE DANCING ROOM. Once I find out where I threw the book, I'll post a picture. Yes, I'm such a proud mom!