Saturday, July 25, 2009

Schools and the Idea of Fairness

I've been thinking a lot about the start of school and what that will mean for our family this year. (We will be going back to the same school with the same teacher, for a number of reasons. I am hopeful, but not convinced there will be great change.) In preparation for that, I've been reading a book called Genius Denied, by Bob and Jan Davidson. Lots of ideas that keep popping into my head while I read, but one of the most remarkable arguments they make is on the subject of "equality in schools."

Having been a teacher myself, in public, charter, and private schools, I know this feeling well. Especially because I worked with the underprivileged. Its a pervasive idea in American education: equality for all students means that each child should strive to be the best human he/she can be and to stay at grade level. We try to teach tolerance, character, and responsibility and these are good things to do, but we often do it to the detriment of teaching academics. And being at grade level is a lofty goal for many of the students I have taught, but when dealing with the gifted, it is a crime to ask them to stay on grade level. Without a specific program for the gifted, it becomes a situation of not allowing them to proceed even if they would like to, partially for the comfort of the student (be like everyone else) and partially for the comfort of the other students (everyone else is just like you).

It's a seductive argument. It makes it easier to teach, seems very inclusive as everyone gets what appears to be equal treatment, and it seems as though no one is really harmed in the process. I plead guilty to having been lured into this arrangement. But I can see how it can be just as harmful to require a gifted child to continue regurgitating math facts when he is capable of moving on to algebra, as it would be to require a student who is not reading at grade level to jump two or three ahead. Those at the bottom of the pile have lots of resources and should. But those at the top have little help and that's a shame. We are wasting their talents, and shamelessly.

I hope to be the advocate for my kid this year, who seems to be on the small end of the bell curve. It's just not the small end that gets the attention. It's my belief that he is no less deserving of having his special needs met as well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

An Apology To Josh

So apparently I am not the knitter I thought I was. I have tried and tried and failed 3 times to get the perfect cable knit sweater together. Hell, I can't even get it started. I wanted to do it. I planned to do it. I put the pattern together and purchased all the materials. I clearly need more practice before I can work that pattern. Josh, I am so sorry. But the perfect cable knit sweater will have to wait a year or two. I'm waving the white flag.

Is it bad, then, that I have taken all that gorgeous wool and started a blanket for my own family? It's SO soft and lovely. I couldn't help myself :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cherries Galore!

I am a big fan of cherries. I grew up picking them with my Grandmother and my own mother and there is something so perfect, so absolutely delicious that I can't help but scoop them up when they are finally in season. And they are, finally, in season. I missed the U-pick time in Michigan, but we can still find those gorgeous bing cherries here in Indiana, in the supermarket.

What I didn't miss in Michigan, was the opportunity to purchase this little baby.

It's the Cherry Chomper and I am in LOVE with this little baby. I used to use something akin to scissors to pit the cherries we'd bring home. By the time I had pitted enough for preserves, my hand was killing me and my kitchen looked like a crime scene. No More! The mess is completely contained in the little body where all the pits fall and it is so much faster than anything else I've tried. (And my husband will tell you, I've tried more than my fair share of pitting gadgets. He teased me mercilessly about this one winding up in the bottom of the gadget drawer with all the others.)

And so with my Chomper in hand, I have pitted cherries that have been dried and tucked away for cereals and baking, and cherries that have been made into heavenly preserves. AND I am still pitting and drying and preserving more cherries. Even Hayes likes to get in on the action. Tomorrow we move on to Cherries in Wine. Oh the lovely Christmas baskets that will be sent! I can't wait.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Football Season in Indiana

I thought that baseball in The 'Burg was a little high strung. True, we got a coach who was about as loose as I've ever seen, so maybe we dodged a bullet there. But I hadn't met the folks at the Junior Football League yet.

It could be that I never had brothers, or never played football myself, but when I received an e-mail letting me know I should come to pick up Hayes's tackle gear, I put it on my calendar. When the day arrived, I parked in the lot which is much too far away from the entrance of the Rec Center and ran through a driving rain to retrieve said equipment. I followed the signs to the designated area, filled out a form I assumed needed filling, as there was no one at the desk to help you (or remind you which "league" you signed up for), stood in line in a hot (you know this was the tipping point), smelly locker-room for 25 minutes imagining how many other very sweaty boys have worn that same equipment that I, now, am supposed to put on my child repeatedly (and I assure you - it has never been sanitized).

Needless to say, it would be helpful to know that you must HAVE YOUR SON WITH YOU to get said equipment. It would also be good for the person distributing said equipment not to look at you like you really don't value your son's sport showing up like that and all, especially since the information for scheduling pick up was sent weeks after registration and you had to find a date when you were actually in town and available to come pick it up. And just to make you feel a little worse, they insinuate that your child might not make it to evaluations before the draft (yes, the draft, for the 7 year olds) because you made this gross error.

Clearly, they don't understand that I schedule our summer in February, as I believe most mothers do. They need a "league mom" for all of us ignorant ones who've never had the opportunity to enjoy their company. Let's just say, I wasn't the only mother there who had made this terrible mistake. 30 minutes of my life I am never going to get back.

I can't wait for opening day.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Too Cute

I have been following a lot of new blogs lately. One of my favorites is Totally Tutorials. There are always new things there I want to try, but when this little beauty popped up, I couldn't resist.

I used the scraps from a dress I made (before Hayes was born! Yes, I'm a saver...), and the scraps from his baby quilt that my sister so generously gave me. I LOVE this top. I can see myself living in this little beauty in the heat of summer this August. I see more of these in my very near future. Too bad I didn't get around to this one before the 4th -- It would have been so charming in the boat parade :)

If you are looking for the pattern, you can find it over at Sew, Mama, Sew. I love that you make it to your own measurements - no pattern or size numbers to deflate that ego some more.

Oh - and thanks to my kiddo for capturing this terrific photo for me!

Thursday, July 02, 2009


I love the two days we spend on the Old Mission Peninsula with my cousins. It's to die for. Truly. We stayed again at Chateau Chantal, and if the weather were any drearier, I think we all would have been happy to stay in the suite by the fire and rent a good movie. But there is wine to be had all over the peninsula; so we will plow ahead.

This year I really enjoyed the wine at the Chateau Grand Traverse and of course at the Chateau Chantal. They make reds that are superb. Although, truth be told, the 2896 red at Bowers Harbor is my all time favorite - here in Michigan. I often day-dream about drinking a bottle.

We'll do a cellar tour and maybe catch a movie later today. I love having the time away from Hayes but I am also looking forward to being back with the family.