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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Reaching the Breaking Point

Tonight I have reached my limit of patience. Tonight I have come to the last straw. Tonight... I'm completely past taking a breath and letting it go. 
What has my knickers in a twist? My boys' homework math sheet. They are learning to tell time. Second graders, they both are. The same exact homework, they both have. Yet, it is not in the same way. My younger sons teacher sends home a front and back page to do each day. She also removes and checks his homework daily. My older sons teacher must not be able to get the same amount of paper the other teachers get. She tries to cram 4 pages onto a front and back sheet. So everything is shrunken and harder to reader. Try reading the minute lines on a clock the size  of a quarter some time. 
Tonight, however, it climaxed my wrath. I've kept the grammar nazi at bay when I saw spelling and grammatical errors. I have adjusted the errors to show my kids how it should be done properly. I have dealt with multiple choice questions where they try to trip up the kids with a couple answers that are ultimately the "right" answer and when I confronted the teachers about it, I got - "We want them to find the best answer." I have squashed the urge to scream every time my eldest sons teacher says he didn't bring in a particular homework assignment. How does she know? She never takes his homework from his folder! And where did it go if not to her?! I do homework with all my kids EVERY SINGLE DAY. Monday to Thursday. And on Friday, he has all his assignments crammed in the folder, exactly how I placed them there. I am the one removing them and trashing them on Friday afternoons. Tonight... tonight was a whole new story. Tonight they had a clock with the time showing 6:32. But none of the three answers corresponded. My younger son chose a time that was closer - 6:37. I had to tell him, that was incorrect. And that the correct answer is not any of the options available to him. 

Honestly! How can you expect children to learn to read properly if they are reading work pages that are filled with errors? How can they learn to tell time when the clocks are so tiny and the answers provided are all wrong? You can't! You are setting them up to fail. 

Then, my older son tells me that his teacher needs more pencils. I already donated a hefty stack to her class. He tells me no one has erasers. ?#!#%$#%^$$! 

 Only this time, there is no bee!

Then came the greatest problem. The bully from earlier this year is still antagonizing my children. And cursing worse than a sailor. Guess who is going to throw down with that girls parents in the morning? Final warning before I get the police involved and show them what real parenting is all about. 

So it looks like I will have to cancel my plans to go to the store tomorrow morning. Instead, I shall be at the kids' school. Voicing my grievances. And laying into the principle. I have had enough! I'm writing a list of each problem I want to voice. And next year.... I think we are homeschooling. Sadly, I can't put them in the better schools because I have to share a vehicle with my husband who works over night. I can't drive them to the Science and Technology school I so badly want them in. Or the STEM school that my friends kids are in. Otherwise, they would be there in a heartbeat. I'd be enrolling them ASAP.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

America's Incredible Pizza Company Review and Coupon

This past Monday was Presidents Day in the states. Schools and official places like the post office were closed. I had the day to spend with my kiddos. But the weather hasn't been very friendly. We get brisk breezes and anything from a light drizzle to a rain. So being outdoors isn't so inviting. Thankfully, I had an indoor option to explore.
*Disclaimer - As a member of the U.S. Family Guide mommy blogger program, I was sent a $50 gift card to use in exchange for taking my family and following up with a review. I was not otherwise endorsed, paid or instructed on what to say. My opinions are strictly my own and come from personal experience.*

We left home about 11 and headed out. Not sure what time we got started, but I can say that between the 5 of us playing, we had used up the $50 by 12:30. It seemed like so much until we were done.

As a family of 6, we have to consider several things when dining or entertaining ourselves outside the home is being mulled over. First comes cost. America's Incredible Pizza offers many deals. So I highly recommend that you sign up for their mailing list via emails. They offer things like .99 buffet meals with the purchase of a game card. So you get cheap dinner with a way to wear out the kids after. 

The buffet has several varieties of pizza to choose from. They also have a pasta bar, salad bar and dessert bar. Fresh, clean plates and utensils are on hand to go back as often as you need. They have more than one dining room. My favorite is the 50's diner theme. Red, vinyl seats with chrome accents are the height of the decor. Bus boys come over when they see empty plates to clear space as needed. 

After dinner is over, it is time to saunter over to the game room. This is where my kids really feel at home. Games as far as the eye can see! Arcade games, first person shooter games, puzzle games - they even had Flappy Bird. That ridiculous game that causes high stress and rage. There is a little kid zone that has games better suited for little tykes minds and bodies. 

We like playing Connect Four. You can play against the computer or against a friend. 
My husband won a card and a lot of tokens from the Wizard of Oz lottery-type game.
I was pretty impressed. And he kept getting bonus spins!
We had a good time. My kids love to play games. They were a little disappointed by the amount of points we had won to get prizes with afterwards, but what kid wouldn't want to win big and get the cooler stuff? 

What should you know about the games, points and prizes? First, let me say that if you are going with the purpose of winning lots of "tickets" and getting cool prizes, this place is not for you. This place is best for killing time, using up the bundled energy of your children and making fun memories. 

The games cost about $1 - $3 per round, per person. The cheapest and only game that I saw was .75 for what I know as Skee ball.
This is one of my favorites. However, the ticket-to-point ratio for this one, and many other of the games, was pretty low. As a matter of fact, aside from this game, other cheap games were the ones that came with high risk and were highly improbable as far as winning went. The games that offered better chances costed more to play.

I was a bit disappointed by the claw games. My daughter wanted to try two of them. So we did. They pick up the items just fine. But the second before being over the drop box, they dropped what they were holding. It seemed like it was rigged to do so. I suppose that should be expected. 

They have bumper cars and other rides like the one pictured below. They cost extra and have some height restrictions.
So over all, the games cost more, you get less tickets. Though the quality was less for the prizes, so were their prices. This place would be better if the goal was to eat and have fun. We enjoyed doing those things. If you are interested in trying them out for yourself, be sure to take advantage of this coupon!
Have fun!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

When Did Schools Start Failing?

The more I know about the public school system, the less inclined I feel to have my children enrolled. My two boys are struggling and my kindergartner is going through the same torture that myself and others who were considered "gifted and talented" went through. Sad to say, but in the past 22 years, the school system still has not changed in that regard. 
My oldest son has a teacher who pretends she has it all together. Lady can't be on time to her class. But complains that my son isn't taking advantage of coming to class early when she is "always there at 7 to help with homework". She doesn't truly listen to the parents who are trying to get their kids the best education available to them. She doesn't know how to communicate effectively with parents on misconduct acts. Although lets face it, neither of my kids second grade teachers are able to use proper grammar or spelling in their emails to me. Even some of the homework sheets they send home are full of errors. Both in the English and in the math. She expects every child in her class to be honest when they are being bad. She doesn't show that she bothers checking homework assignments outside of simple reading projects. She gets an attitude when her assumptions of what should happen don't (i.e. - parent calls instead of arriving for a face-to-face meeting). And here is my favorite ill conceived idea of hers - kids have to earn the right to have their snack in class. These are second graders being forced to go from breakfast at 7 AM (or earlier if they are eating at home) to 12:19 without their snacks. And on some days, while having PE class in between. My kids have hyperactive digestion systems. They burn through what energy they get from eating pretty quick. And they get hungry. But in her class, you have to earn the right to eat. Otherwise, you can sit there and watch others eat. And if your snack doesn't meet her idea of "healthy", you also won't get to eat. Granted, when I was in their grade level over 20 years ago (yes, I'm dating myself now), we didn't have snack time. That is something newer in the schools. Then again, we didn't hear much about how many American kids are starving and only eat at school either. Another problem I am butting heads with this teacher on is how she thinks (or is the normal guidelines in schools now) that it is more important for a 9 year old to know how to get the answer rather than get the answer. What do I mean by this? My son can do the math in his head, but struggles when he has to show his work or label the strategy that is used. She makes the kids label each part of the problem and then solve it. He knows the answer, but that is not important to her. How is he getting the answer? My cousin was a math genius who couldn't show the work, but could solve any problem in his head. Got accused of cheating no matter how he proved that he wasn't. Remember, this was before cell phones and calculators were being carried by everyone. She says she is treating the kids as though they are in the third grade already. Lady, you are forcing them to grow up before they are there yet! Why?! She also had the balls to make the statement that I need to help my son be more independent because she knows that I have "other kids" and my "focus is divided". Followed by other statements leaning towards the idea that because I have 4 kids (which is a lot to a woman like her), I can't devote as much time to each one as is needed. Sweetheart... be glad we were talking on the phone or you might have needed to take a sick day. So help me... Who does she think she is? As another mother, who removed her child from this teachers class, pointed out - we Mothers have different levels of what we can handle. Some Moms can only have one. It is all they can take. Some Moms have 2, 3, or 4 kids and that is their limit. My Mother has 10. We all have different thresholds of where we can balance ourselves. I hold to the belief that God gives us what we can handle. 4 is my limit. But I'll be darned if I don't give them my all and give them the attention they need as they need it. I might be poor. I might not have a college degree. But I have a heart full of love. A love that overflows for my kids. So tread lightly when you make out that I'm not fully able to be there for any one of them. 
My other son excels at math, but he's not confident in reading because he isn't as good at it. I feel his pain. It is the same that I had when it came to math. I'm not sure I qualify for even average. But I excelled in reading to the point that I was "gifted" you might say. But because of this deficiency in one subject, she doesn't feel he is truly ready to pass and is, instead, "placing" him in third grade next year to be "watched and assessed". When did it stop being a pass or fail? When did they introduce the "placing" method for the grey liners? Not in the red (failing), but not in the black (passing). So we put in this middle category and hope you make it. GAH! 
Then we have my kindergartner. This girl is already reading nearly as well as her older brothers. She sounds out words that I wouldn't have seen her reading yet. She attempts math that is ahead of her. So her teacher, seeing her long strides, sends home an assessment to see where we think she stands and if we think she is worthy of being tested for the gifted program. I'm all for it. I think that just maybe the system has changed and maybe they will later advance her if they see her pulling far enough ahead of her own level. Challenge her and see where she lands! What do they do? Start sending home packets of worksheets. Enough that she has to do 5-7 pages a night, Monday to Thursday and hand them all in on Friday morning. Where have I seen this before... Ah, yes! My cousin. Same grade level work or slightly ahead, but not advancing him. It was just to keep him busy and to make him feel better about being smarter than everyone else. My daughter gets so fed up after the 3rd page that she just starts whining and begging to be let go. She can't play games with her brothers who have maybe half of the workload she does now. She can't have play time with neighborhood friends all the time during the week either. No time. Just enough to eat dinner, shower and get to bed. 

That's another thing. My kids have to sleep early. They wake up at 6 AM to eat, dress and be ready to walk to the bus stop every morning. They don't have much time between getting off the bus and bed time. Especially not when they keep getting new bus drivers who don't know where they are going. They dropped some kid off at the wrong stop recently. Poor kid had to walk home a ways. Bus driver didn't realize the mistake until the next stop, where that kid should have been let off, when no one came forward to get off the bus. They just call a name from the list and say, "Get off here". Some days, we stand at the bus stop worrying that something bad has happened. At which point, we are all dialing the school and get the phone picked up by stressed out admin staff that say the bus will arrive "soon". 
This system is too broken. You are facing kids so bogged down instead of promoted up that they want to quit school as soon as possible. I have said it before and I say it again - public schools are like prisons. You have teachers that are not getting proper support from the administrative roles above them. You have admin that are blaming teachers for student not passing, no matter what the teacher does. Every couple of weeks, it seems like I'm getting requests for money or supplies. Some fundraiser is happening or something else is missing in the classroom. They send home pictures of my kids that I did not authorize them taking and say I can buy them or send them back. Just don't send them at all! Then there are holidays every month. If not a national holiday, there are student holiday/staff training days. I don't remember having so much time out of school when I was incarcerated in the public system. How about the fact that they are not teaching real life lessons as much as teaching what will be on the next test? It is all about getting kids to pass a test and make the passing grades higher for the schools rating. My second graders still are not being taught cursive in school. They aren't retaining some of this other fluff stuff though either. They spent a single day practicing how to write a letter. Still don't do it right. I'm having to show them that art as well. But they have to learn about Kwanzaa and Ramadan at Christmas time. Because that will be helpful in their lives. 
My husband and I have agreed. Either next year or some time before they reach 5th grade, they will be home schooled. I'm done putting up with this crap. I want my kids to succeed at life. I want them to learn real skills. And I'm going to have to show them how. Because I just don't see it happening in the public school system anymore. And with the latest school shooting... I don't see them being safe anymore either.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

3M Post It Review

Shoplet has partnered with their reviewers once again. They want to showcase a great product that you can find on their website - Shoplet.com. Shoplet is the largest e-tailer for all your office needs and more.

*Disclaimer - I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid or otherwise endorsed. My opinions are my own.*

I'm a huge fan of the Post It brand. They are made by 3M, who has great products that I use on a regular basis. You will find a great many through Shoplet. This one would be no exception. The Post-It Dry Erase Board is easy to use. You can use it as it comes or cut it down to the sizes you need. Easy to peel and stick. I think it is great for multiple uses. My husband and I have been talking about home schooling again. This would be perfect for a white board at home.
No drilling holes in our rented walls. Another use, would be for teachers. A classroom is ever changing according to the teachers needs. Having a white board that you can peel up or just stick on whenever and wherever is a huge plus. I could also see a use for this in the office. An inexpensive white board option for those business meetings that involve throwing ideas around. 

What I love: 
  • It is very easy to use. In peel and stick form, they are ready to go as is.
  • You can cut them into the shapes and sizes you need or use it in the exact dimensions it comes in. 
  • It comes with a super soft wiping cloth to help you keep it in excellent condition. 
 I have so many ideas for this sort of thing. What about you? Can imagine a way you would use it? If you want to get some of your own, or even other office supplies, I highly recommend you take a look at Shoplet.com and see what they have to fit your needs. But they don't just offer those types of supplies. Shoplet has cleaning supplies, medical supplies and office furniture too.
What is missing:
  • Just the markers!