Monday, March 30, 2009

Resolution Report

Well, we're almost 1/4 of the way through 2009, so I thought I'd revisit my resolutions.

1. Running: I haven't even laced a running shoe, loaded an ipod, or put on a sports bra. Zip. Zilch. Of course, it's not too late to start. I just have to find a time to run that doesn't involve me getting up at 5am (more assaults happen right before dawn than at any other time--no kidding).

2. Finances: We have a budget. We mostly live within that budget. We have the money to pay off the credit card, but with 0% interest until August, we're waiting (the money is happily sitting, unspent, in savings). I have the names of a few local lawyers for a will and trust. And... I still have nine more months to finish the rest of this goal.

3. Homeschooling: My materials have been moved from a heap on the kitchen counter to a bookcase in the office. There is still more organizing to do, but the situation is greatly improved. I researched and ordered all of Ian's curriculum for next year (I can't order Lily's until she is officially enrolled). We have joined one homeschooling group and are planning on joining another. And I am going to set aside a good chunk of time this summer to plan our next school year (long-term goals, shorter-term goals, and a daily schedule). I'm getting there.

4. Entertaining: Our house is a dump. I know that is my standard excuse, but really--two cats, four kids, a busy husband, and a frazzled Adrienne--our house is a dump. We are making incremental progress and we have ideas for some quick fixes, but I can't see us entertaining before late summer.

5. Excessive punctuation: I think I've had this one covered for awhile. Maybe I just added it to my 2009 resolutions so I would have some sense of accomplishment.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

BFF or Kitty Enemy #1?

In cat society, it must be perfectly acceptable to loudly wake up another cat and insist that it play with you because that's what Jack did to us every morning. Sometimes it was 4am, sometimes 6am, sometimes it was when one of us would accidentally cough and remind him of our presence and our desire to be tortured. While Jack seemed utterly content being the king of the castle, we thought he would like a friend. We certainly wanted him to have someone else to pester. So we got Newton.

Newton and Jack had a rough start--lots of hissing, hiding, scratching, and sulking--but they were licking each others' butts by the end of the first week, so we thought everything was gonna work out just fine.

Well, we were wrong. Jack picked on Newton incessantly. He hunted him. He hissed and shooed Newton away from the communal food bowl if he didn't think it was Newton's turn to eat. Newton's only reprieve came when he hid inside the huddle of laundry baskets in the living room.

We thought Newton deserved a better life (he was becoming skittish and jumpy), so we sent him to live with the crazy cat lady. Otherwise known as the little old lady from Pasadena. Or Grandma.

Now Newton lives with Nathan's mom and her cat, Silver. He and Silver have a playful, yet equitable relationship, and we can visit whenever we want.

If anything, our two-cat experiment showed us that Jack is not a cat cat, but a people cat, and that suits us just fine.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chewy Mama?

I just read a list of attributes of crunchy moms and I thought I'd figure out where I am on the crunchy spectrum.

Birth without medication? Once, but it was by accident.
Breastfeed? Yup, but I weaned around a year.
Co-sleep? Sure, for the first few months, then get out of my bed.
Babywearing? Does the Bjorn count?
Cloth Diapers? No way.
Recycle? When it's convenient.
Grow a garden? We're getting there.
Spank? No.
Circumcise? No.
Medicate? In moderation.
Immunize? Most definitely.
Long hair? When I'm too lazy to cut my hair.
Wear make-up? Rarely.
Organic? Nope.
Homeschool? Yep.

So there it is. On the crunchy spectrum, I think I'm chewy. I'll take chewy. It's moderate, but not kooky (I've been kooky). And the best kind of cookies are chewy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

School Budget Cuts

I just finished reading a Steve Lopez column about LAUSD budget cuts, and it's pretty grim. Schools are facing serious program cuts (reading specialists, enrichment programs, p.e. teachers, etc.), and parents are being asked to open their wallets.

In upper middle class communities, school foundations, endowments (yes, some public elementary schools have endowments--crazy, huh?), large fundraisers, and major giving campaigns can make up the difference. And some schools are forgoing the niceties (no more silent auctions or big ticket raffles) and just asking parents for a set amount. (In the case of Ivanhoe Elementary, mentioned in the Lopez column, it's $1000 per child.) Schools in wealthier areas will likely be okay because parents have the time to be involved and the money to pony up, but schools in lower-income areas will really suffer. The Lopez column says that needier schools will get more money to make up for their inability to fundraise, but I doubt they'll get $1000 per child.

How will these budget cuts affect my kids? Well, they won't really. We aren't in LAUSD (we're in Glendale stinkin' Unified by geography, but we're at a charter school by choice), but public schools statewide will feel the pinch. Our charter school will probably see funding cut, and our instructional funds might be reduced (we currently get $1800/year/child), but even if they were cut in half (they won't be), we'd be fine. I just ordered about $900 in curriculum for next year (I had to spend the rest of this year's funds--use it or lose it), and it was work spending even that much. I bought ALOT, and it's really good stuff.

It's amazing how well you can educate your child with very little money. Which really means that it's amazing how much education money is spent not educating (less than 60% of LAUSD's budget is spent on teachers). Of course, no one pays me (yeah, yeah, knowing that my child REALLY understands long division should be payment enough). And I can't use our instructional funds to maintain my facility (my run-down house). I know not everyone can afford to homeschool (live on one income). BUT, if you can swing it, AND if you can tolerate it, you can give your kids a top-notch education without the stress of the drop-off lane, the headaches of homework, or the injustice felt when you see "toilet paper" on the school supplies list.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm Back!

It would be great to say that this site was down due to overwhelming traffic, unprecedented ad clicks, and a nearly-done deal for a seven-figure purchase by a well-known website, but I was just busy.

In the last two weeks we've had several Dr. appointments (nothing serious and no more babies, just a bunch of stuff came up at once), Ian and Lily both started t-ball (two practices each every week until the season starts when the Saturday practices will be replaced by games), we had the annual preschool fundraiser (mandatory volunteering--isn't that an oxymoron?), Nathan and I organized what ended up being a very stressful JPL tour for 50 homeschoolers, our washer broke (trips to the laundromat, scheduling and waiting for the repairman, shopping for a new washer, waiting for the washer delivery), and I spent at least three days in Girl-Scout-cookie-induced coma.


Now that I'm back, I'll post more regularly. I have several posts in the queue (in various stages of edits--yes, I really do edit), so if you just hit "refresh" every 30 seconds or so, something new should show up in the next few days.