Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arts and Education

"An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life." ~Author Unknown

Recently we received a note from our elementary school that the distract had changed the grading scale of the special arts classes grades 2-4. The change included two main things that would change for the elementary student body. The first change is that the grading scale will now be A,B,C,D, F scale instead of the scale of the past which was E,S,N scale. The second change is the grades from all the related Arts classes will be a determining factor on the honor roll system. In the past, these class where not included or grouped with the core classes of Math, Science, Reading, etc.... Plus these changes will open up a whole new expectation of parents, arts teachers and students to communicate on a deeper and more clear level. This change I welcome with open arms. I am big on the partnership between teacher, student, and parent for education. All seems simple enough, right?

Upon further investigation, here's what I've found. Students receive an average of 15 recorded grades from their homeroom teacher in their core classes. Also, the homeroom teacher spends everyday getting to know their students and their learning patterns, struggles and strengths. It is much easier for a homeroom teacher to assess her students on a fair level and give them the assistance needed to achieve goals. The Arts teachers see the students on average once or twice a week and as of the last grading period gave the students an average 6-9 recorded grades. So my question and concern with this is, does the time the Arts teachers have with each student lend enough time to teach a new skill, develop and assist said new skill and then take a fair assessment and adequate data to give the student a fair grade over that new skill? In the core subjects, students are given multiple chances to develop and learn new skills through teaching, homework, projects and testing. Related Arts teachers do not have that same playing field, nor do the students in their once or twice a week classes. I am only concerned that this new policy will do more harm than good, while putting even more pressure on our already under paid and overworked teachers.

Don't get me wrong, I support the related Arts program and think it is a very valuable tool within our public school system. Anyone who knows my family personally knows just how important a role music plays in this family. I just believe that the Arts programs have an entirely different function and purpose than that of the core academic programs. I believe the arts should enrich students lives, build confidence, establish thinking patterns outside of the box, encourage healthy living, and all in all expose a world to children that might not get any other chance to be taught the Arts. The Arts should be enjoyable to students. After all, isn't that what the Arts are to us adults? Enrichment for our lives somehow? Isn't that why we listen to music and line our walls with art to make our lives richer and more beautiful? I think the Arts are a very valuable program to our schools. All in all, I am just saying that rather than good and brilliant teachers struggling to figure out what they can get more recordable grades from and how they can put art and such in paper and pencil form, I would like to see those teachers exploring the arts with my sons. Maybe showing them new instruments, exploring new color patterns to make the world a more beautiful place. Perhaps, learning that healthy bodies are happy bodies through fun life changing exercise habits.

It's very true, life is not fair. As adults, it gets even less fair and I believe we do need to prepare our children for changes, even new policies in their schools and lives. But do we as parents and educators not have the responsibility to new generations to do our very best to make the world a fair and just place? To teach them that 'life is not fair' and the path is not easy, while explaining that to fight for what is right is never a battle to which you surrender, no matter how large or small the cause. And education is no small cause.

I just want to say in closing that the school my children attend is a great school with an amazing, top-notch staff. Despite my concerns with this new district policy, I am very confident that the educators in my children's school will do their very best to help parents and students adjust smoothly to this new policy. I trust their judgment and respect their abilities to prepare my children for the next season of their lives.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

40 Chores in 40 Days (Day 22)

Day 22, the game closet at the end off the hall. I also store notebooks, gift bags, movies, and photographs in this closet. It's really a lot for such a small space. Oh, did I also mention it stores the Wii drum kit? I did the best I could with the supplies I had in this space. I did weed out a few older games for donation which freed up a little space. The drum kit stayed put, because there really is nowhere else for it to call home. I found a matching basket to the one already in the closet to throw all the box set movies and computer games in. The one already there holds travel games, cards, and smaller game items. I also used a plastic bag with a zipper that sheets came in to store some photographs in, and another larger quilt bag for gift bags and tissue paper. It's not pretty, but it is a bit more organized.


After....A little better

Thursday, January 12, 2012

40 Chores in 40 Days (Day 21)

Over the half way mark with day 21 here! Today's chore was cleaning off the old desk in the laundry room. Once upon a time, I thought I would use the old desk to sew on (or teach myself to sew on). Well, that didn't happen. Instead, I piled laundry sky high on it, mostly blankets(which we have way to many of for our storage space), and clothes that no longer fit the boys. There were also odds and ends such as tools, material, toys, sewing supplies and gift bags, but now it's nice and clean and ready for donation!

OH MY....what a messy!

Much better!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goodbye 20's

I am now walking through the final days of the beloved age "29" and preparing myself to embrace my 30's with celebration and excitement come January 16th.

I keep asking myself if this the crossroads into adulthood.  At the moment I just consider myself semi-grown up. Have I hit all the milestones of young adulthood? Am I really finished with this phase of my life and am I ready to step into the next chapter of my life? And what exactly is the next chapter? At least I am not alone in new chapters this year. My oldest son will be turning 10 and stepping into his middle school years while my dear Daddy is going to be turning 60. So, I am not alone in new seasons of life, however I don't think that is making this any easier. All that said, I am determined to focus on the blessing of my past and look forward to the happiness and love my future will bring.

Still there are questions racing around in my head. I told you when I started this blog my head was a scary place to be yet it's honest, just like I try to be on this blog. Otherwise, I wouldn't be writing any of this about my struggles and excitement about the big 3-0. I would just keep them all nice and neat and tucked away inside my head somewhere, but what fun would that be? So I will say some of the questions out loud and hope it's not too weird. Like...What defines me? and What do other people see when they look at me? Will those things change as I get older? and Do I want them to? Have I happily allowed motherhood devour me to point that it is the only thing that defines who I am? Am I going to be forever okay with that or is that also just a season of my life?

Privately, I have struggled with my children growing older as their dependence on me is slowly fading to smaller amounts as the years go by. This honestly has made me cry before and I have years to go before that happens. Have I let my children define me to the point of feeling somewhat lost without children underneath my feet? My children have been a huge part of my 20's and they have taught me so very much about love, life, and loving life. I feel with each passing year that I become a better mother, learning from my mistakes and making new ones often. However, I feel very at ease with motherhood and who that has made me, not that the title of mother is ever finished once your children are grown. I truly believe motherhood is for infinity, no matter how old your children are. I have come to realize the seasons of life, and your involvement in their's, is ever changing with each passing year. Thats why I keep asking myself, "What happens once all my boys are in school?"(which will happen in my 30's)... As confident as I am with the title of mother and as much as I adore it, I still have to figure out the rest of me. I figure 30 is the perfect beginning to start putting together the pieces of that puzzle. So...Hello 30's, Goodbye 20's!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Baby Story (guest writer)

Today I am featuring a guest writer, Alicia Hammock here on "Inside My Head. You may remember Alicia. Her, and husband Chris are no strangers to the blog. I featured a story about their January 2010 wedding back in June of that year. So, I thought it would be something special to have them back to share their experience of becoming parents. Chris and Alicia became parents back in August of 2011 and Alicia was kind enough to share her story with us. I really enjoyed hearing Alicia's story mostly because I can relate to not enjoying the pregnancy(for the most part). I loved her honesty. Alicia also talks about her support of breastfeeding and natural birthing along with her own personal experiences.  You can just feel the love through her words for her sweet daughter and you know she would do it again in a heart beat. Thank you Alicia for sharing your baby story with us!

A BABY STORY: guest writer Alicia Hammock
Joyful hearts in becoming parents

 Chris and I were trying to pregnant only a few months before God blessed us! We were SO excited about the news! I unfortunately had a miserable pregnancy with "morning sickness" and general fatigue. The second trimester was pretty good and the 3rd was miserable again. I would do it all over again for my sweet girl but not a fan of being prego. I had a couple of false labors which was so disappointing. But we finally went into labor at 39 1/2 weeks. We were at a baptism for church at the York Grist Mill in Pall Mall TN that afternoon and I just had a feeling that night was the one. About 7:15 we headed home and I started having contractions. since I had the false labor before I wanted to make sure this was it so I called the midwife to let her know it was a possibility but waited it out at home for another hour. The contractions kept getting closer and stronger and so we headed to the birthing center. I was dilated to 3 (which I had been for over a week) so I was again disappointed. But she was pretty sure this was going to be it so she asked us to stay and walk around some more. In a little over an hour she was about to check me again and as I went to lie down my water broke! I progressed pretty rapidly from there.

I decided to go with an all natural birth. I wouldn't change a thing. I won't lie..it was tough! But, so worth it. My daughter was born within 6 hours of starting contractions and she breastfed within 5 mins of being born. I feel like the pain you experience during the pregnancy makes you appreciate your baby so much more.

I know alot of people that have babies in the hospital with epidurals and they wanted to breastfeed but had complications or LONG labors because the meds slowed down the progression.

I got in the water birth tub for a little while when I was at 6 and I progressed to 9 in a matter of 15 mins. It helped ease alot of back pain for a while. After being in there for a couple hours though I wanted out. I couldn't get a comfortable position to push. But, I changed positions several times. I had to push for a good 3 hours because she got stuck in the birth canal. They eventually had to give me an episiotomy because her heart rate dropped to about 60 or 50 and they needed her out! She came within 2 pushes after the episiotomy. :) She was born at 5:20 am on Monday August 15th, 2011 weighing 7 lbs 5 ozs.
A Mother's Tender Love
I totally recommend the Infinity Birthing center and the midwives there. It was an awesome experience! I can't say enough about the way they let you have the birthing experience you want.

My sweet baby girl is still breastfeeding and thriving! She is changing every day!

Sweet Baby Girl Hammock

Monday, January 9, 2012

40 Chores in 40 Days (Day 20)

Half way mark! I know it's taken me long enough. I am such a slacker. Not only the chores, but I have been neglecting my poor blogs these past two months as well. However, I refuse to give up my 40 chores in 40 days! I will finish this list! I mean, I have hit the half way mark...That's got to count for something, right? Maybe I should make it my New Year's resolution....Naa that would be silly of me considering I don't think I have ever completed one of those goals and I assure you if I did, it was a complete accident.

 Anyway, back on track here with day 20 which the job at hand was cleaning under the kitchen sink. This was not so bad. I just placed things in baskets like all the cleaning supplies, and such. I don't really have too much since I do the majority of my cleaning with vinegar and baking soda these days. Although, I do keep Lysol and Lysol wipes on hand for those overly gross or germy moments. After all, having three little boys pretty much makes Lysol a must have. I did throw out a few, mostly empty, bottles of this and that. The end result was a much more organized cleaning supply cabinet! Three cheers for slowly, but none the less hurdling past the half way mark!! =)

 Any of you readers out there have any handy dandy cleaning tips you would like to share? What about any tips for cleaning with a child with severe allergies?