She’s Baaaack

Call us crazy, but Entrepreneur and I have agreed to have Twix come back to our house during the weekdays while Mama is at work. Last August, when Entrepreneur was in the throws of oral chemotherapy and life was more unsettled than normal, we all decided it might be better if Twix went to an actual preschool for her last year before kindergarten.

One was found that was affordable and in a convenient location. It was housed in a church and we were told it was a daycare but had a Pre-K program. After a few months, we found out that, while being run by very nice women, it was not facilitated by an actual preschool teacher. Although Twix was doing well, she was not learning much above and beyond what she already knew. Everyone complimented her on how advanced she was and how well behaved she was in class….which was awesome. But the question became, why are we paying Pre-K pricing if it’s primarily a daycare program? Sort of defeated our purpose.

So, as of last Monday, she’s back at Nana & Papa Preschool. Yes, I know how crazy that sounds since I lamented on Monday all the things I have to get done in the next few weeks. Perhaps I can incorporate parts of my to-do list into some sort of learning activity for her.

Fortunately, being the pack rat I am, I’ve saved a truckload of some educational items from years past. When our girls were young, we had almost every age-appropriate Discovery Toy item in the catalog. Many of them have survived periodic purges and are being called into service once again. But, now they’re considered “vintage” toys.

Nana & Papa Preschool has its share of phonics and writing activities, but also incorporates lots of play. This vintage 1991 “toy” is designed to match objects and shapes by wrapping the string around the base to solve the question. Some are easy, some require abstract thinking. We also have these “wrap ups” in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Twix can easily do the abstract set marked for 6+, so we’ll be moving up to the abstract set for 8+ shortly.

A more recent educational toy at our house is called Imagination Magnets from Mindware. As you can see, it’s manipulating geometric shapes to create pictures of things. Of course, we have a Discovery Toy version that predates this concept, but this one is a favorite of both Twix and Peanut.

Twix also has an electronic LeapStart with interactive activity books so I think we have about everything covered for core academics, spatial reasoning and science. And we have books….oh so many books! Being a pack rat does have its perks.

Most of all, we have the opportunity to continue to play with our grand girl in such a way to get her ready to love learning, as well as making lasting memories. And for that we’re truly thankful.

Playing along with Thankful Thursday, hosted by Brian’s Home.

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Pardon me while I brag a bit

Caution: this post contains shameless and excessive grandparent bragging.

Last week we went to Peanut’s school for the end-of-semester awards ceremony. Now, normally, non-eduction types don’t voluntarily attend these ceremonies…unless given the heads up that their child is one of the recipients.

A little background info: Peanut started a new school this year after moving into their renovated house in August. She was filled with all the anxiety an 8 year old can feel about walking into the unknown. Peanut is not a fan of change and this was a major one in her young life. Slowly, she came out of her shell, made friends and did very well academically. Her teacher was a perfect match for what she needed this year.

Throughout the year, Peanut was recognized for a reading challenge where she read more than 600 pages in a week’s time. Last week, she was chosen as one of the Students of the 4th Quarter for academic excellence. She was also chosen to participate in a second grade STEM program.

 

So that’s the back story. Now, we’re sitting in the awards ceremony listening to all the 2nd and 3rd grade teachers announce their selections for various academic awards…..and Peanut’s name is not one of them. Okay, perhaps she’ll be recognized for Citizenship, Art, Music or PE? Nope. I was beginning to think there’d been a mistake.

I scan the program to see if I missed a category but the only one left is something called the Glory of Missouri. This is a proclamation from the Missouri State House of Representatives. The Glory of Missouri is awarded to 14 students in participating schools, each student representing one of 14 virtues; Knowledge, Liberty, Equality, Law, Justice, Fraternity, Education, Progress, Honor, Truth, Virtue, Temperance, Enterprise, and Charity. Peanut’s award was for Knowledge. The virtues were engraved in the House of Representative Chamber between 1922 and 1924 when the capitol building was rebuilt due to a fire.

Surely not.

But I would have been surely incorrect! As her name was called to receive the award for Knowledge, it was one of those elusive Joy moments I’m trying to find in the middle of all the chaos of our lives. I honestly didn’t see this one coming. Her teacher said there was no question whose name she would be submitting.

Knowledge
Qualifications:  The student qualified for the Knowledge virtue is one whom exemplifies this definition.  The student who receives recognition for this award must not only be book smart, but be aware of the state of information.

Example:  A student who possesses intellectual capabilities beyond his or her years, a student who has demonstrated aware behavior such as a potential valedictorian or a strong student leader. 

We are all so thrilled Peanut seemed to assimilate seamlessly into her new school. And, evidently, she never missed a beat when it came to the love of learning.

And…..we now have a third grader on our hands!

The unimaginable has happened

We sent her off in style at the end of summer, 2010.

After graduating college, our youngest daughter announced she was going to move 18 hours away because she wanted to live in the Sunshine State. Independent and determined, you all know her as The Floridian.

Floridian arrival

Well the Floridian may need a new name because……………….

She’s on her way back to the Midwest! It’s hard to comprehend on many levels, but in a few days, our youngest will be home again. Literally……home again…..under our roof…..back in her old room….A temporary living situation until she can get re-established and on her feet again. She joins Peanut and her family as they work towards a new future as well. In the meantime, all my chicks will be back under one roof.

daughters

She has a loosely-formed plan. As the only an LPGA teaching pro in the area, she plans to make contacts with area golf courses and school teams for private lesson contracts. The grand plan is to open her own teaching facility at some point down the road. At which time, Entrepreneur may just retire from his current job and go to work for her. 🙂

floridian-25yrs

Will this coastal soul remain landlocked? I have no idea, and I’m not sure she does either. It reinforces the fact that we really never know what twists and turns we’ll encounter as we choose the paths in our lives.

But she’s never really shied away from the unknown. After high school, she accepted a golf scholarship at a university in another city where she didn’t know anyone.

After high school, she moved to Florida only knowing one former golf teammate. They ended up parting company and she was once again on her own. But she’s my social butterfly and no stranger to assimilating into whatever environment she happens to be a part of at the moment. Part social butterfly, part chameleon.

With this turn of events, her future is anything but a guarantee. Her dreams and aspirations are high. Failure really isn’t in her vocabulary. If you don’t believe me, check out this post, HERE.

She’s older now and hopefully a little wiser than when she left back in 2010. I guess you really can’t take the Midwest out of the girl.

cousins

I think we’ll just call her The Golfer from now on, regardless of where she hangs her hat stores her clubs.

Welcome Home!

 

Teach. Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

The first part of May ended my 8th year as an adjunct instructor for the journalism school in town. And while some years seem more successful than others, every year offers new insights into the minds of twenty-somethings, who are less than 15 weeks away from being unleashed onto the advertising industry. This is their capstone project and a “C” in this class is necessary for graduation. Although, I guarantee the attitude of “Cs get degrees” will not be getting anyone a decent job in the industry anytime soon.

Technically, I’m a lab instructor for Strategic Campaigns…a class that provides the last safety net they will have before sinking or swimming on their own. And I take my job warping young minds quite seriously. They bring in us “industry professionals” as adjuncts when the number of labs outnumber the available faculty.

Obviously the beauty of this is that we are NOT part of the tenured faculty and therefore, not required to sit in on exciting staff meeting or put up with, endure endless, participate in the academic bureaucracy of higher education.

So, this year I had 17 deer in headlight, naive, aspiring strat comm students ready to take on real-life clients. Split into student agency teams, every year these students get to learn, first-hand, about such wonderful things as clients from hell, team dysfunction and the stress of deadlines versus party nights. All good things to know in this industry.

And inevitably, every year there’s a sleeper team (or two) that surprise me at the client presentation. All semester long they appear to be amazingly dysfunctional. You’ve heard the expression herding cats? Or, nailing jello to a tree? Yeah, that’s what it sometimes feels like. And somewhere in the class  there’s always, always, always the stereotypical frat boy, the untethered free spirit, the drama queen and the slacker. But in the end they all seem to pull it together and shine like the sun. Call it blind luck….or pure panic. I’m not sure which one it is most of the time.

So after the grades are recorded and diplomas in hand…and no risk of retaliation…the administration releases the students’ evaluations of the course….and their instructor.

Most of the time I’m okay with the evals, understanding not everyone appreciates my teaching style. This year was a pretty good year for evaluations. And I’ll share some of the comments made by a group of stressed out, sleep-deprived students suffering from severe senior-itis.

…nice person and great teacher; but she is a tough grader.
Yes, I’m a grammar Nazi and proud of it. For some reason I think a college senior should know how to string words together in a coherent sentence.

…make later deadlines for assignments.
I would but then you’d be graduating in August.

…be a little less unimpressed
I had to laugh at this one. Evidently I was less than subtle about my disappointment with the first draft of their team’s strategic plan.

…too much per week for us to do.
I’m not sure this one is going to make it in the crazy-busy world of advertising.

…professor was very strict to us
Oddly, this was put under one of the three best things about the course.

…try to be less intimidating.
If they think I’m intimidating, they may be in for a rude awakening.

…she was awesome.
I like this one.

When it’s all said and done, and after the client leaves with an impressive campaign book representing 15 weeks of blood sweat and…yes…tears, they all look like this:

Muse jump for joy

Adaptive-thumbs up

6Think swings 1

I do need to comment on this one. This team’s client has playground equipment in various places around the building. I’m talking huge slides and swing set areas like you see here. How awesome is that!

So now that the Teaching is finished, it’s time to Evaluate. Adjust. Repeat.

On second thought….

OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!

THERE IS A HUUUGGGEEEE SPIDER IN THE LAMP SHADE!

WHO LET THE GIANT ARACHNID IN THE HOUSE?

It’s got to be the first cousin of HP’S Aragog or LOTR’S Shelob!

GET THE EXTERMINATOR!

QUICK!

BEFORE IT ESCAPES WITH THE DOG!

Oh, it’s not a spider after all, is it?

Hmmm, it sure looked like one at first glance.

But as you can see, it’s not.

It’s only shadows playing off the inside of the lamp. But it certainly looks like a spider, doesn’t it?

Now, I could choose to stick to my first impression and insist there’s a spider inside the lampshade, despite logic and evidence to the contrary.

But, I would be wrong. And I would look pretty darn silly insisting there was a spider there, wouldn’t I?

How silly we also look when we choose to continue to cling to impressions we’ve formed about people and circumstances when logic and evidence show us something different. Just like I would look silly clinging to my opinion when shown how the lamp casts its shadow to produce a “spider,” when we refuse to accept or acknowledge evidence that should change our mind about something, we look equally silly.

Arachnids are not taking over my house.

The dog is safe.

In fact, none of the fears associated with my initial reaction are going to happen.

Perhaps a lesson we’d be wise to remember.

And to keep the doors closed. 🙂

 

 

 

Making your own way in a wild world

A couple of weeks ago they arrived. You saw the nestlings. It was a rare treat to see their story unfold every day. I feel very privileged to have been allowed to capture these moments. These baby cardinals go from egg to fledgling in less than 3 weeks. And while it takes us a little longer to leave the nest, I can’t help but compare…

We and the birds are not so different. Our babies come into this world much like nestlings. Completely helpless and dependent on Mom and Dad for food, shelter, warmth and protection, we teach them everything they need to know. We nurture them, making sure they have everything they need to grow healthy and strong.

As our fledglings grow, they are ready to experience the world outside the safety of the nest. While some jump at the chance for adventure, others need to be coaxed from the nest by Mom and Dad’s encouraging words…or chirps. When they do take that first step, we parents are always close by, ready to swoop in if something threatens their safety. Whether human, bird or animal, the desire to want to protect our children, regardless of their age, is a strong instinct. Sometimes they need to be protected from themselves, which we do on occasion so they don’t injure themselves and ruin their future.

The fledglings test their wings, showing confidence in their new skills. But when life gets a little too scary, they retreat to the safety of home and call frantically for Mom and Dad. Little by little, the fledglings venture farther and farther from the nest. Mom and Dad keep watch while teaching the life skills the little ones will need to be on their own. Parents stand just out of reach to make them stretch their wings and achieve a little more each day; always offering encouraging chips to guide them so they don’t get lost or go the wrong direction.

Then, one day the fledglings navigate the entire yard. Mom and Dad fly along side, proud of the accomplishments but not quite ready to let them be completely on their own. Our fledglings become stronger every day, pushing the limits a little more each time. Soon Mom and Dad will not need to fly so close alongside to guide and protect.

There will come a time when our fledglings will fly beyond the perimeter of the yard and be on their own. They will make their own way in the world and the cycle will begin again.

And I wonder if these feathered parents ever stop watching to catch a glimpse of their children once they’re grown and gone. We’re fortunate because, in the best case scenarios, we are invited to share in the lives of our adult children, watching them make their way in the world and maybe even become parents themselves. And even though they are adults, we are never far out of reach, quick to offer a helping hand, protection and guidance (if asked) when they happen to stumble into dangerous territory.

 

 

Pie Day! (a.k.a. Pi Day)

Celebrate Pi Day! Source: http://bit.ly/eI19Hm

It probably should be a national holiday. After all, Pi is a pretty important…if you’re a mathematician.

The Greek letter Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th by math enthusiasts geeks all over the globe. Pi = 3.1415926535…the number continues infinitely without repeating any sequence, and computers have calculated Pi to more than 1 trillion digits past the decimal. Since it goes on for.ev.er, there’s the possibility that every number you know is hidden somewhere in it; phone numbers, birthday dates…even bank account numbers. Freakin’ amazing.

The mathematical ratio has been around for 4,000 years plus, but the Greek symbol we know as Pi turned 200 years old in 2006. Ancient Babylonians calculated Pi by measuring 3 times the square of a circle’s radius. A Babylonian tablet circa 1900–1680 BC shows a value of 3.125. Not to be outdone, Rhind Papyrus, an Egyptian in circa 1650 BC, calculated the area of a circle and indicated the approximate value of pi at 3.1605.

Pi in the Sky can be used to calculate a planet’s circular orbit compared to the diameter of the orbit. I’m sure astronomers are all over this.

A little closer to home…literally…closer than you think…pi is present in parts of the double helix of the DNA code.

And pi will come in very handy in the future when computers become smarter than us and take over. Just ask Spock. He triumphs over an evil computer by commanding it to compute pi to last digit in the Star Trek episode Wolf in the Fold. Just throwin’ that out there.

AND, did you know the first 144 digits of pi add up to 666? Some believe this is the biblical “mark of the Beast,” so I’m pretty sure math is going to be connected to the Antichrist.

Oddly, Albert Einstein was born on Pi Day (3.14 in 1879) in Ulm Wurttemberg, Germany. That’s freaky.

My father, who coincidentally was an architectural and structural engineer, was born on Pi Day as well. That’s just plain freaky as well.

The official celebration begins at 1:59 p.m., appropriately occurring at 3.14159.

For those of us who lean a little more to the right side of our brains, it’s an excellent reason to have some pie. In support of our left-brain brothers and sisters, of course.