Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teaching Freedom to First-Graders

I need some help. The principal of Stonegate Elementary has invited me to speak at the Veteran's Day Convocation to be held November 9th. The topics are the Meaning of Freedom, Pride, Heroism, Bravery and Patriotism.

My question is ... how do I explain that to an audience of K-4? I have some ideas but I am open to any suggestions! (If you get this via email, please respond via email or go to to leave a comment so that others may see it, as well.) I have access to AV equipment and have a window of 10-20 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I am now Dumber

If you have two minutes to waste, check out the latest drivel from Joy Behar. It is terrible.
It's no surprise the Glenn Becks of the world have been attacking Obama since the moment he stepped into the Oval Office. Beck and his blathering buddies on the right -- you know, the stinky kids in the coatroom who eat their own boogers. Always pick on the kids least likely to fight back.
Really? Everyone that disagrees with Obama is stinky and eats boogers? A well-thought argument, in deed.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bob Hope - Way, Way Ahead of His Time

In a scene from the 1940 Bob Hope Classic, Ghost Breakers, there is a great line that fits very well today:

Geoff Montgomery: It's worse than horrible because a zombie has no will of his own. You see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring.
Larry Lawrence: You mean like Democrats?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Don't Ever Say that Sen. Max Baucus Didn't Warn You!

The summary statement at the top of the just-released S. 1796 Finance Committee bill says it all:
To provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending, and for other purposes.

My emphasis added, of course. Standing at just over 1,500 pages, I would put a disclaimer, too.

Mallory's Two Cents

This is what Mallory thinks of the flu!

As an update, the flu is much better today. On a down note, I coughed so hard that I pulled a muscle in my lower back nearly incapacitating me. I can't win.

(P.S. We caught this photo randomly. I hope Mallory had no idea what she was doing)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

An Event-filled Weekend

The weekend started Friday night, with me coming down with the flu (lucky me). That didn't stop the rest of the clan. Saturday morning, Noel dressed the young ones in their Halloween garb and made the trek downtown the Children's Museum for the annual Feast with the Witches.

Mason and Mallory got their faces painted, consumed mass quantities of french toast sticks, syrup and sausage and then checked out the brand new addition to museum (Noel says it is beautiful).

After a trip to Wal-Mart, everyone came home to see our beloved Buckeyes self-destruct against Purdue (of which I am sure to hear a lot about when I return to work).

Today we made Mason's birthday cake. Mason helped with the batter and then iced the cake and topped it with sprinkles.

A wonderful weekend (other than being nearly bed-ridden with this gawdawful virus). Back to bed for me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Crazy Hair Day!

Today is Crazy Hair Day at Stonegate Elementary. As you can see below, Mason is all set.

This reminds me of my elementary days, but every day was crazy hair day. I distinctly remember a day in Mrs Davis' class (in 2nd grade) when she awarded me (literally, with a certificate) the Betty Crocker Award. The implication was that I combed my hair with an egg beater (Not sure teachers could get away with that today). Do I sound emotionally scarred?

Anyway, here's to a great Crazy Hair Day!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Miss Indiana

Courtni Hall, Miss Indiana USA, joined us for the Dad's Club Pancake Breakfast on Saturday. She volunteered her Saturday morning to sign autographs and stand (patiently) for photographs with folks twice her age (even thirty-somethings with thinning hair).

I didn't know what to expect when first contacting Courtni. I was put in contact with her through a friend of a friend (thanks again, Greg!). From the intial contact, she was polite, outgoing (without being overbearing) and interested in our event. The rap is that these girls are fake; turning on the charm when in front a the camera, but I didn't get that impression at all. She was geniune. She took interest in the guests and participated with a great big smile. When asked if the title of Miss Indiana USA meant she had one the Miss USA pageant, she polited said, 'No', explaining that Miss North Carolina had won and that she represented Indiana in the competition. There was no sense of boredom or tiredness in her answer. Courtni responded as if she was answering a pageant question; matter-of-factly and with a very positive tone.

Certainly a positive role model for girls from sea to shining sea.

Thank you, Courtni, for making our event that much better!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Successful Breakfast

Saturday started at 4:10 am. I woke up early; wondering if I had forgotten anything. I ticked through the list. Content knowing that I wasn't going to fall back to sleep, I made my way downstairs to clean up the TiVo. I burned through The Office and Survivor before it was time to start getting ready for the day.

I had stayed up until 11 or so the prior evening working the signs to direct traffic to the Dad's Club Pancake Breakfast. I wasn't tired, though. I was ready for a great day; and nervous about doing a good job for the PTO and for the school itself.

I arrived at 7:20. This after a stop to CVS Pharmacy to pick up peel-off name tags I had forgotten (you can't remember everything!). Ben, the custodian, greeted me as I walked in the door. He was tremendously helpful throughout the morning orchestrating the setup or tables, AV equipment etc. My early arrival gave me a few minutes to gather my thoughts before the volunteers began to show. As they arrived, I handed out tasks to complete: put out placemats, start the coffee, set up the juice station, set up the welcome desk, and so on.

The volunteers were terrific. The came to the party with a happy attitude and a willingness to do whatever whas necessary. Nancy, the food service manager, was invaluable. She prepared all of the sausage and 'tri-taters' (triangular hashbrowns) and had the kitchen prepared for us when we arrived.

At 8:30, we started making pancakes ... dozens of them; just in time for the doors to open to a horde of hungry parents and kids. The cub scouts were there to sell their items (among other things ... their offerings have certainly expanded since my days of peddling Trailways Popcorn) and Miss Indiana USA took her seat to sign autographs for the children (and have her picture taken with the adults).

All in, we raised just under $1,000 for the school. We will put it to good use in the near future.

Thanks so much to Kris, Joyce, Cindy, Nancy, Ben, Darrel, Jeni, Brian, Mike, Josh, Courtni, and all of the folks who donated items to make this such a wonderful event.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pancake Breakfast

The Stonegate Elementary Pancake Breakfast is coming together. Having never truly run a fundraising effort before, it is interesting to see the mix of technology (like; which allows folks to register to donate items) and the old-school pavement pounding it took to garner a sponsorship. The analog portion included dozens of phone calls and visits to businesses who didn't seem to excited to part with their money. I (finally) found one. The Indiana Members Credit Union has graciously decided to sponsor our breakfast.

The volunteers have begun to raise their hands to donate their time and the use of their griddles. Miss Indiana USA has confirmed her appearance, as well. We are looking forward to a great event!

Let's pray for decent weather ...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Reading Room

Mason's elementary school is focused on reading. Each child is given a goal of reading 200 minutes per month (for kindergarteners, being read to counts). Each night, we do our 'homework' and read for at least 10 minutes. Mason has always enjoyed books (he gets that from his dad) and likes to read (I would use 'read' in quotes, but he is really starting to sound out words and sentences) during his quiet time.

Motivated by a suggestion from Mason's teacher in her monthly newsletter, we decided to set up a special 'reading room' for Mason so he can enjoy his books. Complete with a book shelf, a map of the U.S. and Christmas lights, he now has a special place where he can relax and read.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mighty Morphin' Mason

The first eight weeks of school have been transformative for Mason ... and frustrating for Mommy and Daddy. It seems the manners we have instilled in him have been pulled out, wadded up and thrown to the side. In the blink of an eye, the 'pleases' and 'thank yous' have been replaced with 'uh-huhs' and 'gimmes'. I have always said that my kid may not grow up the smartest or the most athletic, but he WILL be well-mannered. It is maddening that a group of 6-year-old can undo 5+ years of training in what can be summed up in hours. AAARRRGGGGHHHH! Where did my son go? Who is responsible for replacing my eager-to-please, 'nice to meet you, sir', door-opening Mason with a me-first, gimme kindergartener.

It is especially hard on Noel, who takes so much pride and ownership in Mason's behavior. She does this because she raised him solo for a while I was deployed. I refuse to let go of the notion that my son should operate with a set of core manners that he should use day in and day out. I know it is easy for him to drop them when other kids don't use them and saying please and thank you doesn't get him 'cool points' with the older kids. But, I can't (and won't) let go of my original premise. He WILL display good manners.

Back to the drawing board ...