Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

It would seem that this picture was posed, but it is just Jaleigh being Jaleigh....

A few quotes from today...

Ethan: Mom, can I go to Kyle's house?

Me: I need you to watch the kids for me while I take a shower.

Ethan: Well- a quick shower would be good because then you can save water AND electricity...Then can I go?

Jaleigh watching a tiny ant suddenly jumps up and frantically runs to everyone she sees...

"Don't step on the ant! Don't step on the ANT!! He's very tiny and he is nice. He dosen't even have teeth! Please don't step on the ant, he has a FAMILY!!"

Saroya sitting down looking at the bottom of her shoe, talking to herself... "Did I step on an ant? I don't think I stepped on an ant."

Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sunny One (the second)

I don't know that that title is totally accurate, but I'm using it anyway. :) So my little sister is having a birthday! I know she is young but not quite sure HOW young (wink, wink), so I will give her a big ol' 32 Reasons why I think she is so great!!!

1. Her name is Sunny, and she is. What isn't cool about that?

2. She loves growing things. I can't tell you how many pictures I e-mail her like this and she tells me what they are.

3. She has blonde hair and blue eyes when everyone else in the family has brown hair and brown eyes. It gave me hope that one day I might have a blue eyed baby, even though I never did... :(

4. She is a fun mom. When she was here, she had her baby wear a pea costume at the campfire to keep warm.

5. She loves the gospel and has a strong testimony of it.

6. She is super creative and makes cool stitchery.

7. When we were younger she wanted to be a beautiful princess, and since I was happy to be the wicked step-sister, she did all my chores for me. (Sorry!!!) ;)

8. She remembers all the old songs we used to sing from our record player and will join right in.. "Sooner or later you're gonna be comin' around. I bet cha'...."

9. Speaking of that record player- it was hers and sooo cool! It had disco lights on the front. Boy did we have fun with that thing!

10. She had a bird named Snowball when we were little, but she was afraid to touch it so she held on to it with a blanket.
11. When she picked me up at the airport, we rode the shuttle bus around the parking lot 3 times because we didn't know to pull the cord to let them know we wanted off.

12. She is exceptionally modest. She has the smallest thighs in the family and at the beach, she wore a sarong from her waist to her ankles. (And yet, her son was in a speedo... :D)
13. She is embarrassed easily about things I am not embarrassed about. (Ta-DAAAAA!!!) Unfortunately this is too much fun for me.

14. I can't imagine a more perfect husband for her. They are adorable together.

15. She is an excellent seastress, and it's a good thing because they really like to dress up!

16. She almost got her picture taken when she shook the prophets hand.

17. She is super dooper extra extra frugal. (Even more than ME!!)

18. She calls me for advice, even though I am sure she has a better answer than me to begin with.

19. She is an excellent cook, and when she cooks, she cooks for the masses. It is not uncommon for her to plan cookouts for her whole complex, just because it is a nice saturday and why not!

20. She uses big words. I used to tease her about this, but it was just because I didn't understand what she was saying. Now she AND her husband use big words and funny phrases together, and I love it!

21. She saves everything because she is thoughtful. We have had some great trips down memory lane going through some of the stuff she has stashed away.

22. She is one of the few people I can talk to on the phone for a REALLY long time.

23. She is a super aunt. ALL the kids love her...

24. We shared a room as kids and had soo much fun playing "little people", "grandma's attic" "The Price is Right" and anything else we could come up with.

25. She let me do photo shoots of her when we were kids and I wish I had a scanner to post some of those!

26. When Nathan, the kids and I stayed at her house, she woke us up with fresh blueberry muffins!

27. She used to write her name with the picture of a sun and an arrow pointing to a knee.

28. She was named Sunny because my dad's nickname for my mom is "Sunny One".


29. Saroya is named after her... Sunny, Saroya. See??

30. She is one of the most genuine and selfless people I know. She is always giving. (I think she starts doing her "neighbor gifts" for Christmas sometime around August and doesn't finish until after the new year!)

31. She thinks I am funny, and I think she is. We obviously have so much fun together.
32. She is an amazing wife, mother and sister and I am a better person for having her in my life.

I love you Sunny!! Happy Birthday! (And just so you know, I already have 33 more things in mind for next year!)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ahhhh Spring....

FINALLY....The first semi-warm and sunny day this year. It felt sooo good to do this...

And this is what Jaleigh did when she saw her bike for the first time after a long, cold winter...

We realized that Saroya grew a lot and she looks funny riding what I call now a "clown" bike... (can that seat possible go any higher??!!)
And we went "out" for dinner for the first time in a very long time...
And we tried to roast these. Most of them fell off the stick into the fire except the one Jaleigh took a bite out of (cold) and decided she didn't want anymore so she put it back. Dirt and all...

It was ok though because we realized that this was just the first, and there are many more to come... Really soon.

Like this weekend at Grandma & Grandpa's house when we did this...

And even Grandpa had fun doing this!
The we ate this from the barbecue... I was soo excited to make my first batch of this for 2008...
Ethan really got into the mood by drinking (and licking) this...

And it all happened at our favorite place in the whole world... Outside.

Ahhhh Spring!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Good-Bye Cursive?

I was at parent teacher conferences yesterday for my 4th grade son. I pointed out that Ethan could neither read or write in cursive, and wondered when that would be taught. She informed me that if I wanted him to learn it, it would need to be taught at home. I was stunned. I remember that he was introduced to cursive in the second semester of 2nd grade, but only a few letters were taught and even those were barely taught. His teacher said that she used to write everything on the board in cursive, but kids can't read it anymore so she has to print everything in block letters.
Ethan told me that he was given a worksheet in third grade with cursive letter practice as an "optional" activity after work was finished, and one time they were offered extra credit if they could write a paragraph in cursive but that no one did it.

I have talked with my sister and other parents with kids my sons age, and all of their kids are being taught cursive. Most are only allowed to write in cursive at school. My initial thought was that my son is getting an inferior education and I was frustrated. He is a good student and could learn it if it was taught.

After the honors assembly today, I cornered the principal and shared with him my concerns. Of course he told me about all of the new demands on the teaching community and how they just don't have the 15 minutes a day that would be required to dedicate to that education. He said they they have a focus group dedicated to curriculum that has been debating this "hot topic" for about a year, and that they are continuing to investigate the possibilities of what they will do. They have debated if it was even worth teaching it if they DID have the time. He thanked me for my concern.

They have been debating this for a year and they are continuing that debate? Someone, somewhere made a decision for my son and the other 175 kids in his grade that they will not learn cursive. Period.

I decided that I needed to do some research before going to the national media about this injustice. :) My own husband says that it is no big deal and that he never writes or reads cursive in his professional or school life. I realize that most official documents can not be written in cursive, and all of his "important" papers will be typed on the computer, but isn't cursive still valuable?

Surprisingly I found that this is in fact a "hot topic" and that it is being strongly debated across the country.
Some of the strongest arguments against continuing to teach cursive are these:

1. It was developed back in the time of ink bottles and quill pens to reduce blotting caused by lifting the pen from the paper and was later seen as a way to write faster. Something that was initially developed to make writing faster and more efficient is actually more difficult for today's kids to learn especially if they are left-handed or have a learning disability.

2. Cursive can not be used on official documents. Even "good" cursive handwriting is hard to read.

3. Teachers in middle, high school and college require everything to be typed because it is easier to read and easier to catch plagiarism.

4. Cursive handwriting after school is abandoned by over 85% of all students.
5. Children's handwriting is only held up to one standard: Legibility. Beyond that the teacher is only interested in their thoughts which can be expressed in a variety of ways.

According to an article I read, I guess there was a study done in the 1960's because it was noticed that children were having a difficult time grasping the concept of cursive writing.
In that study, administrators and teachers admitted the reasons cursive was still included in the curriculum: “Public expectancy and teacher preparation probably are our main reasons. We doubt that there is significant advantage in cursive writing.”
It does seem a little strange that we would still be teaching something that in the 1960's they considered unnecessary, I guess.
I found another article from The New York Times Nov 1995 that said only 10% of all sent mail was handwritten. That was 13 years ago. I wonder what that number would be now with the advances in Internet, e-mail, and text messaging.
As it said in yet another article
"That leaves personal checks, thank-you notes, journals (those that haven't gone blog, of course), and credit-card receipts as cursive handwriting's main customers."
Proponents of cursive handwriting say that:
1. It triggers the thought processes connected to storing and retrieving information in memory, and it helps early and intermediate readers link letters to sounds and spelling.
2.You need to be able to read cursive-it is still widely used in everything from advertising to invitations.
3. It is "pretty" and historical.
They both make arguments that cancel each other out. Like some say it is faster to write in cursive than print, but then they say it is faster to type on a keyboard than it is write in cursive. There was one argument that was made about SAT scores being higher in the kids who wrote in cursive on their essay but it was later strongly disputed. A lot of arguments I came across were made for handwriting in general vs. keyboarding. All are really interesting arguments.
Some actually propose that cursive handwriting be an elective class that can be taken after elementary school if they wanted to, kind of like calligraphy.

Honestly after I have done some research I am torn. In some ways I DO wonder with all of the school budget and curriculum cuts, why cursive instruction is still there when physical education and fine arts seem to be going instead. On the other side, I wonder what would happen to my children being in a world where "everyone else" can do something that they can't all because they went to a "forward thinking" school that dropped it before many others have (if there are others that will at all even..)
All in all, amazingly it seems like there are stronger arguments against teaching cursive handwriting. However for instance, My mom always writes in cursive, and my grandparents too. Will my kids never be able to read what they write? How I can just hear my grandma's voice (that passed away) when I read those words written in lovely billowy penmanship. Is it the way it is penned that I can recall her voice, or it in the words she uses to describe her thoughts?
I still feel frustrated that a change in my child's curriculum was made without FIRST debating what the effects would be long term, and also without informing us as parents of the change. I know they gave up on penmanship a long time ago (by the way- how do can you give my son a B in handwriting in 3rd grade when you never even worked on it?) and that actually should be where I put my focus with him because he struggles with fine motor skills, but that is another subject. Or maybe it isn't?
I am really VERY interested in what you think about this topic. I will obviously be teaching Ethan cursive at home if he is to learn, but do you think I should encourage them to focus more on it when Saroya goes to 2nd grade next year? Should I push the issue with the school board and principal?
Here are a few other articles I found interesting on this topic if you are interested..