Football Fun

The weekend began with a road trip along with the fam to Columbia, Missouri to watch the Mizzou Tigers take on Western Michigan. My little bro is a frosh up there. Notice his first college injury...

That Guitar Hero game is a bitch.

Here's a pic of me, doing what I do. Don't mind the tiger ears...

This was the first time that I'd been to a Mizzou football game and the energy made it a really exciting experience. The weather was absolutely beautiful and it was so cool to see practically an entire city converge to support their team. The stadium, of course, was packed.

We drove back Sunday night, crashed for not-quite-a-full-night's sleep, and woke up at the crack of dawn to meet and tailgate with friends for the St. Louis Rams' game.

Nothin' like chili at 8:30 in the mornin' to get you goin'... Well, that and some Bud Light.

Diana, chillin' by the tunes on the tailgate.

Don't ask what is happening here.

Or here, for that matter.

Our seats were definitely in the nosebleed section, but there really isn't a bad seat in the dome. We were able to see all the action! The game was a nailbiter 'til the very end.

Not that everyone in our group would know that it was a nailbiter, though... Some (unnamed) members of the group left the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter because the stadium stops selling beer at that time. They ditched out and went back to the cars to drink... I have to admit, I was disappointed...

But, maybe I just take my football a bit too seriously. :o)

Once we made it back home, Dave and I hung out with Paula at the house for a while until Miss Ella arrived home. Paula decided to take a little nap in Ella's playhouse... Maybe that had a bit to do with the leaving the football game early, if you know what I mean. Love you, Paula!!


Photo Essay... Because I've Got Nuthin' Much to Say

Mmmm.... I made this peach pie with a real homemade crust for the Labor Day weekend festivities. It was the first time I've made a pie from scratch and it was gooo-ooood, if I do say so myself.

Dave and I saw this car on the highway. The back window says, "Be jealous, I'm a MILF." Now I hope that I can be as hot of a mama as Paula, but if anyone freakin' proclaims this on the back of my car after I have the baby, I'm kickin' their ass!

That ain't no little smokie! It is a mutant! Aaahhhhh!!!!!

FYI - Next Wednesday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and the mania is spreading. This weekend begins the Second Annual St. Louis Pirate Festival... Argh!

Tell me the logic of this: The Gap Rewards program used to give you 1 reward point per dollar spent. After earning 200 points, you recieve a $10 coupon to use on your next purchase. The new program gives you 5 reward points per dollar spent and after earning 1000 points, you recieve a $10 coupon to use on your next purchase.

Now, I'm no mathematician, so could somebody please explain to me how this is a benefit?

Dave and I will be embarking on an all football weekend... Mizzou game on Saturday, Rams game on Sunday. I'll be sure to update you next week!


Shop 'til I Drop

I'm not a huge fan of going to the malls. I don't like running around to stores and having to get in and out of the car when the weather is extremely hot/cold/rainy. I hate trying on clothes... I'm never really happy with the way the clothes fit and it just (in general) pisses me off.


I loooove catalog shopping. If I get a catalog in the mail, I love flipping through it and ear-marking the pages of items that I like. For me, it is often like window shopping... Most often, I don't order things, but I can look through a catalog a good three times before I get tired of it cluttering up my house and I have to throw it away. I just remembered a catalog that my mom used to get that I love, so I just went onto the website and requested a catalog to be sent to me. Now I'll forever be on their mailing list, and I love it.

So, if I don't shop in the stores and I only fantasize about items I find in catalogs, where do I shop? I admit it: My downfall is Internet shopping.

I have my credit card and debit card numbers, expiration dates, and validation codes memorized. I can point and click my way into thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. (Well, that is, if I had thousands of dollars to spend on merchandise.)

I love getting home from work a seeing a package of new merchandise sitting on my front porch, waiting for me to peel back the lid of the box and find the treasure inside. I love the convenience of it. Nevermind that if something doesn't fit and I never return it; I probably wouldn't return it even if I'd bought it directly from the store.

Amazon.com is my vice. And Gap.com. And Victoria's Secret.com. And most of all... E-Bay. E-Bay can get me into trouble.

What about you? What is your favorite mode of spending money??


Public Service Announcement

As a teacher of gifted students, I see the kids that get "left behind" by the euphemistic "No Child Left Behind" act. This is what happens when politicians get to make educational policy ~ they create something that sounds good for a sound bite without really understanding all the true effects that will occur down the line.

Read on...

From the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wednesday, August 29, 2007. See http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20070829/news_lz1e29goodkin.html

Gifted children are being left behind

By Susan Goodkin and David G. Gold

With reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act high on the agenda as Congress returns from its recess, lawmakers must confront the fact that the law is causing many concerned parents to abandon public schools that are not failing.

These parents are fleeing public schools not only because, as documented by a recent University of Chicago study, the act pushes teachers to ignore high-ability students through its exclusive focus on bringing students to minimum proficiency. Worse than this benign neglect, No Child forces a fundamental educational approach so inappropriate for high-ability students that it destroys their interest in learning, as school becomes an endless chain of basic lessons aimed at low-performing students.

These predictable problems were reported as early as 2003, when The Wall Street Journal warned that schools were shifting their focus overwhelmingly toward low achievers. Expressions of concern from distressed parents and educators of gifted children have come in increasing numbers ever since.

No Child is particularly destructive to bright young math students. Faced with a mandate to bring every last student to proficiency, schools emphasize incessant drilling of rudimentary facts and teach that there is one "right" way to solve even higher-order problems. Yet one of the clearest markers of a nimble math mind is the ability to see novel approaches and shortcuts to attacking such problems.

This creativity is what makes math interesting and fun for those students. Schools should encourage this higher-order thinking, but high-ability students are instead admonished for solving problems the wrong way, despite getting the right answers. Frustrated, and bored by simplistic drills, many come to hate math.

Talented writers fare no better in language arts education. Recently, a noted children's author recounted her dismay when fifth-graders attending one of her workshops balked at a creative writing exercise. She was shocked to learn that the reluctant writers were gifted. The children, however, had spent years completing mundane worksheets designed for struggling classmates and thus rebelled at an exercise they assumed would be yet another tedious worksheet.

One suggested revision to address these concerns is "growth modeling," which tracks the progress of all students, including those already scoring above proficiency. But as long as No Child requires that every student reach proficiency by 2014 and it continues to focus only on grade-level material, teachers will lack incentives to appropriately educate students who can master their grade's curriculum well before spring testing. Nor will growth modeling prompt schools to provide an enriching curriculum that goes beyond the basics.

The response of many parents to this situation was summed up succinctly by one of our numerous friends, colleagues and family members who have pulled their children from neighborhood schools: "We've learned that the real solution is called 'private school.'

"Perhaps if more policy-makers sent their children to public schools, they would address these unintended but disastrous consequences of No Child. Rather than trying to rectify this situation, however, many politicians advocate a voucher program that would only encourage more parents to desert public education.

Some politicians justify vouchers with the Orwellian claim that taking money from public schools to pay private tuition will improve the public schools by forcing them to compete for students. This claim is absurd given the uneven playing field between public and private schools.

Most obviously, private schools can reject any student who would require extra time from teachers. Thus it is left to public schools to handle children with behavior problems or severe learning impairments, and non-English speakers. Until private schools receiving vouchers are required to accept all applicants, vouchers simply allow them to cherry-pick public school students, giving them an insurmountable competitive edge.

Ironically, the private schools to which President Bush and his allies are so anxious to hand public funds are also exempt from the standardized testing these politicians declare to be the critical measure of educational success. Private schools need not impose upon their students the drudgery of preparing for and taking weeks of standardized tests and can offer an enriching curriculum beyond the basics without worrying about No Child sanctions. Given these one-sided constraints, no one could honestly claim that vouchers do anything but drain resources from the public schools this act was supposed to improve.

In adopting the No Child law, Congress finally addressed the shameful neglect of students in failing schools, particularly inner-city schools. Now it must address the fact that the requirements it imposed are driving away many of the concerned and involved parents critical to our ailing public school system.

Goodkin is executive director of the California Learning Strategies Center, a Ventura-based education think tank. Gold is a lecturer and consultant on strategic issues in negotiation.

Another great article on this topic: Time Magazine's Are We Failing Our Geniuses?