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Are We There Yet?

Archive for September 2008

New blog on public education

I just finished writing a book about public education called “Betrayed.” The book attempts to answer the question of why so many classrooms aren’t effective for the students. My vision of the problems changed completely as I conducted this research.

With the November election coming, however, some parts of the book are time sensitive. Therefore, with Virginia’s permission, I’m telling you about a blog I began called “Betrayed,” located at
I’ve begun posting excerpts and information from the book – parts that I think are pertinent to voter decisions.

In my view, fixing the problems will take a revision of philosophy. It isn’t just about math (although math is a good place to begin the conversation), it isn’t really about the budget, and it isn’t about the teachers most of us see every day.

Children, parents, teachers, businesses and the nation itself are being betrayed by an establishment that is focused on data, products, money and proof. The children are not being well educated, and their parents are not being informed. I believe the needed changes aren’t coming any time soon. I wrote the book so that parents would be better equipped to take whichever steps are necessary in order to properly educate their children.

I hope you’ll visit. I hope you’ll comment. I’d like to learn from you. Comment anonymously if you like, but if you choose to use your name, I won’t quote you unless I have your express permission. You can also reach me at

My goal is to give you information you don’t have.
Knowledge is power.

Good Book Alert

Thought I’d let you know about a fun book Sam and I are reading together, “Could You? Would You?” by Trudy White.
It’s a very engaging book filled with questions and simple activities for you and your child to answer or do together.
For example: “What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?” Followed by “What would you cook for a feast?”
Another fun one: “Make a list of the words you like saying.” What words are you NOT allowed to say? What can you say instead?” What’s the longest word you know?”
We’ve been reading a bit every night. It’s a chapter book with lots of illustrations so it’s appropriate for kids as young as preschool and as old as late elementary school.
Check it out.

Car seat check this weekend

The Spokane County Child Passenger Team will be holding a car seat check this Saturday at Dishman Dodge, 7700 E. Sprague from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

A team of nationally certified technicians will be on hand to provide free car seat checks and information.

Politics Hits the Playground

It seems there was a bit of a dust up during recess at my son’s elementary school.
“Jackson” said he was voting for Obama which didn’t go over well with “Harrison,” an avid McCain supporter.
The fact that eight-year-olds cannot vote didn’t deter the harshness of the rhetoric. Nor did it prevent “Jackson” from leveling the dreaded, “You’re not my friend anymore!” line.
So what say you? Do you discuss politics with your kids? Are they picking up on your preferences? Can adults or eight-year-olds be friends if they are on opposite sides of the political spectrum during an election year?

How Often do You Check Your E-mail?

The RSVP thread prompted me to wonder how often the average parent checks their e-mail?
I’m no judge because I’m online several hours a day for work and keep my e-mail up and running while I’m at my desk.
But how about the rest of you? Would an e-mail be a good way for you to get BD party invitations, classroom updates, sports schedules etc?

Money, Money, Honey

With the recent crisis in the financial markets, I couldn’t help but think about money –- what it means, what it buys, managing money and how much money we really need.

Several parents on this blog have told me in the past that one of the best ways to teach kids about money management is by giving them an allowance. I’d like to follow up on their advice (as well as write a story on this topic), so I’ve got a few more questions:

* How old should a child be before he or she should start receiving an allowance?
* Is there an appropriate amount for a particular age?
* Do you pay for chores?
* Do you give money as a reward for good grades?
* In addition to saving, do you teach your child about giving money to charity?

Thanks for sharing your advice and experiences!

Recycling Program for Kids

We are implementing a recycling program in our school. Have any tips or resources to help us be successful with this task?

Party favors

I’ve never been a big fan of party favors.

By the time we make it back home from a birthday party, the backseat of our car is often littered with candy wrappers, ripped-up stickers and plastic toys that the kids barely played with. The best part is often just opening the bag. But once the contents spill out, that’s about it. It’s over and I have a mess to clean.

But what’s a crabby mom to do? Aren’t party favors a requirement at birthday parties? We couldn’t possibly send our young guests home empty-handed.

So I felt a little disappointed this week when I found myself at the Dollar Store. My son is turning 5 so I bought all kinds of junk to fill the party favor bags for guests at his birthday party.

It was the easiest thing to do. My son also liked the idea of giving away bags full of crayons, plastic Star Wars Frisbees and other cheap toys.

Am I just being a grump about the party favors? My conscience keeps telling me that they’re bad for the environment, but the kids do enjoy them (even if the enjoyment lasts only as long as the car ride home).

Have you found affordable alternatives to the ubiquitous party favors? What do you usually put in your giveaway bags?

Photo: Megan Cooley decorated her backyard with big bouncy balls for a party. Afterward, the guests each got to take one home. Brilliant!

A slight delay…

Just an update - we’re still going ahead with renaming the blog, but I’m going to wait until the new website is up and running, which won’t be for a few weeks yet (it will really happen, I promise). Last I heard, we were shooting for end of September or so.

The winning name is “Are We There Yet?”, suggested by Cindy H.

Runners-up were “Famdamily” (Debbie G.) and “Because I Said So!” (Lisa P.). Those who were following the original thread may recall that the former was rejected by my handlers, and the latter was already taken.


In a recent essay titled, “Split Family, Shared Responsibility,” Oregonian columnist S. Renee Mitchell discusses her experience sending her boys off to another city to live with their dad.

“When I decided to divorce my children’s father and move to Portland when our twins were 2, I thought I was the only parent Alex and Zavier would ever need,” she wrote. “I was mistaken.

“No matter how much love I poured into my children’s hearts, my sons were starving with ‘father hunger’ for the man named Lee, who named them and held them when they were just a few seconds old.”

Divorce and separation can often be difficult for children. How can we help these kids cope? For those of you who have experienced the end of a marriage or relationship, how did you and your ex figure out how to share parenting responsibilities while living in separate households?

Motherhood and identity

Sorry to keep talking politics, but there have been so many conversations in recent weeks about women in the political arena, the glass ceiling and the juggling act that parents have to maintain in order to take care of their families and contribute to society.

Last week, during their speeches at the Democratic National Convention, both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke about their role as mothers.

In addition to describing herself as a proud American, Democrat and supporter of Barack Obama, Clinton started off her speech by saying she was “a proud mother.”

Michelle Obama also spoke about her children early on in her speech: “I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world — they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future — and all our children’s future — is my stake in this election.”

While listening to NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” last week (the focus was “Where Does Feminism Go From Here?), one female caller from Washington D.C. asked journalist Susan Faludi: “I’m wondering have we not moved beyond the point where a woman politician has to be a wife and mother first and then she can be a politician?”

Although I’m not a politician, this is an issue I often think about. When I worked in the newsroom, I didn’t want to be identified as the “mommy reporter.” But I quickly realized that motherhood helps define who I am and I can’t deny that part of me. Being a mom shapes my life and how I see the world.

Is it possible to separate motherhood from one’s identity? Have other moms out there struggled with this issue?

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This blog is intended to provide a forum for parents to share knowledge and resources. It's a place for parents young and old to combine their experiences raising families into a collective whole to help others.

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