December 2009


Hi Everyone,

It is travel time again, and although I actually wanted to do some posts ahead, time did not allow.

I know I owe all of you an ending to the stories about Chic and school. The holidays took over in a big way–a good way, but busy. And as always in everyone’s lives, unexpected things happen that sap our time and energy, so that will have to wait a couple of weeks.

So no posts at all while I am gone, but I will leave with you a sky picture from that wonderful reststop in Amarillo (which I will see today).

And after all of this is over, I really do hope to catch up a bit on the visiting! As the holiday stories unfold, I think you will understand about my limited time lately.

Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

I do not know what this was, but I liked the colors and textures.

Advertisements

You might think I am fixated on bathrooms. Not really, but I do appreciate a nice one, and especially a clean one, so here is another My World Tuesday post that is basically about a bathroom!

I live in New Mexico, and New Mexico has lousy rest stops. Honestly, do not stop at one unless you are dying. I would rather go behind a tree (which is a problem because there are not a lot of those along the highways in New Mexico) than stop at a rest stop in this state. I have more than one horror story relating to rest stops in New Mexico.

But Texas is different. Now it is quite a large state, so I cannot speak to every rest stop on every highway. But in the panhandle, the rest stops are nice–extremely nice. There are not many of them, but the panhandle is small. My favorite one is on the east side of  Amarillo at Exit 76 on I-40.

This rest stop is spacious and clean and just a nice place to stop. On our trips to and from Missouri, we always get gas in Amarillo (and often food), but we go to the rest stop additionally because it is cleaner, and we used to have a dog with us, so it was a better place to let him out.

Take a look.

This row of flags greets us upon entering. We think (but I was too lazy to research it) they are for all of the countries that have owned Texas.

The front entrance.

When walking into the building from the front, one crosses a bridge over this ornamental, dry riverbed. (My kids beg to play in it. I don't let them.)

A giant open field with rusted western ornaments surrounds the building on three sides. I let my kids run here. And the dog. But beware. Goatsheads may be prevalent at certain times of the year. Shoes and socks required, and you might have to take a spike out of a tender dog paw.

This is the back entrance. I just love that it is almost as nice as the front entrance.

When first entering the restroom, I am always taken by the cleanliness and nice smell. I kind of like the ceiling in there, too!

This is the floor of the bathroom stall. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a stray hair or even a spec of dust on it, let alone paper scraps and other debris!

The row of sinks. Rarely a drop of water on the counter do I find. I have never seen a janitor or worker in the bathroom. Maybe they are just so nice they inspire passers-through to keep them clean and dry.

This corridor leads from the restrooms to the front door. I like all the light.

I call this "the library." I have never seen such a large and tidy display of area information and brochures. The people working there are friendly. It is just a lovely place that makes me wish I had more time to stay.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

This was some of the holiday décor at the outdoor shopping complex, Branson Landing.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

When we were in Branson, we went to the Shoji Tabuchi Theater. Shoji is a violinist from Japan than arrived in Branson some twenty years ago. I will admit to never having visited his show (or most of the shows in Branson) until I moved away and returned as a tourist.

Over Thanksgiving we went to the Christmas show (really, REALLY nice), and I decided you needed to see the bathroom. I had seen in once before, but decked out for Christmas was even better. It won the most extreme bathroom (along with some others) in a Travel Channel Survey/Contest. The photos are not stellar as lighting was pretty and soft, and I really do not like using a flash. And I did not have a tripod, but you will get the idea.

Upon entering was this display on a sidebar-type piece of furniture.

This bright tree greeted my eyes right away as well.

This is sort of the "town square" for the bathroom stalls. Those oak doors you can see in the background are the stalls. This santa was the display in the middle for the holidays. Each stall had a wreath or something decorative in it as well.

This was the fireplace. Sorry for the flash, but it was just too dark for a non-flash photo. I loved Santa's purple suit.

Fresh orchids are placed at each sink weekly.

Fresh orchids are placed onto each sink weekly.

This is a view of the row of sinks with their pretty lights decorated for Christmas.

A chandalier dressed for the holidays. The ceiling is also purple.

The "Lotion Cart." We got there very early, so the "Lotion Lady" was not on duty yet. When you are there later, a nice lady squirts scented lotion onto your hands for you.

Leaving the restroom.

Apparently the men’s restroom is just as elaborate, but less frilly. There is a pool table (not a cheap one) in it. I am not brave enough to go in there to take pictures, but enough women are that there is a sign on the door that women should not be in there.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Monday afternoon we finished the last bit of outside decorating for the holidays.  I could not  help but notice how beautiful the sky was, and I loved this angle with the bells.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

This post is a continuation of my series about some things going on in our family right now. Those are posts are:

On Tolerance, Part 1

On Tolerance, Part 2

On Education Rankings, Part 1

On Education Ranking, Part 2

The pictures are a continuation of my trip to Disneyland with Chic for her 5th birthday.

For the most part I am opposed to school awards. It somewhat ties into the same reason I am opposed to allowances for very young children or for children who do chores around the house. To me, every family member has work to do in a house, and giving my children money to do their share of work teaches them that they should be paid for everything. When my children are a couple of years older, I will start with allowances in order to teach them money management, but it will not be tied to chores.

Similarly, it seems to me that school awards have often devolved into awards for things that should be expected, not for anything truly meaningful.

At the end of last school year, Chic’s school had an awards ceremony. As the art teacher, I was instructed the day of it that I needed to give awards for art class. I asked what the criteria were. “Whatever I want.” With so little time, I gave awards for “Excellence in Artistic Ability” and “Excellence in Attitude.” Not more than two people in each class got an award.

One of Chic's favorite rides was "Dumbo" because she could be in charge of what happened to it. (My stomach was better if I was pointing the camera at fixed objects.)

But many think today that everyone needs an award. Awards for showing up to school. Should everyone not be expected to show up to school? Why would there be an award for that? (This only translates to people thinking they need special treatment later in life at their jobs because they did the job for which they were hired–the one they were expected to perform.) So I cannot think of a reason why I would support the idea that “everyone wins.” If everyone wins, it takes a lot of the steam from the person(s) who really won, and in my opinion does nothing to promote initiative. If everyone must receive something, I am not entirely opposed to getting recognition for participation, but an award is extreme.

So back to last year’s awards. Before the event, I talked to Chic’s teacher about it and asked her how she meant to handle the awards. My reason for this was that as a first grader, Chic was ahead of everyone in her classroom (including the second graders) in reading, spelling and math. From my dealings with parents or art class students, I knew that if Chic got awards for all the areas in which she excelled, other parents would be angry. A large part of me does not care about that, but that anger comes out in their kids at school. So I asked. Her teacher, (from now on, Ms. J) said that she gives awards for all kinds of things, not just academic performance, which assures that everyone is included. I did not discuss this further as I thought that would satisfy the masses (even though I do not necessarily agree with it).

This ride made me so sick that when Chic wanted to do it again, we had to find some people who would go with her. Her stomach is made of sterner stuff than mine!

So awards night came. Chic got four awards: Presidential Physical Fitness, Principal’s List, Science and Art (Excellence in Attitude. I realize it seems like I was favoring her, but I am not kidding when I say she has the worst class for behavior in the whole school. She absolutely does NOT cause any trouble in art class and always has a nice attitude. I gave the award to one other girl who was rotten all year but really improved the last month.) The first 3 awards were completely objective. The first two were from the school, and the third one from the Science teacher who apparently awarded it to her top students. But Chic got no awards from her everyday teacher.  As I listened to the awards being listed and students going up, I was shocked. Yes, the teacher gave awards for spelling, math and reading, but Chic, although ahead of the grade above her in all of the subjects, got none of them. Then the teacher made up awards to cover the less studious people which included things as irrelevant as “nicest smile” (SO not kidding), and  Chic got none of those. But get this, some of the other students got multiple awards from Ms. J.  I was taken aback, but decided I was not willing to address the issue. I will discuss this teacher at length in a later post, but the short story is that it is difficult impossible to have a coherent conversation with her, and because I knew I would have to deal with her at least one more year (Chic’s 2nd grade) and possibly another 3 years (also Chicklet’s 1st and 2nd grade), I did not want to anger her.

This was on a 25+ - minute boat ride. Chic found a friend right away.

But Chic noticed. She asked why her teacher did not give her any awards. Although I knew the answer, I thought she might not, so I asked, “Were there not other children in your classroom that did not get any awards from the teacher?” “Only Hunter,” she said, “but I know the Ms. J does not like him.” To me those are profound words coming from the mouth of a 7-year-old. I personally knew Ms. J did not like Hunter because I had heard her complain bitterly about him (I personally like him. He had some issues, but was willing to try and learn, and he was kind.), but for my daughter to notice that was quite another story.

So what was I to do? My daughter wanted to know why her teacher did not see fit to give her any awards. I lied. I said she probably was so busy she just did not remember to include everyone.  I will admit it is not the first time I have lied to my daughter about what goes on in her classroom. She has never once complained about her teacher, but she has asked questions on several occasions or told me scenarios that make me realize she is quite astute at assessing situations. I want her to respect her teachers, so I lie because if I tell her the truth, there is little room for respect with this teacher.

So why are awards so important? What is gained by them? Does the person who was doing just OK in spelling but got the award have an incentive to do better in spelling? Does the person who got the “nicest smile” award have any incentive to do anything better? Does my daughter have any incentive to excel in her own classroom? Seems to me not a lot of incentive was generated on any front.

Note:  This year we have a new principal who has a different view of awards. There will be specific criteria based on having maintained a certain grade for each of the first three quarters of school. I am grateful for this change, but I do believe the other award mentality is more prevalent among most of the other teachers (excepting the science teacher) and definitely among most of the other students and parents. What a battle we seem to be fighting almost every single day.

Chic was only 5, so we did not stay for the fireworks every night. The night we stayed, the weather did not allow them to go, but they made it snow for us instead. I would love to show you the picture of Chic's face full of wonder catching the "snow," but I do not post such pictures on the internet. It was beautiful.

When I was in Missouri, I wanted to visit Branson Landing.

When I lived there, this high-end shopping/condo area was not in existence. I had been there about 1-1/2 years ago on a Missouri visit and needed to go back.

But not for the shopping. I hate shopping, even if they DO have some of my very favorite stores. I actually did not go inside one single store.

I went for the water show.

It's not as big as the water show at the Bellagio, but it is still very nice. When it is hot, children sit and play at the edge of the water and get drenched. (It was not hot on this day!)

I will admit to being slightly disappointed because it was only hourly in late  November, and there was only one song. (It lasted 15-20 minutes when I saw it before, and I think it was more frequently.) But it was the best song because there was lots of fire with the water.

I did not even notice how much the fire reflected in the water until I uploaded the pictures.

The fire adds so much when being there in person. It has an exciting look to it, the sound is cool and it is warm.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Next Page »