Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A new school!

My four-year-old daughter is enrolled in a new (different, really, but it IS new to her) preschool and she really likes it. Her first day was Monday. It was a little crazy since she isn't the only child coming over from the other school I have talked about in some of my recent posts, but they'll get everything straightened out soon. The program and routine is similar to the one she was in before and she's adjusting well.

The disadvantage of this school is that there is no transportation provided to the preschool students. The head start she was attending sent a van by every morning; my daughter got on the van right about the same time her older sister caught the bus to school every morning.

Now I take her to school every day and pick her back up in the evenings because the preschoolers are not allowed to ride the school bus. This is requiring a bit of adjustment on my part (I don't get dressed for public viewing and leave the house every day since I work from home, or at least I didn't used to get decent every day) but it could turn out to be an advantage.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Spring break is over!

The last official day of spring break was today. We have sure had a full week with lots of visiting with family. It was a cold and miserable week but family brightened things up, and on Friday the sun finally came out to make for a pretty weekend.

Tomorrow we resume our normal schedule of school and work, with my younger daughter entering a new preschool tomorrow! How exciting!

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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring break!

It's spring break for my children and what a week it is turning out to be. Although spring has ushered in a lot of cold, rainy and miserable weather, a special visitor has brightened things up tremendously for my children. Their aunt (my sister), who is also on spring break, changed her vacation plans for the week and decided to come spend some time with us.

We girls have done a lot of eating and shopping while my sister's husband has stayed home keeping the fire going and my husband has kept his regular work schedule. The guys have gotten in on the eating in the evenings.

It's turned out to be a really special spring break.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back to school!

This afternoon was parent-teacher conference at my first grader's school, and back to the book fair for all of us!

We heard very good comments from her teacher, and got an excellent report card with high grades in both math and literacy. She had good marks for conduct and while she missed several days of school this time, there weren't any tardies! We had a little problem with tardies during the first semester of kindergarten, when I was taking her to school, but now she rides the bus and she hasn't been tardy since!

After the visit with her teacher we all went back down to the book fair and bought a few more books, including "When Marian Sings," about Marian Anderson, the first African-American opera singer.

I wanted this story because the school where Afican-American students attended before integration in my hometown was called the Marian Anderson school. By the time I came along it was the middle school (with fifth and sixth grades in the old elementary school and seventh and eighth grades in the old high school) but I never really knew the story behind the name other than she was a famous opera singer. I'm glad I know more details of her fascinating story and can share this book with my children.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Book fair time!

This week is book fair week at my daughter's school, and today was my day to volunteer. It is so fun to help the little kids pick out their books, to see the excitement on their faces as they choose new reading material. It's almost as fun as buying books myself.

A former teacher and I went around the shelves pulling books off to buy later on in the day. I chose the National Geographic volume "American Heroes" and "The Dream and the Struggle: Separate But Not Equal" by Jim Haskins. These two books are written for middle school students but are still good reminders for someone like me whose memory is getting a little foggy. Plus we'll have them around when the girls get a little older.

My daughter chose some books for herself and for her sister, and now we have softcover books laying around on just about every surface in the house. It's wonderful to see them read and to help them learn to love reading.

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Monday, March 13, 2006

What about another school?

My daughter is being forced to leave her head start program but the preschool program at the local public school has invited her to join the four-year-old class there. Her six-year-old sister attends first grade there.

This is being considered as an option for her, and for me too. I work from home during the day and this would give her an opportunity to continue her routine and be able to learn and socialize while I work.

The disadvantage is I would have to take her to school. Her sister rides the school bus, and her old school picked her up in transportation provided by the head start organization. I think we can work with this, though.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Bad news from school

We got some bad news from my four-year-old daughter's head start center earlier this week. I was summoned to the center and met privately with a representative of the organization, who informed me that my child is one of 10 who will be dismissed from the school next week for budget reasons.

This announcement stung me hard and I began asking question after question, but nothing really made sense. What I was able to gather from my conversation with the respresentative of the head start organization is that there is a budget shortfall and children who enrolled as three-year-olds back in August are being culled from the enrollment to make up for this shortage.

This is completely unfair and doesn't sound right. How do you ask a child to leave school in the middle of a term? Is this legal? What are they thinking? Head start is to benefit children and how are they to get any benefit if they are not there?

I couldn't help but muse that this should have been the last thing done to help make up for expenses. Most of the children who enroll in head start are considered low income or disabled and many of them would not receive the services they receive if they were not enrolled in head start.

Many of our parents are single parents, working parents, or both, and are not able to afford day care for their children. At head start they are in a loving, caring, learning environment where they receive two meals a day plus health, mental health, dental and other services along with classroom learning.

The entire head start organization is affected but students are being dropped from our center only. Our school seems to be a target because of the way the building is laid out. It can only accomodate a certain number of students because of that, and this number is lower than the number that the head start office wants us to enroll. This is very unfair to our school.

This is a bad idea all the way around. I am doing my part to publicize the dismissals but the decision has already been made. Her last day is next week.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

It wasn't what we thought

It turned out that the ringworm my daughter contracted from school wasn't ringworm and wasn't even something that was contagious!

I was treating her spots with tea tree oil, which is an excellent antifungal substance, and an antifungal ointment but spots kept popping up on her hairline, her chest and her back. I finally took her to the doctor, who was immediately doubted that it was ringworm. A sampling of the skin was taken for testing and I was told to keep doing what I had been doing for her.

The call from the doctor came the next day or so with the diagnosis of pityriasis, supposedly a harmless skin condition that isn't contagious. I could quit the antifungal ointment since it wasn't a fungus but I continued with the tea tree oil since it fights all kinds of bad stuff. The spots would stop popping out in a few weeks.

The new outbreaks did subside after a while, and so did my scalp itch. The strangest things happen sometimes!

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Things that go itch

From the very moment I realized my daughter had contracted ringworm (so I thought) from school, my head started crawling. My face and neck itched too, but not like my head. I figured it was probably all IN my head, but in the meantime, what to do?

I already knew what to do. Apply the eczema remedy. The chigger healer. The mosquito bite miracle. It's commonly called tea tree oil, but is actually from the leaf of the melaleuca alternifolia tree in Australia. I got turned on to this first aid in a bottle when a friend was applying the oil directly from the bottle to her daughter's mosquito bite. What is that? I inquired.

We were right in the middle of a crusade to find something to ease our daughter's raging eczema. Lotions and creams did not work. We had found one store brand that contained cucumber that did a fairly good job of controlling it, but of course the company stopped making it. We looked everywhere but to no avail. I even purchased some off the Internet, paying in shipping the price of another bottle of the stuff.

We so happened to find several bottles of the cucumber lotion on the bottom clearance shelf and bought them all, literally whooping with joy. That was a couple of years ago and we still have a few bottles because we found something even better — tea tree oil.

The oil, which is not oily and can be applied straight from the bottle onto problem skin of any kind, did wonders to heal th
e itchy patches of skin on my daughter's neck, wrists, and knees.

The last time I got a nasty bout of chiggers, the thing that really helped the horrible itch — mosquitos, the Arkansas state bird, don't really find me tasty but the chiggers make up for it — was bathing in water that contained a few drops of tea tree oil, and then applying more directly to the bites before sealing them with nail polish to smother them. Viola! No itching until nighttime, when I itch because I'm sleepy!

Then the ringworm comes along. Before I even found out exactly what they were, I was already treating the mysterious spots with the oil. When my head started crawling I washed my hair with shampoo containing the miracle oil and then massaged some tea tree oil (also called melaleuca oil) directly onto my scalp. Not only did it not ease the itch, it made my hair really soft! How 'bout that — another use for my favorite substance!

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Yucky kids' stuff

My younger daughter contracted what I thought was a highly contagious fungal infection — the one commonly known as ringworm — from her school. Now, I'm not one to get upset over things and I realize that this is a common childhood occurrence, but the more I thought about it the more annoyed I got. Perhaps I overreacted.

The two little spots in her hairline right above her temple looked like bug bites, which would be a little unusual in the winter but this is Arkansas and bugs can thrive through our mild cold spells at the end of the year. They broke and looked like flat round irritations, neither near as big as a dime. I was puzzled by their appearance, but I didn't think much of it.

A closer look a couple of days later made me wonder whether or not it was ringworm. Her grandmother wasn't sure but her play grandmother thought like I did and encouraged me to ask her school.

I did, and right away was told it was ringworm. Who has ringworm out here, I asked? Immediately a child was pointed out to me. My daughter and this child have a hat just alike, and I was certain their hats got mixed up.

What to do? I had already been treating the spots with Melaleuca oil, just as I do everything on the skin. I had been using Melaleuca Dermatin and Triple Antibiotic Ointment as well, so it turns out I was doing the right thing. I quit using the antibiotic ointment and upped the use of the oil and Dermatin.

The bed got stripped and all the linens were washed with hot water, as was her hat. A day after the diagnosis, a little spot on her nose that had looked like a scratch manifested itself as ringworm.

What? The scarf went in the trash next. She had had this scarf wrapped around her face a couple of days before. I got kind of paranoid after that, checking her all over her face and body a few times a day for suspicious-looking little spots. Her sister got several close examinations, too, since she gets every little skin irritation that comes along.

My daughter with the ringworm missed school until figured I had cleared it up enough to where I though she wouldn't pass it along to other children. It would have been courteous of the other child's parent, and the school, to keep this other child out of school until she was no longer contagious as well. Alas, it is not the policy of the school, I found out.

What next?

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Monday, March 06, 2006

A marathon of a weekend

This past weekend was a busy one for my family but one that we thoroughly enjoyed. The highlight was to be my husband's participation in the Little Rock Marathon but his most proud accomplishment turned out to be something quite different.

An easygoing family that can and does easily adapt our plans, we started out the weekend with plans to participate in our volunteer Bible preaching work, but a late rising Saturday morning eliminated that. My husband decided that a good way to spend the day would be to pull up the carpeting in the front room of our house, so he went about his day ripping up not only the carpet but the padding and everything all the way down to the plywood floor.

This was no easy or short task, as there was particle board nailed to the base wood. He struggled with pulling up the particle board for hours; more than once I figured I ought to help but decided it would be better for everyone involved if I just stayed out of the way.

The girls played and I tried to work, but the racket was considerable and I just gave up. Everyone but me turned in early for the next day, Sunday, was the big marathon day.

My husband competed in the marathon as a member of a relay team, although two of the original four team members had to bow out because of a death in the family. My husband and the remaining workmate on his team completed the half marathon as a team and received relay medals.

This was no easy task either, since each relay leg was over six miles long. The hard work on the floor the day before didn't help any but he made it through. When all was said and done, he said his proudest accomplishment wasn't running six miles in the Little Rock Marathon but getting that flooring up. I hope his next achievement will be replacing it!

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Ready, set, marathon!

The Little Rock Marathon this weekend was not only a way for our family to stretch our legs but turned out to be a great way to meet and see race celebrities.

The governor, widely famed for his weight loss and his Healthy Arkansas plan, was expected to compete but I didn't see him for the first half of the race. My doubts about his athletic prowess were soon stilled as he whizzed past me as I stood right beside the course at the halfway point. We didn't catch up with him while he wasn't in motion, but I'm sure we'll see plenty of photos of him in the papers and on the news in the coming days. It was his second Little Rock marathon (and third overall) and he finished in an impressive four hours, 25 minutes.

My children had the chance to meet the winner and some of the first finishers, a group of healthy and athletic men from Kenya. The winner set a race record of finishing the entire 26.2 miles in two hours, 19 minutes, and 48 seconds. We saw him whiz by at the first relay exchange and the pace car was going pretty fast to keep up with his steady pounding on the pavement.

Everyone in the marathon wasn't a lean mean running machine. Those types were outnumbered by everyday people, quite a few who are older, younger, and a little larger that what you might expect at a racing event. Those are the ones I enjoy seeing and cheering on.

The girls saw plenty of dogs along the race course and even someone dressed up in a money roll outfit. As I chatted with a high school classmate — we usually see each other at sporting competitions around the state — my children and hers rolled in the dry grass on the State Capitol lawn. She beat her previous time by finishing the half marathon in just under two hours and was proud of that.

Of course our family's race celebrity was my husband, who finished his leg — a little better than six miles — in less than an hour and a half! He's not the fastest thing out there, but he was out there and he finished, and that is most certainly a winning combination.

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Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Things my mom taught me

This humorous spiel came to me by way of email, and I thought it made a lot of sense. Here it is:

Things my mom taught me

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."
2. My mother taught me RELIGION.
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."
3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"
4. My mother taught me LOGIC.
" Because I said so, that's why."
5. My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
"If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you're not going to the store with me."
6. My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."
7. My mother taught me IRONY.
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."
8. My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
"Shut your mouth and eat your supper."
9. My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
"Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!"
10. My mother taught me about STAMINA.
"You'll sit there until all that spinach is gone."
11. My mother taught me about WEATHER.
"This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it."
12. My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY.
"If I told you once, I've told you a million times. Don't exaggerate!"
13. My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."
14. My mother taught me about BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.
"Stop acting like your father!"
15. My mother taught me about ENVY.
"There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don't have wonderful parents like you do."
16. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
"Just wait until we get home."
17. My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
"You are going to get it when you get home!"
18. My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
"If you don't stop crossing your eyes, they are going to freeze that way."
19. My mother taught me ESP.
"Put your sweater on; don't you think I know when you are cold?"
20. My mother taught me HUMOR.
"When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don't come running to me."
21. My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
"If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up."
22. My mother taught me GENETICS.
"You're just like your father."
23. My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
"Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?"
24. My mother taught me WISDOM.
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."
25. And my favorite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE.
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you!

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