House Keeping

New year, new attitude, new word, new outlook, time for a new look.

After 220 posts, and keeping pretty much the same old look around here, I decided it’s time to make a few changes on Brain Drops. Nothing too drastic, the writing will remain pretty much the same, since I’m not really changing. But I’ve decided to change up my layout, some links, and a few workings under the hood. So bear with me this week, it shouldn’t take long. I’m curious to see what you all think when it’s done. See you on the other side…

Teaching our kids

It’s a sad reflection on our society today if a teacher doesn’t have confidence that a parent is going to actively be involved in a child’s education.

I recently had a parent/teacher conference and I must say this is the first time I have been disappointed with one of my child’s teachers. Don’t get me wrong, she seems to be a good teacher and Amy really likes her. But I have some reservations.

I’ve known for some time now that I have a smart kid. I know most parents think their kids are smart, but mine is one of those really smart ones. I’m going to have to go back to school to keep up with her at this rate. She has blown the top off of the CRCT standardized tests that they give here in school. She’s reading at a 5th grade level and that’s when she’s not really trying. Her math skills are incredible too. I don’t know any other third graders working on square roots. I don’t even remember what grade I learned that in. I know it wasn’t elementary school.

So when I went to this conference one of my concerns was that she wasn’t allowed to pick more challenging books from the library. The reason I was given: “well if she reads all the higher level books now she won’t have anything to read when she gets to 5th grade.” Is it just me or is there something really wrong with that statement? She went on to say that in 5th grade we would have to go to the public library to get books for her to read and we wouldn’t know which ones were AR books and it would be a lot more work. Ummm… I’m at a loss for words here. Why wouldn’t I do that? If I want what’s best for my child, then I will do whatever it takes.

Are there really that many parents out there who don’t care about their kids education? That is the only thing I can glean from that comment. Has school just become a place where kids are babysat between the hours of 7:30 am and 3:30 pm? And if that’s the case, what are these kids going to do when they grow up?

I know there are some teachers out there reading this blog. Please comment and tell me what you think. Personally, I will continue to work with my daughter, take her to the library, book store, museums, etc. in an effort to continue to challenge her. But if this is what I have to look forward to for the next 9 years, I may have to re-evaluate what we’re doing about schooling.

Taxes, China and A Life Change

This is the story of how working for a tax software company made me a mom.

I used to work for a tax software company. We created an on-line personal tax preparation software program that turned out to be quite successful. For those of you not familiar with the behind the scenes of a software development company, I’ll give you the brief description. Long hours (any where from 8 to 20 hour days, depending on the season). Junk food (take out, pizza, fast food. You name it, we ate it). Good pay (thank God for stock options). No life outside of work and the friends we had there. That pretty much sums up the life that I (and my husband) were living.

Because of the success of the program we created, we were approached by a “bigger” software company, offered lots of money, and eventually bought out and dismantled. While it was sad to see people lose their jobs, see all our hard work just shut down, it turned out to be a turning point in my life.

Thanks to the stock options, I was immediately able to pay off all the debt that my husband and I had accumulated. And it was substantial to say the least. (That’s a story for another post another day).

I also realized that working for a software company was not what I really wanted to do for the rest of my life. It was a great place to be for a season, but it wasn’t what I was passionate about.

One day my husband said to me “I think I hear my biological clock ticking.” I looked at him a bit puzzled and said “isn’t that supposed to be my line?” By this time we had been married almost 10 years and intentionally didn’t have children. But he reminded me of a program we had seen some years earlier about all the abandoned girls in China. He said “I think that’s something maybe we should consider now.”

Before you could say international adoption, we were contacting adoption agencies, figuring costs, looking at different countries, and were one step closer to changing our lives forever.

Well after much paperwork (you think buying a house is a lot of paperwork), several meetings with a social worker, trips to the INS, the jail to be fingerprinted (for the county, state and feds), biographies written and all documentation notarized by the local, state and Chinese governments, we were finally ready to wait. Yes I said wait. Once we had done all this work we had to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Referral times were running around 10 to 11 months. Longer than any pregnancy I had ever heard of.

And then the call came. Work ceased, and the wait for the FedEx guy started. Little did he know the package he was delivering would change not just one life, but three lives forever. After more paperwork, flying for 13+ hours (I called that my labor) one bad meal, one mystery meal, and an exhausting walk on the Great Wall of China we me the most beautiful, precious gift ever given to us and started a new chapter in our lives.

Fast forward 7 1/2 years – and here we are in 2008. Parents of an incredible 8 1/2 year old. Yes, that’s her in the picture above, a few years ago in Leavenworth, Washington. And I could go on, but I will save more of the story for another post.