Monday, August 31, 2009

Sophie the Teacher

At the Tomko house, the boys (Gabriel and Patrick) have taught Sophie to crawl, jump, eat with her fingers, and play with their toys. They have been so helpful. And so Sophie decided to return the favor. She taught them how to do the 'Indian call'. And she did it during lunch. Yes... that is my daughter. Sophie taught them how to make noises with their hands and mouth.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Jump Up!

Lindsey, who watches Sophie, sent me this video of Sophie playing at her house. Sophie has so much fun there and plays with all their toys. In the video the little boy next to her is Patrick. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lockheed Martin Steak Cook Off!

Lockheed Martin annually hosts a Steak Cook Off at River Woods, which is near the Ouachita River in South Camden. There were about 15 teams out with their grills in the early morning. They had some that had creative team names... there was Grillmasters (which had their tent and everything decked out in camouflage) and the Full Grill Throttle (which had Harley Davidson shirts and items). While the grills were being prepped and the steaks marinated, they had all sorts of activities: BINGO, volleyball tournament, Halo 3 tournament, horseshoes, face painting, and a bounce house. Most things Sophie couldn't do, but we took advantage of the Bounce House and the face painting. Sophie and I both got our face painted like a mouse with a pink nose and whiskers.
Brian entered his team in the volleyball tournament and won. Otherwise, we spent most of the day with Alan, Lindsey, Gabriel, and Patrick Tomko. The Tomko family has been very helpful in making it a bit easier to live in Camden. Lindsey watches Sophie during the days I substitute and Sophie fits in with the family. She even tackled Gabriel one day when they were playing. Anyway, it was a long day (10am to 6pm) and Sophie handled it fairly well... probably made easier by having Gabriel and Patrick to hang out with.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sophie On The Go!

Thanks to the influence of 2 rambunctious little boys, Sophie is an advanced crawler. She's still working on directions, but when she wants to move... she moves! Having 2 other kids around has really helped her! Lindsey has kindly taken some cute pictures and video of their adventures together and as soon as she sends them to me I promise to post them on the blog! She showed me them today and they are ADORABLE!

Speaking of good influences, it's too bad, influences aren't always good. Sub-ing for the High School continues to be depressing. And these kids are not just injuring their own futures, but have the potential to hurt others with their ignorance. Need examples? Ok... they can vote! In class the tv (they have a program they watch everyday that is 12 minutes long of news) talked about how under the Obama administration American citizens' owe the government $89,000 each and if the healthcare bill is added, that cost may go up. When I told them that they said "Why do we have to pay?". I said, "Well, who else do you think the government can get the money from?". They didn't have an answer (which is typical of most of my questions). Another example of ignorance is one kid was talking about how if he has a kid that gets AIDS he won't claim them and won't pay child support. I said it didn't matter. If the DNA matches... the kid is yours... even if it has duck feet. He didn't believe me. UGH! So... thanks to this... I have finally decided that should we be here for any lengthy period of time... Sophie will be homeschooled!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Educating Idiots

Today I spent my first day sub-ing Business classes at Camden-Fairview High School and it was an experience. The school facility itself is new and very nice with a large library, computer lab, cafeteria, and commons area. Because of it's size they also provide a wide range of activities and specialized classes (such as business, foreign languages, drama, etc...). The problem isn't with the school or the facility, they are doing the best that they can to provide a good education, ... it's the students! Not all of the students, but most of the students, have issues. Allow me to provide you some examples from today to help explain what I mean:

1) During 1st period a girl spent the class period explaining to her friends about another girl who was a "bitch" and a "tramp" and how they got into a fight, and she had to pull out her knife. And then she complained that she wasn't being treated like a lady. Really? Are you serious? I wanted to tell her that it was like asking a cow to act like a dog. If you want to be treated like a lady... you might want to start acting like one.
2) A few students openly admitted that they weren't going to make it college and were ok with that (which I guess I should give them credit for at least knowing their educational limits), but instead one girl was proud of the fact that she planned to go "hookin'" once she was out of school. Wow.... great. A future hooker! Most kids want to be pro-athletes, doctors, veterniarians, astronauts, president... but not her! She reaches for the obtainable. (literally).
3) During 6th period I received a vocabulary lesson and learned that a "doughboy" is a term for drug dealer. The reason it was mentioned was because during our class "Banking", he thought it was crap that the government was able to get into his buddy's account and see that he was bringing in money illegally and tracked it to his business of selling illegal drugs... and according to him "That's just wrong". (Oy vey).
4) I learned that most of these students are bilingual. For most of them (not all of them) their first language is ebonics, their second language is broken English. I spent a large portion of the day correcting grammatical errors and saying "I'm sorry... what did you say?".
5) During 1st period, I asked the students to read the 8 pages of their textbook themselves, and I had about 3 students vocalize to me that it wasn't possible, because they didn't know how to read. When I ignored them, they just stared at me and kept their books closed. And guess what... these kids will soon be old enough to vote!

And let me say this again... it is not that the school is failing these students... these students are failing themselves. I would guess that perhaps 50% of the students might actually make it in this world. And of those 50%, maybe half of them will actually make it to college, while the others find other means of success. Perhaps me being "Lil' Mrs. Kansas", I don't really understand the demographic or them, but it was an eye-opener for me. Should we be in Camden for a long period of time (which I doubt, but...) I think we may consider homeschooling.

The only thing I can tell parents who are getting ready to send their kids to school... any school... is not to look at just the condition of the school, or the various opportunities and programs the school has, but also look at the students- because they are going to be influencing your children. So there are some words of wisdom. I have probably this week and next week of these classes and students, so if anymore 'stories' pop-up or if I need to rant and rave... I'm sure to let you know.

On Sophie's experience today... Lindsey told me she did very well and got along with her 2 boys (Gabriel - almost 3, and Patrick- 13 mos.?). She seemed to have a good time and didn't appear to miss me as much as I missed her. So that was good!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

AR Museum of Natural Resources

Today we had a fun-filled trip visiting the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources. The museum located in Smackover, AR (Yup... it's pronounced exactly like it sounds!). They had several parts to the museum and we probably spent a little over 2 hours there. It was very educational with plaques... but they also had lots of hand-held things for kids to do. The main resources located here are Brine (which can be found in purple dye, laundry detergent, and dish soap among other things). The other major resource was the discovery of oil, which can be found in the making of rope, computers, tires, plastic, bug spray, etc...

The main resource that changed the lives of people in Southern Arkansas was the discovery of oil in 1921. Before discovering oil the economy was in decline due to declining cotton and timber markets. Oil was first discovered at Busey No. 1 near El Dorado, AR (which is a few miles south of Smackover) and within months oil was found throughout the area. Within months, Smackover, a village of less than 100 people, boomed to over 25,000 people! And with it came problems controlling the lawlessness. But then even the lawless could become the law. Joe Rochetta (aka- Bob Williams) was a bankrobber who escaped from an Oklahoma State prison. He became a lawyer and then served on the Police Department at one of the nearby oil fields. He eventually decided he was going to turn himself in, but before he could he was gunned down by a Texas Ranger. There is also the story of the youngest mayor of the United States who was a 22 year old college student who served as the 4th mayor in 4 months for the town of Smackover. And if you weren't controlling or regulating the law in Smackover and simply worked the oil fields... you made a fortune! There were more millionaires per capita in Southern Arkansas then anywhere else on earth.

Anyway... so the museum had a lot of fun facts, hands-on educational building things, and town replicas during the 1920s. Then they also had an "Art with Science" thing there. Which had the 'Math of Oragami' (no wonder I don't like oragami... math!). And I had no clue that math had anything to do with oragami... I just figured it was an bunch of Asian women who didn't have anything to do but waste time folding napkins. So... I was wrong. They also had this neat thing with bits and music. A CD has 16 bits... and it was amazing to see the difference sound makes by increasing the number of bits. 'Course if you were a science nut... you know all of this stuff... so just smile and don't say anything regarding my ignorance on this subject. We also got to measure Sophie on this grid that converted inches into nanometers. She was 25 inches tall, which came to about 640 million nanometers.

Then outside they had even more things to do. Seriously, this is a great place to go to get your kids educated and exhausted! Outside were the replicas of the oil derreks and how they changed over time from wooden structures to those of steel. It was a pretty neat place!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"The Rocket"

The video says it all! Sophie loves it when Brian does this.

Down By the River

It's Saturday! And therefore, is a "fun" day to do things. However, today we didn't go far... just to the Ouachita River (correctly pronounced "Wash-it-ah" or Stacey pronounced "Wa-Shit-A") which runs along the city of Camden. Near the river they have a nice park "Sandy Beach" (as opposed to the city park), which also contains some importance in the Camden area during the Civil War. Apparently, Confederate Major General J. B. Magruder created batteries and rifle pits along the west banks of "Sandy Beach" (where the park is currently located) in order to protect the Camden waterfront against the Union. Their objective was to destroy all Union vessles travelling the Ouachita river. 10 batteries and rifle pits were completed along the river in November of 1864, but never actually fired a shot. So there is your little bit of history for today. Something other than history that you can find along the Ouachita River are alligators. That and mosequitos! So if the alligators don't get you... you can bet the mosequitos will!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jammin'... Grape Jammin'

Today we made grape jam. Even Sophie and Oscar helped! Sophie has discovered that if I peel the skins and remove the seeds, she LOVES grapes. Too much actually because she spent most of her time trying to eat the grapes instead. Our grape jam turned out excellent and made a total of 3 pints.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Daycare Found!

Ok... so technically she won't be in a daycare, but a friend, Lindsey, will be watching Sophie! Hurray! Someone trustworthy that won't place her in front of a tv, and will actually give her the attention a child needs. Next week I'll start substitute teaching at the High School. I'll be teaching Business and Finance. I'm sure Brian laughs at that concept since he seems to think my idea of 'Budget' is a rental car company. :) Otherwise, everyone is doing fine here and I swear I must be loosing weight because Sophie is crawling EVERYWHERE and getting into EVERYTHING. Her favorite thing is paper... and she manages to find it or grab it from places I didn't think she could reach. Anyway, here is a video of her dancing and one of her crawling.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gathering Grapes

Today Sophie and I went to Suzanne's Fruit Farm near Hampton, AR to pick grapes. Our party totaled 4 adults and 6 kids. Depending on when you go they have all sorts of fruits, such as peaches, blueberries, and pumpkins. Today, they only had muscadine grapes ripe for the picking. While picking grapes, Sophie got to try her first grape! We picked about 2 lbs. of grapes and plan to use them for homemade grape jelly! We'll update you on how the 'grape jelly' making process goes in a few days.

Daycare Quest

Lately I've noticed a few things about Camden, Arkansas. 1) Most women with children are 'Stay-at-Home' Moms. 2) Because of the quality of daycares available in Camden, AR... I can't blame them! I completed all the requirements and have days scheduled as a substitute teacher for the Camden-Fairview school district, and I'm in desperate need of a daycare. However, I'm picky. Perhaps too picky for Camden's standards. I've been looking everywhere and these are the places I've found that have openings for infants (hmmm... wonder why they have openings?)

1) Thelma Freeman's Day Care
Motto- "Teach 'Em TV"
2 obsese women who put the kids in their living room with a rubbermaid bin of toys and the constant noise and view of the television. And of course their isn't children's educational shows on tv... but the shows that they want to watch throughout the day ... like game shows and soap operas. Great!

2) Diane's Play Yard
Motto- "Lil' Gangsta Paradise"
Kids play inside a crumbling house which is right next to a car salvage yard. And the local community kids like to display their artwork and religious preferences (666) nearby on the "Stop" signs.

3) My Story CDC
Motto- "Welfare Drop Off for Drop Outs"
A small building which parents, or parent, can leave their child while they return to school or work (as in some cases). This place is packed with kids and yet when asked all of them are getting their childcare paid by the state. Sophie would be the first child to NOT be on welfare. Then again, she'd also be the first child their that is white. (Not discriminating... just listing the facts).

4) Felicia's Angels
Motto- "Clean up before they come"
Another small house nearby the Grapette factory. When told that a potential client (aka- myself) was going to come see the place in about an hour.. they mentioned not to come for another 3 hours because they needed to get the house cleaned up. If it isn't clean enough for kids right now while they are there... do I really want Sophie there? Furthermore, the house didn't have air conditioning, just windows opened and a box fan propped in the window. So they might not have AC... but they sure had their Directv!

And so the search continues for a decent daycare. God help me! Will I ever find one?