Tag Archives: kids

3/29/17 National Test Day: Please Read

Hello, this is Liz. Maggie is taking the day off.

Most adults are sweating the April tax deadline. However, many kids are dreading April 8, “National Test Day”. In case you’re not familiar with this, on this date, high school entrance exams, the ACT, SAT, and other standardized tests are held throughout the nation.

My son James is taking the ACT with the writing portion on April 8.

I’d like to say, I’m not a huge fan of standardized tests. I understand perfectly that schools need a benchmark, but frankly, not all kids are great test-takers, and many students miss a great fit with their desired school because of standardized testing. One can’t show creativity and passion while filling in an oval. I’d like to talk about this a minute, and I apologize if this gets a little long. But if you only read one blog of mine this year, I beg you, let this one be it.

I’ve got three kids: Mike, my inherited son from Jim’s first marriage; my son Erik, and my son James. Each child is wildly different than the other. They’ve all had different approaches and attitudes about school. Imagine three different roller coasters, and you’ll have an idea!

Mike, quick on his feet and charming, was an outstanding test taker. He scored very high on the ACT. Mike loved high school sports and played on a couple of different teams, and was very good at the social aspect of school. Mike had a lot of friends and had a regular “posse” he hung around with. Although he was a great test taker, he found that a middle-of-the road curriculum suited him best for academics. Mike’s strengths were found in his social skills and ability to make and keep friends. After high school, he landed a commissioned sales job that suited his skill set very well, and today, he is happy with his career and is successful in his profession.

Erik, somewhat moody and wildly creative, was not a good test taker. He scored about average on the ACT. Erik had a terrible high school experience and hated sports. He excelled in Art, however, and flourished in any creative class that was thrown at him. From watercolors and calligraphy to pottery, he was truly in his element. After high school, Erik decided to pursue Cosmetology classes, and that is where his grades went through the roof. Comfortable in an environment that encouraged passion and creativity, Erik’s grade average was 96%+ and graduated with a straight A average. Erik is now a Master Stylist with a major chain, and has full benefits at his job. He has an astonishing request rate at the salon – even I have to make an appointment to see him!

James took the ACT when he was 13. He did very well. He took it again as a practice test last year, and scored two points higher. To prepare for the ACT this year, he is doing independent study, classes after school, and tutoring on his own time. He expects to raise his previous, practice ACT score by two or three points. James is enjoying high school immensely. Although his is not a “sports guy”, he’s a “Robotics guy” and enjoys tinkering with various projects. James has a knack for details and dates and hopes to get a specialized History PhD when he completes high school, with an eye on teaching college-level classes. He is relishing taking the Writing portion of the ACT because he feels this is where is greatest strength is going to be. On a side note, I never have to ask Jamie to do his homework; rather, I worry about him “beating himself up” about it too much.

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I learned, through my extremely different children, that it’s OK to excel or not to excel at these standardized tests. And if you’re that parent trying to push your kid into being the lawyer or doctor or football star you never were – please, please, stop. Your kid might be your child, but he or she is his or her own individual person and we as parents might know them well, but still, you can’t be in another person’s skin and know what makes them tick. It’s OK to be a school person or not a school person. There’s something out there for all of us, but we have to find it individually.

You, as a parent, might be sweating National Test Day right along with your offspring. I can give you the wisdom of my experience to let you know it’s going to be all right. There’s room for lawyers, doctors, football stars, entrepreneurs, actors, scientists, teachers, salespersons, and all the rest, and some you can’t imagine. I am saying to you today, encourage your child to be THEIR best, not YOUR best. Let them shine in their own way, and they’ll do you proud and probably surprise you. Had I tried to fit any of my square pegs into round holes, it would have been a disaster.

National Test Day is right around the corner. Some will thrive, but we’ll all survive.

Your friend,



PS – I made the bed with fresh linens today and Maggie is enjoying the afternoon snoozing on the soft sheets and blankets. She sends a Woof and will see you tomorrow!




4/15/14 Guest Blogger: “Jamie, Willy Wonka and the Cheap Makeup Factory”

So the other day we had the performance of the school play, “Willy Wonka Jr.”   The play was an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s story Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.  I tried out for the part of “Grandpa Joe”, but I was cast as an Oompa Loompa along with a lot of other kids.  We pretty much had to go out and sing and dance every time one of the main characters met their doom. I was okay with my role, it’s just we had to wear this cheap orange face paint on stage.  The only time the nasty crud came off was when I didn’t want it to!  It also smelled like dead fish. Right under my nose!  My cheeks have been red for days from it.

In addition, I had to wear a brown t-shirt with a bunch of tape designs on it, white see-thru baseball pants with fake suspenders that kept gettin’ ripped off (of course I wore white basketball shorts underneath the pants), and a green tinsel wig.  I would take pictures, but the school commandeered my costume after the performance, calling it “skewl pr0p3rtY.”  Mom may have one to post later, though.

We had to go on stage a few times, four to be exact.  There are four Oompa Loompa dances, so I had to dance twelve times between  Friday and Saturday.  I’d say it was a good performance, but our mics kept getting messed up. That didn’t apply to us, though. Oompa Loompas don’t get mics.  I guess there were enough of us that we were loud without them.

I was scared before the show, and before I knew it, I was in the pitch black of the back stage, with Mr. S. telling us to go on stage and start entertaining.  At least our songs were kinda cool.  They weren’t cool like Blink-182 or Flux Pavilion, but compared to other songs that other characters had to sing, ours were good…

Oompa Loompa doo-pa-dee-do! I’ve got the perfect Puzzle for you! Oompa Loompa doo-pa-dee-de! If you were wise you’d listen to me…”  This one kid kept calling us “Oompa Dupas” and “Chumba Lumbas”.  But Mom says “dupa” isn’t nice to say.

BUT…..The real big hassle was……DrumRoll please…

                      TECH WEEK

                       TECH WEEK

                          TECH WEEK

Tech week was a week of normal play rehearsals, but we used costumes and props. 0k? Not bad.  Well, TECH WEEK play rehearsals started at 5:50 and ended at 9:30…AT NIGHT! (Spongebob reference)

That, and our Math teacher decided that Wednesday was the PERFECT day to assign a 40-problem math worksheet all about adding and subtracting mixed numbers.  Have you ever done that? ONE PROBLEM takes like, fifteen minutes to do!

But anyway, that was the horrors and benefits of the play.  I have to admit, I’m gonna miss going on stage with the bright lights and seeing the vast expanse of black before me, hearing the applause and the laughter.

As a reward, I dipped into my Confirmation money and bought a snazzy par of Converse All Stars, an awesome pair of shades, and a Steampunk top-hat, complete with gears on the side.

There’s no business like show business!  But I’m kinda glad Mom made butterscotch pudding for dessert, since right now I feel like I never want to see another chocolate bar again!


1/24/14 Liberry Cards

Mom came home from work and had some more stories to tell about the little kids:


(knock on liberry door)

(Mom) “_____, come in!  Class  has already started!  Where have you been?”

(kid, loudly) “I had a bad poop.”  (Walks stiffly into room.)

(Mom, observing) “Are you OK now, buddy?”

(kid, over shoulder) “Yeah, I’m fine.  It’s out now.”

*              *             *

(kid) “Teacher, guess what?”

(Mom) “I give up.  What?”

(kid)  “This book smells like chicken!”

*               *               *

(Mom) “______________, what are you doing?  I saw you jumping on that chair!”

(kid) “I didn’t know.  It was an accident.  I didn’t mean to.  I love your shirt, sweater, earrings, manicure and shoes.  Are you going to tell my teacher what I did?”

*               *                *

Mom says the kids are the cards in the liberry.  She also says “they learn young”.

Woof!  Love, Maggie



112/17/13 Mom’s notes from the liberry

As you know, Mom is working in the liberry at school.  I peeped into her journal about the things that happen there.  Here are a few anecdotes:

(girl) I need help finding a book.

(mom) What kind of book are you interested in?

(girl) (twists hair in fingers) I want a pretty book, with pretty girls, and pretty pictures.  And a dancing kitty.

*     *     *

(boy) (slams book on table)

(mom) Hey!  Easy on the books!  Some of these books are as old as me!

(boy) So, you mean the books are 100 years old?

*     *     *

(boy) (checking out book)

(mom)  May I stamp your book, sir?

(boy) You don’t have to call me, “sir”.

(mom) Well, what do you want me to say?  Do you want me to say “hey you?”

(boy) Why don’t you call me Joe?  (long pause)  Cause that’s my name. 

*     *     *

(mom) Room ____ !  You are getting waaay too loud! You need to turn down the volume!

(girl) I love you.


6/16/13 Father’s Day

Father’s Day is a great day because it is all about Dad.  I love Dad!  He is the Best!  I don’t get to see Dad a lot, so when I do, it is always a special time filled with love.

Dad works 6 days a week so Mom can stay home with Jamie and me.  I have a lot of love for him for that!  I have a lot of respect for Dad, too, because of something new I learned about him.  I realized just how responsible he is by piecing together bits of conversation between him and Mom.  Apparently, there was a time not long ago when A Certain Family Member dropped off half her litter at our front door for Dad and Mom to raise, because she didn’t want to be a Mom anymore.  The rest she left to Other Family.  (I have seen this many times in the Animal Kingdom.)  This was Before My Time.

Dad and Mom had their own kids at home and Grandma duties.  At times, there were 9 humans living in the house, and not a lot of food left over.  Dad was doing all the supporting but he never complained, because he didn’t want anyone to be abandoned or Stray.

When the kids got older and moved out, Dad opened his big heart to me, and I left the Shelter after 6 months.  So to me, he is the Best Dad Ever!

Since it is Father’s Day, I got to meet Mike, Dad’s oldest son.  Mike does not live here at home anymore.  But, he came over and spent time for a visit so that Dad and Mom and Jamie could go out with their best friends, the Serafins, for something called, “brunch”.

Mike stayed and watched over Grandma and me.  We had a wonderful time!  Even though Mike is a real grown-up, he still loved to play with the tennis ball and throw the stick to me.  I like Mike a lot, and hope he comes back soon!

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there, whether you had your own litter or took on a litter of someone else’s and made them your own.  Thank you for your love, hard work, and responsibility.  Woof!