That’s what my 7-year-old son said as he sat on a rocking bench with his arm around a red-headed girl 4 inches taller than himself.
Actually, the girl, who Seth plays golf with, is only one day older than my boy. But her dad has a good 4 or 5 inches on me, so I guess her height shouldn’t have been a total surprise. Seeing my son with his arm around the girl, however, was.
Later, at home, I asked Seth whose idea the seating arrangement was, and he said the girl. Phwew, the laws of physics have been restored.
While I was aware that some of the state parks in Arizona were about to be closed because of budget cuts, it’s another to read the list and realize my kids will not be able to visit some of my local favorites from when I first lived in the Grand Canyon state.
How can they be closing Lost Dutchman, Red Rock, Tonto Natural Bridge and Picacho Peak state parks? When the state’s park budget goes from $26 million a year to $7.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
While most of these parks are not famous like Arizona’s big boys up north and down south, it’s hard for me to fathom that almost two-thirds of the state’s parks will be closed to the public by June.
Besides the main list, other parks have already been closed or transferred. Only one is receiving outside funds – the fantastic Boyce Thompson Arboretum – to stay open.
Other states are considering similar measures, but I don’t think any have gone as far as Arizona yet. California, for example, has proposed expanded oil drilling off Santa Barbara’s coastline to help keep its parks open.
Is the trade off worth it? Regardless, oil is not an option for Arizona.
There are times – generally 24-7 – when I struggle with being the ideal parent. I’m never satisfied that I’m doing a good job, but at least I’ve learned enough to keep my obsessive-ness to myself and away from my children as much as possible.
One of the things I’ve learned – in particular by reading Philip at Blue Sloth and recalling my days of teaching technology in the newsroom – is that incremental education seems to work best. What I have observed is this: when adults start something new, we learn a lot, amazingly fast or we fail to get it at all.
But those who “get it” quickly often fall into a few traps: 1. We decide the object of learning is too easy and become bored or cocky. 2. We become overconfident and stop trying as hard in subsequent lessons. 3. Students who are accustomed to easy learning sometimes give up when the subject matter gets more difficult and frustrating.
When students don’t get the subject material at all, the traps are even more ugly. 1. I’ve seen students get so frustrated or upset they can’t think. 2. Others give up because they erroneously judge themselves stupid.
In all the above traps, resistance to the activity builds. You have to really nudge the kids back onto the playing field or to pick up a drawing pencil again. (It’s even harder with adults.)
This year, I decided to make all my kids’ lunches for school. After being appalled by the choices offered to Seth last year, I decided it was better to give my kids a homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich than to spend money on the endless junk food offered by the school.
In all fairness, the menus at Seth and Lael’s school are fairly conventional: pizza and burgers with vegetables or fruit. But I worried that the ingredients within those foods contained high fructose corn syrup, refined flours, low-quality cheese and low-quality meat.
Still, you probably wonder every day if it’s worth rushing around each morning to make lunch for the kids. Or perhaps you wonder if it’s worth making the leap.
Well, wonder no longer: Ed Bruske, who writes for Grist, spent a week at his daughter’s Washington, D.C., school discovering how lunches are prepared. The meals at this school are called “fresh cooked.” In other words, the food is made somewhere else and then warmed up at the school.
So far, only four installments have been posted, but they are a very compelling read:
The kids have been pestering me to take them sledding for over a year. We didn’t make the 2½ hour drive past Flagstaff last year for a variety of reasons.
This year was different. I planned well in advance. Lael got new boots and decided she could wear her winter clothes one last year. The kids were so excited that for two days, they played dress up in their winter clothes despite Scottsdale’s near balmy weather.
Our neighbors were supposed to join us, but they bailed at the last minute. Needless to say by the pictures, WE made it up to the Wing Mountain sledding area.
The hill sizes were perfect. For almost three hours, the kids got their fill of sledding. By the end, they were cold and miserable – temperatures were in the 20s accompanied by a strong wind – just as it should be when you go sledding.
Don’t worry, I had plenty of hot chocolate in the car. The kids really liked that.
We left just in time: a half mile of cars were waiting to get in even though a fairly significant snowstorm was making the steep mountain roads treacherous.
We were home by early evening. I then crashed with my usual altitude headache, but happy that my kids had fun.
My wife comes out of our daughter’s bedroom after trying to put her to sleep. “Lael says I smell funny. Do I?”
I get up from my computer. “No, you smell pretty good to me,” as I give her a playful sniff and a hug. That elicits a laugh.
“Good, would you tell her I don’t smell?”
I walk into Lael’s room. “Daddy, mom smells funny.”
“No she doesn’t. Now let’s go to sleep so we can go to the Children’s Museum tomorrow.” I explain that the Children’s Museum is kind of like a big, indoor playground.
When it comes to smells, I probably should explain. You see, I have fairly extraordinary abilities; I have one of those noses that you commonly find on those New Yorker political cartoons. (Sadly, David Levine died last week.)
I always feel guilty when I don’t keep my kids busy with art projects. As a child, I didn’t really bond with art.
I don’t know the reason. Was it a personality flaw? Was it the teacher who told me I sucked at it?
So I resist doing art projects with the kids for the simple reason I’m not good at it. Worse, my son is already better than me; how can I help him? I’m sure Lael – 4 or not – will be better than me soon, too.
While working on a weekend project recently, I decided to keep the kids busy with a relatively non-messy art project that required little daddy intervention.
About 10-15 minutes after returning to my computer upstairs, I heard a horrific crash, punctuated by the sound of smashing glass. Harmonic screaming reached my ears before I could reach the stairs. My sleeping wife burst out of her room inquiring about the end of the world.
As you can guess from the photo, my kids climbed up onto the table and tipped the whole thing, flinging beads, pipe cleaners, paper, crayons and other art supplies to the ground. Before I even saw the disaster, I was planning the trip to the hospital.
After I calmed the kids down enough to determine they were essentially unharmed – each had a small scratch from the broken glass – I put them into their respective rooms. I told them they were not to come out until I was done cleaning up.
When you consider there was glass spread across three rooms – and that I took my damned, sweet time – about two hours past before I allowed them downstairs. Actually, I not only cleaned up the mess, I cleaned the kitchen, mopped the floors and made their lunches.
I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around the 32-percent increase in student fees for California’s public college students, as mentioned in the Los Angeles Times.
When I was at Indiana University in the mid-1980s, I think my out-of-state tuition was less than $1,000 a semester. Even if it was $1,000, a 32 percent increase would only have added $320 a semester to my bill.
If calculated over eight semesters, I would have graduated with $2,560 of debt instead of $300. Not great, but still quite manageable. (BTW, out-of-state tuition at IU is now $11,882 per semester, but only $3,194 for in-state residents.)
UCLA tuition runs for $8,266 a year for undergraduate state residents living off campus. A 32 percent increase will add $2,645 to the in-state annual bill or $10,580 to four years of college. The total four-year cost will now be $43,644.
But that’s where it gets ugly: out-of-state resident already pay $30,935 a year for tuition. The rate hike would presumably add $9,899 to the annual bill or $39,596.80 to the four-year total.
The total bill for out-of-state residents, not counting housing, room and board, etc., will be a whopping $163,336.80. No wonder those college kids are protesting.
With number like that, it looks like my kids will be going to Arizona universities unless they win some mighty big scholarships or we move back to whichever state they want to attend college.
I calculate that only 8.6 percent of the 26,687 undergraduate students pay out-of-state tuition, according to this chart I found, but the link doesn't seem to work.
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