Friday, August 29, 2008

If You Can't Take the Heat...

Originally uploaded by steve phillips
Used under a Creative Commons License
I began to cross the burning desert, basking only in the shade from the brim of my pith helmet.
The sun beat down lending a liquid shimmer to the air. I was prepared, I thought. I knew the dangers of dehydration and the serious mind tricks it can play. I took a quick sip from my Camelbak and started my journey.

Actually, I had to run to the doctor's office about 5 miles away. The AC in my car is not in good shape and it is about 92 degrees outside today. I thought I was going to die. I remember as a child running all over town in the heat of the summer. If we got a little warm, a quick popsicle fixed everything and we went right back to our bike or up a tree. I'm not sure if it is my age or what, but I just can't take the heat like I used to. When I finally got home, Hubby fixed me an iced drink and I just collapsed for awhile.

I live for central air conditioning! I think I will just hunker down here until Fall.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Are your children watching the Democratic Convention?

I remember back in 1974, I was 8 years old. My parents were watching Richard Nixon's resignation from the Presidency. It was a bit boring and I started to complain. My mother responded that I was "watching history". She was right, and that moment has stuck with me as a "flash memory" ever since. I came to realize that we were at a defining moment in American History. I have the same type of memory of 9/11. A strong and clear recollection with the distinct notion that the world I live in would never be the same.

It is much the same today. No matter what side of the political debate you are on, there is no question that this year's Democratic Convention marks a milestone in American politics. It is the first time an African American has secured the nomination for President from one of the major political parties. In a country founded by slave owners, where civil rights for African Americans did not even remotely come up to par until the last few decades, it is an incredible thing for us to transcend racism and nominate Barack Obama to the highest office in the nation.

Barack Obama
Originally uploaded by Llima
Used under a Creative Commons License

No matter who wins the general election, Obama's nomination has torn down a barrier for the minorities of this country. I believe that in the future our government will be much more diverse as the American people become more and more willing to break from the status quo. It is a wonderful thing in a democratic nation for our government to reflect the face of all its people.

My children have kept an eye on this presidential race for awhile and have definite political opinions of their own. While they have no say at this age, they understand the effect it can have on their lives. They, too, remember 9/11. They too live in a racially and financially mixed society. They also understand that what happens in the next 4 years will define the world they will come into their own in as adults.

And so, tonight, my children will watch Obama's acceptance speech. While they may not understand its significance today, eventually they will realize that they, too were "watching history".

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fighting For the Rock Star's education. Pt. 2


Or something close to it. Rock Star brought home the form. It provided the following options for changing classes:

1. Student has already taken and passed the class.
2. Student is a senior who needs a required class to graduate.
3. Student is an undergraduate placed in a higher level class without completing the necessary prerequisites.

If you can not answer yes to any of the statements, you are NOT ELIGIBLE to change classes.

Well, if you are a parent, you can't take NO for an answer! It is our responsibility to fight for our kids. I wrote a lengthy but succinct letter to the Guidance Counselor explaining why Rock Star should not be in Reading and should be in Web Design as follows:

To (Rock Star’s) Guidance Counselor:

(Rock Star) would like to change his 7th period Reading class to Web Design. The three choices on the class change form do not apply, but I believe that there are mitigating circumstances.

1. Web Design was his original request.
2. This request was approved by the Guidance Dept.
3. Up until school started Web Design was on his schedule via Virtual Guidance Counselor. When he received his paper schedule at school, the class was Reading.
4. (Rock Star’s) plans for the future are in Information Technology. Web Design would work toward this goal and allow him to take more advanced computer classes in his remaining years at (Bedrock High School.)
5. (Rock Star) is already enrolled in English II Advanced.
6. (Rock Star) consistently receives (excellent marks) on the Reading portion of the (Standardized Test).

I believe that it would be more helpful for (Rock Star) to be enrolled in a class that works toward his future and actually interests him than to be in a class to practice for a test he routinely does well on or is at best redundant to his English class. (Rock Star) is highly gifted but low achieving and would be much better served with a class that is a challenge and in his prime area of focus.

It would be a pleasure for (Rock Star) and I to meet with you to discuss an outline for his future.

Thank you for your consideration.

Rock Star's Mom

This afternoon I received a phone call! Rock Star was wrongly placed in the Reading class. (Go figure.) Unfortunately, Web Design is over full. They would be happy to accommodate him with an available elective class. Now we have to find a class Rock Star wants that is available. We have a few ideas.

Just goes to show that you cannot lie down and take it when it comes to your children's needs. If we had taken his teacher's word or followed the form's directions, Rock Star would be stuck in the wrong class all year. I consider that a tragedy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?

I do!
Please grab it if you like.
A very special thank you to Jinxy at for all the help.

This blogging stuff can be work....but such fun work!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Fighting For the Rock Star's education. Pt. 1

Is it just me or does everyone have crazy Mondays?

I spent a near sleepless weekend worrying about dealing with Rock Star's school. All those memories of high school flooding back! The thought of having to go back there and experience it all again. The hallowed halls of my Alma Mater. Facing "The Office". I thought of every word I would say, every argument I could possibly have.

Rock Star picked a web design class for his schedule. It was approved by guidance and was on his online schedule up until the day he started school. Suddenly, instead of Web Design I, he had Advanced Reading. Uh... What?? The kid can read. He's already taking English II. Advanced! He has excellent test scores. He is highly gifted. His class grades stink. Why? Because in 10 years of public school, every time he found a program he liked, that he could excel at, that he cared about and that cared about him, the budget was cut, the program was cancelled and no one fought for him but his Dad and me. Last evening he even said, and I quote, "After having the rug pulled out from under me so many times, it's really a wonder I keep going back at all." And now he had a chance to take the first class in the career of his choice.
Web Design. IT. Programming. Graphic Arts. It was all there waiting. This was his first big step.
The introductory class!

So I plotted and planned my strategy. If his teacher was going to refuse him a class change form, well, I was going to go to the Guidance Counselor with guns blazing. I had all the reasons why he should change. I knew all the test scores, knew his prerequisites for the classes he needed, had everything under control. I would call and set up a meeting: Rock Star, the Guidance Counselor and me. They would know him and his needs. I would make them be on his side.
The claws were out and I was ready.

So I called the school:

"Rock Star needs a class changed!'
"Have him fill out the form."
"His teacher refuses to give him the form."
"That's ridiculous. Have him come to my office and get the form."

And that was it. They even sent him the message for me.

Talk about anti-climax!

It may not be the end of it. They may refuse his schedule change. I may still have to go in and fight the good fight to be an advocate for my child's education.
Just not today.

Maybe a Wednesday would be better.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Underage Olympians?

The biggest news out of the Olympics right now is not Phelps' incredible 8 medal win, or Dara Torres class in helping out a Swedish swimmer with a costume malfunction,
but rather the possibility that China has as many as 3 underage gymnasts on their team. The controversy focuses mainly on He Kexin who won the team gold and an individual gold in uneven parallel bars. David Flumenbaum of The Huffington Post found several online entries showing that He was only 14. The minimum age requirement for the Olympics is 16. After these sites were publicised, they mysteriously were changed or disappeared altogether.

It's a shame, really. She's a cute kid and very talented, but if she is underage, she doesn't deserve the medals. The 16 year old age requirement for Olympic gymnasts is there for a couple of reasons: to protect younger gymnasts health and safety, and to level the playing field. The sport is much easier the smaller and younger you are. The IOC has said they have found no proof that the girls are underage. No doubt, as their ID is provided by the Chinese government.

The arguments on both sides are constant. Asians are naturally smaller than Europeans and Americans. The Japanese gymnasts were quite small as well.
The girls' passports, which are the one ID used to determine eligibility by the IOC show that they are 16. And yet, one of the girls seems to be missing a baby tooth, which would certainly make her younger than 16. Several of their ages were listed in 2005, 2006 and 2007 records as being born in 1992 or 1993.

I doubt the truth will come out any time soon, although in the past similar disparities have been uncovered. North Korea had listed one gymnast as 15 for three years in a row. Romania has admitted falsifying ages in the past. And Yang Yun who won 2 bronze medals for China in the 2000 games in Sydney has admitted to only being 14 at the time. The shame is in how it makes all of these athletes look. The Chinese with the appearance of cheating and the USA crying sour grapes. I don't believe that was what was meant for these kids when they decided to follow their passion for this sport. Either way, the spirit of these games has been severely compromised.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sign Here Please

Yesterday was the first day of school for my teens, and, my, the forms we have to fill out. I don't mind most of them. Bus pass, clinic information, emergency forms, class syllabus, rules, dress code. It's all a good idea. What I didn't understand until I really looked into it is why we are REQUIRED to fill out the Free and Reduced Lunch Application. We know we are not eligible and have never been eligible, but if we don't fill it out, they send new ones. They even call to remind us. Why? Why cause more work, a useless review of our application, knowing it will be denied, followed by the inevitible letter that it, in fact, has been denied? It seems such of waste of time and effort.

But now I know.

It's not about free lunch anymore. We would like to think that the program is for those poor children who may not be eating at home, who need one guaranteed meal a day to function. That was certainly the idea in the beginning, but it has gone so much farther. It turns out that the free lunch program is one of the main poverty indicators for school districts. This data is connected to Title I funding that could amount in the millions for poor districts. So they push. Some schools provide incentives just to get those applications in. And if you lie about your income? Verification is haphazard at best. Federal requirements are to verify 3 percent of applications. The schools know this and count on it. They know that many applications will be approved even if they are falsified and so the district's poverty level will rise and they will receive more money for other things.

As always, I wonder if there is a better way.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What Do I do With Them Now?

Did you say it is a rainy, nasty day? The latest tropical storm missed, but dumped water on you anyway? The kids are still not back in school? And they are moping around like Lurch from the Addam's Family because they don't know what to do? I know what to do with them.
Na na nana na!

Send them to the Internet Public Library for Teens - Teenspace!
The Internet Public Library is a teaching and learning consortium created by a class at the University of Michigan's School of Information and now housed at Drexel College of Information Science and Technology, partnered with a lot of other schools. This site has everything!

Besides things you would normally expect from a library - online texts of books, magazines, reference materials, and links to a variety of high quality internet sources (that your little darlings can use once they are BACK in school) they also have a fun section just for teens.

They can find homework help, a graphic novels guide (we used to call these comics, but they have evolved a bit), writing help, links for help with difficult personal questions, and a poetry wiki. A wiki, by the way, (and according to Wikipedia, the biggest Wiki out there), is a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content. Which means your teens can post their thoughts and feelings here.

What you really need today, though, is THE PROCRASTINATOR. This page connects your teen with entertainment, games, movies, books, sports, humor and a lot of other stuff to keep them busy and maybe learn something!

So send them here: and especially here : http://www. or just click the button in my sidebar. Then maybe you can get something done without tripping over your teens. But they might not want to go to school tomorrow.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Thought They Would be Gone by Now...

But they are still here!
School was supposed to start today, but Tropical Storm Fay has other ideas.
Now it will be at least Wednesday before they go back. They are going crazy. I am going crazy. It is just too nasty outside to do anything, so everyone is bored.
I'm just going to snuggle up and eat my leftover ice cream from Girly-girl's birthday yesterday.
I'll work on deep thoughts tomorrow.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Is Gardasil Right for Your Daughter?

If you have a teenage daughter, you have no doubt heard of Gardasil, the relatively new vaccine from the Merck corporation to prevent Human Papillomavirus (HPV). There has been a lot of controversy about this vaccine and it is important to know the facts to make a right decision for your child.

HPV is a virus passed through genital contact occurring in up to 80% of adults in the US. It can often go away on its own, but has a link to causality in some forms of cervical/vaginal cancers. Every year, 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the US and almost 4,000 of them die.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the vaccine for females 11-26, ideally before they become sexually active as it does not cure existing infections. It can prevent up to 70% of cervical cancers and targets they types of HPV that most commonly cause cervical cancer and genital warts. It does not protect against all forms of HPV, so Pap testing will still be necessary. If you do not get the vaccine, regular Pap testing can still prevent cervical cancer by catching it in a precancerous stage.
More general information can be found at

The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) is a national program of CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that monitors the safety of vaccines after they are licensed. After over 16 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the US, VAERS has received 6,667 reports of adverse effects following the vaccine. Of these reports, over 94% were for non-serious effects such as pain at the injection site and headache. Less than 6% were for serious events, which is less that half of the average for vaccines overall. (See )

The negatives are, indeed, that there are adverse reactions at all. The National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) is a non-profit organization founded by parents of children that have been injured or died following DPT vaccines. They have intensive articles at regarding the side effects of this vaccine, including symptoms such as chest pain, rash and fever, as well as Guillain-Barre Syndrome and even death.

It boils down to this:

Is Gardasil necessary to prevent cervical cancer? No
Is Gardasil helpful in preventing cervical cancer? Yes
Is Gardasil totally safe? No
Is Gardasil at least as safe as the average vaccine? Yes
Is Gardasil right for your child? Only you can answer this.

Be informed and make the decision that is right for you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

School Shopping

Today was the day for school clothes shopping. At just under $300 to outfit two teens, I felt I did well. After 8 years in uniforms, the Rock Star has been under a normal dress code since last year. For him a few cargo pants and some decent tee shirts fit the bill nicely. Girly-girl, however is still under the Mandatory Unified Dress Code – which means chinos and polos, black, navy and khaki.

Now, all in all, I don’t mind the uniforms. While I don’t buy some of the arguments for them: that they lower crime in schools, decrease bullying, promote better concentration and grades, I do see how they can make schools safer by making outsiders easier to recognize. Overall it lowers Girly-girls wardrobe costs and makes choosing her clothing in the morning easier as she does not have to obsess over fashion.

In fact the only cons I find is that it violates the students’ freedom of expression and individuality. I’ve seen some of those “individual” outfits on teens around town and some of their choices are far from appropriate. Girly-girl and her friends have no problem showing their individuality with weird socks, jewelry and accessories.

I do wish more stores would carry uniforms for older kids, though. We hit Ross, Target and K-mart and managed to find what we needed, but it wasn’t easy. The selections in junior’s and women’s were dismal, but at least they were affordable. Girly-girl even wondered why people would pay $40 for a polo at Abercrombie & Fitch if all you were going to do was wear it to school. Happily I have raised a thrifty child!

I am sure at some point we will have to go to Claire’s and pick up dangly earrings and bracelets and such, but for now, my kids are dressed and I’m not broke yet.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Rest of the Evening:

Hubby and my date ended at the Adventurer's Club at Pleasure island.

A night of crazy antics like this:

And crazy people like this:

With audience

And the ultimate ending:

The Official Adventurer's Club Membership Pin
They don't just give these away...
Well, actually they do.
To get one you must be gifted it.
And I got one!

That's enough for Disney. I'll have some reviews of cool stuff for your teens coming soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dinner Date!

We drove up to Downtown Disney in Orlando yesterday for a date! Without kids and everything. This just doesn't happen. We arrived at about 4pm, checked into the Regal Sun Hotel, rested a bit from the drive and decided to head out to dinner. The Regal Sun is directly across the street from Downtown Disney, but it is still quite a hike to get to Pleasure Island in the center. Luckily they have a bus that runs every half hour from 6pm to 3am to Pleasure Island. So we hopped aboard and headed inside. We had left the house at noon, so we
were very hungry at this point. There are quite a few dining choices at Downtown Disney, but we were looking for something special so we decided on Fulton's Crab House.

Fulton's Crab House is housed in the original Empress Lily Riverboat, one of the first r
estaurants in what was then called the Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village. You dine within a docked paddle boat with lovely nautical decor and both indoor and outdoor seating. It was way too hot to sit outside. This is Florida in August! We were seated in the Stone Crab Lounge in the stern (back end) of the boat. It wasn't crowded, so we were seated immediately. The stools in the lounge were a little high for me, but once I managed to get up there it was quite comfortable. However, when I dropped my napkin out of my lap, it was too much trouble to climb down and get it. The view over the water was impressive. I did wander farther forward at one point and there was regular seating in the main dining room. It was a little more crowded there with quite a few kids. As we were trying for some romance, we appreciated the relative quiet of the lounge.

The service was speedy and friendly. We had fresh bread and drinks in no time. Then we settled into the menu. Um. Ouch. This restaurant is quite pricey! We decided to forgo appetizers and ordered Louis Fulton's Ultimate Crab and Lobster Experience for Two at $41.95 per person. Shortly we were dining on King Crab Legs, Snow Crab Legs, Dungeness Crab, and a 1 1/4 lb
lobster. Happily we had bibs or it would have been an utter mess! There were sides of tasty hash browns and grilled asparagus. We were also brought some sesame crackers and their new signature crab boursin dip. Very tasty. We almost made it through all the food, but not quite and we were too full for dessert, which is a shame as I have heard good things about their creme brulee. Everything was cooked perfectly and tasted wonderful.

All in all, it is a great dining experience, just a bit more expensive than we are used to. Although the liquor prices were very reasonable which helped keep the bill affordable.

Quality of food: Excellent
Service: Excellent
Value for the money: Good
Stars: *****

Monday, August 11, 2008

Manic Monday

So here it is: Monday. Not so good. My unbreakable titanium $400+ glasses managed to snap yesterday. The optician of course doesn't carry parts, they would be happy to send them in at a fee, yada, yada. Of course, I am going out of town today and cannot POSSIBLY see without them. So here I am duct taped together. Gorgeous.

Out of town. How I love that. Dearest darling Hubby is taking me away for the evening. Disney, in its infinite wisdom has decided to close Pleasure Island and, therefore, OUR club, The Adventurer's Club. So we are driving 200 miles for one last chance to enjoy the silliness. Hopefully I won't have to do this half blind (or duct taped).

If you have never been to The Adventurer's Club, it is a real treat and so sad that it is going to close. I am not one much for night clubs, but this is so different and so very Disney! It is New Years Eve 1937 every night. There are sing alongs and different skits and events. You have to see it to believe it. But of course, unless you see it by September 27, you are out of luck.

Here's a little taste of what you'll be missing:

The Adventurer's Club Creed

We climb the highest mountains,
just to get a better view.
We plumb the deepest oceans,
because we're daring through and through.
We cross the scorching desert,
martinis in our hand.
We ski the polar ice caps,
in tuxedos looking grand.
We are reckless, brave, and loyal,
and valiant to the end.
If you come in here a stranger,
you will exit as a friend.


There is a campaign to save the place and we would appreciate your help. Here's the info:

Save a Part of Walt's Legacy

Save the Adventurers Club!

Save Pleasure Island Clubs

Letter Writing Campiagns:
Kungaloosh Forever
Phase 1:
Phase 2:

Executive Addresses:
Mr. Robert Iger
Chief Executive Officer
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4873

Mr. James A. Rasulo
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4873

Meg Crofton
The Walt Disney World Resort
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Al Weiss
Worldwide Operations
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
PO Box 10000
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Jim Lewis
Disney Vacation Club
200 Celebration Place
Celebration, FL 34747

Walt Disney World Guest Communications
PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

Walt Disney World Guest Relations
P.O. Box 10000
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Executive E-mail Addresses:
Bob Iger, Vice President of Operations, Walt Disney World

Kevin Lansberry, Vice President of Operations Downtown Disney

Meg Crofton, President Walt Disney World Resort

Jay Rasulo, Chairman Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

Al Weiss, President Worldwide Operations - Disney Parks and Resorts

Barry Carlson, GM of Operations

Patsy Pederson, GM Guest Show

Kris Piser, DTD Finance Manager

Eric Johanson, Downtown Disney Business Relations

Walt Disney World Guest Communications

Media Pages:
Facebook Group:

Myspace Group:

Orlandosentinel: Pleasure Island fans rallying to try to save clubs

Pleasure Island Nightclubs Slated To Close

Save P.I. The Radio Revolution

Adventurers Almanac


Forum Threads:

Mice Chat

Mouse Planet

The DIS Disscussion Forums

Friday, August 08, 2008

Girly-girl with attitude

So this is Girly-girl looking not so girly. Now that she knows Mom is posting to the web, she has decided to hide from the camera. I will have to ambush her later. Probably for her birthday. See, I jumped the gun with the Mom to teens thing as Girly-girl will not be a teen for a few days yet. She read my first post yesterday and reports that Rock Star is NOT cute. I'm sure he would say the same about her, but I disagree. Not sure how we managed to come up with good looking kids considering the gene pool, but we managed. Intro #2 complete.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Introducing the Rock Star in his natural summer pose.

Yesterday, the Girly-girl and I went to Ross and came home to this at about 3pm. It arose briefly to eat, then returned to its hibernation. It remained in this state until after I went to bed. It sleeps, it eats, it hordes the couch so no one can sit. But he's cute, though. So there you go. Intro #1 complete.