Sunday, March 31, 2013

The End of an Easter Era

Me and my girls, Easter 2013.  I have never felt compelled to match myself to them, mostly because I don't look so good in the little girls' styles I have often picked. Also, I feel the need to note that I am wearing 4" heels in this photograph and LOOK HOW TALL BRIA IS!

If you've been reading this blog for longer than a couple of years, you are well aware of my affinity for matching my girls on Christmas and Easter.  I mean, why have three daughters if you can't even dress them alike for important holidays, right?

I've been expecting it for a couple years now, but it finally happened.  No more matching.  Bria is simply too tall, and I hate the idea of only matching two of them.  So, no matching Easter dresses this year.

Let us all observe a moment of silence for the end of the matching Easter dresses.

And then let us all pay homage to the dresses of years past (I did dress Bria and Chloe alike for the three Easters they had before Sophia came along, but I didn't have a digital camera then, and I'm not dealing with my scanner right now, so you can just imagine those years...):

Easter Best for blog
2007: Sophia's first Easter.  The dresses didn't match exactly, but they were pretty darn close!
IMG_5268 edited 1 web
2008:  Oh yes, I discovered The Children's Place that year!
Easter dresses
2009: Same dress, different colors, gorgeous girlies.
Burning calories
2010:  Oh how I loved these outfits.  And those shoes!  Couldn't you just die?
2011:  Not my favorite dresses.  It's when I realized Bria was perhaps growing out of this tradition.  Also, please excuse Sophia, who wasn't feeling very cooperative that day.
Easter 2012
2012: We went with a style this year that was more appropriate for Bria's height and age, yet still worked for the other two.  And we got a puppy!
Easter pretty much snuck up on me this year.  I was expecting it in April.  And heck, we still have three feet of snow on the ground, and it snowed again today.  And it's Easter?  Anyway, when I realized it was actually Easter Sunday this weekend, I got my butt over to the JCPenney (which is pretty much all I have close, unless you count WalMart and ShopKo) to see what could be bought.  And seeing how it was just this past Wednesday, I count myself lucky to have found ANYTHING, much less three dresses that coordinate nicely together.

Because if I can't match, I will at least coordinate, by golly!

And, lucky for me, I found dresses that coordinated.  They also worked nicely for each girl's individual personality (comfy lace for Bria, polka dots for Chloe, and a cheetah print belt for Sophia, who is obsessed with cheetah print).  It was like it was meant to be.  It was nothing short of a miracle.  (Not to diminish the miracle of Easter, which is the whole reason I needed these miraculous dresses.)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Firmoo Eyeglasses Review

I've always wished that I could afford to just have several pair of glasses to choose from.  I have to wear either contacts or glasses, and I thought it would be nice to be able to wear glasses that coordinate with what I am wearing--or even glasses to match my mood!

So I was kind of excited when Firmoo contacted me to review a pair of their glasses.  Yay!  A new pair of glasses with the same prescription as the ones I got in December.  I have been a little wary of the cheaper glasses that are online, even though friends have tried them and been pleased.  But to be able to try them at no cost at all to myself is the way to go, and I have been pleased with Firmoo!

IMG_6151 glasses web

Here are my new frames.  I really like them, and I have received many compliments on them whenever I wear them.  Which is more than I can say for my other pair.   I liked that Firmoo has a virtual try-on system where I could upload a photo of myself and try on the frames.  It wasn't perfect, but it did help me decide on this particular pair.

You might be able to tell from the photo, but I have a pretty heavy prescription (though my eyes have randomly gotten better the closer I get to 40!), and these glasses came with the standard 1.5 index lenses, because they were free.  I made sure to get frames that were thick enough to hide the thickness of the lens, though there isn't much I can do about the distortion when you look at my face through the lens.

I love that Firmoo sent with my glasses both a hard case and a soft case.  And I was pleasantly surprised that they sent a handy little eyeglass repair kit on a keychain as well.  How cool is that?  It's in my purse awaiting the first eyeglass emergency, which for our family of five glasses-wearing people, is a matter of when, not if.

Firmoo offers new customers their first pair free.  Free pairs, as noted above, come with the standard 1.5 index lenses, so be aware of how your prescription affects this. If you have a heavy prescription like I do (about -7.0 with astigmatism)(it used to be -9.5!), you will want thicker frames.  Call your eye doctor to get a copy of your prescription if you don't already have one, as you will need to enter it online once you have chosen your free frames. Click here for a video tutorial to show you how to sign up as a new customer and order your first  pair of free glasses (you must pay shipping).

Paying customers do have the option to get higher index or polycarbonate lenses for a little bit more.  And with an average frame price of around $25.00, it still is much cheaper than the glasses I just got in December.  What with the lighter lenses and the designer frames, they came to over $400.00!  $75.00 is an absolute steal for a prescription like mine.
I'm seriously going to order a few more pair, just to fulfill my dream of having several to choose from!  I'm going to start with these frames first, and then maybe get these ones. Whatever I decide, I'll definitely be doing business with Firmoo again!

Here is my obligatory please feel sorry for me because my snow banks are taller than I am and I am not short picture for this post.  I am allowed because I am demonstrating the ridiculous amount of snow in front of my house while wearing my new Firmoo glasses.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Break Getaway

For Christmas, I purchased Joel two tickets to the Chicago Symphony.  2013 is the 200th Anniversary of Richard Wagner, and orchestras all over the world are dedicating programs to his music.  The Maestro couldn't be more thrilled, as he is somewhat Wagner-obsessed.  In fact, his orchestra did its own Wagner tribute a few weeks ago, and Joel delighted in teaching a captivated (or possibly just captive) audience all about the terrible man with the sublime music.  One of my students attended the concert and noted that "your husband has a little man-crush on Wagner, hey?"

Indeed he does.

Which is why I bought him tickets to see Pierre Boulez (famous conductor) guest conduct the Chicago Symphony play Wagner.  Because I am not a Wagner fan and can think of hundreds of composers I'd rather listen to before I sat through a Wagner concert.  But, it was Christmas, and I kind of like the Maestro, so I was willing to sit through it just this once.

Sitting through the Wagner Concert.  Which also included an entire violin concerto by Schoenberg (my brain hurt after that one) and some Mahler, which I liked.

The concert took place this past weekend.  St. Patrick's Day also took place this past weekend.  Now, before you tell me how crazy we were to attempt Chicago on St. Patrick's Day weekend, let me plead my case.

I am not Irish.  If I have any Irish heritage, I don't know about it, and nobody ever made a big deal out of it.  Or a little deal out of it.  Which tells me that I am probably not Irish.

I am also not Catholic.  Nor do I have any Catholic heritage.  I'm a Mormon.  My Dad's family is pioneer stock Mormon.  My mother is a convert, but her family is Protestant.  Her grandparents were Methodist missionaries in China.  Her other grandparents emigrated from Germany, where they were presumably Lutheran (just a guess, I'm not the family genealogist).  No Catholicism in my family!  (Joel cannot claim the same since his father was raised Catholic, but this is my case we're pleading here.)

I have never celebrated St. Patrick's Day with any sort of fanfare other than maybe wearing green if I remember.  It just seemed a pointless holiday to me (see above about not being Irish or Catholic before being offended) and I have enough to do in my life without constructing Leprechaun traps or making sure the Leprechaun leaves us gold.  I don't know when that became a thing, but it isn't a thing at my house.

So, when the traffic became ridiculously heavy about fifteen minutes outside of downtown Chicago, we wondered what was up.  We've done the drive a few times, and generally the traffic isn't too bad on a Friday afternoon. Was it spring break traffic?  Was there an accident ahead?  Was there some big event in Chicago this weekend?  Surely everyone wasn't flocking to the city to see Wagner, especially since the famous Boulez got sick and somebody else was conducting in his place. 

After an hour and a half that should have only taken fifteen minutes, we found a spot to park and we headed straight to the American Girl Place.  Yes, we can't seem to keep ourselves away, even when the girls aren't with us.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men...

It's spring break right now for the University.  In my mind, I thought Joel and I would get a whole lot of great stuff done around the house, and I had lots of plans for us.  Of course, as is typical of me, I really didn't think this through.

Monday turned out to be a snow day.  What the what? That was unexpected.  It also turned out to be Chloe's 10th birthday.  Also unexpected.  The part about her turning ten, I mean.  Where did that come from?

Result?  The girls were home, obviously, so the house got messier, not cleaner.  We did play a lot together as a family and I personally spent a lot of time lying around reading.  We celebrated Chloe's birthday in style. Nice day, but nothing "organizational" was accomplished.

Tuesday and Wednesday I spent all day performing with OPERAtion Imagination! at local Elementary schools.  I sort of forgot this was happening when I made all of my grand plans for spring break projects.  Hmm.   Joel used the time to adjudicate a band festival on Tuesday and to run around doing important errands like getting a haircut and a new driver's license to go with it on Wednesday.  (Upcoming blog: How Losing Your Wallet in Seattle Teaches You How to Get on a Plane Without Proper Identification.)

Result?  I wasn't home, so nothing got done.  Joel wasn't home, so nothing else got done, either.

Today (Thursday) I woke up with a migraine, so I stayed in bed longer than originally planned. Much longer.  Joel, regardless of his "spring" break, had work to catch up on.  I then taught a make-up voice lesson and did my Visiting Teaching.  Joel had the oil changed in the car.

Result?  Nothing got done.

And here we are on Thursday evening, blogging instead of doing.  I can't even say that's a normal state of being anymore, since nowadays I read instead of do, or sleep instead of do, or stare at walls instead of do.  But the poor old blog is getting neglected and is inadvertently turning into a book review only sort of place.  Nobody wants that to happen, so here I am blaming the blog for not folding the laundry.

Now don't get your hopes up, because nothing will get done tomorrow, either. The Maestro and I are escaping to Chicago for a couple days, and we will be spending the day tomorrow driving, stopping in Green Bay for Joel to get a new temple recommend (please see upcoming blog post about losing your wallet in Seattle) and to eat lunch, driving some more, getting Chloe's American Girl Doll's ears pierced at American Girl Place for her birthday, shopping, eating deep dish pizza (think they'll have a gluten-free version?), and listening to Wagner at the Chicago Symphony.

Saturday we'll hit the temple and do some more shopping, and we'll come home on Sunday.  I'm looking forward to it all, even though it means coming home to a house that has not been thoroughly organized and spring cleaned during spring break.

But, does this look like spring to you?  (I took it yesterday.)

I didn't think so.  Better luck next time.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Square Peg

I participate in a Facebook group where the discussion centers largely around learning differences in students, and ideas for helping those students receive an education that works for them.  The group was born when a friend of mine met a lot of resistance from both her child's teacher and the school/school district in trying to get her daughter help.  She also met plenty of resistance from the educational system in trying to figure out why she was struggling in the first place.

I've learned a lot about 2E children (2E=Twice Exceptional, meaning simultaneously gifted and learning disabled) from that group and from doing my own research.  I have often suspected that my Bria has a minor learning disability, even while being extraordinarily gifted in some areas.  We went through an especially difficult period with her in the fourth grade, and, with a lot of work on our part, she has risen above many of the difficulties she encountered then.  She's a determined--and very smart--child who now makes As and Bs, and has a goal to go to BYU. She just has to work really hard for those grades in certain subjects (cough cough math cough cough).

Anyway, being in this Facebook group has really opened my eyes to the struggles many of our students face in the classroom today.  It's truly amazing how the system can fail so many of our children, and yet still be good-intentioned.

Square Peg - My Story and What It Means for Raising Innovators, Visionaries and Out-of-the-Box Thinkers, by L. Todd Rose is a great book with great ideas for our modern classrooms.  Todd Rose was himself a 2E child. And the system failed him.  He tells the story of how he was given a poetry assignment, and because he actually enjoyed writing poetry, he did it.  His teacher failed him, thinking he had cheated, since Todd didn't try on any assignments, as a general rule.  Even when Todd's mother plead his case to the teacher, the teacher held firm to the failed grade.

This story made me so angry!  And even though that was probably 20-30 years ago, things like this still happen quite commonly in our educational system.

Rose's book is simultaneously a memoir and a textbook which teaches parents and teachers how to cater to individual learning styles.  He has great ideas for using all of the technology available today to help the students that struggle in a traditional learning environment.  I liked how he had 'Big Ideas' and 'Action Items' after every chapter.  I liked even more that the action items often included things like "give your child a hug!"  Rose, who was diagnosed with ADHD as a youth and consequently dropped out of high school with a 0.9 GPA, is now a faculty member of the Harvard School of Education.  His story is inspiring, and his ideas for our children even more so.

I highly recommend reading this book if you are looking for ways to help a child who isn't flourishing in a traditional school setting.  I would also recommend it to parents of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, as a big part of the book centers on that particular condition.

I have one copy to give away--comment here if you are interested!