Monday, November 28, 2011

Meet Me on Monday

Courtesy of Never Growing Old

1. I really need to clean my _________?
Dog. CC desperately needs a shampoo and a trim. But there a few things I won't ever do. Giving her a bath is one of them. I hate that wet dog smell. She is spending her afternoon tomorrow at the Pet Salon getting glammed up for Santa.

2. What food makes you think of Christmas?
Sugar cookies and cherry pie. You can't go wrong either way.

3. If you could choose to stay a certain age forever, what age would it be?
Maybe 35? Any age that combines the energy of youth with the wisdom that comes from being a little older would be great.

4. What was your first paying job?
I started working at a retirement home as a food server when I was 14. It was a perfect job for the time. It was nearby and was only a few hours after school each day and then the weekends.

5. Have you read the Twilight series?
I have no interest in these books/movies at all.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for ham

The Hoop-lahs had a great Thanksgiving - lots of yummy food and activities for everyone! Hope you enjoyed your day as much as CC enjoyed her ham bone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

You know it's Monday when . . .

You spend the entire day with your pants on backward and don't realize it until you put on your pajamas. You would have thought I'd notice the back pocket.

 I am sensing a trend.

10 divided by 3 equals one big headache for me

Long-time Hoop-lah readers and those forced to listen to me know I get a little bunchy about the elementary math curriculum. Our district implemented a new one two years ago and honestly - I'm convinced it was created by a bunch of wackos who bought their advanced degrees from a fictional university.

I didn't think it could get any worse than math facts being eliminated from daily work. After all, who needs to know those? They can just look up the answers on their phones. But they do have to be able to figure out the area of a room. Priorities, people. But I digress. That was last year's problem.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when Carly asked for help with division. Silly me, I got out my paper and pencil and showed her step by step how to solve it. The only problem was that she looked at me like I was speaking German. (Which, by the way, I can totally do.)

I quickly figured out that she had no idea what I was talking about. Long division is taught differently these days, something about quotients and estimating that make no sense to me. No sense at all. Doing it that way took her about 10 minutes to come up with an answer. The "traditional" way took about 10 seconds.

You gotta love progress.

Meet Me On Monday

Courtesy of Never Growing Old.

1. Does your family/friends know about your blog?
Some read it; others don't. Either way I'm good - as long as you don't tell me you don't have time to read it. In most cases I know better. Be upfront and say you're not interested. Although I can't imagine that everyone isn't glued to their computer waiting for me to post something!

2. What is your favorite card game?
Cribbage. I learned to play when I was a kid at my Grandma and Grandpa Callen's. My family would spend hours playing over the holidays. I also like Pitch. My birth family is full of competitive card players. You don't want to get into a card game with us if your feelings are easily hurt. I've been teaching Riley to play cribbage. As you might guess, his competitiveness spills over into cards. He's only beaten me a couple of times. (Maybe because I've let him.) I figure teaching him to play will have long-term benfit for me - he'll come visit me in the old folks home because he'll still be demanding a rematch.

3. What do you wear to bed?
Something warm and comfortable . . . pajamas, T-shirts, sweats, anything like that.

4. What is your favorite kind of French Fry?
I like them all. And thin onion rings too. My favorite is cottage fries.

5. What is your usual bed time?
The sooner the better! I have trouble sleeping so I am usually ready to go to bed by 9 p.m. Then I wake up again around 2:30 a.m. It's a rotten cycle. I wouldn't recommend it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Snow. Boo.

This message is for Big Dog, who I am sure was drinking beer while I shoveled last night's snow.

Ich sagte den Schnee der letzten Nacht vor einer Woche voraus. Gerade so wissen Sie. Das Schaufeln ist nicht in meiner Job-Beschreibung.

Did you know Germany is the cheapest place in Europe to buy beer? And who knew I could speak German?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Meet Me On Monday

Courtesy of Never Growing Old.

1. Are you excited for the holidays or are you dreading them?
Excited! I love the holidays -- the shopping, the eating, the visiting with friends and family, the TV specials. All of it, except when people get grouchy. My mom will make cherry pie at both Thanksgiving and Christmas, so that is my own little slice of heaven.

2. Do you hit the snooze button or get right up?
I wish I did hit the snooze button. I am always awake early, so it isn't an issue.

3. Do you still have your tonsils?
I had them taken out in elementary school. I had strep throat so badly that my throat was almost swollen shut. I spent five days in the hospital with a cuckoo nurse who believed in torture as a healing method. I will never forget her. Ever.

4. What was the last piece of candy that you ate?
Good timing! I am eating a fun-size Milky Way while typing this. It's soon to be followed by a fun-size Snickers. Now being followed by a fun-size Butterfinger!

5. Do you shop at thrift stores?
Not unless I am looking for something that will only be used once.

Dreaming of making it big

A white board in Riley's room where the motivational message changes weekly.

Yesterday the Des Moines Register started a special series examining the pressures, investments and challenges in preparing youth to be the next star athletes, accomplished musicians or top-level students. First up: athletes looking for that competitive edge.

The article generated big interest around here. It makes the point that kids today are led to excel by their parents - who pony up for private lessons, expensive equipment, camps, tutors and more at an early age to give kids a competitive advantage -- and a greater shot at scholarship money and odds of joining the professional ranks. The article made the point that kids don't learn their sport any more in the time-honored ways of champions such as Iowa's Bob Feller.

You might know by now that the sport of choice at the Hoop-lah house is basketball. It is Riley's dream to make it to the NBA. But the reality is that boys have a one in 10,919 chance of making it to the big leagues. Only the best of the best ever go that far.

It is why we spend a lot of time around here talking about back-up plans. I'm a firm believer in chasing your dream when you're young and free from the demands of family and home. My dream was to write for a national magazine. But I didn't think I could do it, so I didn't try. It is one of the few regrets I have. It is why you will never hear me tell Riley to look at the numbers and be realistic. But I do talk about needing a Plan B in case Plan A doesn't work.

Do we spend a lot of money for him to pursue his dream? We do, although compared to what others spend it isn't out of line. We don't pay for top of the line equipment or private lessons. We do pay for club fees and for him to travel because it is necessary for those who want to go to the next level. Is his dream ours? Of course it is. We want him to succeed at something he loves -- whatever that ends up being. But if he wanted to give it up today he could. And life would go on in a new direction. We make sure that he has opportunities to try anything he wants.

But we support this dream because there is something there beyond natural talent. There is a drive, a determination. Something that is rare in most people, let alone a young man.

And that one in 10,919 chance?

When I mentioned it he replied, "Not a problem."

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because I am that one."

I love the confidence! Either way, we're going to have a good time!

You can read the Des Moines Register series here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Contemplating a career selling car insurance

Sometimes teenagers get a bad rap on this blog. Mostly for being hormone-crazed make-out machines at the swimming pool. But I'm nothing if not an equal opportunity observer, so today we're talking driving.

We have a new high school here in town. For now, it's the only one, although a second one should open next fall. The previous high school was on the north side, far enough away that it was easy to avoid that area before and after school. But the new school is roughly 1.5 miles from home. It's located just off a major north-south four-lane road. I drive through there at least twice a day at the same time the students are coming and going.

It's hardly a coincidence that I see an accident involving a teenager nearly every day. Most are small fender benders in the morning hours, but some have been larger. This morning's accident was a six car pile-up. When I drove by five teenagers and one adult were standing outside their cars. Guess which car was first to get hit.

When school first started I thought the high volume of accidents was simply because more cars were driving on an already heavily travled road. But as the months have passed I have noticed that all of the accidents I see involve a teenage driver. And nearly all of the teenage drivers I see overall have a phone or electronic device in hand. They are clearly distracted.

Iowa's law banning texting by all drivers and use of any handheld device by teen drivers went into effect this summer. If this stretch of road is any indication, it isn't working.