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Good morning! Spending the day in Chanhassen at the MN Speech State competition – wish our kids luck! Here are this week’s currents:

What I’m reading:

  • Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Finally, I get to finish the Hunger Games series! I’ve had the books in my possession for a while, but I haven’t read them because I’ve had so many books out from the library and I felt like I needed to finish those first since they had a more quickly approaching due date. I definitely have to get this series, too.

So excited to read this!

  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – I know this book has been on my list before, but as mentioned above, I haven’t been able to focus on reading books that weren’t from the library. I’m very interested to read this story as it was banned from some schools for its discussion of sexual assault – uh, hello, don’t you want your kids to be prepared? Apparently not.
  • Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti – Yes, I know this book keeps showing up on the list too, but I keep having to return it to the library before I can finish reading it. I’m waiting to get it back from the library so I can finally finish it. Still amazing!
  • Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe – I’m actually not reading this for fun, I’m summarizing this to write an article for work with a colleague – however, it’s pretty interesting! It provides a new and logical guide to teaching and preparing curriculum. Any teachers reading this should definitely check it out. I’ll try to let you know when the article is available.

Places I’m shopping:

  • Victoria’s Secret – A week ago, I went into VS to find out the amounts on my secret rewards cards (I had three). I scored $100 off! Needless to say, I was ecstatic. I stocked up on another of my favorite bra and got myself a fantastic deal on my new favorite perfume. $110 for $10. Awesome.
  • Gordman’s – I’ve been to this store once, but I must not have been in the mood to shop because I don’t remember it and it’s definitely worth remembering! I went with my friend last week and picked up a cute headband, a kitty laser toy, and an adorable new purse for only $30. We browsed around for at least half an hour and I avoided buying a lot of stuff that I wanted. I entered into a store sweepstakes, so hopefully I’ll win a $100 shopping spree there.

Come onnn, shopping spree.

  • Target – Ah, the old standby. I’m just pleased because I managed to pick up all the treats for my speech kiddies for a very low price. Nothing beats that!
  • Ulta – I found a new shampoo that I love called Giovanni Tea Tree Treat. It’s perfect for my hair if I skipped a daily shower and smells great. It’s supposedly sold at Target, but I’ve never seen it, so I go to Ulta for my shampoo needs. Plus they always have great deals!

Happenings I’m attending:

  • Speech banquet – At the end of every speech season, the team celebrates at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club with a team dinner. Seniors stand up and say a few words, a few students give their speech, and coaches hand out awards to key students. It should be a great finale to a fantastic season!
  • West Suburban Teen Clinic (WSTC) board meeting – I take notes for WSTC at their monthly board meetings. This Wednesday is their April meeting. I always enjoy going and seeing their new space, so it should be good!
  • Dinner with the family – After cool g-ma died, my mom, aunt, and I set up a monthly dinner to ensure that we would spend time together. It hasn’t happened every month due to time constraints or illness, but it does happen at least every other month. My aunt was in the hospital this month (she’s okay now) so we couldn’t have our dinner on the 6th as planned, but we’re going to have it sometime around Easter. Perhaps Easter dinner?

I'm the one with the mustache.

  • Rachel’s party – It’s my colleague’s birthday tonight! I’m invited to a dinner to celebrate. I’ve never met any of her friends, but she’s awesome, so it should be just fine.

Things I’m looking forward to:

  • Thrifting – My friend and I still haven’t gotten around to thrift shopping – I work weekdays and she works weekends, so it’s hard to find a time when we’re both free for at least a few hours. Too bad thrift shopping requires so much time and patience.
  • May and the return of my normal food budget – As I mentioned in a Foodie Friday post, I have way too much food in my house. And yet, I still spend an enormous amount of money on food. This month, I set up a strict budget for my grocery spending – which I’ve increased slightly now twice. I completely forgot when I went to Winona that I had set up the budget and went a little crazy when shopping with the boy. Oops. But May brings the return of my less restricted budget!
  • Sprummer – Yes, you read that correctly. Sprummer is the very short period in Minnesota that falls between spring and summer. Ideal temperatures, sunny, not yet humid…perfect. I can’t wait to finally get to that short-lived season.

Tulips are perhaps the best thing about sprummer.

  • Hanging out with my lovely former work friend – Tomorrow night, I’m hanging out with an old friend of mine. I haven’t seen her in forever, so I’m super excited. She’s just a ball of joy to be around and we always have fun together, so I’m really looking forward to it!

What’s currently going on in your life?

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Okay, I’m not really going on a grocery store strike. But I kind of am. I spend a huge portion of my limited funds at the grocery store each month, and when I thoroughly perused my kitchen last week, I realized I had stocked up on a LOT of food. Like, 3 lbs. of pasta. I’m not going to completely ban the grocery store in case I need essentials like bread or milk, but I’m calling a pseudo-strike until I can clean myself out a bit. I’m giving myself a $50 budget for the month. It’s usually $150-200, depending on the month. We’ll see how this goes. Therefore, my Foodie Friday posts may be a bit bland in the next few weeks, but I shall do my best to keep them palatable (oh yes, pun intended).

At least my pantry's not this bad.

I should share that as I was writing up this post, I mentioned to the lovely Kate that I was planning on “going on a grocery store strike and eating up my cabinets.” Her response? “That is awesome. Though cabinets aren’t exactly tasty.” Indeed, they are not. 🙂

I’m upset. My hometown school district – or the town I consider to be my hometown because I spent more time there than in any other city during my childhood – had huge fiscal problems that they had to address (the city has its own district). They’ve been throwing around different ideas for a while – closing an elementary school, cutting key activities, cutting jobs, etc. The board finally approved the following cuts (one of which I fully approve, the rest of which I dislike):

  • Closing an elementary school – I actually agree with this. Lakeville was a fast-growing city when I lived there, but the rate of school-age kids in the district has been steadily dropping for a few years. It makes sense to consolidate expenses and close one of the nine elementary schools.
  • Cutting 94 jobs – I don’t like this, but this doesn’t surprise me or anyone I know who works in the district. Unfortunately, many of the people that I know will be cut because they haven’t been tenured. I agree with tenureship in higher education (partly because each college/university has a distinct atmosphere and professors make up that, partly because I want to be tenured!) but not in K-12 education.
  • Cutting activities – Originally they were planning to cut whole programs – debate, gymnastics, etc. They are still cuttings pieces of programs – for example, we currently have funds for six Speech coaches and will now get funding for three (we have fifteen coaches). As far as I’ve heard, football hasn’t been touched.
  • Raising activity fees – Here starts the rant. Activity fees are already exorbitant – $190 for Speech (plus a booster fee just for Speech to cover all the necessary expenses that the activities office won’t cover). They’re jumping up hundreds of dollars, likely somewhere in the $400 range. For one season, per activity.

Allow me to explain my frustration with this – I was a poor kid. I didn’t go on a huge band trip to Florida with the 300 band students because I didn’t think we could afford it (sadly, I later found out my parents would have found a way). I consistently asked for help in covering school expenses. When I was in Speech, for instance, I asked for help in covering my activity fees – just so I could participate. Luckily, I was able to participate in many activities during my adolescence, not all of which were school-related or expensive (4-H, church, Speech, theatre, Target Market, etc.) There are kids already unable to afford the activity fee for Speech – what happens to them now? They’re not even going to try to join the team because they’re going to assume that they can’t afford to (much like with private schools – kids don’t know there’s generally significant financial aid offered). Even for the kids who are brave enough to ask for financial assistance, will activities have the funds to help them out? This wouldn’t bother me so much if Lakeville weren’t such a snooty, money-flaunting town to begin with, or if they offered solutions to this problem.

What happens to those kids whose families aren’t rich enough to participate in extracurricular activities? They miss out on interacting with their peers. They miss out on the enrichment of participating in an extracurricular activity. They don’t have those extracurricular activities to put on their college applications. Colleges see them as less appealing than their rich counterparts because they don’t participate in extracurricular activities. Do you see where I’m going with this? By forcing the less affluent kids out of school activities due to cost, my hometown has widened the rich-poor gap even fricken further.

I’m upset.

There were other solutions, but they chose to ignore them. Now those kids are going to pay the price.

Read here: http://www.startribune.com/local/south/115619024.html?elr=KArksUUUezH_MDC7DaaDy_vDEh7P:DiU

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