Monthly Archives: February 2010

Kindergarten Decisions Suck

From the second you find out you are pregnant or going to adopt, you start making decisions. Some you’ll get right, and some you’ll get wrong.  Some matter a lot, and some not at all.  Unfortunately (for your kids and your guilt-factor) you don’t have any way of knowing ahead of time how much weight any of your decisions have. 

The kindergarten Decision is huge.  If this is the current ‘season’ of parenting that you are in I completely feel for you.  It is an exhausting time. It’s like being in school again yourself except you are doing homework and research and you won’t find out your grade for another 12 years. Some of also you have to make the Young Fives/kindergarten decision.  Or the homeschooling decision.  Or the school of choice decision. Or the “we didnt’ get in where we wanted – what now?” decision. It might very well just be one of those things that in the end, doesn’t really matter.  Or it might.  That’s the part that sucks.

We wanted a good reason to send our kids to our neighborhood, public school.  We talked to parents and teachers in the school district who encouraged us to send our children there.  Why? Because “we need parents like you“. 

We  wanted a good reason to send our kids to the school affiliated with our church.  We went to the open houses and met with administrators who encouraged us to send our children there.  Why? “Because it’s more convenient.  They get their sacraments right during school”.

We wanted a good reason to send our kids to a charter school near our house.  We went to the information nights and orientation.  They encouraged us to send our children there.  Why? “Because we are diverse.”

Well, the fact that a school needs us wasn’t compelling enough.  We can volunteer there – but what good will it do my kids? The convenience of receiving sacraments at school weren’t worth the cost – we can drive them to church on Wednesday nights for free.  Diversity is good.  Of course it is good.  But how does that translate into a good education?

The school that ‘hooked’ us was one that talked about character development and was able to demonstrate that they actually walked the walk.   It was also the most academically challenging school.   It’s not that this was the best school.  It was the best school for us. It forced us to choose between service to community, religion, exposure to diversity, and character and academics.  As parents we pride ourselves on making all of these things a priority – but when we had to pick between them, it was impossible not to feel a little disappointed in ourselves.  At the same time; two years later we both still firmly believe we made the right choice.   

I have very little to offer you other than empathy; but I hope you will accept it. 

If you are in the Grand Rapids Public School district and your child will be 5 years old by December 1, you are invited to attend a program called “Kindergarten, Here I Come!” on Tuesday, March 9 from 5:30 – 7:30 at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  Representatives from the district’s elementary schools will be there, and admission to the event (and the Museum!) is free.  Call Lesley at 819-2111 for more information.

And… good luck.

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Family Film Festival!

It used to be called the “Dove Family Film Festival“. After a few years, a baseball-hat high-top tennis shoe wearing piece of popcorn called Flick came in and strong-armed the whole enterprise.  There was a fierce battle; a fight for the right to entertain kids and sell them snacks.  Defeated, the Dove finally lifted its battered wing like a white flag of surrender.  “Take good care of them, Flick.  They’re yours now“. 

I have no idea what actually happened. I’m sure it was not nearly as interesting as my version.  Some Memorandums of Understanding were signed, contracts were negotiated, and other boring boardroom stuff is probably what went down. What I do know is that if this film festival was a person, it would have a restraining order against me because I stalk it. 

For the uninitiated; it’s a nice opportunity for you to see a movie with your kids for $3.50 (everyone under 12 is free) in the theater right before it hits the rental market. It’s a sweet deal. I must know what movie is playing when and schedule accordingly.  So here you go, Big Binder readers.  You (probably) heard it here first.  They are all rated PG.

  • Planet 51 March 12-18
  • Astro Boy March 18-25
  • Where the Wild Things Are March 26-April 1
  • Alvin and the Chipmunks – the Squeakuel April 2-8
  • Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs – April 9-15
  • The Spy Next Door – April 16-22

More information is on the Celebration Cinema website.  And I’m totally not saying you are, but if you were the kind of person that sneaks candy into movies and robs the theater of their rights to sell you their smaller, more expensive concession stand candy you might want to check out SnakSnak.  I cannot get enough of this website.  They review snacks.  I love snacks.  And cheap movies.  And epic battles.  So much goodness in the world; I just had to share.

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Palazzolo – Mi Amor!

After deliberating for a few years, we finally realized that A.P. was never going to grow into his tonsils. They just kept getting bigger along with the rest of him, so it was time.  They were huge, and they were causing problems.  They needed to come out. 

We set up the surgery in July when my husband would have some time off work.  I am really good with people when they are sick (completely missed my calling as a nurse), but I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus on anything else.  The worst part was watching A.P. go under.  The anesthesiologist told me afterward he kind of ‘feels a parent out’ during the consultation and determines whether or not they are going to freak out.  If they seem like they’ll be able to hold it together, they can come in and be with their kid.

I passed the test.  I got to stay and watch my son have weird seizures and hold his legs down.  Lucky me.

Let’s move on to the best part of this experience; which was, of course, the treats.  We had a freezer full of fruit bars, ice-cream, and jello.  A.P. wouldn’t eat more than a bite of any of them. He had been prescribed OxyContin, but didn’t agree with Rush Limbaugh’s positive assessment of it and refused to take it.  His throat hurt, and nothing was worth swallowing.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that Palazzolo’s Lemon Custard Gelato was the first thing he ate in a few days.  Not only that; he ate half the container.  I was really relieved when I looked at the ingredients and they were all completely natural. 

It is a special treat for us now.  I can only find it at Family Fare and not every store carries it.  I couldn’t believe it when I saw that it was made in Fennville.  The website makes me drool and I am jealous of anyone who has access to all 600 flavors. Road trip!

For more Things I Love Thursday check out the Diaper Diaries.

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Things to Dig

February is almost over, friends.  It’s the home stretch.  The eighth inning.  The 39th week.  I know it’s not true but for now, I’m going to pretend that winter is almost over too.  I don’t hate winter, really.  Actually I think the snow is pretty, and it’s nice to go grocery shopping at 9:00 AM and not have to worry while you run 50 other errands that your milk will go bad.  Nope, it’s colder in your trunk than it is in the refrigerator.  It’s kind of cool to watch the Winter Olympics and think that we could pretty much do any of that stuff right here.  Can you picture it? I can. Grand Rapids 2018! Go for the gold, baby.

As a matter of fact you can see some of those winter sports live this weekend.  The BOB is hosting “Rail Jam 2010” .  They turn their parking lots into a mini-sports park with a 30 foot ramp.  You can watch snowboarders and skiers up close and compete for prizes.  There is also food and music, and it’s just – different.  Your kids will dig it. 

If you prefer to appreciate winter from indoors (and there is nothing; I repeat NOTHING wrong with that. Unless something is  wrong with me. Which is possible.) you may want to head over to Schuler Books on Alpine where Sing-Song Yoga will be having a free class on Saturday from 11:00 – 1:00.  This is for kids, and they will dig it.

A.P. has been bugging me to see Astro Boy, which is playing at the Grand Rapids Main Library Saturday afternoon at 2:00.  It’s free, so I dig it.  What are you going to dig this weekend?

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More MIChild

Knowing that so many people were struggling financially last year, I wrote a post about a children’s insurance program and our experiences with it.  I’m thrilled to hear that there is another way to access this program because unfortunately, a year later many people are still in need of health insurance the other resources I wrote about before.  It’s really an amazing program, and it covers pretty much everything – including dental. A family of four may qualify for the program if their average household income is $3,675 a month ($44,100 annually) or under. 

There are a lot of people out there who don’t know that they are eligible, so the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids has received grant funding to reach out and help people gain access to MIChild and Healthy Kids.  Just email childrenshealth@grymca.org or call the main branch (the big, fancy one downtown) at 616.855.9686 and schedule an appointment, or even apply over the phone. This is in addition to the other ways to apply; not instead of.  If you are in Michigan, but not Grand Rapids you can still fill out a form online, or send in a paper application.   If you are outside of Michigan, check with your state’s health department to see if there is a similar program.

I’m happy to help spread the word about this program.  Please get in contact with the YMCA if you need help.  Don’t be embarassed – they are nice 🙂 and there are thousands of people going through this right now.  I know you will be thankful that you did.

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Things To Do Thursday

Anything fun planned for the weekend? I am trying to pick between a few goodies.  I thought February was supposed to be boring!

  • At Breton Village Mall, the Cabin Fever Reliever is Saturday from 10:30-12.  Joel Tanis (from Come On Over!) will be there, as well as a ‘group art project’, musical activities, and reading games.
  • If you were thinking more outside-ish stuff, there is a Winter Family Day at Meijer Gardens on Saturday from 1-3.  They always put on a good event, but I know it’s one of the pricier places if  you don’t have a membership, maybe you could check out a membership from the Grand Rapids Public Library for the day.
  • Also on Saturday from 11-3 is the 8th Annual (I think I’ve been to almost every one of them!) GRCC Family Matters Event.  It gets bigger and better every year.  It’s swag city for kids, seriously take a bag for all the little goodies they will get.  It’s free, but there is a $3 charge for parking.

The “Planning Meeting” for the my husband’s annual Insane Bike Ride To the Mackinaw Bridge is Saturday at my house, so I need to spend a few minutes figuring out what to feed a flock? gaggle? pelleton? – whatever you call a group of crazy bikers – for dinner.

We have been keeping Sundays pretty low key for a few months and are really seeing the value of a day of rest.  We’re going to a Griffins game on Sunday though – one of those nice afternoon matinees.  GO GRIFFINS! By the way, my kids think Finn is Griff’s wife.  They also think Robin is Batman’s wife, so we have some clarifications to make.  Anyway…the library is good to us… see if you can check out tickets from Grand Rapids Public, or show your Grand Rapids Public Library or Kent District Library Card at the box office on to get a lower bowl ticket for $10.

Another good reason to forgo your rest is Taste of Soul Sunday, a celebration of African American Culture at the main library downtown. For more weekend ideas, check out GR Kids and GR Now.

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