January 25, 2013

When Kids Just Won't Do Their Homework

There is a big homework epidemic in the school system and it seems to have invaded my home. We got an announcement from the principal about late homework assignments. It seems that the majority of students are not turning in their work. It's gotten so bad that they had to issue a school-wide policy. Teachers are no longer allowed to accept assignments more than 3 days old.

I'm completely for the policy, but I'm amazed by the necessity. Sure, we had our share of slackers, but they weren't the norm. Even the slackers would rush through a homework assignment just before class began so they could turn it in.

One of my boys in particular, seems to be most affected by the pandemic. He's been given a good "kick in the rear" and nothing seems to get through to him. He is very good at looking productive. He's had all extra privileges taken away (no after-school activities, video games, or tv time) until he brings his grades up. Here we are in the 3rd quarter and he still hasn't taken ownership of his education. I don't think he ever will if he is left on his own.

I think the reality is that these kids have so many more pulls on their attention than we ever did. And they lack the skill to prioritize and multi task. Yet, we expect them to do just that. The hard truth is: it boils down to parenting. You can tell your kid to clean his room all day long, but if you don't followup with him you will find at the end of the day that he only "sorta" cleaned his room.

The same applies to homework. If you leave him to it by himself he's only going to "sorta" do his work. You have to have a system and follow through on it as a parent.

My son has great teachers. They have worked with him and given him more opportunities than he deserves. At the end of the day he needs discipline, and more than punishment and consequences. We've already taken away everything he has and holds dear. He needs his parents to check behind him, to apply a standard of accountability.

His science teacher had a great plan. He has a school agenda we bought at the beginning of the year. For each class block he needs to write in his homework assignments and get his teacher's signature. When he comes home I check his agenda for signatures and make sure he completes the assignments. Then his teachers will be looking for my signature the next day. If he fails to get a signature, he looses school privileges.

I know there are some kids who thrive on the challenge of academia. I'm talking about your happy-to-be-average underachievers. The ones who are the most puzzling because the work comes easy, when they actually do it.

I found the same principle applies to managing employees. I am constantly checking up behind my less motivated employees. I would like to break the cycle with my children before they become lifelong character flaws.

January 19, 2013

Bacon, Potato, Corn Chowder

This is THE must try recipe of the season.


Ilb bacon
2 onions - finely chopped
2-4 jalepeno peppers - finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic - minced
4 tbsp flour
6 Cups chicken broth
3 cups of cream (or half & half or milk-whatever)
*about 8 potatoes
*about 4 carrots
2 bags of corn

*All of my numbers are approximate. I cook for a large family with 3 teenagers. I like to enough so that I can pretend there will be leftovers (there never are). You can't mess this one up. This would also be a great recipe for using up any root vegetables in the fridge.

Cook the bacon them remove (leaving the grease in the pan). In the bacon grease cook the onion, garlic, peppers.

When the onions are clear and soft add the herbs and the flour and cook another minute or two.

To get all of the mix out of the pan, I add some of the liquid and whisk. Then I pour it all into a stock pot. I throw in the rest of the ingredients and cook until the vegetables are tender.

We top ours with a little cheddar and serve with salad and dinner rolls. This chowder makes for a very hearty meal that is easy on the budget.


How can a working mom still find the time to keep house? I don't know yet, but I always feel like I'm on the brink of discovery...or something like it.

In truth, my house is not nearly as clean as it was when I was home full-time. Instead of giving the kids chores simply to teach them how, I actually depend on them for it. I can't watch over them for quality assurance so it's never up to my standards. It is tolerable.

I spend Saturdays catching up with the kids while Leon works his route job. Together, we go back over bathrooms, bedrooms, and living spaces. We sweep out corners and dust off the bunnies. Today, it's 3:00 and 3 out of 5 of us are still in pajamas rocking out to music but the house smells and looks amazing. The other 2 have set up shop on Main Street to sell Pokemon cards.

I don't really have a direction for this blog anymore. I, myself, am spread thin across too many slices of bread. I want to write more so I think I'll just start out some posts and see where this takes me.

Morning People

I have joined the ranks in the rat race. Up at 5:30 am off to work at 7am. I love being a morning person. I go to bed at night looking forward to my morning coffee. I like carpool lines and seeing my kids off to school. I like the feeling that comes with being well organized and productive. It feels amazing.

I've always wanted to be a morning person. I gave it a good shot a couple of years ago. I got up every morning at around 6am and enjoyed the peace and quiet. Somewhere along the way I lost my motivation. Probably, I got sick and slept in for a couple of days and just slipped back into my old ways. Getting up at 9 or 10am didn't keep me from getting everything done, so why push myself?

Now my schedule is so full, there isn't time for sleep! So here I am at 6:30 am, fully dressed, hair and make-up done, ready for work. I got up at 4:30 this morning after a call from my staff letting me know there is a leak at my hotel. Thankfully, I was able to resolve the issue over the phone, but there wasn't much point to going back to bed.

I typically start my day at 5:30am. Some days it's still painful to get up so early. Some days I'm not as successful, hit the snooze, and wake up with only 20 minutes to get out the door. I really pay when that happens. I spend the whole day trying to catch up with myself.

Getting up early, I get to enjoy a cup of coffee. I can take my time getting ready. I also get some time to enjoy a book, catch up on facebook, or watch another episode of Buffy with my boys. I also check on statistics and revenue reports for work before I get to work. These small things make a big difference in my day.

Most importantly I get some quality time in with the kids. I'm not rushing, all focused on myself, so that we can get out the door. Instead, I'm paying attention to them, letting them know they are important to me.