Saturday, March 31, 2012

Book Review: The Memory Keeper's Daughter

The Memory Keeper's DaughterThe Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It was very thought-provoking and well written. I enjoyed the writing style. It was also clean, something that seems hard to come by these days. I felt that the author got some very good points across through her story. I really loved the symbolism of the photography--of capturing one moment in your life that was life-changing and trying to keep that moment.

One thing I was disappointed in was her use of the "R" word. It seems that it could have been left out. It was only used about five times, maybe less, in the whole book, but when I read it the first time it was used, I was disappointed it was there. I realize that it was probably more common vernacular during the time when the book takes place, but I felt it was unnecessary even in that context.

The other thing that bothered me a little was the amount of grammatical and typographical errors throughout the book. I'm not sure if this is a book that has had multiple publications and this particular publication had a lot of errors, or what. But that was annoying.

All in all, a very good read, a book that I am glad I read and didn't feel like I wasted my time. I would definitely recommend it.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Picture of Yourself With Ten Facts

1. I have five brothers and no sisters.

2. Growing up, I lived in Connecticut, Texas, Idaho, and Utah. I like to claim Texas because it's the coolest place.

3. The only foreign country I've ever traveled to was Mexico during college.

4. My dad taught me to shoot a lay-up in basketball in the sixth grade the night before we were supposed to learn it in gym class because I didn't want to be embarrassed not knowing how to do one.

5. When I was four, I had a recurring arm injury that the doctor said would be eliminated by strengthening my arm with gymnastics, so my parents signed me up. Gymnastics was part of my life until I was sixteen years old, even through all of our moves.

6. I quit orchestra in the ninth grade to be in choir because there were more cute boys in choir than in orchestra.

7. I like to write stories and books and hope to someday publish a novel (and am working on one currently).

8. I love the heat and hate the cold. I just don't like how it feels to be cold; I'd much rather deal with extreme heat.

9. When I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be a mom. That's what I would tell anyone who asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

10. I love to listen to all kinds of music, depending on my mood, but country music is my favorite.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

30 Day Picture Challenge

I pulled this "30 Day Picture Challenge" from a friend from Facebook. I'm going to do it, but I'm only going to do a "picture post" once a week, on Wednesdays.

Monday, March 26, 2012

One of the Family's Faves: Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff (Recipe Included)

We have a pot roast almost every Sunday.  It's mostly because with a two-plus pound roast, I can usually get at least two meals from it, and many times three meals.  Even though the price of the meat has gone up, I buy it when it's on sale and stock it up in my freezer.   I'm always looking for ways to use the leftover meat in meals later in the week.  So far, I have two winners:  beef stew, which is just made by putting the leftover meat, cut up, into the leftover gravy, and cutting up the leftover potatoes and carrots into the gravy also, and crock pot beef stroganoff.  The stew is so easy--I just put it in the fridge that way after we eat our roast and then pull it out on heat it stovetop on the night we'll eat it for dinner, making homemade biscuits to go with it.  The stroganoff recipe I actually found online and the original recipe requires some upfront prep, using uncooked stew meat, so I've tweaked it to meet our needs.  The kids love this recipe and we usually eat it about once a week, on a day when I need to have most of the meal preparation done in advance (like today when I take my daughter and all the other kids to her dance class that goes from 4:30-5:30, the stroganoff is ready when we get home and all I have to do is make a side salad and cook the pasta).

After we eat the roast, I cut up the leftover meat.  Half of it goes into the beef stew and put right into the fridge.  The other half gets cut into chunks also and put into a container to store in the fridge until we use it for stroganoff.

Ingredients I use:
Pre-roasted beef, cut into chunks
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can water
1 beef bouillon cube
optional: 1 small can mushroom stems and pieces, drained (my kids don't like these, although I do add them on occasion)
minced onions, or cut up a fresh onion

All I do is put all the above ingredients into the crock pot and cook it on low for about 4 hours.  When I get home from the dance class, I boil the noodles and make the sides for our meal.  In about fifteen minutes, we have beef stroganoff served over noodles.  I've also served it over rice before, which the kids didn't like as much because they aren't big fans of rice.  This is a meal they scarf down every time I serve it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Refiner's Fire of Parenthood

Parenthood is a refiner's fire.  I think it's one of the ways Heavenly Father tests us.  For many of us, it is how we learn to be patient, to not judge, to be more understanding, to be flexible, to truly love.  We might think we truly love before we have kids, but I don't think I really did, or understood it, until having kids.  I know some people who can't have children and don't get to in this life, and I have to think that possibly, they have already figured some of these things out.  As for me, I still have a very long way to go.

Trying to console an inconsolable one-year-old while managing four other wild children by myself is one of those moments where I know I'm being stretched.  It took all I had in me to remain calm this afternoon while dealing with this.  I racked my brain to think of ways to calm the baby and finally was able to calm him by climbing into a warm bath with him and getting out bath toys that hadn't been played with in years.  He was even babbling like his normal self again for a little while.  But as soon as the bath was over, the crankiness returned and that was how the next 1-1/2 hours were spent, carrying a cranky baby around trying to calm him.

It is my first instinct when faced with this type of adversity to call someone I know and get their input.  But I could see that in this case, that would do nothing to help since I didn't know what was wrong with him and he was crying the whole time.  It would have been hard to have a conversation while holding a crying baby.  Because my husband was at work, I had to pass him off to my 8-year-old for about five minutes while I finished the dishes and got his room ready for bed.

Now that the kids are in bed, even the baby for now is sleeping, I feel such relief but at the same time anxiety, not knowing how this night will go but pretty sure it won't go wonderfully since I put a baby to bed who was quite unhappy and hadn't eaten anything almost all day.

We'll see how long I can keep this charade up of acting like I know what I'm doing.  I can only imagine what it will be like in twenty-plus years when my daughter calls me because her baby is crying inconsolably and I can remember, calmly, even nostalgically, how it was.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Notes From Story At Home, Part Two


On Saturday, the whole day consisted of breakout sessions where we had three classes each session to choose from.

Leigh Anne Wilkes 
She is a popular blogger at Your Homebased Mom, another blog I had never read or heard of before this conference (I say another because all the aforementioned blogs were ones I'd never heard of before). She spoke about blogging your passion and growing your blog.
  • Focus on your passion.  Is there an area in your life in which good things happen?  Do you have an aptitude for something you like?  What do you do naturally, effortlessly?  What could you teach?  What brings you joy?  About the only thing I could think of that applied to me in this case is cleaning and organizing--what a boring blog that would be, I think!
  • Be yourself on your blog (some people won't like you).
  • Be authentic and open; share the good and the ugly.  Not sure if I agree with this.  People don't want to read the ugly unless it's something they can commiserate with.  I guess you'd have to find a balance, like three happy and good to every one ugly. 
  • Provide quality content (content  is king):  fresh, relevant, consistent
  • Community is queen.   Utilize social media, like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  She said that Pinterest can increase blog traffic by 25% but I'm not sure I want people repinning my stuff, and I have yet to join Pinterest.  Plus there are all sorts of legal ramifications of using Pinterest that sounded extremely confusing to me, which I learned about in the next breakout session. She also talked about finding a community of like-minded bloggers. I wanted to think that Mormon Mommy Blogs (MMB) was that community for me, but I have been somewhat disgusted with a lot of the things they post about over there. I link up to Women Living Well, but since I'm LDS, lots of those bloggers over there think I'm not Christian. So it's been a hard road for me to find a community of "like-minded bloggers". There aren't a whole lot of other bloggers out there who want to discuss major social issues and concerns wrapped up in religion. So we'll see.
  • Be patient, work hard, and be consistent. I have been writing my blog for four years now and I'm kind of frustrated with the traffic and comments I get, which is very little. I'm not sure how to get more people interested in reading and leaving comments. I'd like to have some good discussions on here but can't seem to generate the interest.
  • Then she talked about reasons why people stop reading a blog:  posting too much or too little; sell too much stuff; too much about yourself; too much politics or religion (unless it's a religious or political blog); bad language (funny, because Jen over at People I Want to Punch in the Throat drops the f-bomb about six times per post, sometimes three to four times in one paragraph, and she has about 2700 followers and gets about 150+ comments per post); and there's music playing, a black background, or too small of font. Then she talked about reasons to follow a blog: it's pretty; lots of pictures; the content; makes you a better person for following; makes you laugh, smile, is genuine, makes you cry; the writer responds to your comments.

A decently trafficked blog gets about 20-25K hits/month, according to Mrs. Wilkes.  She summarized by saying 1) work hard; 2) do it because you love it; 3) be patient. 

I feel like there are some changes I'd like to make on my blog after listening to her workshop.  I'm not sure what I will change, but just know there will be some changes. 

Tauni Everett and Alison Moore Smith
These two ladies talked about monetizing your blog.  Now it would be nice to be able to make money off something I spend all this time doing, but the way they presented it, I felt very overwhelmed and destined to failure if I were to ever try doing that.  Not only that, but I didn't understand half of what they were talking about.  They did touch on some of the legal ramifications of blogs, linking to other blogs, Pinterest and other social networking sites.  One thing they said was that if you do a giveaway on your blog, you aren't supposed to post about it on Facebook.  I didn't know that and have seen many, many people do it (and did it myself once, but the giveaway was a joke.  Not only did I only get two people who even entered the giveaway, when I tried to contact the company, they never got back to me.  Never.  I've tried and tried.  So if you entered that giveaway, sorry about that).  So I'm not going to waste time transferring my notes because I really didn't understand most of what they said.

The next class I attended was called Striking a Balance Between Real Life and Online.  I was not impressed with the first speaker's presentation so I will skip that.  The second speaker, Jana Parkin, gave a little quiz that seemed relevant:  (Jana also has a popular blog but I couldn't find it.)
  1. Was the first connection you made this morning with a live person or an electronic device? What about last night?
  2. Have you spent time outdoors today?  Yesterday?
  3. Have you spent more than 90 consecutive minutes connected to the Internet in the last 24 hours?
  4. Have you spent at least 20 minutes today focused on relationships?
The next class was Telling Your Story--Isn't that what your blog is for? and the speaker was DeNae Handy.  I heard her speak at the Casual Blogger Conference in 2010 and she gave pretty much the exact same spiel.

She talked about writing the Hero's Journey, referenced in my post yesterday.  How the protagonist, a regular person, starts out, is given an extraordinary assignment, they meet an ally, then there's the moment of truth, a watershed event, the allies are rewarded, enemies are banished, and the hero is crowned king.  She compared it to musical phrasing and needing a resolution in the music.
Other tips:
  1. Examine the writing you already like and what elements of those genres are in common with each other.
  2. Keep it to 500-700 words.
  3. Short, simple paragraphs and sentences (3 sentences max per paragraph on a blog).
  4. Use literate language (proper grammar).
  5. Be careful about humor slipping into sarcasm that can be demeaning and hurtful.
So I guess I  have to work on all that, since I tend to write blog posts more like essays.  Hmmm....

Last, but not least (my favorite class of the whole conference):
Integrating Your Blog With Social Media
Michael Reynolds, CEO of SpinWeb
First, he listed blogging purposes:
  • Tell a story to connect with family and friends.
  • Market a business or a non-profit.
  • As a platform for a cause.
  • To teach and to educate
  • Personal branding--how other people perceive you
Then he talked about blogging goals:
  • Gain new readers and subscribers
  • Bring more traffic to your website
  • Ignite conversations
  • Research topics or gather information
He then discussed the different social media platforms:
Facebook--very casual, good for social blogs, friends, family, consumers
Twitter--fast-paced, action-oriented, snarky, personal/professional
Linked-In--All business, good for professional blogs, groups
Google Plus--High concentration of tech-savvy, creative people
Youtube--good for embedding videos into blogs, increasing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts

He gave tips on a blog infrastructure to make it more attractive and accessible and easier to read.  His workshop was very informative and gave me ideas on how to improve my blog's look and functions. 

All in all, it was a good conference and has made me rethink some of the things I write about and also the structure of this blog.  I do have some things I want to change, but I'm not sure how much change there will be.  Keep on reading, and thank you for reading! 

Please leave comments here on the blog if there's anything that you like about what I've posted previously and any suggestions for what you might like to see.  Thanks!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Notes From Story At Home, Part One

This conference took place on Friday and Saturday March 9th and 10th. I loved that this conference was in downtown Salt Lake City.  I rode the train from where I live.  The first day was all in the Conference Center Theater.  The second day there were classes in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

First we heard from the keynote speaker for the conference, David E. Rencher, who is a genealogist that works for the Church.  He gave tips on telling your family history story.
  • Remember and record the story.
  • Notice the politics of the story.
  • Engage the youth in the story.
  • Record the everyday story.
  • Record the personal story.
Those were the five biggest key points I pulled from his address. 

Next we heard from Courtney and Christopher Kendrick.  They have a blog that I guess is popular.  Mostly, they just told their story as an example of how to tell a story.

After the Kendricks, we got to hear performances from two great storytellers:  Syd Lieberman and Kim Weitkamp.  They were quite entertaining and I enjoyed their stories.

Friday afternoon
We first heard from Carol Rice and Shantel Park. From what I can tell, they are contributors and possibly owners of the website and company Cherish Bound, which put on this conference. They ran a writing workshop on how to transform telling your story into writing your story.  "We perceive something based on how it's packaged."  We learn to communicate orally before we learn to communicate with the written word."

  • Write like you're writing to a best friend.
  • Add other senses--what do you hear, smell, etc.?
  • Don't always write a chronological story--consider doing it by theme/topic/lessons learned, etc.
  • Write the Hero's Journey.  People love stories of how someone ordinary overcame odds.
Next, we heard from Rustin Banks, who is the CEO of BlogFrog.  He talked about writing our own stories, like choosing our own path in life, basically.  I'm not sure his presentation was helpful in any way to my blogging pursuits, but it was interesting.

After that, there was a video presentation put on Family Search about some snippets people had learned from their own family histories.  The little clips were all quite amazing--everyone has such a unique and incredible story to tell!

I did not attend the evening's "Story Slam".  I still don't even know what a "Story Slam" is, but I wanted to get home to my family!

More to come tomorrow about Saturday's workshops...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Story At Home Conference

I attended the Story At Home Conference (family history, storytelling, and blogging) over the weekend that was put on by Cherish Bound partnering with Family Search.  It was very inspirational and I so wish I had been able to attend with a friend or family member.  Because I couldn't find anyone else interested in going, I went alone.  I want to share some of what I learned, but I'm still trying to gather my thoughts.  Plus, with a birthday today (my little boy is one today!), I will probably not have a chance to write more  until later this week...probably not until Friday since the next two days I have a very busy schedule.  That will give me time to formulate what I want to write, though.  So check back in a few days and find out what went on at the conference, what I gleaned from it, and how I will be changing my blog.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Isn't it interesting how our perspectives on various things change as we get older? I remember when I was a senior in high school and my English teacher would say every day, "Christmas is coming." That meant that we needed to get our college applications in before Christmas. He said that we had a better chance getting accepted wherever we were applying if we applied before Christmas. I got my application to BYU in by the end of October. But I remember it feeling like he said that over and over for AGES. That first semester of my last year of high school lasted for SO long!

Then I remember when I was a freshman in college and my boyfriend left on his mission for two whole years! Two years was such a long time. I remember after one year had passed when there was only one year left, but one whole year seemed like forever. Now that I look back, two years is nothing!

When I had my first baby, that first year took forever. Each month you marked the milestones your baby would hit. You kept track of every first and that first birthday seemed like an eternity away. Can we keep him alive all the way until he's one? And then when the first birthday came, it was rejoicing! Yes, we survived the first year!

Now, my fifth child will be turning one in less than a week. It certainly hasn't felt like the endless year that it was with my first child! I can't believe that in less than two years, my little girl will be in kindergarten. In only three more years after that, this baby will be in kindergarten.

It's funny how things change, isn't it? I remember when I was a teenager how my mom told me that time goes by faster and faster as you get older. Boy, was she ever right!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More on Preschool

This is a hot topic for me, one for which I have very strong opinions. Yesterday, I read on a news website that our state is considering making preschool mandatory as well as all-day kindergarten. For some obvious reasons (if you've read previous posts of mine), I'm not exactly in line with this type of thinking.

I wish that people could realize how much a child learns by simply exploring their world. That a child can learn so much more in five minutes of this type of exploration than they sometimes can by sitting in a preschool classroom for 2-3 hours three times a week. I wish that more parents would realize that their children can benefit so much from them spending good quality learning time with them.

I just recently read, and I wish I could cite the source as it was only a day or two ago, that by the fourth grade there is no difference between children who went to preschool and children who didn't, and also, in that same study, there was no difference in the early grades between kids who went to preschool and kids who came from strong learning environments at home that didn't attend preschool.

I'm not sure how the state will mandate preschool, if this bill passes. I know that kindergarten used to not be required, is it now? If it does pass and is required, I supposed I can always officially home school my kids for at least preschool, as I already do that and follow a pretty structured curriculum even. But it just makes me sick that so many parents buy into this notion that preschool is necessary.

As far as all day kindergarten, I really don't think that should be required. However, we wouldn't be the first state to do so. Many other states already have full day kindergarten as standard. I do like the half day option, but that's because for some kids, half days are just better. I taught all day kindergarten. Let me tell you, there were kids in that class for whom all day kindergarten was a horrible experience. They were exhausted by after lunch time and became my problem students when in the morning, they were my exemplary ones. They were in all day kindergarten because their parents worked and figured it was a better (cheaper) option than daycare. I get that some parents need to work, so make it an option, not a requirement!

I know that what I've said in the past makes it sound like I hate preschool. I just feel like lots of parents don't realize how easy it can be to teach their kids at home. But as long as it's not required, I guess I'll be happy to just keep my kids at home with me as long as possible. Early childhood goes by way too quickly, and I love to teach my own children these academic basics. I hope this doesn't pass.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pineapple Dragon Stir-Fry (Recipe Included)

I ran across this recipe in an advertisement for Dole pineapple chunks. Although, I didn't use Dole pineapple chunks, I just used the generic canned chunk pineapple. Shhh! Don't tell!

Pineapple Dragon Stir-Fry

2 cups white rice, uncooked
1 can (20 oz) chunk pineapple
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 Tbsp cornstarch, divided
3/4 to 1 tsp crushed red pepper, optional
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup red bell pepper chunks
1 small carrot, thinly sliced diagonally
1 tsp minced fresh ginger

1. Prepare rice according to package directions (although I wait until close to the end to make the rice).
2. Drain pineapple. Reserve 1/4 cup juice.
3. Stir together, in small bowl, reserved juice, water, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 Tbsp cornstarch, red pepper (if desired), and garlic powder; set aside.
4. Combine chicken with remaining 1 Tbsp each cornstarch and soy sauce in medium bowl. Heat oil in wok or non-stick large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and stir-fry 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add broccoli, bell pepper, carrot, and ginger; stir-fry 4 minutes or until just tender. Add reserved soy sauce mixture; cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens. Stir in pineapple chunks and heat through. Serve over rice. Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Don't Blink

"Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did"--Kenny Chesney

I was rocking my baby to sleep tonight and thinking about how in eleven days he will be a one-year-old.  Then I started thinking how my oldest will be nine in about two months.  Then, I realized that ten comes after nine and YIKES!  My oldest will be double digits next year!

How did I not realize that ten was after nine?  I just kept thinking the past several years that he had so long to go until he was in double digits and all of a sudden, he has just over a year left before it comes.  And once he hits ten, it's not very long after that the others do too.

Sometimes, I find myself trying to remember what my oldest was like as a baby, if my youngest is much like my oldest, and I honestly can't remember the cute things my oldest would do.  I think that one of the only things that makes me sad (according to my understanding, that is) about eternal life is that we are only children for one small brief moment in all eternity.  Childhood is so sweet and so fleeting.  I love the people my children are slowly becoming, but it is happening too fast.  Yet, it's hard for me to enjoy the babyhood part of it because it's so hard, with the frustrated crying and the sleepless nights and the teething, etc.  I have a hard time seizing those special moments and cherishing them.  I know they will be gone so quickly, but being in the here and now can be so hard sometimes.

It's like a constant contradiction--I want them to grow up so they can do more things but I want them to stay little so they are sweet and innocent and adorable forever!

Book Review: The Help

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It was thought-provoking and I was completely wrapped up in the story. I felt it was well-written and easy to read. The only part I didn't like was the ending. I was disappointed that things didn't work out for Aibileen to stay with her family because that little girl really needed her. Even though it was fiction, I'm sure there were situations like that for real where the children suffered because of the choices of the parents (as there always are) and those stories always break my heart.

I did feel like I learned more about what it was like during segregation in the south. I learned all that history in school, but always from a very dry perspective (this happened, etc.) without any feeling attached. Reading this, I was able to gain a new perspective and actually think about how it might have felt to have been there. I love well-written historical fiction books that help history come alive!

I did see the movie and thought that it was a good adaptation to the screen. Of course they left out some parts and changed things around, but I think it moved along well and hit the key points of the book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Choosing Your Child's Teacher

This year, our elementary school has decided that parents will be more involved in their child's education by choosing their child's teacher.  I am excited about this, yet skeptical.

When I was a teacher, at the end of the school year, we put together cards for each student.  Each card contained information about how they did academically and socially and any special notes for that child.  It also contained their picture and other personal information.  All of the teachers of the grade level sat down one day after school and sorted through all our students.  Previous to this meeting, individually, we had sorted through our stack of cards and grouped the students according to ability and social skills.  When we got together, we would simply take turns grouping students into piles of no more than 20 (20 was the class size limit at that time) to piece together a possible class for the next year's teacher that wouldn't contain all students who struggled or all students who excelled, sort of a way to pre-determine the classes so they were evenly distributed.  However, there were several parents who would request certain teachers.  I had a few who came into my classroom to observe at the end of the school year and then they could make a formal request with the school to place their child in a certain class.  The school tried to honor those requests but sometimes just couldn't, based on the distribution of students in the teacher's classes.

Today, I went over to the school and asked about how they would proceed with letting parents choose.  I found out that they are not planning on having any sort of "meet the next year's teacher" night.  They don't have any biographies or anything of that sort on the school website for the teachers.   I asked about contacting the teachers to see if I could come observe in their classrooms or even just sit down with them for a brief interview before or after school.  The office staff said that was probably fine but they felt most teachers wouldn't want to do that.

So how, I ask you, am I supposed to choose the appropriate teacher for my child if I don't even know who the next year's teachers are and am not allowed to meet them or find out anything about them?  They have time slots for each grade set up during which we parents get on the website and select our child's teacher.  If we don't make it in during that time slot, they will choose the teacher for us anyway.

I wonder about how this will work out.  Will they end up with a class entirely made up of gifted students or students with special needs?  Will large groups of students who are friends ask their parents to request certain teachers and then those classes end up being a class of a bunch of friends which will make the teacher's job harder?

I applaud them for wanting to involve parents.  I was going to make a request for my next-year second grade son anyway for a certain teacher, but the other two, I really have no idea who I want them to have.  My son starting kindergarten would probably do fine with the teacher that my other son had, but I was kind of looking forward to working with a different teacher for him, depending on who the school assigned him to.  I have not met any of the fourth grade teachers for my oldest and don't even know their names or if they're male or female or how many classes they will have of fourth grade next year.  And for second grade, I really loved my oldest son's teacher and wanted to request her again for my second child, but I don't have a clue about any of the other second grade teachers at all.  For that matter, in later years, I don't know any of the other first grade teachers either because my two sons have had the same teacher.

If we aren't allowed to meet them and aren't given information about them, how are we supposed to make a good choice?

I wish I could get some other parents together to rally the school and show them how important it is that if we are left to make this decision that we have some knowledge to help us make the decision in the first place.  However, I've learned in the past that when I try to initiate such things, nobody sees them the way I do and they don't seem to care about the same things.  I wonder if any other parent at that school has even asked these questions.


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