December 21, 2009

Way to have some holiday spirit

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:56 pm by Erin


Last Sunday afternoon, I got an e-mail from the self-proclaimed “room mom” for P’s Sunday school class, requesting that we bring $X to Sunday school this week so that she could buy a gift for the kids’ teacher.  I e-mailed back and said 2 things:

1) That’s a lot of money and I’m not sure we can afford that, and

2) There’s no Sunday school next week

She sent out a new e-mail saying to send her the checks but never addressed the first part of the e-mail.

Today, we all got a new e-mail from her.  It basically said “Only, these three families sent me checks (names of families here).  I’ll be buying a gift and signing the card only from the families that contributed.”

P’s school room mom (who is NOT self-proclaimed; the PTA sets them up officially) requested the same $X to be split among the teacher + 2 paraprofessionals who are in his classroom 5 days a week, 7 hours a day; the Sunday school room mom wanted the same amount for the one teacher we see 1 day a week for 3 hours.  Rather than addressing that this might be a lot of money, that the economy sucks, that there are at least 2 kids in the class besides P who’ve got at least one parent who’s been out of work for close to a year, she chose to send out an e-mail that basically causes public embarrassment to those who did not contribute.  Public embarrassment is a no-no in Judaism.  I believe there’s something about “He who shames another in public is like he who has shed blood.”  (Mind, I didn’t look this up so while the spirit of the words is about right, the wording itself is probably not.)

Not only that, but the public school room mom’s letter clearly stated that every child’s name would be on the card, regardless of whether or not the family contributed to the gifts.  I know it happened because the kids signed them at the holiday party last week, during which I ran their classroom dreidel game.  Every child who came to the table signed the card first thing.  This kept people from being singled out if they couldn’t afford to contribute.

I have no objection to getting a class gift, provided it’s planned in advance and reasonable.  What was requested was neither of those.  Had I realized that there was no Sunday school yesterday, we would have brought a gift from P last week.  It would have been a small gift, not worth the $X that was requested, but an appropriate gift.  We will still bring that gift after the winter break is over, but I was pissed about the tone of the e-mail.  It was petty and mean-spirited.

Here was my reply: “Unfortunately, $X for a teacher that we see once a week was a little too much for us since only one of us has had employment for most of the year.  P’s public school requested $X to be split among the 3 teachers that he sees everyday, and signed the card from everyone in the class regardless of whether they contributed.  It was their way of not singling people out or making them feel bad if they could not afford it.  We will give her something separately.”

I don’t feel embarrassed that we can’t afford what we used to.  It’s just the way things are, and while we’ve spent some money on ourselves that could have been used for things like this, we’ve been frugal in many day-to-day things.  They’ve really added up but it doesn’t leave a pile of extra money to give out on the spur-of-the-moment.  The reality is that $X was too much anyway, but certainly too much to be asked for within a few days.  To then be sent an e-mail whose sole purpose in wording was to highlight those who contributed and thereby single out those who didn’t, for whatever reason, was just wrong. 

And again, *sigh*

December 9, 2009

Show and Tell

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:43 pm by Erin

I’ve never done Mel’s Show and Tell before, though I meant to do one over the summer.  I thought I’d do it now, because surprisingly it’s still relevant.

I love to garden in the summers.  I try to grow a bunch of vegetables but since I’m fairly limited to where I can grow them (steeply sloped land, red clay soil), I mostly container garden.  I once saw someone with a container of tomatoes being grown upside down and thought that would be perfect.  This summer, I had 6 upside-down containers: 4 of tomatoes (2 Roma and 2 cherry) and 2 peppers.

I bought the pepper seedlings after my own failed to grow fast enough.  The tag said “banana peppers” and since I’ve recently discovered just how delicious they are on sandwiches, I thought I would grow some of my own.  I bought two seedlings and immediately stuffed them through the hole in the bottom of the planter.  Plants start growing up within a day or two.  Peppers very quickly and soon I had blossoms that turned into peppers.

Hmm, those are some twisty banana peppers, I thought.  I figured they were just growing strangely.

Then they started to turn red…

We never did find out what kind of peppers they actually are, but we were afraid to actually take a bite of one raw.  In the pepper world, red and pointy tends to equal hot.  Instead, I hung and dried them.

Three weeks ago, I was running to a store to get K’s birthday present and called J on the way home.  “OK,” he said.  “I made a pot of chili and it’s been simmering in the crock pot, so it’ll be ready when you get home.  I used the peppers.”  He put 2 of them in the chili (it was a huge pot of chili…he used more than 2 lbs of ground beef alone) and it was perfectly spiced.

Peppers, whatever you were, you were delicious.

December 5, 2009

I am so far behind in everything

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:28 pm by Erin

And now I have to deal with the stupid issue of a student who decided to go to my department chair to complain about the grade he received on a paper, rather than coming to talk to me.  I just looked over the paper again and actually feel I was rather nice with his grade, considering two things: 1, I suggested that the topic he chose would be very difficult because it wasn’t directly related and mentioned he would have to be extremely careful to follow the scientific aspect of the topic; and 2, he didn’t follow the scientific aspect of the topic and wrote the paper primarily about economic benefits of the topic.  Out of a 4 page paper, about 1/2 of 1 page dealt with science.   I thought that even passing him was nice of me, let alone the grade he got.

So I have to go talk to my department chair and explain the grade.  While I believe that she’ll be absolutely fine with the grade and will uphold it with him, it’s just one more thing I have to deal with this week as finals begin.  It just really irks me when a student doesn’t follow directions and then believes it’s not his fault when I “give him a bad grade”.  No acceptance of “that’s the grade I earned for the work that I’ve done,” but “My teacher gave me a bad grade that I don’t deserve.”

(I love  I would buy all my holiday gifts there if I could afford it.)