Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Votes Have Been Counted

And the board of education does not include me. Alas and alack. But I'm delighted to note that I lost by 7 votes. 

I think that gives me privileges to tease my neighbors next door, who didn't get around to voting, that they stood in the way of progress. Their 1850 Victorian is subdivided into three beautiful apartments. Mom and Dad, Grandma, and great-Aunt, and a married son and young granddaughter. .  Harumph. I coulda been a contender. 

I haven't carefully planned a career in volunteer politics, but after this experience, I may have to plan my future. It all began unexpectedly when my husband, reading the mail from the school district, noted that a school board member quit after the ballots were printed.  She has two years remaining in her term. With no time to reprint the ballots, a write-in campaign was requested.  With one week notice. And elections were on the night of my daughter's 3rd grade chorus concert. 

My children cheerfully and gleefully accompanied their parents as they roller bladed, scootered, or were strollered door to door in our village of 600.  We handed out business card size flyers for voters to put in their wallets and remind themselves who I was at the polls.  A couple of other villages are included in our school district, but they aren't within walking distance of ours. Factoring in costs for campaigning, my husband's part time layoff, and that this is a volunteer position, we rang up the other villages.

The victor was whom I predicted, a well-known long time resident of our school district.  But I trailed her by only 7 votes, which shows that hard work and cute kids and handy dandy wallet cards really pay off.  I took time off from 6:55 p.m. to 7:20 p.m. to sit and applaud heartily at my daughter's concert, and then crept out during the intermission as the 4th grade band set up.  The classic juggling of mother's responsibilities, distilled into one 25 minute period.

Being the joyful mother that I am, I bought the really big bag of popsicles to celebrate last night after the polls closed. The kids celebrated their hard work, and the fun we had campaigning.  Because really -- that's the lesson we take from this adventure. Shared time, working toward shared goals, and family cohesiveness.  I guess we won after all.  Tropical popsicles, on me!

Monday, May 18, 2009

We love our Superintendent of Schools!

Our school district had superintendent's day.  Why the superintendent gets his own day is still unclear to me.  Yet I am willing to give him one, since it means I get all five children home with me. HOORAY for the superintendent.  He seems like a pretty amiable fellow, and I appreciate the recorded phone calls he has made to our school district about a note found in the boy's locker room.  Apparently a child feeling bullied, left a note threatening to bring a gun school.  I admire that they didn't just discuss increased security for the middle school, there was an increase, and they didn't just urge students to pass along information about children who had exhibited threatening behavior or gun interest. He encouraged all parents and students to discuss and disclose bullying situations so they could be ended, and of course so we could get help for the child who is bullied.  Not just prevent a gun being brought to school. Way to go Sup!

My five little, not bullied, children are home, pondering if a chore list is a form of bullying behavior. But the prize is we're making these beautiful nibbles.  And boy howdy, my girls are so excited to make these they even picked all the toys and stuffed animals up off their bedroom floors. That is priceless.

Man, these taste so good, and they're just as cute as you could ask for.

I heart bakerella.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If Only the Neighbors Would Sit Down and Eat a Bowl of Ice Cream

Then all the world would be a much better place.  Oh tsk tsk you're counting calories again, aren't you?  Have you considered Edy's Slow Churned Light Ice Cream? Well there you have it, the perfect solution. You're welcome.

I only mention this because I'd like you and your neighbors to submit an essay on why your neighborhood should have an icecream party (for up to 100!).  C'mon, do it! 350 words or less... big ice cream payoff.

Enter your essay to win a neighborhood ice cream party.

Here's mine, to give you an idea.  But don't despair, they have actual winning (and inspiring!) essays on their website. One made me wipe my eyes from the tears.  Here's my potential icecreamy entry:

The poor economy has hit Upstate New York hard, and our neighborhood in particular. Some families have their primary breadwinner out of work, some find that the factory job they've enjoyed for 20 years has cut their hours to half of last year's salary.

Did we let this get us down? No! By teaming up together in our small neighborhood we have planted enormous gardens on otherwise vacant land, one young mother is providing how to preserve your home-grown vegetable classes, my own small barn of goats provide milk to meet at least some of the needs of three large families, and another neighbor has started a day-old bread pantry on her side porch.

We're ordinary families, pitching in to feed our neighborhood. Imagine what your neighborhood could do! Plant a couple of extra rows of vegetables in your garden, and drop some off to a family who doesn't have any garden space. Buy an extra loaf of bread and give it to a family who is out of work in your neighborhood. And most of all take time to share a bowl of Edys Slow Churned light ice cream, because tough times call for gathering together and remembering what really counts. Families, friends, neighborhoods, and good memories - everything is better with a bowl of icecream. We can't change the economy, but we can bring neighborhoods together and cheer people up with a bowl of Edy's Slow churned ice cream. That's what I'd like for my neighborhood.
...and as the saying goes:  "Mother knows best".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

That's with an I, Kolz with a K

May 19th is our annual voting of the school budget. School's need a budget. Otherwise, that school bus may never arrive and I will be destined to entertain/educate/stimulate 5 children for nine full hours until their father arrives home and I can go take a well deserved nap. We'll be having none of that missy!

Joking aside, after the budget and the ballot for Board of Education members went to press, one of the board members resigned, citing a need to spend more time on her business. In these economic times, I wholeheartedly understand the need to pay more attention to business.

My business, though I jest, is my children. Five. Tall ones, short ones, several in between, skinny ones, chubby ones, one of them is mean. Jesting again, she's just teething her molars. My neighbor, my husband, my mother each encouraged me this past several months to put my name on the ballot for the board of education. I passed on that opportunity. There were three candidates and three positions. All done! After all, I home school one of my children for his special needs, and I have a preschooler, a herd of goats, a garden, an opportunity to serve at church, two dogs, three cats, and a hobby of my own.

Now that there are 3 candidates and 4 openings on the board of education, there is a last minute call for write-in candidates to serve as a volunteer on the board of education. This compelled me to finally write myself in. May 19. One week from today. Whew. There goes my manicure.

I've been interviewed by our local paper since tossing my hat in the proverbial ring. That's Kelli with an i, Kolz with a K. What? Kelli, no y, K*O*L*Z. Yes, I want the position. No, I'm not Quaker, I'm a Mormon Mom. Oh my comment that I felt a religious obligation to serve in my community lead to the question. I see. No, it is okay with me if you do not list my religion unless you are listing the other candidates' religions.

Why would I run for the Board of Education? Children do better as students when their parents are involved more fully in their education. Schools do better when parents are involved with the schools. Boards do better when parents of the students are more fully involved in decisions regarding their children's education and school. I am a full-time parent. I will serve if elected.

Pity that my 5 loyal readers are not within my school district boundaries. I could use your vote. Should you feel the need to increase your exercise this week, I am accepting volunteers to go door to door with little cards with my name on them. That's Kelli with an I, Kolz with a K. Because the children shouldn't have to knock on all 250 doors in the village, right? We'll call that walk-a-thon... physical education. Because I am all about education.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Star Wars Extravaganza

Sarah was due to turn 9, and her nights when she should have been sleeping were filled with visions of senators, Princess Leia, brave and virtuous Jedi knights and padawans. That's right, for the Star Wars obsessed, she's a big fan of the animated series 'Clone Wars'. Our Friday evenings are reserved for 9pm viewings of Clone Wars. To avoid overfrequent exclamation of "Aww mom!" I am obligated to set the DVR to record on Friday evenings we are out.

Mom!! Let's have a Star Wars party and I'll invite.. and we'll ...... as I counted carefully our reduced income with FarmBoy's factory having Friday furloughs. Sarah's an illustrative child and I have been feted with sample after sample of drawings of everything she wanted for her birthday, and everything she thought was cool and praiseworthy and of good report. That's a lot of crayon drawings. Well, it's garden season, so they made good mulch, and I noted what her hearts' desires were. Five kids, all very artsy craftsy - you do the math. We have lots of paper mulch.

I pondered Sarah's birthday in my heart quite carefully. Some of her friends go to Chuck E. Cheese's, which is an hour's drive, and spend a couple of hours in the sugary pizza charged video game atmosphere. My personal idea of the 4th level of Hades. Our bathroom is under construction. Our kitchen is under construction. I balked at 9 8 year olds coming for 2 hours.

Sarah solved my dilemma with her creativity. MOM! Sarah always speaks in exclamation marks. Why don't we make our own Star Wars costumes and have a Star Wars party? Deal! Lest you have a common misconception, I do not sew costumes, so this was not a 'mom makes costumes for everyone out of nothing, and we all exclaim how frugal of a Martha Stewart she is'. That was very cathartic. Does Martha make goat cheese every other day and milk a small herd of goats? I don't think so.

My job was to help tie sashas, design hairstyles, and clap as they told me of their creation's name and role in Clone Wars. The pink bathrobes and recycled graduation gowns came out, a battle droid with a blaster appeared and even a navy blue pair of snow bibs were pressed into service for a one armed medical droid. Good times!

Pin the light sabre on the Jedi proved to be a rowdier game than you would initially think. It really does matter who you put in charge of the spinning of the blindfolded child/victim. Who knew I had vertigo? Andy kicked our clone hineys on that game. I was lucky to get the light sabre taped on the right wall of the living room, quite frankly.

Next came a Nerf inspired version of Bounty Hunter target practice. Apparently intergallactic bounty hunters need to keep their trigger finger limber. It was hilarious, foam missiles everywhere, and there was some accusation of stacking of teams, but Papa (FarmBoy) triumphed over all. He took the cake. Literally, the cupcake was the prize. Not just any cupcakes. But the ones we learned how to make here. She calls them cake pops and cupcake bites, and here's where you can see what I mean.  I call them little bitty cupcakes in a peanut butter cup mold from the craft store.  Cute!

Sarah was delighted with her gift card from Grandma B, and her handmade dress and matching ladybug head scarf from Grandma H, and her Pink Nintendo DS with Build-a-Bear game from her father, and her grown up rollerblades (size 6!) and Little Pet Shop stuff (and more accessories). We had a bbq outside with hot dogs and hamburgs and sausages on the grill, baked beans and corn chips and chili dip, cookie cake and icecream, and her best friend BreeAnna over for dinner and games. On Monday, her clothing order from the big sale at came in. She scored two cute skorts (shorts/skirt combo) for $3.50 and a couple of adorable sweater tops to match. She wore a pink skort and pink and brown sweater to school yesterday, looking all pretty in pink and chocolate. Cutest little bargains in town!

This led to her gym teacher's inquiry at school yesterday. Sarah, where did you get all those scratches on your legs? Do you have a kitty you went to war with? Oh no Mrs. Lahue, my cats are very gentle. I like to climb trees and cruise on my new rollerblades. (cue laughter).

It was delightful. Some of the fun for me was that a huge neighborhood garage sale near the doctor's office where I had my Friday appointment yielded $5 rollerblades, $10 for bags and bags of Little Pet Shop animals and accessories. These were her heart's desire. Sarah had asked for ice skates for Christmas, and with no nearby pond or rink, we didn't get them for her. Friday night he rollerblades were met with a huge squeal. The big bags of LPS characters brought another squeal and she fell to her knees and opened the pet shop house and began playing with her 7 year old and 3 year old sisters. On Saturday Sarah and I went to Walmart where she cashed in her gift certificate and bought knee and elbow pads for her rollerblades. Thanks Grandma B!
The bargains on Sarah's new clothing were made even better because I had a coupon code from You can use my email address for your referral if you like. Drop me a line if you have any questions. Bargains galore I tell you, and you get to choose the stores and designers you prefer.

A little creativity, a lot of serendipity and enthusiasm, and not very much money really made Sarah's birthday turned out great.  The children went to bed happy, and delighted, and we weren't left with any debt or worry about overspending our tight budget. Coming here soon, a shocking side effect of the debt ensnaring families in America. And the unexpected and horrific cost to some families.