Friday, October 31, 2008


Greeting from NCCAT. As much as I wished that I could have been with Ben and Bill tonight to go trick o treating (video coming tomorrow), I cannot begin to say how much I needed this trip alone this weekend. An absolutely beautiful drive to the mountains in all the fall color glory complete with my audiobook Band of Rivals.

I got here in time to take a long walk around Western Carolina's campus before meeting the 20 fellow teachers that were also picked to particate over the next 2 years (4 weekend sessions per year). As we introduced ourselves before our afternoon activities I realized that all of us are struggling with different challenges in our teaching careers. I think that being apart of this cohort will really help me clarify what direction I want to go at the end of this year.

On to some yummy comfort foods served to us on white table cloths and a big fire after dinner as we worked on a visual journaling project. Tomorrow am we are hiking on an area trail as well as more outlets for artistic creativity. This place is cathartic, collaborative, and helps to define why part of my identity is so wrapped up in this profession. Thank you to Bill who is making these weekends possible. I wish I could say I want to see Beverly Hills Chihuahua tomorrow instead of being here, but I think I'll leave it to the boys for their weekend together.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

cover girl

My school newspaper came out earlier this week just in time for the election. I knew that my AP Gov class was the lead story about students getting involved in the political process, but I never expected to be the cover picture.

Today in class we had our final pre-election activity, a town hall meeting in which all students played a undecided voter from a swing state. I had made up phoney cover stories for each and they watched the 4 debates in character. So today we had black ranchers from Colorado, a hispanic elderly grandmother who had never voted before, and laid off autoworkers from Ohio all asking questions to my mock obama and mccain. We ended with a mock vote of the undecided and then real vote of the class and as expected we were tied down the middle on both.

I early voted today and am embarassed to admit I said a little prayer over my ballot and kissed it good bye before scanning it. Helping my kids better understand the politcial process this fall has been a highlight of my decade in teaching. Watching Obama tonight gave me so much hope for possibilities in the next four years. It was his "morning in america" moment and it made me proud to know that I cast my vote betting the house on optimism and a real change.

Monday, October 27, 2008

what holiday is it again?

busy, busy weekend at casa vinson. We enjoyed ben's fall festival Friday night at his school. Check out bill's video of him eating a cupcake. He talked about "the cake" from the minute we got there until he was going to bed. This child likes sweets WAY to much!

Saturday we spent the morning working on potty training and then went to our community fall event, hollyfest. Ben enjoyed petting the rabbits and goats. Mom "enjoyed" running into half of the school there before eating hotdogs with our neighbors.
Ben petting a rabbit and goat from Waking Badger on Vimeo.

We went to the babysteps halloween party on Saturday afternoon. I can't believe that all these little babies that once fit on one couch were all so grown up. Ben was not on his best behavior, but then we had already packed a whole weekend into the day and I think he sensed it when we were leaving. I always hate when other moms watch me get into "mean mommie" mode, but we've all been there so it's not like they can't comiserate.

We spent Sunday getting the house decorated for halloween, mowing the lawn, doing about a zillion loads of laundray, cooking for the week, and oh yeah finishing organizing our bedroom closet. One of my major tasks that I had yet to do and a jam packed weekend seemed the best time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

tales from the little potty-volume 2

It has been a crazy week with the quarter winding down with lots of projects and other grades to get finished at school. I have been battling a cold since Sunday so I don't feel as productive at home. But on the potty training front... full pee ahead!

Ben has been working with the potty training guru, Ms Esther, at school that swears by her method of "no pull ups". She is old school "big boy underwear only" regardless of how many accidents they have. Ben went twice on Monday in the school potty and was all too happy to show me his sticker chart in the bathroom.

At home, the minute we get home we get in potty mode. I strip him down to a shirt and his choice of underwear. Dora puts on her underwear and first sits on the potty while we are getting ready for dinner. Then ben sits on the potty while we read a book or look at a toy maganize that he loves.

Needless to say we have had many accidents, but HE IS GETTING IT! When he goes we do the potty dance all the way to the big potty and clap when it flushes away. Wish all it took to motivate me was a sticker and a potty dance.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fair Fun

We journeyed to the land of fried goods and pig races this morning with ben. We each rode a ride with Ben and then he rode one by himself. We ate way too much fair fare including roasted corn, candy apples, buttermilk biscuits. We checked out the cows and goats as well as the rabbit house. Ben espcially loved any place with hay to throw. We didn't make it to the tractor pull though as planned. We found out that it was 3 hours long and since ben of all mornings got up before 6am we knew we were pushing our luck. Check out our fun pictures! Yes, that is a giant Dora that ben begged for and Bill was a big softie and let him get! Fun Family Day!

Ben rings the bell for a prize! from Waking Badger on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Up by 23

Last debate tonight. As I hoped there were some testy exchanges. I was also happy they finally they hit on some of the issues I have wanted to hear: healthcare, reproductive rights, and education.

Bill commented early on that when they put the split screen up mccain looked fidgety, annoyed, and obsessed with the Joe the plumber analogy (guess he has traded up from Palin's Joe 6-pack). I think he looked like a desperate and tired old man to Obama's vibrant and cool appeal under pressure.

I mentioned to my friend that called during the debate that I am going to be a little sad when election day passes. I have loved following the drama of this election. Who would have thought that in the 4 years since he appeared at the 04 DNC convention that a dark horse would steal the thunder of so many established candidates.

How many times has the typically boring topics like how delegates work made headline news. Or that I lived in a toss-up state where the candidates actually stumped and not flew over to a more important state. Growing up a liberal in south carolina is akind to being seen as a godless socialist for most of my life, lving in good ol boy alabama was even worse. I simply never thought that that this day would ever come!

It is only a few elections in our lifetime that will be open seat elections with no incumbent running. With that, 2008 is about prospective voting like we have not seen in 50 years. It's exciting and for the first time in a long time, I am hopeful for my government both at home and our standing in the world.

I found myself tonight wondering what if the final match up had been different, what would the outcome have been? Clinton vs huckabee would have been fun to watch. So here's to the final days of this historic election. How glad that I have been here to experience it all. ok bill- who is going to win our new years prediction. I have obama up by 23 electoral votes. I have jewelry riding on this!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pop open a cool one.... toddler style

We tried on ben's halloween costume last night and needless to say he loved it. He had already slept with it on the hanger the night it came home (bad parenting #1 in this post). Bill had bought his this god-awful redneck hat at the beach that ben of course loved. I really wanted him to be something cute for one more year, but then I found the CARS jumpsuit costume and decided to make him and not me happy. I think he looks like he is one step away from working at Jiffy Lube.

Just before I caught this picture he was runnning full speed into me and yelling "crash". Kinda glad we are planning to see the tractor pull and NOT the demolition derby at the State Fair this weekend. Check out bill's post today with Video including Ben's homage to the Daily show (bad parenting #2)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Punkin' Farm Time

Ben talked about the "punkin" farm from the minute we told him we were going until we got home, where he then spliced talking about it with singing twinkle, twinkle little star. We went to the Granyard Farm on the suggestion of our friends the Case Family. It seemed closer than other farms plus gave us more pumpkin fun for our buck. We went with our friends the Scarborough family including thier exchanage student Ricarda.

Ben loved tramping through through the patch, feeding the animals, playing in the hay, and after inspecting and touching the wheels of the tractor agreed to get on the haywagon. Ben and Bill carved one of our pumpkins Sat night and ben was too proud of his accomplishment of helping scrap out the insides. Fun time had by all!

Ben & Katie sitting on pumpkins from Waking Badger on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Think Globally, Act Locally

Looking for a chance to feel good among the political attack ads and economic situation? Check out the awesome project that our National Honor Society chapter is taking on this year!

Over the summer the incoming president presented the that we roll all our service projects for the year into fundraising for the national organization Free The Children. Over the school year we are helping with a community haunted house, hosting a Battle of the High School bands, organizing a Christmas raffle with 100% of all fundraising going to Free The Children.

Our hope is to raise $8000 this school year. This would allow one school to be built in Sierra Leone providing much needed education to children trapped in this war torn county.

Please consider any gift you can give. On behalf of my 57 members we thank you for supporting us and improving the futures for a generation of children!

Monday, October 6, 2008

tales from the little potty

Ben did it! He not only pee peed in the daycare potty, he pooped in his own potty tonight. I am estatic that the first time for both would happen on the same day! When I got to school to pick him up his teacher met me at the door and had ben high five me telling me, "ben go potty, me sticker".

I don't know what is so different as we have been having him sit at home and look at books, but I think the peer pressure, amazement at big boy underwear, and a new pottytrained friend in class that he identifies with is helping START the transition. Plus his teachers are great at helping and supporting.

I know we are a long way away from fully being potty trained, but this is huge for us after months of total indifference. Last night while I was putting away his new big boy underwear, I couldn't help being a little sad that he is growing up way too fast. I need to live in the moment and remember these days for they are passing quickly into boyhood.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Weekend Roundup

It has been a busy weekend at Casa Vinson. The weather here is beautiful so we tried to take full advantage of being outside. Ben and I met friends at a local park on Saturday morning. The kids loved the playground, feeding the ducks, and enjoying a picnic lunch. Check of the video I took with Bill's new video camera, the Flip Mino video camera.

Saturday night our friends Larry and Heather K. came down for Settlers of Catan rematch. I unfortunately was creamed and didn't repeat my silent, sneaky victory from the first time we played this really fun game. I am a game freak (esp. board games and I'm serious that I will take you down over Candyland!

Today I got together with some friends in my neighborhood bookclub and we went to the Junior League Shopping Spree at the new Raleigh Convention Center. I bought a beautiful jacket, Jewelry cleaning set, and some Christmas gifts for friends/family. We had a fun time and I did much less damage to my pocketbook than last year. I have been working TOO hard this year with couponing and buying in bulk to blow it on yet another monogrammed something for myself (a real weakness, but I AM from South Carolina).

We ended the weekend at toys are us looking for a Thomas play tent and buying big boy underwear for ben. His teacher at school wants to try them on him next week during potty time as a new boy in his class has been showing him his big boy underwear and ben is enthralled.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Bare Minimum

If the standard was the bottom of the barrel for screw ups on the national stage last night then YES Palin did do MUCH better than expected. She definitely won the folksy appeal to voters by making it the main substance of her 90 minutes. What I didn't hear was was SHE thinks, how she would lead (other than to say that the Constitution gives her much more power than is actually in Article II). I heard rehearsed, vapid answers that when she didn't know or want to answer a given question she returned to the practiced party line (usually adding a beauty pageant like wink).

So with that being said, did last night make a real difference? Did she pull more undecided voters into thier camp? With a little over 30days to go alot can still happen. I look for McCain to make more brash decisions like pulling out of MI that are so true to his Maverick nature. My friend Laura that I watched the debate with last night, made a great point that the economic relief that the Republicans always try to sell the middle class (usually wrapped in an American flag of values rhetoric) is never really attainable.

Tax cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporate America don't add to the workforce in the numbers promised. Trickle down economics has and never will work. It takes people who are vested in helping others by being willing to hand over a portion of their earnings to make a real difference (even if it means higher taxes). Unfortunately this is a tenant of the Democrats not the Republicans.

It is unfortunate that once again the Republicans are erroneously promoting themselves as champions of the middle class. Once again I am afraid that too many voters are going to vote who they want to have a beer with not lead the free world on election day.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Feed My Mind, Feed My Soul

So this post is of interest to no one but me, but it was super awesome to be in the presence of most of the UNC Political Science dept last Saturday that it's worth writing about. I went to a lecture for teachers put on by the university in hopes of:

1. Getting free primary source material for class
2. Chance to hear one of my favorite professors from grad school days
3. To be around other teachers to collaborate
4. Kick Ass Topic- Realigning Elections through History- Impact of 2008

To sit in Dr. Leuchtenburg's presence was like like talking to God or maybe Tim Russert about his election predictions. This man has worked for all the major networks during his 50+ years as a professor and given election night results for many a drama-filled evenings. He is the Doris Kerns Goodwin in election polling results. To top it off he WORKED on the Truman campaign in 1948, and met the man (if you didn't know this I wanted my son's middle name to be in honor of my fav president, bill shot it down and instead got me a "buck stops here" sign for my desk). So I ask you does it get any better than this.... YES!!!!!!!!!

As I was sitting down I noticed someone I know from DPI (State Public School Agency). She knows my past work writing personal finance curriculum and also as an economics question writer for the State exam in Civics. We talked over lunch and she is forwarding my name on for consideration for a possible contract position that may open up next year to revise the state curriculum in Civics. Too Cool for School (my current school that is)!