Thursday, September 15, 2016


Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard that people are all going nuts about school choice.  Yeah.  Duh.  The funny thing, in my oh, so humble opinion, is that a whole bunch of people have no idea what that really means.

Here's the thing: there are different ways to educate children: private schools, charter schools, homeschooling, and public schools.  The buzz around here lately is about charter schools because Grace College thinks it's a great idea to authorize a charter school, South Shore Classical Academy, in our backyards.  SSCA wants to take students from the already fantastic Valparaiso Community Schools and Duneland Schools because reasons.  Greenback reasons.

There was a public hearing last night about this proposed charter.  I couldn't be there because I was at curriculum night at my kids' AMAZING PUBLIC school, but I know people who did go.  Thanks to the power of social media, I was able to read a play-by-play of the hearing and exactly how little time was afforded to the public to share views that oppose SSCA.  Talk about bullies.  One of the most interesting things of the night was that a charter committee member, from Kansas, no less, said that some people want to go to Garwood Orchard or County Line Orchard (nearby orchards) for their apples instead of settling for apples from Strack and VanTil (local grocery store.)

Um, okay.  First of all, the guy is from Kansas, not Indiana. Nope.  Zip it.  Second, using that analogy is like comparing apples to oranges...or orangutans.  Third, Mr. Kansas has undoubtedly never met any of the apples from Strack and VanTil because if he had, he would know that those apples are shiny, crispy, sweet, and flavorful treats.

Listen, I understand that some people might want apples from Garwood or County Line because saying their apples are from an orchard and not a grocery store must make them feel important and give them a certain panache.  Driving to an orchard twice a day would give some people a real rush so they could exclaim at how busy and important they are.  Some might have heard from friends that apples from an orchard get into only the best pies and tarts in the country.  There are people who believe that all apples benefit from competition and comparisons. Please.

Here is the main issue: you can't expect anyone else to foot the bill if you decide not to "settle" for local apples.  I personally don't care if you go to Garwood or County Line because my life is not affected.  However, I am not going to pay for your mileage, your gas, your apples, or any extra donuts that you might want.  It's just not going to happen.  You think my apples are going to spoil your precious apple?  That's your top secret personal beeswax, but I can tell you that our public apples, no matter if they are scratched or unripe or small or tart or sweet or crunchy or fragrant, don't need you to judge them.  The apple pickers who work tirelessly to grow beautiful and bountiful fruit, they don't need your alternative picking process.  And if you think you can go to Garwood or County Line and then bill me for your produce, you're in for a throw down.  

Sorry not sorry, SSCA.  We don't want you around, and more importantly, we don't NEED you around.  There is nothing you can provide that Valparaiso and Duneland don't already provide.  There is no chance that your presence will in any way improve our systems.  You can try to peddle your ideology elsewhere because we're not buying it.  Take your so-called classical apples and go on home.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

2,920 days


Today you are eight years old.  For some reason, this seems like a strange, in-between age because you're not quite big but you're not a baby anymore.

You're definitely growing and changing, even from day to day.  You are trying more things now, things that used to scare you or simply make you uncomfortable.  I don't think you are ever going to be a huge risk taker, but you're getting braver all the time.  I couldn't believe the number of crazy rides you and Lottie rode at the fair this year; you laughed and screamed and smiled while I stood watching from the sidelines.   That's good, though, and it makes me happy.  It means you're growing up and gaining independence, and that is what Dad and I have always tried to help you do.

You are still quite the rule follower at school, but I have noticed you beginning to test things a little at home.  Good for you!  Most of your actions are done with good humor and silliness, but I'm glad to see you breaking out of your shell a tiny bit.  After all, you're never going to learn from your mistakes if you don't allow yourself to make any.

You're ridiculously and adorably honest at all times.  If you don't want to do something, you have no problem just saying no politely and moving on. You don't feel the need to over-explain or lie; you just don't want to waste your time on something that doesn't interest you.  You are also insanely funny.  I don't think you even know how funny you are sometimes, but when you spout off some hilarious phrase with your serious voice and a glint in your eye, you absolutely make my day.

In some ways, you're still the same boy you have been since you were little.  One cross word makes your head go down and your lip tremble, even if you're not the one in trouble.  You take other people's pain as your own, and you try to prevent sadness for anyone whenever you can.  You're slowly learning that you can't stop bad things from happening, that you can only control your own reaction to those things.  

You love to cuddle and snuggle, especially at night, and you get a lot of joy from doing things for other people.  The thought of someone being bullied or left out makes you angry and sad, and I'm proud when you take the steps to help a friend.  You still take my hand when we walk through a parking lot, and I know that won't last too much longer.  While I have it, I relish feeling your warm, not-so-small hand holding on to mine.

Of course, you still love your Xbox, and this year you have moved more into being obsessed with Terraria, although Disney Infinity, Minecraft, Lego Dimensions, and Skylanders are all on the radar, too.  You enjoy reading almost as much as you like video games, and it makes my heart happy to walk by your room when you're lolling on the bed with a book.

Although it seems to get harder, you are a wonderful brother to Lottie.  As you both grow, you're arguing a little more, but I know that despite it all, you are there for each other when it counts.  Even when she bugs you, try to remember that she was your first best friend, and she will always be in your corner.

My wish for you this year is that you always continue to be the amazing boy that you are.  Keep loving and full-body laughing.  Ask for help when you need it, and give help where you can.  Remember that being kind is always the best choice to make, but don't ever let anyone put you down or treat you badly.  Stand up for what you know in your heart is right.

I love seeing you gain more and more confidence in yourself.  You can do so many things if you have
faith in your abilities and just give it a shot.  You're an incredibly smart kid, and you're resourceful, as well.  You have everything it takes to be great, and all I want is for you to be the best version of you that you can be.  Don't put so much pressure on yourself to be something or someone you're not.  You are SO loved just the way you are.

Thank you for making our family complete.

I love you, and I love you, and I love you,