Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Finished Packer Socks!

There they are, the finished socks! That's actually the third complete set I have made. So far, I don't suffer too badly from SSS (Second Sock Syndrome). Knock on wood. Unlike my earlier forays into counted cross stitch, I seem to feel the need to finish knitting projects after I start them (at least most of them - I am still working on the garter stitch stole, which gets put aside quite often, but I worked on it just a week or so ago and found it to still be enjoyable). These socks are headed to Virginia Beach, to my cousin, Dave, who is a HUGE Packer fan. I just hope they fit his feet, or they will end up being wall art or something!

In other knitting news, I am again working on a pair of Happy Feet yarn socks for me - started before I began the Packer socks and picked back up again now that those are finished. Sheep news, the big, white rams have been taken out of their respective breeding groups and put back in their little pen. They did some minor head bashing, but seem to have settled back into whatever hierarchy they have. It is nice being able to go back in with the girls again and not having to watch over my shoulder constantly for a "ram attack". Or, in the case of Sammy's group, not going in with them at all, as he has developed an ATTITUDE. (Our Shetland ram is well behaved and may stay in with his girls until shearing, unless we get a stretch of nice weather and I feel like catching him).

And speaking of the weather, we had about 4 more inches of snow yesterday and now it is, according to our one thermometer, 3 degrees outside, with a windchill of 5 below. They closed school today, although I'm really not sure why, as we were the only school district closed. It may actually have been the drifting snow affecting the bus routes, because I don't believe they actually close school unless wind chills or actual temps are down around 25 below. Tomorrow we are due for another 3 - 8 inches, depending on how the forecast shapes up and Thursday and Friday more bitter cold.

Well, it sounds like good knitting weather to me - must look at the bright side!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And the award goes to.....

Today I posted a new book to my "Recently Read" list over there on the left side of the blog. It is a children's book entitled Esperanza Rising. I read it because that is the book currently being read by the seventh grade English classes at the Johnson Creek Junior High School. I occasionally read what Nicholas reads in school because I love to read and am curious about what the younger generation is reading now. The book takes place around 1930 and is about a young, wealthy Mexican girl, who, through a large bit of bad fortune, ends up in a migrant camp in California. The title is a reference to the Phoenix, who rises out of the ashes, as Esperanza must do given the new life that has been dealt her. Not a bad book (probably better than the drug addict stuff I read when I was in Junior High) - in fact, it is an "award winning" book. (Note that phrase - it's important later on in this post.) However, in checking places like Amazon, various library web sites and the lexile rankings (this is the scoring system that the elementary school here uses to track the kids' reading progress), I find that it is geared toward the age group of approximately 9-12, with a lexile score in the mid 700's. Nicholas just turned 13 and his lexile score was over 1000 when he left sixth grade. Now Nicholas is intelligent, but I know he is not at the top of his class, so there are probably at least several girls whose lexile scores were probably 1200 when they got out of sixth grade. And, since I am not overly organized, I can only get my hands on his fourth grade lexile scores - he started fourth grade with a score of 802, which, according to the form, was spot on for someone at that grade level. So by that indicator, it seems to me that this book, with a score in the mid 700's, is more suited to the 9-year old age group - or maybe a third grade reading level. All this is leading to - why isn't the seventh grade English class reading something a little more challenging? If our kids aim for mediocrity, that is all they will achieve.

I know, you are probably thinking I should take this up with the teachers or the administration. And maybe I should, but I have this lingering fear that if I make trouble, Nicholas will be the one to suffer. And Nicholas reads other, more challenging things on his own, so I really don't worry about Nicholas' reading future being in danger. It's more the principle of the thing that bugs me.

Which brings me back to that phrase "award winning". He is currently reading a teacher-approved book for the next book report. It had to be "award winning", which it is - and it may be the greatest book ever written - for that 9-12 year old age group - another lexile score in the mid 700's. I can't really offer an opinion, as I haven't read that one. But get this. He asked his teacher if he could read The Hound of the Baskervilles instead (you know, that's one of those Sherlock Holmes things, written by that English guy - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Larry has a complete set - that's where our late Beagle, Sherlock got his name and then our oldest cat, Watson, but I digress). That particular book has a lexile score over 1000. A bit more challenging to a seventh grader. But that choice wasn't acceptable - it isn't "award winning".