Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Why I Hate Tests

It’s the end of the school year and I think we’re all feeling a bit of the burnout.  We’re done with homework, done with packing lunches, we’re pulling from the dirty laundry pile and fighting bedtime battles.

Who the heck wants to go to bed when the sun is still out beckoning us at 8pm to get outside and play?  I know my kids don’t.

Along with the exhaustion I’m feeling something else.  Frustration. I’m frustrated that with all the advances our society has made in so many other arenas we haven’t come up with a better way to assess our children’s intelligence and progress than standardized tests.

Yes, it’s testing season over here.

And it makes me cranky.  Or shall I say, in honor of testing, cantankerous.

I was a good student.  School was easy.  I didn’t fret about tests or studying.  If I didn’t study I could still pull my own weight.  I know for so many other kids this isn’t the case.  I have a child who is not a good tester.  This child studies.  This child knows the material.  All of this goes to crap when a piece of paper with numbered questions is placed in front of said child.

As a parent it is heartbreaking.  Projects, homework, behavior, participation…that is how my kid keeps the grades up.  We can be cruising through the month with an A average until test day.  Then we drop a quick ten points. 

It stinks.

There are classes that this isn’t the case.  Some material sinks in well, and the format of the quizzes seems to jive with the way my dear child’s brain works.

Other classes, not so much.

I just feel we should teach and test the way our kids learn.  Measuring their intelligence with paper, a pencil and questions about a bunch of material is not an accurate method.  I know this because I’ve seen it fail.  I’ve seen my child fail, and I know all of my children are brilliant.  They have different gifts, different ideas and opinions.  They have different mannerisms and preferences.

And this system is not serving all of my children.  This system is failing so many children who learn and perform better when a test is a discussion and not a quiet room.

Life, after all, is all about interactions.  How can tests that take hours measure anything other than a kid’s ability to sit still, pay attention and behave?  Maybe we can gauge how good their memory is and how well they recognize what they’ve learned.  But what about the kids that did learn it – and know it – but they don’t recognize it on that paper?

Epic fail. 

To all the non-testers out there:

No test can measure your intelligence.  Yes, there are fields of study that require them.  There are fields that you will not be able to venture into if you can’t sit and test and remember a bunch of material.  I was able to do that and it served me wonderfully.  This system is not serving you.  The good news is that here are also fields – tons of them – that welcome the creative, antsy, quirky, smart kids that don’t test well.

Find yourself, and find your niche.  No test can tell you anything other than how well you take a test.

That’s all for now folks.  Is it summer yet?

Friday, April 29, 2016

What's New in Disney World 2016

Walt Disney World is constantly evolving.  I feel like I just finish a post and a new Disney renovation is underway.  I’ve been to Disney World over 40 times and even I can’t keep up.  As my teenage son would say #thestruggleisreal.

With more and more to experience on an annual basis, this post is my attempt to “catchup” on all things new and exciting in Disney World for 2016.

Animal Kingdom

The safari is now going to offer rides after sunset.  The Animal Kingdom has long been considered a “half day park” and this is one of Disney’s attempts to keep visitors exploring past 5pm.

A new eatery, Tiffins, is opening this spring. Open for lunch and dinner, this restaurant will offer indoor and outdoor seating with waterfront views.  The menu is inspired by places Disney Imagineers visited while creating and developing the Animal Kingdom.


My heart broke a little when Disney decided to close the Maelstrom ride in Norway and renovate it to create a Frozen themed experience instead.  This year we get to see what that new ride is all about when Frozen Ever After opens in the World Showcase.  While I’m sure I won’t be disappointed I’ll always have a place in my heart for the original. 

Soarin’ is another ride I was hesitant about Disney renovating.  I’m realizing with this post I am not a fan of change.  However, I am thrilled to announce that Soarin’ Around the World opens this summer.  I couldn’t imagine a trip to Disney without a turn on one of my favorites, even if they did change the experience to include new landmarks.

Hollywood Studios

I’m not a Star Wars girl.  I admit it.  However I know there are many Star Wars fans out there, and Hollywood Studios is opening a new experience that will thrill tiny (and adult) clone troopers.  The fireworks and laser show Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular is slated to begin this summer.

I can’t even believe anyone had to suffer through a trip to Hollywood Studios and not be able to ride on Toy Story Mania. However, the third track should be finished sometime in 2016 and the ride’s debut is sure to be hit with all ages.

Magic Kingdom

The long running stage show Dream Along with Mickey is being replaced with Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire, which debuts in June.  The new show will feature characters from "Princess and the Frog," "Tangled," and "Frozen" along with classic characters Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy.

Now if I can only get that bakery in Hollywood Studios, The Starring Rolls CafĂ©, to start making my favorite cupcake again all will be right with the world. 

A girl can dream right? 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

LifebankUSA: Giving Families Hope Every Day

With my third and fourth children, I seriously considered using a cord blood bank in case we ever needed cord blood in the future. With a large family, I always wanted to do everything I could to ensure we would have what we needed in case of (heaven forbid) a medical emergency.

What I never even considered (or knew about) was placenta banking. Placenta blood is blood from the placenta, and saving it can potentially double the number of stem cells that are preserved. Similar to the stem cells found in cord blood, stem cells found in the placenta blood can be used to treat diseases such as leukemia, certain metabolic abnormalities and inherited diseases of the immune system or red blood cells.

A few more facts about placenta blood:
  • Studies have indicated that transplanting more stem cells can improve transplant success rates. 
  • Preserving more stem cells gives you more options as far as treating more than one disease or family member. 
  • Placenta blood increases other types of stem cells that have shown promise in replacing or repairing damaged tissues and organs. This emerging medical field is called regenerative medicine, and it can involve cases of trauma, disease, congenital defects and more. 
I’ve worked with LifebankUSA before on my blog because I believe so strongly in the work they do every day. They are not just a cord blood bank, they offer placenta banking as well. Since 2006, LifebankUSA has been the only private cord blood bank to offer this service to new parents. As of July 2015, LifebankUSA has utilized 19 placenta blood units for transplant in patients ranging from 3 months old to 45 years of age.

LifebankUSA is saving lives and giving families hope every day. I just read about a little boy named Quentin, who was saved by his newborn sister’s cord blood shortly after her birth. Diagnosed with a rare and deadly cancer at four years old, doctors suggested Quentin’s pregnant mother bank the cord and placenta blood of her newborn baby. Quentin was the first ever case of a transplant involving not only cord blood, but placenta blood as well.

More than two years later Quentin is in a continuous state of remission. You can read more about Quentin HERE.

I can’t even imagine being faced with the news my child is sick and would need any kind of transplant. LifebankUSA gives families the opportunity to be prepared if heaven forbid they ever face these kinds of circumstances.

For more information, visit LifeBankUSA's webpage.