Monthly Archives: January 2012

“We Are LCA”: A Champion’s Education…

A PIF (“Parent Involvement Fee”) is an extra amount you pay in addition to tuition in a private school. The good news is you can usually work that off in volunteer hours. (And you’d better believe I’ve been volunteering like a maniac!). The smart cookie I am, I joined the Technology Committee at the Champ’s school, Lehigh Christian Academy. (Boy do I love 7:30am meetings!)

One of my first tasks was to get the following video online. It’s a pretty good review of the school, and is indeed a school for Champions.   Pay them a visit sometime.   In the meantime, enjoy the video!

Lehigh Christian Academy of Allentown, PA

Child Support: “To Be, or Not To Be”

Yeah… that IS the question.

I could bore you with all of the NASTY details of going to court, but let’s face it; in the end, if you have to keep chasing someone to ensure your child is taken care of, you’ll end up neglecting yourself in some way, and ultimately not find a means to be independent — both financially, and mentally — and, you cannot put a price on freedom.

In summary, however, my story goes something like this:

  1. I proposed a minimal child support amount — to be settled out of court.
  2. My proposal wasn’t accepted. We went to court. The court granted me a greater amount.
  3. I received consistent payment for about 2 years — deducted directly from paycheck.
  4. Payment stopped. Why? You can’t deduct from a paycheck that doesn’t exist.
  5. Child support is in arrears and keeps piling up; every now and then I MIGHT see $25 or so per month. When the court threatens jail or fine, I might see a lump sum of maybe $300, after several months have passed.
  6. I’ve listened to stories of other moms whose child support arrears are 5x (or more!) as much as mine.

Yes, my son IS entitled to child support, but I can’t raise a champion, if I’m busy chasing a dead end.  So, I’ve moved on. However, I needed to find a way to make extra cash, and I needed to do so relatively quickly — and without taking a night job. I had to think outside of the box… and… I found something!

I’ve found a way to make extra income from WITHIN my home, or practically anywhere I go.  I learned how to mock the economy!  The results:  within just a month I made MORE than the court-ordered child support amount! What’s more, I can make that extra cheddar — and be financially independent, and mentally free.

Court is ALWAYS ugly, and I simply prefer to move on.   However, if you’re a parent who is dealing with the stress of court battles over child support, I would be happy to share my court experiences with you directly to help answer any questions you may have. We can initially connect via email at raisingachampion@mocktheeconomy.com.

I’m raising a champion, so I intend to be one, myself.

If you “Like” this story, then “Like” my page at www.facebook.com/raisingachampion, and follow me at www.twitter.com/raisingachamp.

Sweet Potato Pie Recipe (with homemade crust!)

This is, by far, the Champ’s favorite dessert. Proceed to read at your own risk, for I will have to kill you afterwards…

Shopping list:  yams preferred (or sweet potatoes) measured by the pound, butter, eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, evaporated milk (or heavy cream) whole milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon flavor or lemon juice, flour, salt, shortening (Crisco preferred), vinegar

FILLING:
for each pound of potato:Sweet Potato Pie, baby!
1 stick of butter
1 egg
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/8 cup evaporated milk
2/8 whole milk
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavor
1/4 teaspoon lemon flavor

Making The Filling
MASH & MIX all of the above

CRUST:
for each pound of potato
2 cups flour
1 teasp. salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1-3/4 cup Crisco
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg
1 tablespoon vinegar
Making the Crust:
Mix the dry ingredients, and kneed in the Crisco…
Mix the wet ingredients, then pour the wet into the dry, mixing with a fork…
Then roll it out (extra flour thrown) for your pie pans…

Putting the Filling & Crust together
Pour the filling into the crust & bake, until … I don’t know. Just don’t burn it. Try 30 minutes to start, but no more than 45. Keep in mind that yams/sweet potatoes taste differently depending on the time of year. You can use that as an excuse if your pie doesn’t come out quite right.  Ha!

[ AND NOW THAT I’VE TOLD YOU… I HAVE TO KILL YOU]

Homework: A Form Of Birth Control

No one reminded me about homework. On my wedding day, everyone talked about the “pitter-patter of little feet”, the midnight feedings, the diaper changing, and the teething. BUT NO ONE MENTIONED HOMEWORK.

That is almost unforgivable…

Homework Tips:  Parent Signature

Homework to me is… a form of birth control. I STILL have nightmares — bad dreams depicting a life in which I still owe homework assignments in college, and even in high school. Ugghhh!!!! Had I been reminded of it — that I’d be re-living homework through the after hours spent with a child — I would’ve thought twice about having children.

So, it’s a good thing no one reminded me! At times I HATE homework, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my son — and the way the learned knowledge is shaping him into a Champion. There are times it’s been downright challenging, yet we find a way to conquer the difficulties. I’ll share our tricks toward our triumphs in upcoming posts under the “Homework Tips” category.

Not good in Math???

When I was a kid I was a math whiz. By age 9, my sister and I worked in my grandmother’s liquor store (shhhhhh! don’t tell!) at the cash register. My grandma was nearby, watching every transaction — and keeping her eye out for the local authorities, of course. And yes, we handled the booz — Bacardi, Smirnoff, Night Train, Thunderbird, Johnny Walker Red — all the hard stuff. Never fear — we turned out ok. 😉 … But, I digress.

Equations on a Chalkboard

"E" for Effort!

By age 2 the Champ, my son, could count, AND recognize all numbers through 10. He was evaluated by his pre-school teacher as “head of the class”. However, by age 6, the boy was getting lost in math. His math test results were worsening, and his esteem was shot. During homework he’d be in tears! (Inwardly, so would I). I didn’t know what to do. I even had one parent tell me: “Maybe he’s just not good in math”.

Yeah, that kinda pissed me off.

It was the end of of his 1st grade year. That summer I went to work. I made sure the Champ had math examples several times a week — to review what he’d learned during the school year. (Listening to him whine about it at times was quite painful.) Meanwhile, I compared the schoolwork, and any type of remedial assistance offered in his current school to others. Sadly, his school came up short. I priced the Sylvan schools, but they were just too expensive. I had a chance meeting with a parent of another school. She introduced me to the Kumon Learning Center.

The methods at the Kumon Learning Center are basic — and even obvious. Prior to enrollment, students are evaluated to assess their level of understanding, and computation speed. Upon enrollment, Kumon has students start from the ground up and repeat basic equations until they master them — even if they have to start at the lowest level (0+1, 0+2, 1+1, etc). This promotes memorization, and helps increase speed. Once they’ve mastered a level, they move on. Students are taught to complete their assignments independently from day one — which places the responsibility on the child. There is a timed assignment everyday — yes, even on Christmas. There are absolutely no breaks.

The Owner of the Allentown, PA Kumon Center, Neeta Garg, evaluated the Champ herself. In explaining the results of his evaluation, she only addressed him. Though I was sitting nearby, she spoke to him — and only gave him eye contact. It was like I wasn’t even there. To my surprise, however, I observed my son responding positively — consenting to the Owner’s instruction. I was sold.

It’s been about 5 months since the Champ’s been enrolled at the Kumon Center — in its Allentown, PA location. I also transferred the Champ to a different school: Lehigh Christian Academy. There, the Champ has been able to connect more with his teachers, and their overall approach. That, in itself, is invaluable. It’s not been without sacrifice: we minimize expenses as much as possible, rarely eat out, and are on a strict budget all around; television is scarce during the week. Nonetheless, the payoff has been grand!

Today, if you ask the Champ what his favorite school subject is, he’ll always say “Math”. On weekends, he has taken it upon himself to complete his Kumon assignments first thing in the morning — before any other activity (most of the time I’m not even awake yet!).   He also prefers to complete his Kumon homework before any other assignment. His school math grades have improved dramatically.  He is excelling in “Rocket Math”.  His esteem is “off the charts”.    Even his teacher states the Champ is “bent toward math”.

Not all parents can transfer their children to another school, or enroll their child/ren in a learning program. Key factors are money, and time. In the absence of a learning program, I encourage parents to learn what the learning programs do — and try to do it yourself.   Ultimately you want to create a habit of studying the basics through mastery.   If finances are an issue, seek out non-profit organizations like The Parris Foundation  (a charity organization dedicated to promoting educational opportunities and fostering awareness in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) via scholarships and community outreach programs).     Finally, don’t forget to seek school advisement — from ANY school.  School advisors are your friend.   They took that job to help people, and they have access to valuable information that can help your child. 

Whatever you do, start your search for help EARLY, and don’t wait. Don’t accept the status quo. Anyone can be good at math — given the chance.

If you “Like” this story, then “Like” my page at www.facebook.com/raisingachampion, and follow me at www.twitter.com/raisingachamp.

Coby MID7022 7 inch 4GB Tablet PRODUCT REVIEW

I BOUGHT THIS FOR “THE CHAMP”, age 7, which is just fine — used for math, spelling, Netflix, Angry Birds, Kindle Books, Nook

Coby MID7022

Coby MID7022

Books, and whatever the Android Market offers. I hadit since November, 2011 — testing it myself — and gave it to my son on Christmas. I wouldn’t recommend this for an adult who would use this tablet frequently, as the battery life is terrible (not more than 3-4 hours). It’s heavier than other tablets in its class, and has a “soft” metal casing rather than a hard plastic. After rebate, price reduction, and replacement warranty, still paid UNDER $190 FOR all — and probably even less than that.

You do get what you pay for — out of the box there’s no access to the Android Market, and no real useful apps pre-installed. However, (as a workaround) because you can connect your tablet to a computer using the USB connection, you can copy & install “apk” files that enable you to get access to the Android Market, Netflix, and all those goodies — without “rooting” the device and voiding the manufacturer’s warranty (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BrWSC2uiAg). But hey, buy the Toys R Us replacement warranty, and you’re good. So, yes, I love the USB port, and HDMI output. If you’re up to installing the necessary files to gain access to the Android Market, you will save a lot of money.

The MAJOR drawback is the battery life. Even with the WiFi turned off the battery doesn’t last long. I may have to root the device to reconfigure the settings to extend the battery life — or consider returning it if my son’s use of the tablet necessitates a better battery life.

As for myself, I bought the Novo 7 Advanced from www.topnotchtablets.com for $155, and am in heaven. Battery lasts for DAYS! And, it has the “feel” of an IPad (which I have thru my job) which is really great. The Customer Support is GREAT! However, if you need that extended “bumper to bumper” warranty consider paying that extra $100 to $150 and look to the Kindle Fire or Nook compatible — with the pre- installed apps. Those are also great tablets. There’s less flexibility regarding custom tasks, but well worth the money spent if you’re not a technical person.

Not A Spectator Sport After All.

Like most moms, I sought out the most inexpensive community basketball program I could find — and that I did! For $35 per sport, or $70 for theBasketball Coaching year, I could get about 2 hours to MYSELF, while the Champ ran up and down a gym, under someone else’s watch.

This was, by far, the CHEAPEST babysitting service ever!

… or so I thought.

This would be his first competitive league the Champ would be in, sort of. When he was 4 he tried out a 6-week, 45-minute a week flag football program. He liked it, but preferred basketball. After turning 5 he was still young to join a team, so I signed him up for another “older toddler” program. This time it was a 5-week, 45-minute a week basketball program. Both times, I was in heaven, as I sat back and watched someone else entertain him, while I cheered on, and relaxed.

Well, now he was about to turn 6, and was ready to run the full court while I cheered him on, and caught up on my reading. I planned on completing my never-ending quest to teach myself spanish.

I was about to pull out my old college textbook when one of the basketball program coordinators asked all parents if “anyone could help out that day”. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t resist. There were just so many kids, and so few adults that I figured it couldn’t hurt. So, I helped out that day. The next week the kids recognized me, but, unfortunately, so did the basketball coordinator. Again he asked for help. By the third week the coordinator came to me, he awarded me with the highest honor any coach could have: a whistle. Wow. My head swell up! But then he then said the roster for my “team” would be ready for me the following week. (Insert Scooby Doo sound effect here). Believe me when I say that I didn’t know what the “H.E. double hockey sticks” I was doing!

That was about a year ago. All I knew is that my son, the Champ, was very, very proud, and gave me the tightest hug after every game. I then accepted this role as part of the plan to raise a champion.

Thereafter I was asked to join the leadership team there, co-coordinating the Intramural basketball program.

You’re a Real Mom when…

…You have had pee, poop, and snot on you all in one day — and none of it belonged to you.

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