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A White Suburban Mom Responds to Arne Duncan


Arne Duncan doesn’t “get it”. We don’t dislike Common Core because we are White Suburban Moms who only care about our kids. We don’t like it and standardized testing because they aren’t good for ALL students.

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

Arne Duncan once made an insulting comment about “white suburban moms” who got angry about Common Core tests because they were disappointed to learn that their child was not as brilliant as they believed.

This white suburban mom has written a response to Arne.

View original

How To Prune A Crape Myrtle 

EditThe beautiful crape myrtle. One of my favorite trees. 

This is the proper way a crape myrtle’s trunk should look. 

These trees are very popular in Texas but too many people abuse them when they trim them. A friend posted about this pet peeve we share and I decided to share her comments and links as well as the comments of our favorite Texas landscape/gardening expert, Neil Sperry. 

Crape Myrtles are NOT supposed to be topped. For some reason, landscapers (use term loosely) and homeowners have been butchering them the last few years. 
Here are a few articles regarding this issue.

Pruning misconceptions
“This is the preferred or best way to prune a crape myrtle.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. For the overwhelming majority of us, the appropriate approach is to enhance the natural shape of our crape myrtles.
“Crape myrtles bloom better when cut back.” This is not accurate. The flower clusters may be larger on severely pruned trees, but the added weight on the ends of long, thin branches causes them to bend over awkwardly, especially after it rains. These low-hanging flower heads can create problems and get in the way when a crape myrtle is planted near a driveway, sidewalk or path. And since the tree is smaller, fewer flower clusters are actually produced.

“You can cut back a crape myrtle to change its shape.” There are a wide variety of crape myrtle cultivars available today, and as you look around area landscapes you will see great diversity among them. Some grow tall and upright like a vase, while others are shorter and spreading, more like a mushroom. These shapes are controlled by genetics. You cannot make an upright-growing crape myrtle grow in the shape of a mushroom by cutting it back. So, if you want a crape myrtle that will mature in the shape you desire, be sure you plant one that naturally grows that way.
“Young crape myrtles should be cut back to make them look fuller.” Young trees often appear more spindly and less substantial than older, well-established trees. However, this is a matter of age, not something that needs to be corrected with pruning. Young crape myrtles are not supposed to look like older crape myrtles. Over time, young trees will attain the shapely, full canopies of older trees without drastic pruning.
“You should cut back a crape myrtle to control its size.” If the height of the crape myrtle is not causing a problem with a nearby structure or power lines, there is little reason to reduce a tree’s height. To cut a crape myrtle back for the vague reason of “it just seems too large” ignores the fact that these plants are trees. They are supposed to be relatively large. Nobody cuts back redbuds, silver bells, flowering cherries and other spring-flowering trees just because they dared to grow into what they are — small trees. Why do we do it to crape myrtles?

It’s Been a Crazy Two Days

“Come on home now. Someone’s kicked the door open and emptied the house.”

Not where I thought that phone call was headed when Terry called me at 2:58 on Wednesday afternoon.

“They” stole what Terry describes as “anything valued at more than a dollar”. Every drawer and closet was gone through and under every bed was checked. Contents of all were tossed into the floor, sometimes even the drawers were thrown into the floor. The fact that “they” decided to flood the house is the icing on the cake.

Water. Water. Everywhere.

We said a prayer yesterday evening for our burglars. If anyone needs Jesus it’s whoever “they” are. We’ve narrowed down the the time frame to about 11:15 to 1:00. I was planning to go home at lunch and turned the wrong direction. Rather than fight the traffic to turn around I just went elsewhere.
God is good and we thank Him for His intervention.

No one was home to see anything. Most of our neighbors work and our friends across the street who are retired were having lunch and an afternoon with their daughter and Grands.
The police officers said it was probably gang related. They suspect it was a group of four to six 16-18 year olds and who were probably skipping school or at lunch. One stands guard, the others each take a room and they are in and out in a very short time. We’ve also been told that flooding the hope is the “in” method for covering your tracks.

Twenty-four hours later we have a police report, an appointment with our insurance adjusters on Wednesday morning (2adjusters since one will handle the theft and the other will deal with losses from the flooding), we have a room at the local Holiday Inn, and we have 17 fans and 2 dehumidifiers in our house. It’s very loud.

We are finding more and more things gone as we clean up the mess.

On the flip side of loss we are finding more and more blessings with each passing hour. Examples of blessings include things like no one was home, the dogs, though traumatized, are okay (Stormy appears to have been kicked – I know she did let strangers in her house willingly nor did she let them stick Dirk and her in the backyard without a fight!), friends are helping do laundry since everything in the floor must be washed, and a dear friend – actually our oldest honorary godson and the oldest child of our friends the Barlens – has started a GoFundMe on our behalf and caused us both to sob when we found out. He told his mom he wanted to make certain our deductible and out of pocket expenses…weren’t. We are somewhere between stunned but overcome with emotion and embarrassed at people’s thoughtfulness and generosity.

I leave you with a couple of photos of our bedroom.



There are Creeps Waiting to Grab Kids, police officer tells child.

There are Creeps Waiting to Grab Kids, police officer tells child.

Children, 10 and 6, are walking home from the park, by day. Someone calls the cops. The cops scoop up the kids and bring them home in a cruiser. And then — the nightmare begins. This is the story of the Meitiv family that I’ve been chronicling here  and here for a couple months. Now it has hit TV:



My dad used to drop The Boys off on Friday evenings to camp at Rush Creek (a whole 2 miles from our home) for the weekend with tent and pellet guns and fishing pools. I keep hearing that the world is “different” now. It sure is…we had common sense and used our brains and weren’t scared of our own shadows back then. 

Just Don’t Let Him Play Outside Anymore

Just don’t let him play outside anymore. Not because of allergies. Not because it’s an unsafe neighborhood. Just because a neighbor complained about a child playing outside. Isn’t that the craziest thing you’ve ever heard?

I am hearing more and more about Free Range Children. I was a free range child. My brothers and I played and ran free in our area. We had rules (couldn’t go into other children’s homes without our parents’ permission, and be home before the street lights come on, for instance) but we had lots of freedom to roam. M dad used to take my  brothers a couple of miles from our house to a creek and drop them off on Friday and pick them up on Sunday. The Boys camped and hunted and fished alone all weekend. This started when they were about 10 and 11.

I saw a statistic yesterday which said that in 4 generations the freedom of an 8 year old to roam has gone from 6 miles to 300 yards. YIKES! That’s horrible. Once again helicopter parents are hurting their children’s independence and now, as this blog entry from HaikuMama discusses, those parents are now causing other people’s children to be restricted in their ability to be independent children.

It’s all fun and games until your neighbor decides that she is the boss of the fun and games

Monday. Late-morning. Hotter than hot. Not even 24 hours home from vacation, and I was going through the piles of mail. There was a knock at the door, which was weird because no one ever knocks on our door unless it’s the UPS guy, and he doesn’t come until dinner time. Corralling the crazy barky dog, I looked out the front door window and saw a woman I did not know — and my six-year-old.

I whipped the door open, trying to figure out what was happening. The woman smiled. My son frowned. And as soon as the door opened he flew into the house, running as far away from the woman as he could.

“Is that your son?” she asked with a smile.

I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.

“He said this was his house. I brought him home.” She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn’t see her eyes, couldn’t gauge her expression.

“You brought…”

“Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult.” She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they’d gone on.

“You brought him home… from playing outside?” I continued to be baffled.

Read the rest of her story and how allowing her child to play within sight of her got her a visit from both a police officer and Child Protective Services.


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