Monday, August 25, 2008

Hi ho! Hi ho! It's off to school they go...

As I sit here at my computer, I reflect upon how we are on the crest of a new stage in our lives. Tomorrow our youngest will be off to her first day of Kindergarten. As you know, I often look for videos to express my emotions of the moment, and tonight the search is on for just the perfect one. What should I choose? Something loving? inspiring? bittersweet? melancholy? Agh! I have the perfect video. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Take me home from the ba-aaall game!

Under duress, I agreed to go to a Cardinals home game this weekend. Being a die-hard Cubs fan, I couldn't shake the sense that I was cheating on... the Cubbies? Turns out, it was a blast. We stayed at the Springhill Suites in Brentwood, and had dinner last night on "The Hill". This morning we got up bright and early - you know like before 10:00 A.M. and checked out the Gateway Arch, or, the "half-oval" as the Kids call it.

Today's theme at the ballpark was "Adopt-a-Pet", sponsored by Purina. Following every inning an adoptable pet being held by one of the players would be featured on the scoreboard. So heartwarming...it approached "lump in the throat" status for me.




Later I couldn't resist taking a peak at the lovable little mutts. Below is a photo of a gal who saw one of the pups on the screen, walked down to the main concourse, took one look at the dog and adopted him on the spot. For the rest of the game she and her Mom planted herself right next to that dude and didn't leave his side. Kudos to them for making room in their heart as well as their home.



I know this is not becoming of a Cubs fan, and I'll deny it if I'm quoted, but I was kind of pleased when the Cards won 6 - 3. It was a great game. The police presence was awesome (ah-hem) and I snapped this photo for the ladies of Peoria.com.



The moral of this post is to suggest an alliance between the Peoria Humane Society and the management of O'Brien Field. The adopt-a-pet theme was very popular and what a creative way to save the life of some of our furry friends. So that's my idea of the week. I just set them up. Y'all just lob it outta here!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

This Bud's for Jim and Rachael...




As we prepare to attend Jen's first K-garten Open house tonight I can't help but think about what an eventful summer it has been. Since May, the Peoria District Watch Coalition has been locked in controversy with the school board over their vote that reduced our children's time in school. The dust has settled, and thanks to the responsive nature of several of the school board members, the vote was amended significantly and we are overall pleased with the final outcome.

I would like to thank the above board members, especially Jim Stowell and Rachael Parker, who despite relentless pressure, voted their conscience and exhibited great independence of thought and character to preserve the integrity of the school day for our primary school children. You are true hero's, and I look forward to helping with your re-election campaigns... um, if you want me that is! ;) The 3rd board member noted above is Linda Butler, who was not present for the original vote, but did vote later for the amendment that restored the majority of the time lost.

I would also like to recognize the school board members who didn't quite see eye to eye with us. No doubt it is grueling and thankless and though it may not seem like it, I do recognize the significant sacrifice you make on a daily basis and thank you for it.

Of course it would be extremely remiss of me if I did not thank all the parents, teachers, retiree's, grandparents, neighbors, friends, and citizens who supported us through letters, e-mails and behind the scenes. It takes a village, and you were there.

Our entire family looks forward to another fabulous year within the District 150 family. We are Kellar!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peoria District 150 Open house this weekend! - updated again with juicy gossip.

Updated Again!...

Based upon the comment below I feel I can share this story. While at the District Open house we had the opportunity to visit with General Parker, the husband of Board of Education member Rachael Parker. You may recall from earlier posts that General was very supportive of our efforts to influence the District to reverse its course against the early dismissal of most Primary School students.

Apparently, this has caused a little friction in his relationships with some of the other board members.

That day, Mr. Parker was wearing a black polo shirt with the District 150 logo on the breast, and looked quite dashing I may add. (I will only stop noticing after I am dead). It looked like very appropriate attire under the circumstances.

Now according to Mr. Parker, shortly after our arrival, board member Jim Stowell approached him and told him to take off the shirt. Puzzled, General asked him why. "Because you are not representing our schools". Whu???? I'm no brain surgeon, but I would imagine Mr. Parker has to sacrifice plenty as the husband of a D150 board member. At this point General got angry. "Why don't you just try to take it off of me"? he challenged. They sparred back and forth. As I recall this was the final exchange...Stowell: "Then why don't you act like you support us instead of complaining about us all the time?" Parker: "Why don't you quit giving us stuff to complain about"?

My take: I can understand a few frayed nerves after the rough year we've all had but c'mon. Did Stowell really have to square off at a District Open house? Couldn't he have thought of a more appropriate time and place to vent his disapproval? Secondly, Jim, I thought you agreed with us? Surely you didn't vote out of political conveniance? I sure hope not. That would kind of bust my bubble a little bit.

end new text

After we parked downtown to attend the District Open house, we happened upon this motorcycle convoy heading for a Bikers event down at the Riverfront. There were hundreds of bikes of all shapes and sizes. It was very cool to watch.



The District open house had a rousing turnout. We enjoyed meeting old and new faces. It was old homes week for John, a Peoria High graduate, who saw a few of his former football buddies from his glory days. Here he is with class of '75 linebacker Sammy Hardinon. Yes I had to tolerate and nod lovingly as they demonstrated some of their old "moves".



One highlight was meeting the new Principal of Richwoods High School, Steve Ptacek, a handsome devil. (Remember I will only stop noticing when I'm dead.) He recently moved from the same East Central Part of the state I relocated from. Enthusiastic, energetic, and personable, he claims he has many great ideas for the future of Richwoods. I suspect he will be someone to watch as he transitions into our community and Richwoods High. Welcome Mr. Ptacek and family!

John also enjoyed seeing old buddy Randy Simmons, Principal of Peoria High. John is on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for Peoria High, so they share some common interests. A primary one of course, is preserving its future. The fear is that Peoria Central may be on the chopping block. I suspect there will be one heckuva backlash from the numerous and notable Peoria High graduates if that happens. In the meantime, the alumni board of directors and the staff at Peoria High are working hard to preserve this diverse and historically significant institution as well as enhance its academic standards.



It was interesting observing the nuances of each School's booth. The Kids ran around and collected LOTS of candy and pencils. Jenniffer definitely understood that this year, as a K-gartner, it was finally about her! She was ready for school by the age of 2. This has been a long wait.

We also had a pleasant chat with Superintendent Ken Hinton. John wanted to meet him. I think he was a little hesitant at first but Ken couldn't have been more pleasant. Can't remember what we talked about it but I'm pretty sure it wasn't early dismissal. ha ha.

We were so busy gabbing that we never did make it to the Parent Academy, although I did sign John up for the 1000 amazing men. I told him about it after the fact on the way home. Heh heh.

...end new text

The annual Peoria District 150 community Open house will be this Saturday from 8:30 -12:30 at the Peoria Civic Center.

Several physicists will be on hand to explain the new color coded school calendar. Ha ha... just kiddin - about the physicists, but not the rest.

New this year are Parent Academies, an initiative launched by the District to encourage parents to be more active partners in their children's education. Great idea.

A big round of applause for our big yellow God CATERPILLAR, as well as a few other local businesses who donated back packs and school supplies for up to 1000 kids! Now THAT's the community spirit. If you get a chance, thank a Cat employee.

Here is a link to the details.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What he said that he said...

Here is a little nugget I found on Merle Widmer's Peoria Watch blog. I don't know who this Mr. Proft guy is, but based on his comments, methinks he has his thumb on the pulse of Peoria. I am quoting the entire paragraph here below...

I have Mr. Proft's permission to run his email of August 5 as a blog.

In today's JS, "Word on the Street", I quote "There is a school district meeting Tuesday at 6:00 P.M to continue the discussing of charter schools." The only way charter schools will become an actually in Peoria is not with District #150 permission but because of community pressure and actions to form schools that are not in any way under the jurisdiction of the school board and their stifling union but by groups pressuring the State of Illinois for permission to form more private charter schools in our community and in the state and the transfer of some public funding to help support them.

Charter schools are not public school run academies. District #150 ran unsuccessful "academies" for years before abandoning them in 2006.

The math, science and technology school that Superintendent Hinton is talking about is not a privately run charter school but be an academy staffed and run by #150.

Merle Widmer

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Peoria Police need to take a page from the Secret Service Playbook

George W. Bush's visit to Peoria was a learning experience on many levels. It was fascinating and humbling to observe the Secret Service at work protecting the leader of the free world. Notice this gal in the pic. She was a secret service agent that stood about 10 feet from the President as he made his speech. She watched our e-v-e-r-y move. It was quite unsettling to say the least and sure as sh** all 100 pounds of her would have blown us to bits in a heartbeat if we had lurched suddenly in the wrong direction.

Contrast that to the City of Peoria Police presence at downtown events. I have been to numerous of them throughout the summer. The latest event was last night at the Cefcu Center Stage. There was a fairly large crowd of several hundred people enjoying the music of "The Boat Drunks". It appeared there were 3 or 4 officers present. They are always easy to spot - just look for a shiny blue cluster of law enforcement all standing together and enjoying some friendly conversation. Now please don't get me wrong. I have the utmost respect for Police officers. My baby brother is a copper (used affectionately), my beloved Sister-in-law who just answered the call of Our Lord was a cop, and my hubby was a cop many years ago. Police Officers kiss their spouses and babies good bye in the morning and more than once it crosses their mind if they will ever see them again. I love these guys and gals and know they work selflessly so our babies can safely lay their heads down at night.

I'm just saying that if trouble was afoot, based upon the PPD protocol that I have observed numerous times at a variety of Riverfront events, the officers would be hard pressed to notice anything until there were some plentiful blood and guts. Granted I'm no Chief of Police, but I think the PPD is missing the boat big time on police procedure at large downtown gatherings. Our men in blue should be stationed at all entrances and exits. They should be spread out, annoyingly visible, and not be permitted to socialize. They should be vigilant, watchful, observant... predicting bad behavior before it happens. A police presence of this nature and involving just a few officers would, in my laymen's opinion, be more effective in deterring crime than 20 of them all in a shiny blue cluster.

Police Chief Settingsgard has spoken often of the importance of perception, and managing the little infractions to help deter the larger. He feels that this attitude has helped improve our overall crime stats. So given that, I'm sure he'll get my drift. No offense, I just want to feel safe taking my kids down to the riverfront again. I want someone like the chick above keeping an eye on things. Guaranteed my kids are as important to me as the U.S. President is to her!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hawt fun on the Prairie!

Cost of 4 tickets at the Kids Day Fundraiser
to ride the giant blow up slide: $4.00




Cost of 6 balls for your kid to throw at the dunk tank: $10.00




Hawt mayor in a wet tee-shirt? Priceless!


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Kids say the crappiest things...

Warning: More TMI!
Today I took the kids out to the Shoppes at Grande Prairie for their Kids Day celebration to benefit Crittendon Centers. While there, we all used the "Family Restroom". As I'm going about my business, my son observes me closely. "Mommy," he asks, "Why do you just lean over the potty instead of sitting on it?" Me: "Because it is all gross and yucky and full of germs." Jim: "What Mommy, the potty seat or your bum?" WTF?

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dear Peoria Supervisor of Assessments and Board of Appeals,

I'm sorry that I have been so critical of you over the past few years. Ya know really, your not so bad. I can say that with all certainty now, because this week, I had to deal with the TAZEWELL COUNTY ASSESSMENTS and BOARD OF APPEAL.

My sympathies to anyone who wants to get their Tazewell assessment information on-line or over the phone. My sympathies to anyone who would like to have a question answered about the Appeal forms. My sympathies to any contractor or homeowner who is building new construction and awaiting a new assessment valuation. My sympathies to anyone who wants to appeal their assessment. My sympathies to anyone who may descend in to their PHONE HELL! My sympathies to anyone who needs to speak to a Board of Review person on the phone, and worse yet, GETS ONE! Ugh. I am still twitching. I would link to them but they are not googleable.

Remember when you were single and a had a steady boy or girlfriend but would secretly wonder if there was someone out there better? So you'd go out with someone else, and the date would be terrible, and it would ultimately make you appreciate more the one you had right under your nose? Sorry... a little off track there. Not quite sure what made me think about that.

Anyway, Peoria Assessments Board of Review, please forgive me. I LOVE YOU!!!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

D150 2008-09 School Calendar now on-line- updated!



It is downloadable here, or simply click on the image above and it will appear larger. Do not try this at home!

Here is the color key: Yellow - wacky Wednesday, Green - wackier Wednesday, Purple - fruity Friday (except for a single murky Monday), and Red - freaky Friday. This should serve to clear up any confusion.

Is there someone out there that I can hire to call me every flippin day and tell me when to pick up my kids??? Somethin tells me that School Admin better have parents cell phones on speed dial.

Kids Day at Grande Prairie this weekend...

Here are the details:
KIDS DAY on the Prairie
Saturday, August 9th 10 am to 2 pm
A.C.E. brings Kids Day to the Shoppes at Grand Prairie. Be sure to mark the date Saturday, August 9th (rain date 8/10), so you can join us for some fun on the Prairie. There will be a helicopter landing, water games, interactive inflatables, face painting, magic show, Brown Sugar Band, free give-a-ways, child ID services, Crash from Peoria Zoo and more. For more information check out www.PeoriaKidsDay.com.

All proceeds benefit the Crittendon Center. Rumor has it that Mayor Jim Ardis will be in the dunking booth. They tried to get Superintendant Ken Hinton, but felt the Grande Prairie Mall could not provide enough parking. I would have made a withdrawl from my Keough for that. JUST KIDDIN... no flaming!

Upcoming candidate debates...

From my Peoria Chamber of Commerce Report:

18th District Congressional Candidate Forum

Aaron Schock / Coleen Callahan / Sheldon Shafer

Date: September 10, 2008
Time: 7:30 - 9:00am (Yes, this is in the morning and not a typo!)
Location: Hotel Pere Marquette

and

92nd And 106th District State Representatives Candidate Forum
Jehan Gordon / Joan Krupa / Keith Sommer / TomShrier

Date: September 17, 2008
Time: 7:30 - 9:00am
Location: Heartland Partnership Board Room, 100 SW Water, Peoria

The time for rhetoric is over. I look forward to some real discussion, on real issues. So, Yay to whoever put this together. Looks like the sponsor is 1470 WMBD .

But seriously, dude, what is up with these early mornings? Sheesh. I'll try to be there but no promises at THAT un-Godly hour.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Word of the day: Odiferous

To use in context: Our garbage was particularly odiferous today. My apologies to Waste Management. I owe ya, man. So glad I didn't have to run in to them as they were doing pick-up this morning.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sitemeter giving Blogger readers fits...

If you had trouble logging on to some blogger sites as well as Peoria.com, it appears to be a new sitemeter coding error that needs to be worked out. Thanks to Joe, from Peoria.com, for identifying the problem.

Sitemeter's new j********* code has been causing some people problems. If your blog uses Sitemeter and it's not loading, Sitemeter is probably the cause. Hopefully it'll be fixed soon, but wanted to put this out there so others didn't spend the time trying to figure out what was going on...

Joe further asserts:
I'm assuming they'll fix it sooner or later...I've been doing Google searches and it looks like Sitemeter has caused maybe tens of thousands of sites to go down because of it. That's enough reason for me to take it off of P.com permanently...

It appears this only affects users that are using Internet Explorer as their browser.

Bloggers to correct this problem must go in to their dashboard settings and remove the code on their blog for sitemeter.

The question remains as to when it can be re-installed. Also the question remains as to why the software at Peoria.com auto-blanked out the j********* word.

American Girl Store, Chicago, Illinois




Warning: Visiting the subject of this post will cause your wallet to open up and large bills to fly out.

At the risk of demonstrating a blatant show of CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION, I wanted to make a few comments regarding our visit a few weeks ago to the American Girl Store in downtown Chicago.

If you have never heard of American Girl dolls, you probably do not have a daughter. By the age of 4, your child should be able to hop on one foot, speak in complete sentences, and demonstrate a wanton and unrelenting desire for everything American Girl.

And just as Mommies, too, get caught up in the Wiggles craze, The Thomas Train craze and The Webkinz craze, American Girl is no exception. Admittedly, our entire family, with one obvious tag-a-longer, looked forward to visiting the widely acclaimed and very popular Chicago American Girl Store.

We arrived in downtown Chicago about 10:15 A.M. on a Sunday morning. First mistake. If you visit the store on a weekend, arrive prior to 10:00 A.M. to get $12.00 all day parking rates. As it was, we ended up paying almost triple that... but we won't dwell on that.

The store is located at the intersection of Michigan and Chicago Avenues, just a few blocks from Lake Shore Drive and Water Tower Place. Wear comfortable shoes, and prepare to spend at least several hours. Even if you don't like to shop, you will enjoy the activity and ambiance of this area. There are some cool sidewalk cafes, but, for the die-hard fast food fan, you will find a McDonald's and a Subway nearby as well.

The store itself is 3 stories high, and sells every American Girl doll, article of clothing, and accessory ever created. The store has a reputation for outstanding customer service, but that appears to be a myth right up there with Nessie. It would be impossible to expect personalized customer service in a store packed wall to wall with giggling girls and their doting Moms. The best I saw was a few uniformed security officers saying "this way please". Once I pointed to one of the dolls and asked which character she was. The attendant looked at me like I had just asked asked her how many square feet in an acre.

Fortunately, there were plenty of checkouts, and the store was well stocked, so we had no trouble making a few selections and checking out expediently. I was hoping our daughter would choose the beautiful Kai doll or a "look just like me" doll with luxurious black hair and dark eyes, but alas, that was not to be. She chose the freakin ugly pink beauty chair and accessories. Fine. Note to self: this isn't about me.

All in all, I'm glad we went. More to satisfy our curiousity than for any whopping great time. To me, it would have been far more satisfying if towards the back of the store they had a giant "clearance" section but that just won't happen at American Girl.

If we go again, it will be more of an afterthought than the main event. We'll save the time, trouble and expense for the Museum of Science and Industry or the Shedd Aquarium - which ROCKS!

Oh yeah, and finally for my one "cerebral" reader, there are 43,560 square feet in an acre.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Think you can run a city? Here's your chance...

Here is a letter from my friend, Chris Setti, who works for the City of Peoria:

The Mayor and City Council are seeking input from citizens on the upcoming 2009 budget. In recent years, public comment has been reserved for the night the budget is adopted -- which is really too late to make a difference. This year, the City has created a number of ways for you to share your thoughts on priorities, revenue sources and cost saving measures.

There's two ways you can get involved:
Attend one of two budget "open-houses" this coming Monday, August 4th. The first is being held at Expo Gardens between 10 am and Noon. The second is that same evening at the Peoria City/County Health Department between 5 pm and 7 pm. Both open houses are an opportunity for citizens to drop in, learn about the budget, ask questions and give your feedback.
Can't make one of those open houses? No problem -- Go to www.peoriabudget. com. There you will find budget resources as well as an online questionnaire for submitting feedback.
All input from these forums will be compiled into a report presented to City Council at their September 9th meeting. Please help us by sharing your thoughts.

Sincerely,
Chris

I believe the city is very sincere in wanting significant citizen input regarding its operations. Chris would appreciate a great response to this!