Friday, April 22, 2011

Checkin' In

Today is Good Friday.  My company had a floating holiday for today which is great since my girls school is closed today. We leave for Pismo to go camping on Monday. 

I'm going to be decorating my house today for Easter.  The girls are still asleep but once they wake up my husband will take the tub of decorations out of the attic.  We aren't doing anything much for Easter. I'll make the girls baskets and we'll hide eggs for them.  In the past we had fun money hunts at Todd's parents house followed by a gathering at his brother's house but his mom isn't well so his dad doesn't want to partake in big family events anymore. I'll see my entire side of the family next weekend at our annual family reunion. I guess we'll go to church Sunday so we can be good Catholics and just hang out. Maybe we'll do more. We'll see. 

Todd is cleaning the house right now. He already scrubbed down the kitchen and now he's dusting with a dusting brush thing.  It's funny watching him use it.  I don't know why but it is.  I know Todd is more helpful than most men. My girlfriends have been jealous of how helpful he is since they've known him.  They can barely get their husbands to put up a ceiling fan which sits in a box for 6 months in their house.  Todd is always busy.  He's being all careful around the frames on the fireplace mantel.  I'm amused.  He's sort of clean freak and OCD with ADD tendencies which works great for me since he rarely sits down.  Something else that amuses me is that he's wearing latex gloves.  He no longer likes to get dirty.  In high school when we dated he'd spend most waking moments under his car "wrenching" and was a grease monkey.  Since we've been married (12 years) he wears latex gloves to change oil filters on the cars or do other dirty work.  He admits he's anal about things now that never before bothered him.  It's funny how we change as we get older. 

I have to take Rosie to get groomed today so she's all short and pretty for our Pismo trip.  She may end up on the beach, which for a Lhasa Poo is not a good thing.  She has hair, not fur so when she becomes a wet dirty mess, it's bad.  But, if she's short I can brush the sand off her easier.  Also, she's a bit matted since we fail to groom her in between visits.  We once had a Persian cat which required grooming, but we sucked at that too so we'd cut her hair in summer.  She looked so funny when she was short.  Thankfully she was an indoor cat so the other cats in the neighborhood didn't make fun of her. 

I also need to schedule a bikini wax.  I hope I'm long enough.  I shaved down there over a week ago when we went to Squaw because I didn't know if we'd partake in the pool at High Camp. We didn't but now it's possible I'm not long enough to wax.  I will be in a swim suit next week.  This is a problem since I don't want to shave and be rashy a whole week.  Damn.  See what a woman has to go thru? 

Something else I need to do is get spray tanned.  Normally I'd go to the tanning salon and use the beds for a couple weeks prior to a sunny vacation, but I didn't do that.  Now I'm blinding white.  I don't have enough tanning lotion to make a dent in my pasty self so I'm going to try a spray tan at a tanning salon.  How do you avoid getting the spray in your hair?  I have no idea how  it works.  I thought about finding someone who comes to your house and sprays you like what celebrities use, but where do you find those people? I wonder if there are any in my area. 

Todd is now dust mopping the floor.  You should the dust coming off that broom.  How does a house get SO Dusty?  We leave our windows open a lot, which I know contributes but this is seriously a lot of dust he's pulling out. 

It's 9:30am and my girls are still asleep.  Ahhhh vacation. 

Okay, well if I don't check back in everyone have a great Easter.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Studying saga continues

Paula has a science test next week. It was originally scheduled for this past Tuesday.  Luckily for her it was postponed because she didn't study at all beforehand because..... Remember my post on Tuesday?

I also thought I was quite clear when I told her to bring all her books home everyday.  Is that confusing to anyone?  Anyone?

Yesterday Paula didn't bring home her science ANYTHING because in her mind the test was postponed until Tuesday the 19th (next week), so why bring it home when she has all these DAYS before the test.  Really? Because I'm pretty sure the next few days are BUSY. I'm also pretty sure I told you to bring all your books home everyday.

We are leaving this weekend for Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe.  My girlfriend's ex-ex husband (I like to kid her about all her ex husbands since there are 3 of them and she's only 45) parents own one of the original cabins built up there when Squaw was built.  Her ex-ex is also the father of her two boys, who I adore.  We've stayed there before with her, when Shawna was 6 months old and Paula was 2.5 years old.  I've personally been there pre-kids as well.  It's quaint and the staircase to the bedrooms we sleep in is hecka steep.  Like, so steep I'm afraid I'm going to fall down them upon my decent.  We're going for snow play.  We may do tubing or even let the girls take lessons.  I haven't totally decided.  But, I guarantee my girls and Kim's boys will want to hang out and NOT be doing homework.

Paula gets car sick very easily so she can't read during a car trip.  How difficult do you think it would it be for Todd or I to get her to study while we're at a fun cabin with friends?  Like pulling teeth I'm sure. 

Monday is basketball practice and more homework so really the only logical time to study was yesterday and maybe tonight and perhaps Sunday after we get home.  Plus, if you spread it out you don't have to spend so much time in one night. 

She's crying last night saying she doesn't want to study EVERY NIGHT.  I get it.  Really I do.  But Honey, you live in a time where school matters.  Heck, when did school not matter? Even for Laura Ingles I'm pretty sure school mattered. 

Todd stepped in and made a deal with her. She'll bring home all her books and related paperwork home everyday and we'll go from there as far as studying.  In the meantime she can watch a tiny bit of TV. Remember how I said we're taking away TV?  Yeah, not so much yet. 

We're only in 4th grade people.  I'm going to need lots of alcohol and therapy to get me thru the next many years.  Halp

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Study Habits

We've hit that point in time with our 4th grader where she needs to study in order to do well on tests.  It creeped up on us and we were ill prepared.

She always had good grades.  Her memory was excellent.  She never needed to study to get an A on test.

Until this year. 

The first semester of 4th grade she had almost all A's or VG's (equivalent to an A). Then in 2nd semester 8 of her 12 categories decreased.  She went down from an A to an A- or a B+ to a B.  What is going on here I asked?  She didn't know.  I looked at my husband. He didn't know.  We hadn't changed anything.  THAT was the problem. 

She needs to study for tests.  

Once I figured out this fact I thought we had an easy fix.  Turns out it wasn't an easy fix.  Why?  Because she doesn't know HOW to study.  How is it you don't know how to study?  This baffled me.  Don't they teach you how to study in school?  No.  

Last week, after she had some frustrating tears, I sat her down and helped her study for her science test.  Turns out she had an entire page of notes written up from when the teacher explained to the kids all the pertinent facts. Her words as she points to the 3 pages of notes "I don't know what to do with those".   Again, baffled over here.

I explained to her calmly, you read and memorize those notes. You read and memorize the bold print in the text book also.  How do you learn all the words to a Selena Gomez song?  You memorize by repetition.  We spent an hour on those notes and she had the answers down pat. 

She only missed 2 on the test the next day.  Yay!  I felt like such a good mom!  I also foolishly thought she understood how to move forward.  I was wrong. 

Now comes yesterday.  She's typing up a summary or partial book report for a book.  The book, however, wasn't totally read. She needed to complete 8 or more pages of text.  This is problematic when your typing up a summary of those pages and according to her the teacher will KNOW if you didn't read those pages. Then she starts saying how I need to write a note to her teacher because she didn't complete her Religion Lent workbook due the next day. 
Why didn't you complete it? 
Because I didn't think it was being graded so I didn't do the pages. 
I'm not writing you a note. 

I stayed up with her until 10pm even though I took a Benadryl upon arriving home (before I knew about all this undone work) and could not keep my eyes open.  She finished the religion booklet.  BUT, she didn't study for her science quiz that was also the next day.  Doh! 

Todd and I really need to learn how to help her.  We will learn because clearly we've hit a point where she needs us to aid in her organization and maintain structure.  Unfortunately to maintain organization and structure there comes a cost. The cost being weekday TV.  She is heartbroken since to her TV at night is HUGE.  It's how we all unwind at our house.  I do feel her pain.

I will need to monitor her homework assigned on Monday's via the school's class website, paying very close attention to quiz and test dates. I'm going to really need to be more present and available when it comes to helping her study for tests.  I'm going to need to be willing to study with her and quiz her.  I'll need to help her also be more aware of quiz and test dates where she can see ahead that next week is a test so we should study on Sunday to get ahead of the game. 

This new direction was inevitable, but I still feel like it came out of nowhere. It didn't.  I just didn't have my eyes wide open.  Now I do.  If I'm honest, I'm not looking forward to the time suck her homework takes from my personal "down time" but she's worth it. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Conflict of Interest

I have a cousin who is serving a lifetime in prison for a crime he swears he didn't commit.  I've mentioned him here and here also here. Recently his sister posted a story on Facebook which was written about his case back in October 8, 1990.  Here is the link to the story here but I'm going to copy and paste the story on my blog. 

I'm curious what any of you think on this story just based on the below facts as they're laid out. 
Keep in mind, there are more issues to this case that aren't even listed like how 2 jury members were said to have been bullied into their guilty plea.

His appeal, by the way, was denied. 

Convicted Killer Says Lawyers' Feud Prevented Fair Trial : Appeal: He says his counsel and the district attorney had a short-lived romance and were engaged in a bitter paternity dispute.

October 08, 1990

Was a murder defendant denied a fair trial because of a short-lived romance and a bitter paternity dispute between his lawyer and the district attorney?
That intriguing question is now before a state Court of Appeal here in a novel case that might seem better-suited for a television screen were it not for the serious ethical issue at stake.

The real-life plot centers on an appeal by Thomas John Marston, a 30-year-old Willits millworker convicted in 1985 of killing two men in an abortive marijuana deal. Marston is seeking a retrial on grounds he was the unknowing victim of a private feud between his trial attorney, Richard J. Petersen, and the prosecutor, former Mendocino County Dist. Atty. Vivian L. Rackauckas.

Marston's new lawyer on appeal charges that Rackauckas had a sexual liaison with Petersen before Marston's trial, then cited Petersen as father of her child, repeatedly threatened during the trial to bring a paternity suit against Petersen and even had the child send him "Dear Daddy" greetings at special occasions.

Included in the evidence is a 1988 court order requiring Petersen to pay $765 a month in child support to Rackauckas.

"The case was tried in the legal equivalent of a sewer, a cesspool filled with the squalor of covert, private conflicts of interest," said Richard L. Huff, a Ukiah lawyer now representing Marston. "Unknowingly, (Marston) was caught in a cross-fire inimical to our belief in fundamental fairness."

Petersen, in a sworn declaration, said the charges of a sexual liaison and a paternity dispute with Rackauckas are true. Rackauckas, now a deputy district attorney in Ventura County, submitted an affidavit acknowledging the love affair but contending that relationship ended six years before the trial. She denied threatening Petersen, and said that during the trial, they both conducted themselves with "appropriate professionalism." It was not until after the trial, in 1988, that she filed suit for child support, she said.

In a further twist, a Ukiah woman has submitted yet another affidavit stating that at a 1983 Christmas party, Rackauckas remarked "matter-of-factly" that her son's father was Mendocino Superior Court Judge Arthur Broaddus, who later served as trial judge in the Marston case. Rackauckas denied having a sexual relationship with the judge or making any such statement. Broaddus also denied such a relationship ever existed.

State Deputy Atty. Gen. Donna B. Chew, representing the prosecution on appeal, agreed the case "raises very important factual as well as legal allegations."

But in a brief filed last week, Chew contends Marston has failed to show that an actual conflict of interest adversely affected his lawyer's performance. Even if there was antagonism between the prosecutor and defense attorney, the defendant might have benefited from the hostility felt by his lawyer, she said.
Chew added, however, that if the appeals court believes Marston has raised legally plausible claims, it should order a hearing to further weigh the conflicting evidence in the case.

Attorney Huff's appeal for Marston centers on the right of a defendant to be represented by a lawyer free of conflict of interest, and to be prosecuted by a district attorney free of emotional involvement in a case.
Ethical guidelines published by the California District Attorneys Assn. require prosecutors to withdraw where they have a personal interest in a case that may affect their impartiality.

There is little legal precedent for the case. But in a 1985 case, another appeals court, citing the potential for conflict of interest, reversed a defendant's conviction because a prosecutor and defense attorney had dated before and during the trial.

According to witnesses' statements, at the Marston trial Rackauckas and Petersen exchanged cutting remarks-- sotto voce but still audible to jurors--and behind the scenes had angry discussions about child support. One associate said Rackauckas adopted an office policy of "maximum obstruction and minimum cooperation" with Petersen, hindering the routine exchange of evidence before trial.

After Marston received a sentence of life in prison without parole, Rackauckas was quoted by a witness as having said, "a lifetime of being sodomized in prison" would be a suitable alternative to the death penalty, Marston's appeal said.

Also submitted was a statement from Dist. Atty. Susan Massini. In it, Massini says files on the Marston case were missing when she assumed office in 1987 after Rackauckas was defeated for reelection.

In her sworn statement, Rackauckas called the affidavits as a whole "misleading, out-of-context or inaccurate." Any personal relationship with Petersen ended when her child was conceived in March, 1980, she said. Petersen denied in 1981 that he was the father and the matter was not discussed again until 1986, she said.

Rackauckas rejected the claim she had any "special policy" on cases handled by Petersen and said she could not recall discussing "anything about sodomy" in the Marston case.

At her request, Rackauckas said, she and Petersen discussed the 1985 appeals court ruling on conflict of interest and whether he should represent Marston. Neither believed their former relationship created such a conflict, she said.

"I believed that no local attorney would represent Marston as vigorously and as well as would Mr. Petersen," Rackauckas said. "Feeling that it was unfair on my part to suggest depriving Mr. Marston of the attorney of his choice and possibly the most capable attorney in the area, I did nothing further with regard to the matter."