27 November 2015

#BlackFriday Bargains!

Do you shop Black Friday sales in person at the store?  Have you gotten into any good brawls there?  Apparently, you can be a youtube star if you snatch a product away from a little kid, choke a nearby customer and/or act obnoxiously or dangerously.  Some of these "Black Friday" videos show security being entirely overwhelmed by stampeding hordes of customers.

It's crazy.

I don't go out of my way to watch the videos, but occasionally a friend or a news source will post a picture and a link about them.  What little I've seen makes me glad I just stay home.  Maybe a little Amazon.  My computer email inbox goes just nuts.  There is enough stuff "out there" that one could probably find a decent bargain, if not a ridiculous bargain.

Do we all need ridiculous bargains? 

Washington Post says that these videos are nothing but wealthy people being entertained at the expense of the poor.  I disagree.  I think it's just like any other news video.  You need to keep it in context and remember not everyone is like that.  Though I have no doubt Black Friday is just a crazy time.  No bargain is worth losing your cool over like that.  We're not starving and snatching food packets here.  Actually? I've seen news clips of starving people grabbing for food packets and they're more orderly. 

The paper also states that plenty of people like to make racist comments about the videos, comparing shoppers to animals and that sort of thing.  I'm sure many comments are, in fact, racist, what with the internet being what it is and all.  But animals come in all colours and sizes judging from what little I've seen.

At the same time, what you don't see on these videos are the people who hop into the store, find a bargain or don't find a bargain, and exit the store without causing a commotion.  Yeah, videos like that just don't go viral.  Could you imagine my making a video titled, "Buying Frozen Peas at the Grocery" and getting over 50 million views? 

26 November 2015

My Imperfect Homeschool.

Sonlight Blog Party
 The folks at Sonlight are hosting a blog party!  I thought perhaps I shouldn't participate, because the theme this month is, "share your best homeschool organization tips."  And I just don't organize all that terribly well.  I can find everything I need (important skill to have!) but I just don't have a dedicated school-room, storage cubes from IKEA, and cute colour-coded themes for the room, posters on the wall, that sort of thing.

But I decided to go ahead, make the jump, and blog what I'm really up to here anyway.  And the reason for that is simple:  I know myself.  And I know people like me.  If I'd've seen the expensive get-ups "everyone else" has for home-educating their children, I might've been a bit put off the whole idea.  So I want to encourage you if you're thinking about homeschooling, that you really don't need that much stuff.  Some books and worksheets, yeah.  But nothing super-elaborate in terms of organizing and filing things away.

I've been homeschooling for over nine years now, so if I were ever going to get my act together and splurge on something like that, I'd have done it by now.  Instead, I use a bookshelf for our "daily" things.  Because I've homeschooled for quite some time and my older children are done with expensive materials, stuff for future years is stored in Rubbermaid containers.  Ever see Hoarders?  Not that bad.  But just imagine several of these in my basement.

Woodjie and Rose's folder.  Emperor's folder is above it.
The one thing I did get from IKEA are the magazine holders you see in the top picture.  That's it.  I use them to hold the textbooks and things we use on a daily basis.  I spent maybe $10 on those.  We work through workbooks and I pop loose sheets into a binder so I can prove I wasn't just sitting around all day with the kids watching Wild Kratts on TV.

Yeah.  A tote basket in the corner holds little crafty things, and I pop dry-erase boards behind it.  It looks a little messy but it works for us.

Games!  And assorted educational "manipulatives" and stuff.  (And unburnt candles.  My system for figuring out where everything is is probably different from the one you'd use in your home...)

My dining room table without schoolwork.  But you can see Woodjie's soft "woobie" cloth and his weighted vest.  (He's autistic and these things help him concentrate/ not pull his hair sometimes.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's hoping all your cooking and other preparations are working out well.  Enjoy your family and your holiday!  God bless.  :)

25 November 2015

Teachin' the 'Tarded

NEA President Lile Eskelsen Garcia wants you to know that they are able to deal with 'tarded people and those children who are "medically annoying" in public schools.  God forbid more children homeschool where people love them and treat them with respect and stuff.  Better leave teaching to the professionals.

Oh.  She also wants you to shut up about that "one thing" you don't think schools do well.  And cough up more money for public schools while you're at it.  People who criticise public schools have grown children or are somehow otherwise out of touch with what goes on in schools.  She also seems to think that feeding kids and teaching them about fairness and "saying sorry and meaning it" is up to the schools because parents just can't be bothered.  Hat tip:  walkersvillemom

My Name is Mahtob

Frequently, little Mahtob and her parents visited and dined with neighbours and friends in their multicultural Texas community during the early 1980's.  But just before her fifth birthday, the Iranian Revolution changed her father from a mild-mannered and doting man to a fundamentalist who would stop at nothing to ensure his family lived in his idea of the traditional Muslim way.  He tricked his wife into taking a two-week "vacation" to Iran with their daughter.  Local laws and customs essentially then made them prisoners.  Mahtob and her mother had to endure frequent beatings and find the courage to keep trying to escape. After they arrived in America, though, could they ever forgive?

My Name is Mahtob leaves the reader with a real flavour of author Mahtob Mahmoody's childhood memories - the sweetness and the bitter - as well as the difficult process of forgiving her father.  There was a real danger that this little girl could be kidnapped again or that her father and his comrades could do violence to the family.  This isn't a little, "I prayed a prayer and Jesus made it all better" book.  This girl lived crisis by crisis,  but a happy event during college pushed her to embrace happiness.  Mahtob was able to do this over time without losing sight of the fact that her father wronged her family.

Her mother published Not Without My Daughter, which later became a movie starring Sally Field, so if you know this story, you'll want to pick this book up as a companion reader.  I have to tell you, it's a bit hard to get through.  Reading about what this little girl remembers from her childhood and then to think that there are millions of other little girls living in similar circumstances is sobering.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

23 November 2015

Magnetic Mosaics

Rose is finally old enough (and has the patience) to use the magnetic mosaics set I bought awhile back.  There are several different varieties out there if you're interested in purchasing your own.  It comes with little clear templates you can place on the bottom lid and then pop the mosaics on top as you see here.  The only thing I'd do differently is to put each different colour magnet into a different ziploc baggie.  It's very difficult once you've allowed them all to jumble up, to find what you're looking for. 

16 November 2015

Southern Cooking Without a Tub of Lard

Describe Whitney Miller's New Southern Table cookbook in one word?  Normal.  As in, these are recipes actual, real normal non-professional chef families might get round to trying.  I can't tell you how often I've picked up a cookbook and wound up never using it because of the extraordinary number of ingredients that would require a special trip, or some painstaking preparation.

In this book, she'll throw in some weird ingredient occasionally, but from the look of the quality and "do-ability" of the recipes, it may become something you'll like enough to justify a special purchase. 

Miller travelled the world after winning MasterChef, so she was able to add international flavours to her great-grandmothers' Depression-era cooking recipes for this book.  It's not what you'd likely expect.  Would you pop some pickles into your potatoes for a new dill-y and delicious flavour?  There's a recipe for it that and it's remarkably similar to what we tried in Lindsborg, Kansas, at the Swedish Crown restaurant.

It's a thick, hardbound book with glossy pages.  Breakfasts, party foods, sides, soups, sandwiches and suppers are all covered.  The illustrations are very helpful and I think fairly represent what the finished product will look like.  Not too fakey-perfect. 

The only criticism I have (and I suppose it is not even that) is that the pages don't lie flat during cooking.  Easily fixed with a heavy plastic ruler here, but if they come out with a second edition or an update?  I would suggest they spiral-bind it. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”