28 November 2014

Carnival of Homeschooling!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is over at My Own Mind.  Go check it out!  Have a great weekend!

26 November 2014

The EVIL House

Ever sit down and talk to a missionary who serves in a faraway land? Ever hear strange stories about the power of God, and of evil? Yes, I've seen the wackos on TV claiming that God can give you gold dental fillings if Pastor Richdude touches the prayer cloth you send in with your "best gift" of $2,000 or more. No, I mean... real missionaries. People who have given up just about everything you could think of to go live somewhere just about nobody wants to live.

I've heard stories. Usually they're not as dramatic as the ones you hear ninteenth-hand about the minute the church in the US prayed, this big legion of angels scared natives away who were planning a raid on missionary settlements. And there were the exact number of angels as there were praying on the carpet at Whatever Baptist Church at 3 p.m., etc. That story's about as overused as the preaching on the frog-in-the-pot. But I've heard dramatic stories about people who really ARE demon-possessed, and the spiritual darkness you can just FEEL in some places of the world from some missionaries, and even laypeople. Go ahead and laugh.

But I have been in a place like that.

In Kearney, Missouri.

No, really. I'm not given to weird stories and claiming victory for Jesus by marching around affected buildings seven times and that kinda stuff. But one day, when I was househunting with my husband about 16 years ago, I encountered a house with something in it.

We were househunting this way: One of us would go in while the other stayed in the car or yard with our small children, Patrick and G. Then we'd switch so both of us would get a chance to look at the place without our children making silly comments or getting into the cabinets. So I went into a place with my realtor.

Have you ever just KNOWN someone was staring at you, and felt uncomfortable? Well, oh, it was odd... but there in the living room, I could FEEL something staring at me. It was as if someone were standing RIGHT IN FRONT of me and glaring. I wanted to back out, but thought I was a silly. Because stuff like that isn't real. The living room looked totally normal, but the carpeting was a bit outdated and the curtains were those old thick plastic-lined ones with the tweedy fabric on the side facing indoors. Icky, but hardly anything to freak out about.

Silly me.

Further into the house, I'm doing a little chat with myself. I mean, I REALLY like the layout. The kitchen and living areas flow around in a circle through to the TV room. You know the older houses I'm talking about like that. And then a stairway upstairs and a doorway down to the basement. Looking back, my, was everything dated. But that sort of thing really doesn't bother me so much as it does other people. In fact, it's kinda nostalgic to see those white countertops with the goldy flecks in them. You remember when that stuff was en vogue.

But the basement was ... something. I have never seen the like ever before or since. Maybe I wasn't so silly.

The walls were painted black. Skulls were drawn on the walls. There were black candles and blood drawn on the walls. Some sort of table with things on it and my mind has blocked out what on earth it was. I just remember it bothered me. The realtor was a bit uncomfortable and started to talk about a nice coat of paint and you could let your kids play down there. He was shifting funny on his feet when he said it, too.

I started thinking of getting my pastor to please walk through the house with me with the anointing oil and pray, pray, pray. I mean, no weapon formed against us can prosper and all that. It was a good price, even if it smelled vaguely of pot.

Outside, there were a couple teenagers and neighbourhood kids hanging out with their parents. They looked like normal enough people, though these parents let their children draw on their clothes and smoke. But otherwise about like anyone else. I liked the house and the neighbourhood and told D maybe we should make an offer and then call the pastor?

D hated the place. He thought I was nuts for even suggesting it. He said, you know, it isn't so much the place, because the PLACE is nice, but there are probably all kinds of people used to hanging out around here. Well, he's probably right on that one. Ok, then, on to the next house on our list...

But ever since then, our car didn't work right. We even had the GM dealership servicepeople working on the phone with National Headquarters trying to figure out what on earth was wrong. The house is evil, D tells me, and it messed up the car. I'd be inclined to agree with him though I know how SILLY that sounds. Imagine, scary house killing your car. I mean, that's silly.

But if you were there, maybe you would believe me that it's at least possible. It was very creepy. D refuses to even drive down that street EVER AGAIN because of the power he thinks that evil house has. And that was SIXTEEN YEARS AGO.

Now, I don't get "into" stuff like that. I've never called people over to look for ghosts or thrown up demons in a bucket or any of the really weird stuff you might be thinking about. It wasn't like I started my day just then looking for the paranormal.


Can I tell you about another house? This one is up the street from me. NO ONE on our street would even be paid to live there, so far as I know. It is, as my Catholic neighbour put it once, jinxed. EVERY family that has ever lived there for 40-odd years has gotten a messy divorce or one of the spouses killed themselves. OK, it's a bad place to my knowledge, but I've never been in it. I just know what people have lived in it over the last 16 years or so haven't been upstanding citizens of the community. I'm not sure that the house is jinxed, or if it's just that the house keeps going up for sale and it's a bargain... and you know, if someone just shot themselves in the house before you bought it, you'll get it for cheap.


23 November 2014

Why, How, and What do We do?

As you may know, we began homeschooling Elf eight years ago because of abuse in public schools.  He's now a freshman in public school full-time.  We continue with our younger children because we find that that's best for them right now.  (Woodjie is severely autistic and school just wasn't working.)  We can work at their pace and move on to the next topic or subject when they are ready.  So this post is just a general outline of what a typical day usually looks like.
Rose, Woodjie and Emperor go to tournaments every Monday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014.


Emperor wanted to get up early to watch one of the games of the World Chess Championship.  I poked him and went back to bed, trusting he would wake Elf at 6 am so that he could get to school.


Rose's alarm goes off.  She's a big girl now!  I hear the alarm and get Woodjie up.  The little children have a picture schedule and know to do their bathroom routine, make their beds, and come down for breakfast.  They brush their teeth and I comb hair and that sort of thing and clean the kitchen.


Rose begins mathematics at the computer while Woodjie copies his spelling words and writes three sentences about a topic.  They switch when Rose is done.  As I have time between checking their work and helping them with their problems, I pull each younger child to do reading as they are at different levels. 


Woodjie and Rose are done or almost done with their work, and have a little free time in their room upstairs.  I am helping Emperor review his social studies today.  I do very little actual teaching of Emperor, except in this class.  Most of my other work with him entails reviewing his workbook and asking him a few questions to be sure he understands the material.  For chess, he has lessons with a grandmaster and plays in tournaments.  His abilities exceeded mine in that department when he was about 10.


Make lunches and drive Emperor to school where he is a seventh-grader part time.  At home he takes chess, Latin, Reading (a required subject for homeschoolers) and social studies.  His science, PE and computers, high school honours Algebra I, choir, and English language he takes at school.  He also is a member of the Crochet Club.


We arrive at Patrick's community college and drop him off.  To save gas, I've packed our schoolwork and we head to a nearby library, where we usually picnic outside the van and then go in to do schoolwork at a table.  It's getting a bit cold to sit outside today, however.  Lunch is eaten in the van.


Science workbooks.  Right now, we're learning about the colours of the rainbow in science class.  Roy G. Biv and all that.  I also pull out our English worksheets and when we're done, the children browse in the library and read some books.  They each get one book to check out (I can't lift much and besides, we'll be back Thursday) and read the others at the library until Patrick calls for pickup between 1:15 and 1:45.

2:00 pm

Home.  Showers for little people and they are allowed to play games on the kindle for an hour. 

Now, obviously, on other days we'll switch subjects or that sort of thing to be sure that everything is covered.  And just like in public schools, we have days where children are sick and can't make it to class, or field trip days or just plain old days off.  Actually, we homeschool through the entire year, so my children have fewer days off than public-schoolers, but they are also working fewer hours per day so it works out nicely.

Why They Won't Shut Up About Homeschooling.

Someone always has to pop up and recommend homeschooling.  There's no getting away from it.  Teachers bugging you to medicate your child?  Homeschool him.  Bullies?  Try homeschooling!  Crazy Common Core second-grade level homework some guy with a PhD in astrophysics can't figure out?  Homeschool. 

Homeschool, homeschool, homeschool.  The public school moms are tired of hearing it, and some are really starting to get angry about having their conversations constantly dominated and re-directed.

So why won't those obnoxious homeschoolers just shut up? Speaking as a homeschool mom, I offer the following reasons off the top of my head:

1.  It's your turn now.  Do you know how many times we've been asked, often in front of our children, why our children aren't in school, and oh! I don't agree with homeschooling! or, I know your children would love to go to school, wouldn't you, Elfie? And, how do you know they are really learning anything, do you even test at all and bla bla bla bla and so on. 

So I guess you know what it feels like now that the shoe is on the other foot occasionally.

Cooking and silly smile time!
2.  Concern.  Most of us don't mean to be as outright obnoxious to you as we were treated - really, we don't - but when we see that your son has started cutting or your daughter has no friends and is being bullied, or your autistic child's school is really just a warehouse and he isn't learning much at all... well... maybe we put our foot in it a bit awkwardly sometimes.

3. We like homeschooling our children and think you will enjoy it, too.  It's a great opportunity to spend more time with them than you would otherwise, play games with them that will help them learn and bring them places they wouldn't have otherwise gone.   It's just a different lifestyle we hope you'll consider.

Think of us as evangelists, and you won't be far wrong.  Wanna join our cult?

17 November 2014

Schools Have NO Obligation to Provide "Quality" Education

You get the slop you're served, and you'd better be grateful for it, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on November 7th.  You have no right to a "quality" education of any kind.  From the article:

“'This ruling should outrage anyone who cares about our public education system,' said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Michigan. 'The court washes its hands and absolves the state of any responsibility in a district that has failed and continues to fail its children.'”

Not sure how to feel about this.  It's a sad and sorry thing that the schools don't have to offer any guarantees in exchange for the billions they get in tax dollars.  But the fact that the court seems to rule there is no "right" to a quality public education seems to bode well for homeschoolers in the long term, particularly those who are enmeshed in court battles with public education representatives and/or DFS over the quality of education they are providing for their own children at home.

Your thoughts?

30 October 2014

Do You Want Some Ebola With That Spaghetti?

I don't feel our government has any of this under control.  I think we're being lied to.  And I think healthcare workers - you know, those people who actually had contact with Ebola? - should be on quarantine for 21 days when they get back to the US.  No reason aid groups can't raise some money and deliver food/ cover some expenses for these folks. (My opinion is based on what little we've been told about the virus and is subject to change without notice.)

So I'm concerned.  And coverage about people hopping onto cruise ships and so forth and gagging all over passengers on crowded subways really doesn't do anything to allay my fears here.  But I'm also not in panic mode.  I'm in "stop it now" mode and I think that's where most reasonable other people are, too. 

Anyway, I enjoyed this video about the differences in Ebola coverage between here and the UK.  It has some strong language, but if you're up for that, I hope you enjoy it.