21 October 2016

New Lolly Flavours!

So pretty much every week, we ferry our elderly neighbour about to do some shopping and so on.  She will take me and the little children out to lunch after.  They adore her and call her Oma, which is German for "grandmother."  She grew up in Nazi Germany and can tell stories.  Already, Woodjie has learnt that playing with guns is not a fun thing.  Playing with guns and explosions and bombs and things means that children do not eat.  Oma stuffs the children with sweets and chocolate muffins when we go out to eat, perhaps because she did not get enough when she was a little girl.

One thing Oma does is to swipe handfuls of lollies every time she goes to the bank.  She keeps them in ziploc bags and hands them to me every now and then.  I think growing up very desperate must have an effect on the mind as one ages.  I remember my own grandmother, who lived through the Depression, swiping sugar packets from every restaurant she would visit.  Then she would get them all out on her visits and tell us stories about each sugar packet.  (Really.  Actually some of the stories she would tell would be pretty interesting and she did have a knack for collecting some pretty weird-looking sugar packets.  Looking back, I wonder where she ate because today all I can ever find is the boring Sweet-n-Low stuff in restaurants.)

The littlest children love the "mystery" flavour of lollypops the very best.  Which is odd because I could just NOT LOOK and grab a lolly from the container but that is not good enough.  It has to have the "mystery" wrapper.  In real life, I've read that "mystery" is just the lolly bits from switching from one flavour to another so it's a combination of some kind.  But the children still have much discussion about what good "mystery" flavours would be. A list:

Cheese n' Jelly
Sugar Cookie
Pineapple Pepperoni

Somehow I'm not very hungry if that's the case.  Although I might be persuaded to try the "sugar cookie" flavour.

13 October 2016

The Goblin Crown Book Review

The Goblin Crown, first in a series of books by Star Trek: The Next Generation scriptwriter Robert Hewitt Wolfe, begins with the typical "new boy at school" story and quickly spins into a medieval adventure populated by goblins, giant bats, and strange prophecies in a land of war.

Kurt, Billy and Lexi are just regular teens from our world and time who stumble into the middle of the conflict between humans and goblins just as the eye of the prophetic crown begins to glow, heralding the arrival of the Goblin King.  We're introduced to Hop, the friendly but pragmatic veteran.  He believes the prophecies and gambles on leading an insurrection to dethrone General Sawtooth and grab the crown for its rightful king!

Spoiler alert:  when prophecies don't work out as we'd thought, do we still believe?  Do we re-examine the prophecies, consider they may be fulfilled later or differently than we imagine, or do we give up entirely?  This story explores what happens to Hop and his comrades in the midst of their disappointment as hardship and death overtake good friends.  I appreciate that the book teaches that faith and true friendship are often expensive.

The series promises to be a perfect leisure-reading middle school level book, although (of course) it is also suitable for younger advanced readers and older readers who enjoy a good story. 

I look forward to reading the next book in the series when it hits the bookstores.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Turner Publishing. 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.”

07 October 2016

Why I Used to Send Pop-Tarts to School

I was sitting in the local elementary school office while Woodjie went to speech.

A mom came in to drop off her child's school snack and pay a computer damage fee. Instead of speaking of what a nice lady she is or anything like that after she left, school staff just snickered about the small bag of Chee-tos she brought being a "healthy snack."

Well, let me tell you something.  Packing a "healthy snack" of fruit or veg is easy enough when you've just shopped, but toward the end of the week, not so much.  It's true that there are prepacked baggies of produce that last a fair while, but these are not economical at all.

Parents also need to be sure it's a food that will pack well and not be damaged by snacktime.  So that usually means prepackaged foods.  You can't pack things like curry and rice and not expect a huge mess to come home or for  your child to "accidentally" throw away a very expensive re-useable container.

So often, kids pack those little sealed cups of applesauce or goldfish crackers. That applesauce, by the way, contains one entire buttload of carbs and is full of high fructose corn syrup.  Just because an apple is a "natural" thing doesn't mean you're not better off eating the Chee-tos.  Any diabetic can tell you that.

Somewhat understandably, they also have to cater to the one kid who has a nut allergy so bad that if something is in the air nearby he's gonna die.  Ordinarily, though, nuts are an excellent and nutritious snack and reasonably economical.  

So let's talk in practical terms. 700 children's parents cannot pack nuts for their children.  They can't pack messy foods.  Often, they cannot pack fruit and vegetables.  School lasts for 180 days.  That's a grand total of about 126,000 snacks that must be somehow healthy, economical, allergen free, easy to pack and remembered each morning.  No wonder kids pack crazy things by mid-year.

When Woodjie went to school?  On top of all that, we had to cater to his milk and egg allergy.  AND pack something that he would actually eat.  That meant Pop-Tarts or Oreos, folks.  That was pretty much it, at least that he would actually eat and not throw away.  There is no point packing a super snack that would make all the teachers think highly of me... to spend all that money and effort... and have it get chucked in the bin and my kid still hungry.

It just really bothers me that here was an involved parent who paid her fines and really cares for her kid, and staff just snicker about her when she leaves.

The Beginner's Bible, King James Version (KJV)

The Beginner's Bible (KJV) is touted as a child's first "real Bible" and marketed for ages 6-10.  It has pleasant illustrations throughout very similar to the cover you see here.  But aside from the introductory paragraphs added to each book, this is the same King James Version you remember with the words of Christ in red.

What I love about it is that it has large print, but is still quite compact.  It has a hard cover and the illustrations are spaced throughout the book instead of in one clumpy section.  Don't you just hate when books do that? 

I'd have to say that personally, this would be an excellent Bible for all ages as aside from a few illustrations which don't detract from the text at all, it's just the KJV.  In fact, I'm keeping this Bible for myself and my personal study time.  I'm getting to the age where the large print is very helpful, but most large-print Bibles are these huge and unwieldy texts with so many (often biased) notes.  You avoid all that with this one. 

TL;DR:  Highly recommended.

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.”

05 October 2016

My "Old Lady Moment"

A certain teen has just lost his internet and game system privileges until he can pull his grades up.  I'm quite unfair about things, he tells me.  Do I even know what it's like to live without the internet?  Do I even know how hard things are?  

There is nothing to DO.  Every day, this teen has "nothing" to do.

Well, I told him, you could bring up your grades maybe?  That's something to do...

*kid eyerolls*

Also?  I sorta have an idea of what life was like without the internet.  We played games or talked on the telephone.  We did this thing called "visiting friends' houses" and another odd thing called "going to the mall."  We used the record player and listened to music.  Sometimes we even wrote notes to one another, complete with doodles.

My grandmother Maxine (b. 1909) is standing next to the flag.

I must sound like my grandmother did to me when I was younger.  My Grandma Max would tell me about having to pick up bits of broken glass and rags by the roadside so that the family could eat every day.  I had no clue there was an actual "broken glass and old rag" business that could possibly be sustainable, but ok.  Once on vacation, our family drove along the streets where she would (allegedly) go about this work and it was just a usual street with car dealerships and a few dodgy restaurants with names like, "The Rusty Fork" (not really but almost).  It's in a town called DuBois, but it's pronounced "doo-boyz" and not any French way like you'd expect.

"When I was a girl," my grandmother used to tell me, "you spent the time telling your family everything about your hopes, dreams and aspirations."

Welp, if I had that "hopes and dreams" chat with my teen right now, it would be a short talk.  He just wants his game system back.

28 September 2016

Beefy Blonde Ancient Egyptians

We're learning about ancient Egyptians in our history class.  On several occasions, I've shown the children what ancient Egyptians looked like (or at least, how they pictured themselves).  I've mentioned that it's in Africa.  I've had them locate it on the map.  I also have mentioned it's rather sunny.

And yet this is what Rose and Woodjie imagined ancient Egyptians looked like.   (Actually, Woodjie's picture is even LIGHTER hair- and skin- wise.)  Some of the older children defended this interpretation during our dinner discussion.  They told me I oughtn't "correct" this because there are plenty of very light Africans from Morocco and you can't tell anything about anybody by where they're from.

I wound up feeling I shouldn't be quite so racially prejudiced against Egyptians, being so bold as to assume they all sort of looked alike colouring-wise.  I wasn't there in 2000 BC, so I can't say for sure that (aside from the Pharoah and some of his friends) Egyptians didn't all look exactly like this beefy blonde guy.  Patrick says he appears to have come from an old Hanna-Barbera cartoon.  Remember those?  The big burly guy is talking, but his jaw somehow never moves.

27 September 2016

Tweets From the Debate