30 June 2007

Good Morning, Patrick!


This was taken on a recent day we lost power. See the lantern in his hand?

The Emperor Hates Electronic Toys!


School is Over

The homeschool school year officially ends today. Last day of classes was yesterday. I would have it officially end in Feb. or March but the state tells me when it starts and when it is over. They're pretty lenient in other areas so I will be grateful I get to keep my child home and schedule my school year accordingly.

G is now done with public summer school and the district paid him $40 for his attendance. I can't say that I wouldn't be tempted to take him out of school every now and then over the summer if it weren't for the cash incentive. G gets to keep $10 and tithe on that. He's starting to figure out that tithing means less for him. I'm trying to explain that the $10 is HIS but he can choose not to honour God and steal from him... his choice... He's still going to bring his dollar to church but actually I think this is progress for him. It costs us something to put God first. He really wants $10 instead of $9. By giving that dollar in the offering he is putting God before how he "feels" and what he would like to do.

The other $30 will be to bring all the kids out to lunch or something next week. We are all going to do fun things for homeschooling next week. For our Social Studies lesson next week, we'll expand on the Bob Jones lesson (learn your address and city) and do some telephone work. What do you say when you call someone? How do you look something up in the phone book? Patrick is nearly 14 and I heard some amazingly bad phone skills from him when he called the library to see if his books were in. He was very friendly and polite, but had no clue the order in which things were to be said in the usual "phone script" we all use if that makes sense. So the person on the other end nearly hung up thinking it was a teenager playing a prank. Patrick also tried looking up the library in the YELLOW pages and wondered why it was not there.

We'll be doing a science unit on pets and go into the pet store to look at animals. We'll look up the animal we want for a pet and do a research project. Actually I'm looking for, say, a picture of a tiger and three sentences from Elf. Maybe even less from the Emperor. But it will be fun for them to find out how to take care of the animal they pick for their project. They sure are not bringing any real animals home. Ever. I have made that very clear to the boys for about forever and they haven't tried it yet. I know about every other parent gets snuckered into a new dog, llama or whatever follows them home from school, because they don't have the heart to say no. Watch me: NO!

It also helps the situation to say, Patrick is allergic to dogs and he is probably allergic to whatever animal you're thinking of as well... and it's the truth. He is allergic to about everything but peanuts. Bad enough we have this cat, though, who sheds on everything and wants to sit on the furniture like us. I would not mind *so* much if it weren't for the fact that she doesn't tuck her tail in when she sits. I can't say I dislike the cat personally. She is more my nemesis, constantly plotting what to sit on next or trying to manipulate me into feeding her or letting her upstairs so she can put her bottom on my beautiful couch that is pictured several posts back.

29 June 2007

Elf's Seventh Birthday

Elf was very excited about his new books. Not so much about the Thomas the Tank Engine underwear. He opened that up and said, "Um, okayyy..." I guess when you're seven it's not as cool as when you're four!

Ann Coulter in the News

Oh, she says some things that aren't nice, but I like her! Her very blunt treatment of news items and people brings out what a lot of people are feeling, but are too "polite" to say. Elizabeth Edwards appeared on the news yesterday in some cloying attempt to ask Coulter to pretty please stop being so *mean* (boo hoo hoo) and mongering "hate." Did she really expect that Coulter would go, oh, I'm SO sorry to have offended you... I PROMISE to not get personal in any political discourse ever, ever again!

No.

This was a calculated move on the part of the Edwards campaign to raise money. Every time Coulter opens her mouth and says something they interpret as "hateful," the Edwards' website rakes in some cash. John Edwards was on NBC Hardball this morning talking about how brave his wife was, but paradoxically how the entire exchange on such subjects takes away from the REAL issues like health care and poverty. He just HAD to get those campaign platform items in right there. Ever the salesman with the $400 haircut.

He went on to say we as a nation have to counter "hate" wherever people speak it... and you can do that by donating to his campaign, folks. I'll spare you the *sniff* moving speech about those poor "African Americans" who had such a hard time, not because of sharecropping or Jim Crow, but because of HATEFUL SPEECH that we all have to work together to eradicate. Because I'm feeling that morning sickness coming on. Or maybe it's just the regular old gag reflex; hard to tell.

26 June 2007

Birthday Cake


The Elf and I made this birthday cake for his seventh birthday. Note the KEEBLER cookies on top in a checkerboard pattern. Elf was very excited about his creation!

Frugal Living

My online friend Aunt B at http://rainbowchristianhomeschool.blogspot.com/ is going to be sending me a book soon about Frugal Living. Now, I'm going to admit to you that I *need* lessons in that.

My dad used to say that "it's only money." I grew up without any idea about how to manage money or worry about how to pay for anything. Ahh... That little respite from reality was niiiice. Of course, I went off to college without a clue. I had not taken the initiative to learn things like "how to do laundry" or, how on earth do you know what chemicals to clean the sink with? My first apartment roommate was in absolute horror that I *never* cleaned the toilet or sink, or vacuumed. Eh, it didn't occur to me. It didn't bother me so much that the algae in the toilet whooshed back and forth with each flush like seaweed. Just as long as *I* didn't have to clean it. You don't think I'm reaching in there, do you?

Once, I decided that I would like to cook some spaghetti. My neighbour says that you boil the noodles and then add the sauce. I could do this! I had a nice, big and probably very expensive pot with two little handles. I put in the water, and when it boiled I added the spaghetti. I let it boil for oh, say, about half an hour. That should be good. OK, I've turned off the stove and when the spaghetti cools a bit I will add the sauce.

Except the spaghetti didn't turn out well once it cooled. It kind of turned into a disgusting JELLY thing inside the pot. It was all gooey and... sliceable! It was obviously a bad brand. I threw away the pot (you didn't think I would touch all that goo and then wash the pot, did you??) with the spaghetti still inside. So I had no pot to try again for quite some time.

Now, once D and I were out of college and in our OWN apartment things changed. I have learned how to set the oven to 400 and put the frozen french fries in. I have learned to make toast. I can heat corn up from the can and even add a little pat of butter for palatability. I am GOOD. I also know how to drain spaghetti noodles and even make a garlic-y bread from a store bought French loaf now.

Yay for me!

25 June 2007

My Yard






The top two photos are of my back yard. The last one is the pumpkin plant we transplanted to the front of the yard near the mailbox. It's about the only level part of the yard that gets sun. It seems to be growing well there near the beans. I am not counting on a real pumpkin harvest though.

Homeschool Update

The Elf has completed the first of two second grade math books in Horizons. He is almost done with all his PACE English and Spelling books, and will probably finish by mid-August. We're in LIFEPAC 4 of 10 in science, and in the sixth unit of ten in Bible studies. We're in the fourth unit of 12 in Social Studies, but I have been not "pushing" that as much because we are doing supplemental reading on colonial times. Social Studies is, I think, one of those subjects that is not confined to a year-based course of study. That is, you do not need to know EVERYTHING about Colonial times in America to move on to World War II the following year, if that is the order the publisher puts things in. So that might last us a year and a half anyway.

The school year does not officially "start" until July 1. I want Elf to start third grade in February after the baby comes. (OK, maybe he'll start in March, who knows?) I am *tempted* to buy another second grade English curriculum for the Elf, thinking he can get all THAT done by February as well. But then I think... reading. Writing a sentence. He needs a lot of practice in these areas, especially in writing. He can read very well but does not always understand what he has read. And a new curriculum is $80 or $45 depending on the publisher. I don't know. LIFEPAC would be tempting. Those get *much* harder in the upper grades too, and maybe better to start him out on a challenging curriculum.

I like having all these choices, though. I am so hoping that the Emperor can stay home next year as well. Maybe if everyone stays home we do an easy-read book report each week.

The Emperor can add two-digit numbers with carrying and he can count coins most of the time. He is starting on the concept of even or odd and how to read a thermometer. *I* have trouble reading a thermometer, really, if it is not digital. But I can tell about what temperature things are within three degrees. That does not work on the old mercury glass thermometers though, where you need an accurate temperature! Thank God for those little digital beepers!

Blessings to everyone! Those of you homeschooling be sure to drop off a comment and tell me how things are going for you, too!

24 June 2007

G's Complaint Card

I'm tired of the complaints. The other day I forced G to do some dusting even though he wasn't in "trouble" and therefore deserving the chore. Patrick has a sinus infection and is allergic to dust. And I can't do *everything* myself. So I asked G because he is about my height and can reach the ceiling. Boy was he mad. Finally I told him that I honestly, truly, really am *not* listening to the screaming. If you have something to tell me write it down on this comment card and I will really hear what you have to say then. I think it worked. Can you see that he is upset about not using the computer too? Once it was written down it was much easier to work out with him. At least this time. I'm sort of thinking of a home management binder thing, and if I ever get round to it these slips of paper will be in the front pocket for older children. Mom just doesn't like the screaming, and she also doesn't like punishing kids for getting out of hand when we can just redirect all that. If I get caught up in yelling back when I've been screamed at, and then being yelled back at and then punishing them worse and worse for disrespect... eventually I forget what I needed done. Then the dusting wouldn't be finished anyway and we'd ALL be upset. OK. I'll tell you all if it works consistently though.

23 June 2007

My Cast of Characters








For those of you who are kind of wondering what kid goes with which nickname, I'm posting photos. The top is "Patrick" who will be 14 this fall. He *loves* chess and games with strategy. There is almost no question that he will beat about anybody at Clue. Next is the Emperor who will be 6 soon. He has just graduated from preschool and is very energetic. G, age 12, and baby J (six months old) are in the next picture. G will, despite all my training of him otherwise, just scoop that little baby up and bring him over to cuddle on the couch or chair. He loves to play with baby J and can't stand seeing him by himself! The last picture is my little Elf, who just turned 7. He is holding the green beans he grew very proudly. His little bracelet tells emergency people that he has asthma.


More Flowers Abound!







The daisies are fading for the most part, but more beautiful flowers are popping up all over the yard! I spent the day weeding with Patrick. See the transplanted green bean plant by the mailbox? Elf and Emperor are so proud of that.



21 June 2007

More on Apartment Living

Martha Stewart should put out a magazine on "Apartment Living." Now, for those of you who live in apartments, please know ahead of time that you will be highly offended by what you read and skip this post. But I think Martha needs to tell us how "good things" can be brought out of crowded apartment living.

I hate, loathe, and despise apartments. I detest hearing the boom, boom, boom, of the stupid music that the people next door to me play. They not only are deaf, but they also have poor taste in music which includes some sort of bongo wailing. Then later in the day the people in the apartment above decide to play their selections, which apparently have been stolen from Bo and Luke Duke's residence somewhere in Hazzard County, Georgia. Now a motorcycle in the covered entry!! Do you have any idea how loud that is, or how that echoes? Thank you for waking the children up from their naps...

I don't like apartments because even at "home," you can never get away from people and the inconsiderate things they do. Even a simple matter of getting out of the car and entering your apartment may well be a dangerous experience. Broken glass and careless drivers can be found even in the best of places. And I know the apartment manager makes $100 a month on each dog in the complex, but I don't *feel* the benefit when I step in or near the little surprises their owner leaves in the only grassy area in which my children can play.

Apartments have sex offenders. Oh, you don't like hearing that, but if you go map them out you'll find that at least the registered ones sometimes cluster in apartments. I had one very kind schoolteacher in total shock when I revealed to her that the apartment complex she had let her daughter hang out with friends contained a sex offender with several different child sex convictions (and God knows how many uncaught, uncharged or plain old plea bargained!). But it's such a nice apartment! Oh, no. Unless you live in the mega metropolis city where there is NO housing alternative, "nice apartment" is an oxymoron.

We've already covered the roaches in my last post. Have you eaten breakfast yet? I'll tell you about the NEXT apartment we lived in, in Kansas City. But first please note that I am not telling any bad stories about the gated community apartment that is more money per month for a two bedroom place than most five-bedroom mortgages. If you've got to live in an apartment, make sure you're really rich and can buy yourself some "nice" neighbours. Maybe I'm just an elitist, but it really DOES make a difference.

When we moved from Florida to Missouri, D went ahead of me so that I could stay behind with the children and get the house sold. Then we would live in an apartment for a little bit so that we do not wind up purchasing a house in the WORST place to live, not knowing what area is on the nightly news every day. The apartment in Kansas City was just so-so. It wasn't full of amazing amounts of roaches (actually, I never saw even one, but it was winter in a northern climate too to be fair). When something broke, the apartment managers were sure to take care of the problem in a reasonable amount of time.

But it was still an apartment. The good thing about this apartment is that it was right in the bustling part of town and you could walk (at your peril!) to about anywhere you'd like to be. The bad thing was the neighbours I mentioned earlier, and the fact that D never cleaned out the cabinet drawers upon moving into the apartment.

D claimed that the brown pellets in with the SILVERWARE he was eating with was just "old rice," and it didn't really concern him. This "old rice" had mouse hair and a distinctive shape. I about puked. A call to the apartment manager brought a worker within a couple hours. Oh, those are mouse droppings all right, he said. A mouse trap was laid up under the sink, but we didn't see or hear any mice.

I triple-cleaned the silverware and the cabinet drawer, but still ate with my hands whenever possible as long as we were in that apartment. Thankfully D only brought a few forks and etc. and these somehow never got mixed in with our REAL set when we moved.

After a while I kind of forgot about the mouse trap under the sink. It was a pretty crowded kitchen and I had taken to putting the grocery bags there to use for trash. We were cleaning up to move out and I grabbed a BIG bunch of these bags and pulled them out of the cabinet, to find I was holding a dead floppy mouse in a trap.

EEEeek!

20 June 2007

The Roach Motel

The first real job D had was in Florida. At the time, we were 24 and living in Indiana with baby Patrick. We were so excited about this opportunity!! D flew ahead to Florida while I packed up house and made arrangements.

I arrived in Florida to find that D had already picked out an apartment in F--'s Landing. He had signed a LEASE on an apartment he had never seen, after seeing the model. (I know, I know...) It turns out that this apartment had *quite* the roach problem. Thankfully our stuff had not arrived yet on the moving van. It is much more difficult to get rid of roaches, I reasoned, with a place choc-a-bloc full of stuff than it is with just a few blankets on the floor, a couple suitcases and a Pack-n-Play.

We really wanted to give the apartment managers a chance to clear the problem. Donald was taking classes at his new job and if he didn't pass them, he'd have no job and we'd be stranded in this new state with no contacts and no money!! So, we really didn't have time to look around at other places, we reasoned.

But the roaches were really bad. In my subsequent reading, I have identified German roaches and Japanese roaches, as well as seeing small roaches (babies, maybe?), striped roaches, grey roaches... you name it. Oh, and of course the four-inch long Palmetto bug. It's a roach, but it flies and does not eat your food and does not WANT to live in your house if it can help it. Nonetheless a rather large specimen belly-up on our floor.

This is *just* what I want with a tiny baby in the house. I talked with the apartment manager about the severe problem... I should NOT see tens of roaches out at a time in the middle of the floor in the daytime. That means the problem is intense beyond belief. If you know roaches, they like to hide in corners and come out only at night. Even the kitchen drawer runners were clogged with roach legs. Really! It was that bad!

Oh, well, the apartment manager about drove me NUTS with her little Southern Miss Scarlett O'Hara routine. Why, you Yankees just don't know about those lil' ol' Palmetto bugs. We don't have roaches...

Um, I was very insensed and insisted she accompany me so I could show her for myself. I was able to identify only FOUR kinds of roaches, but seven total, on her two-minute visit. Oh, she says, well, maybe they are roaches. We'll bug bomb.

So we have to leave the apartment for several hours. That didn't work. They super-bombed the whole place and let us sleep in an apartment upstairs that was vacant for the day. That ALSO didn't work.

I just can't tell you how disgusting it is, feeling so absolutely hungry and having no choice but to prepare food in an area with ROACHES crawling on your countertops. I kind of got turned off mushroom bagel pizza that way. I was so nervous about roaches I was afraid of eating one thinking it was a roach instead of a mushroom...

We eventually broke the lease and just lost a lot of money because the landlords claimed we left the apartment a mess and caused damages. We had no STUFF to make a mess WITH (and we were only there a couple weeks!) and of course we did not cause the damages. But it was just a learning lesson, I suppose. When we were about to leave we took a bunch of black bags for trash, and ALL our clothes. We washed everything and shook everything else out. We just stayed at the laundromat until the very last thing we had was washed, packed up the car and moved on to the next place.

The next place we stayed at was EXTREMELY expensive and we really couldn't afford it. It was a gated community apartment full of very rich people in the process of building their dream homes nearby. Really. But I saw very few roaches there. Yes, I did see two or three, but bearing in mind Florida climate and the fact that this is an apartment building, it was liveable.

I have read later that there is no shame in HAVING roaches, just in KEEPING them. I think that's an apt saying. Many blessings to you today!

18 June 2007

Our Dining Room Light

It looks a LOT better than the three tiny bulbs sticking STRAIGHT out of the ceiling when we moved in. This is one of those things I wish we had done sooner because it just makes *such* a difference in the room.

Household Happenings

Well, the lovely bathroom pictured a couple posts back is having its ceiling painted by Patrick. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that the very FIRST thing you noticed in my series of pictures about my bathroom was that it really, really needed a coat of paint on the ceiling. The other stuff it took you a while to notice. That's ok though, because the ceiling is officially PAINTED! Whoo-hoo!

Yes, there is white paint all over my shower floor and in my tile grout. I stood under it at one point and got a clump in my hair too. But, since I didn't have to do the painting myself these things don't matter so much. Soon I will have Patrick paint the rest of my bathroom. I think the walls will be considerably harder just because of the layout of the bathroom. You can't beat the price, though.

How much?

Well, Patrick was just kinda hoping that he wouldn't have to do so much homeschooling the next day. HA! I told him I would be paying him but I didn't say how much. See how motivating that is? When he is finished I will give him a quarter.

No, just kidding. The going rate for G to scrub all three toilets weekly is a dollar, and he tithes on that. Patrick also refills soap dispensers, restocks toilet paper and listerine in the small containers, etc. for a dollar a week. So I'll think of something fair but budgetable. I know G is going to get $40 if he has no absences in summer school this month. The school district bribes, I mean, gives incentives, to children to go over the summer. So I know Patrick is going to want some spending money too. But I work way, way harder than the school district. Well, maybe not. Some of Patrick's classes are pretty challenging but that's what he gets for doing his best on exams... they stick him in the harder classes LOL!!!

On the J front, it only took about 20 minutes of panicked crying for him to get to sleep at naptime. Progress, anyway.

Blessings to you guys!

17 June 2007

Mama's Tiny Tyrant!


Baby J is starting to get very demanding. It's so hard to say that and be honest about it, but that's what's going on. He's so cute, and he looks like a little chubby pumpkin, and he smells like baby sour milk and softness all mixed together, but he is becoming a very friendly tyrant.

Somewhere around four months of age, J would just howl at strangers for the most part, *especially* if they tried to pick him up. I know you're thinking that kids don't really do that at four months of age, and that's just the proud mom talking here. You know, the same sort of mom that would say her kid was potty-trained at one, read fluently at age three and is WAY better than YOUR kid. No, that's not really the idea I'm trying to convey here... But for some reason he really IS a bit wary of strangers, even this early. He is also deathly afraid of being left alone. The ear-piercing, gut-wrenching cries carry to anywhere in the house you're trying to hide! You can just forget about putting him in for naps.

To put J in for naps, first you must play with him. Then you must feed him and hold very, very still and quiet for a good half hour. If another child so much as walks past J's field of vision, the entire process must be repeated. Otherwise, he will cry. With four other kids, you can see where little J is taking more than his fair share of the time and attention! And that's just for nap time.

For the last couple days, I had to just plain old get mean with him and lay him down for naps when I knew he was very tired, but refused to go to bed. You could tell as I was setting him down in the playpen that he was feeling BETRAYED. How could his own MOTHER do this to him?? Yes, the wails have been horrendous. This is a very hard process now. But I think J is getting just a little spoiled in this department and he needs to grow up a little. Hopefully the neighbours know that I'm not killing him at regularly scheduled intervals each day...

15 June 2007

My Interesting Bathroom









I love the lot our house is situated on, and the neighbourhood with a few exceptions is nice enough, but I will say that our downstairs bathroom is, um, not the most ideal in terms of space and location. We looked into various options on "what to do" with the space (too much money to change!!) and one remodeler told me this obviously used to be a utility closet converted into a bathroom. It's RIGHT between the stairs, the furnace room, and an outer wall leaving no way to improve on the area without spending major amounts of money. See the only area we can keep towels is on a shelf by the furnace. It's actually about two feet away, but the picture looks like it's touching. The hole has been cut into the wall so our plumber could figure out what was leaking a few weeks back. Looks terrible. D has spackled it over and it needs painting and then a picture hung over it LOL! Now as to the light. There is a fan in there as well, and the cover is literally disintegrated. We can't find a replacement cover, and replacing the whole thing so that it looks *decent* would be $400. Not happening. :[ With the fan in there as well as the light, you can't just go for some other cover and hope it works. Whatever goes up there would have to allow for air circulation and light AND not go down very much because it's a low ceiling. Hm. But I do have new tile in there and I've painted it years ago in a much more decent colour than the fluorescent blue with the eye-popping yellow, pink and orange NEON flower wallpaper. And the mirror shard that came with the house has been replaced with an actual hanging mirror. We also got a sink/cabinet to replace the little sink that was in there (I had rigged a curtain around to put toilet paper in!

13 June 2007

Sizzle!



D made hamburgers a few days ago. Guess what he forgot to do?

My Husband is Not an Idiot

D wanted to make it very clear that it's not his fault that the burner cover is all scorched. Patrick set the pan on top of the cover and so D just flipped the burner on... so D wants you ALL to know that it's his kid's fault.

Actually Patrick does stuff like that pretty frequently. We love him though.

You're Forcing Me to be Rude!

I just feel like everywhere you go, you'll either be taken advantage of or you will be FORCED to be RUDE. Here's what I mean:

The telephone

Ok, we all know it is NOT rude to hang up on a recording. Is it rude to hang up on a wrong number? Is it rude to be snotty to the people who KNOW they have a wrong number but persist in calling anyway?

When we first moved here about ten years ago, we received a new (to us) number from the phone company. I don't think the phone was in service for a full 24 hours before we began receiving collection calls for the STOCKWELLS. Whenever I would receive these calls for the STOCKWELLS, I used to patiently explain that we had moved here from out of state and THIS is the number the phone company gave us. We have no clue even who these STOCKWELLS even are.

Of course, the debt collectors are used to being lied to continually, so they didn't believe me. I would get maybe 10 calls a day or so. And those were only the ones I answered. I began telling these people NOT to call here anymore; this is not the STOCKWELLS' number and if you don't believe me, you can call the phone company and verify it for yourself. Well, one fellow very snidely asked who **I** was and I had just had it. I told him it was none of his flippin' business and hung up on him.

Eventually I got tired of fielding these calls and the phone company was of no help. Oh, they told me I could sign up for a $7 per month service that would ID those calls. Nice of them. They give me a problem number and then they want ME to pay to straighten it out. I think not. We just changed numbers (free!) and I'm sure that some poor soul began receiving calls for the STOCKWELLS not long after.

Telemarketers

Technically, I should file this under "telephone," but these people get a heading all to themselves. I'm on the Missouri Do Not Call List. Do you know what that means? That means I would appreciate not hearing from you if you are a telemarketer. I have my name and number on the list for a reason, and that reason is so that people I don't personally know aren't calling and bugging me all the time.

Yes, I know if you're a charity or vaguely know my second cousin, or whatever, you are legally "safe" under the loopholes of the law. But do you know what? Just because it's LEGAL to pester somebody doesn't make it the right thing to do. If I have my name on the list, do you REALLY think I'm going to welcome the "opportunity" you're presenting today? The free offer? The timeshare in Sunny North Carolina? Do you?

I'm not very brave though. I just tell the person I'm not interested. I'm not brave like one fellow I know who says things like, "WOW! Credit card? I had NO IDEA I could charge stuff so soon after bankruptcy! I'm so excited I'm gonna buy a big screen tv..." I think he enjoys playing with these peoples' minds LOL! And he's a lead pastor too! Surprised? I'm not. These people kinda deserve it.

The Doctor's Office

Ever been to the doctors' office and checked in, right in front of everyone? You have to give them your name. Then they ask in a very loud voice, "And do you still live at 898 Secret Address Street?"

Ugh. I just know someone in that waiting room is a burglar or identity thief on the side, and NOW little Miss here has just basically told them that the house is unguarded for at least an hour and a half. THEN she'll ask, "And is your phone number 867-5309? And do you still have coverage under Insurance Name?"

Thanks! It's even worse when they ask you about your Social Security Number in front of all the illegal immigrants in the Emergency room wait area.

I have taken, in order to protect myself, to interrupting these people whenever possible. Or just telling them *right* when I walk in that I'm Mrs. C, everything you have is current and PLEASE don't announce anything in my records. I will write down anything you need to know.

Of course, the Children's Hospital we sometimes go to to have G a little help with his autism will not take the hint. Even if you write things down they will say, "Is SECRET STREET spelled S-E-C-R-E-T? And that's in YOURTOWN?" Thanks, lady. Now this is a place in the inner city with some bad-looking people. When I go home I want to go to a house that is empty of people and full of stuff and NOT the other way around. So I admit I'm a bit huffy about stuff like that. I know that every physician's office secretary positively hates me, but I take my privacy and personal information seriously. We left a family practice we had used for over seven years because they began printing the SOCIAL SECURITY number in huge numbers at the top of each bill. And there is always a long line to pay bills, after which they leave your sheet face-up on the table. Bye, guys.

Other Places it is Necessary to be Rude

Think of a few and post a comment! Many blessings to you today!

Mrs. C.

12 June 2007

Bargain!


D got this file cabinet from the TRASH near his office! It is brand-new looking with a few small scratches. Smells like pencil shavings (not a trash smell!). Yay for FREE stuff!

11 June 2007

The Adventures of Little Elf

Well, we had quite the adventure at church this week. The church is undergoing construction / renovation until the middle of August and that means that the Elf's classroom is being moved temporarily. Guess what that means to the little Elf with autism? That's right... he ran away screaming because the change is overwhelming. Thankfully Mr. B was able to catch him and bring him to where my class was being held. One of the ladies I go to class with learned what was going on and stepped in. She was able to diffuse the situation and take him to get some toys and go into a classroom alone with him. Wow, was I grateful. He does so much better without lots of people around.

We had talked about good behaviour at church before we went in, and there were rewards promised... but that is never enough when you have autism. Sometimes I don't know what to do with him. The public school district we pulled him from had the answer of changing his teacher every few minutes and locking him in a closet when he tried to bolt. That helped a lot. (I know, you can't HEAR the sarcasm as I type!!)

When we started homeschooling I thought we could do a little social skills training by going to library homeschool hour on Fridays. What really happens is that the Elf comes over and sits right next to me. He is able (finally!) to express that there are "too many children" and that his "heart is going boomboomboom"... his way of saying that he's overwhelmed and is about to BOLT! If he's on my lap or touching me he is fine. That's how we did Disney World last summer. As long as Mom or Dad is right there he can handle about anything.

I just feel a bit discouraged because he's a smart little kid. He knows "better" but that doesn't stop it from happening. I just envision his college years, bringing MOM to class, or his first job interview with MOM holding his hand. Sometimes I wonder if he will be able to work at all. Yes, it really is that bad. Since he is about seven I have tried to let him look in the childrens' section of the library while I am at a table nearby. I can see the top of his head over the little shelf and that works for about five minutes. It doesn't help ME look in the adult sections of the library though LOL!

BUT if he is at home RIGHT NEXT to me, and you came to visit, you would never know he has autism. He flaps his arms about a lot and insists that he is a Keebler Elf, which is a little strange, but he can interact normally one-on-one with adults and is quite personable.

Most of the time I can fool myself that there is NOTHING different about Elf, but then things like this make me come back to reality.

09 June 2007

The Famous Couch


This couch is 24 years old now. It used to be in my parents' living room, a room in which you were NEVER ALLOWED TO ENTER except on Christmas or special family gatherings. It has been used a bit more frequently in our house. I finally had to remove two covers because it was fraying in such a way that people were getting tangled in the frayed edging or tucking things inside the gashes. The meticulously pressed armrest covers are long gone. We're not *trying* to trash the couch, but I think the fabric is more of a showpiece design than a child-friendly one.

Education R Us

I'm looking at the HSLDA website again and see my state is in the blue now. That just means that the proposals to make education mandatory for kids FIVE and up (rather than SEVEN) is dead for another few months. I have a feeling it will come back though. It seems that *all* governments want control over how you raise your child, in more areas, and for longer periods of time. There are just lots of people out there who feel that because there are a few wacky and bad parents, that we need to make a bunch of stringent laws to "protect the children."

Lately I've been wondering what we're protecting the children from. I looked into the state of Massachusetts on the website. Now I've always known things are weird out there, and not just because my friend Erin and my uncle's family live out there. (Hi guys!!) People like Ted Kennedy not only get elected, but they get RE-elected year after year. That would *not* happen here short of a massive population shift or a drug haze cloud over the area on voting day. We love John Ashcroft!

Ok, so anyway... I was looking at the HSLDA website about the state of Massachusetts. Did you know you have to get the school's APPROVAL to educate your own child? So, let's see. School loses money if you don't send the kid. Can I keep my kid? Anybody else see a major conflict of interest here?? I'm glad that the school districts there are always acting in the best interests of the child when I read tales about little kindergarteners being read love stories between two BOYS. It sounds very, very perverted out there. What should a Christian parent do?

I'm also reading where DSS gets these Christian parents for "educational neglect" for teaching their child for even ONE DAY without the approval of the Gestapo... I mean, the local school board. And cases that drag on for years. Maybe Germany isn't the only place that creates a hostile environment for Christians.

Let's keep in mind that, whether you're a Christian or not, these are THEIR kids and short of smacking them on the head with a crowbar, they're THEIRS to educate and train up as they please. Can you imagine the reaction of Massachusetts residents John Adams to this situation, or his son John Quincy Adams? I *know* Abigail would throw a hissy. She had a little something to do with the education of John Quincy, you know! I think despite her not being a college graduate or certified teacher, she was able to homeschool her son well.

It's very difficult to even imagine what those parents in Massachusetts must be going through. But I think the idea that the state knows best is creeping in toward the middle of the country as well. I'm concerned at the idea of having a single national standard for education (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19099906/ for a current news story on the subject) and making all of education "uniform".

Can you imagine the power of the people that would make that test? What if they wanted to quiz the students on the importance of Kwanzaa rather than the battle at Yorktown? We all know that the entire curriculum of the public schools is designed AROUND whatever test they find important. Our local school district makes no secret of this. If fractions are going to be on the MAP test, you'd better believe those kids will be studying fractions all year long! Now, I don't have a *moral* objection to fractions, but let's just pretend here...

A national education standard. More requirements. Teaching to the test. Where is this leading? Some very well-meaning folks are playing right into this... But it will make our children belong to the STATE rather than the parents. The state will determine what their little minds will dwell on. Maybe it's fractions, or maybe it's the "love" between two men. Do you object to your child hearing about that in kindergarten? Your kids are ours. You can't pull them out of school. We can do whatever we like with them. You want your kids to be Christians? Well, you can teach them about your God after 4 p.m. when they arrive home from school. Just make sure they get all that homework done and that you show up for all the conferences we've scheduled in the after-school hours. Otherwise I'm afraid we'll be turning you in for educational neglect...

God save us.

Now, what I find interesting is that the most "liberal" minds in blogland, writing against the conspiracies and evils of the Bush administration and praising the wonders of embryonic stem cells, are not picking up on this. You would think state control of ANYTHING would get them good and mad. Is the apparent lack of concern because education is getting more liberal, or is it because they have fewer children by and large and this is not on the radar? I don't think that the Christian right "owns" this issue. I fully support the most liberal parents being able to teach their children at home as well.

08 June 2007

07 June 2007

Good Morning!



It's time to wake up, grab some coffee and see if you've commented on my blog. I might look at the news or at my Bible before sniffing the baby and waking him up. He is *so* soft and sleepy smellable then. But very hungry and not afraid to tell you so. Then it's time to get breakfast for the other children. Patrick and G pretty much have this under control, but I need to give medicines out and lead the prayer and Bible time for the day. G leaves around 6:45 and homeschool starts at 7.

Homeschool Time!











I am partially homeschooling Patrick (13, going into grade 8) over the summer. Elf (7 next week!) and Emperor (5) are learning at the kitchen table. Baby J plays, demands attention or naps. G is at summer school with the district.



Throughout the Day
















Throughout the day, when I'm not actively homeschooling, I can be found cooking or organizing cabinets at times. You'd be surprised at how often the routine organizing takes place and it still looks a little messy. There is a method though. I know which pile everything is in... I keep my silverware (well, stainless steel) on hand in a basket by the breadbox. Salt and pepper shakers go nearby. I bought this set for about $5 at an old antique store. It was covered in yucky yellow paint, but once that was removed, this is a nice amber glass set. It has even been dropped on the floor and not shattered at ALL. And I like that it is not a tiny set that can get easily lost. My laundry room is in almost constant use, but this summer it has been very easy on me. Since the children are not in public school during the summer (except G is going to summer school for a bit), I save a LOT on laundry. I am trying to convince dh I will save a lot on gas and sanity if we keep at least a couple home next year. Otherwise next year I will have four children at FOUR DIFFERENT SCHOOLS and a crawling baby. Because I count homeschool as a school... it has to have its own starting and end time you know...




Getting Dinner







Getting dinner usually involves asking older children to entertain younger ones, and/ or get stuff from the downstairs for me to fix in the kitchen. Today's special is from Kraft. This is another time of day that is SO SO SO much easier now that the children are home from public school. There will invariably be homework on an inconvenient night, or an activity we *have* to attend or forever be labeled a "bad parent," or a big batch of papers to read (Sign up for Karate! Did you know that next Thursday is Mrs. Higginbottom's birthday? Next week is Silly Sock week! The following Thursday, bring in all your spare change because the classes are competing to see who can raise the most for the United Way!) and you HAVE to read them or you are certain to miss something of deadly importance. I can tell you that for a fact. Then there are the little notes with the smilies from the teacher 'requesting' that you bring in x number of brand Y widgets. If you don't, the recipe the entire class is making won't work. You have two days notice and tons of appointments and/or bad weather on both those days, and the item is not in your house.



Playtime!













Winding Down










The children are tucked/ tuck themselves into their respective beds for the night. Reading goes on for a bit and the older four listen to the radio in their rooms.










After Childrens' Bedtime








I'm cleaning messy countertops, changing over a load of dishes or checking things on my computer. This is the shelf above our computer. Then I will play cards or talk with dh.

Baby J **smooch**


Daisies in My Rock Garden (Back Yard)


Daisies in Front Yard


G with Daisies in Back Yard


I have a lot of daisies...

Star Trek Roller Skating!

Woodjie LOVES the audience.  I made these little outfits for the children and they danced to the Star Trek: Next Generation theme...