31 January 2009

A Peek in My Planner.


I'm getting things ready for recordkeeping next month and allowing YOU to look inside. Aren't you blessed? :p Embiggen for a long description of what's going on in the Happy Elf Homeschool.

30 January 2009

Congrats, Henry the Tuatara!

On becoming the father of 11 new babies at the age of 111. Chris sent us a book with rhymes all about the tuatara from New Zealand, so Elf and Emperor were very excited to see his picture and read his story in the news.

Doing Nothing All Day.

Today is a no-curriculum day at the Mrs. C house. This morning, Elf and Emperor are looking at the US map and I will hand them a blank piece of paper and "test" them in a little while. We'll see how many states they can remember. I know the next unit in our Social Studies curriculum is about the 50 states, but from what it looks like, the children read five pages about the different US regions and then somehow have the states memorized for the test. (Unfortunately, most math curriculum seems to be the same way about addition/subtraction and other facts. Sure, you get a little practice in the workbook, but mostly you need to drill these things until the student knows them.)

Next up, I'm going to dig around and find a small photo album I got free from Wal-mart years ago when I had pictures developed. I'll use this to make a "social story" with Elf about how to behave in church. Do not ask why I am going to do this; just go ahead and applaud me for doing it or knock me in the comment section for not thinking of it before.

We're going to make the story short but cohesive (that's English). With pictures (that's art). We're going to read it several times (that's reading).

For maths? Ok, I guess we're sort of using curriculum on that, if you count "playing" on the computer. Vroot and Vroom are space aliens who need help making cakes. Elf and Emperor get their stuffed animals and make pies for them. One ferocious dragon is apparently quite fond of the lemon kind.

29 January 2009

S at Christmas!


I forgot to upload this picture of Rose at Christmas! It's a little blurry, but do you think she's changed much in looks since last month? Maybe gotten prettier? I can't decide. Please compare pics and tell me what you think.

Cookie Sweetie.


This is her first taste of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I think she likes them. She and Woodjie can say, "Mmmm." Things are generally pretty tasty when you have three cups of sugar and four sticks of butter in the mix. Mmmm. I wonder why Woodjie won't take his nap now?

28 January 2009

Not to Complain...


... but this is what my dish looked like AFTER it had been through the washer. It really wasn't that difficult to clean by hand, or at least it wouldn't have been had I not selected the "sanitize" option. I kinda like that "sanitize" option to look a little more "sanitary" in addition to heat-drying the dishes.

Smarties.

My kids are all smarties, but Patrick has to take the cake in terms of "expression of smartiness." You can't say anything around him that he won't respond to with some quick, sarcastic wit.

Tonight, we got home from church rather late and I told him just to lock his door when I leave (G and Patrick share a basement room with the laundry, storage, and D's leatherworking table. Um, and the litterbox. The door doesn't shut unless it's locked with one of those classy hook-and-eye gadgets. They live a charmed life, ok?) so they can get undressed, wash their hands, and get ready for bed. They can skip the shower just for tonight.

"Do you know how I feel when I get naked?" Patrick asks brightly.

Oh, no. (eek!) Do I want to ask? Is there any way to get out of asking? Doesn't look like it... Sigh... Ok... "No..?"

"Like pillaging local farms." *dance dance*

Dork. :p

Effective Preaching.

"I came forward at church camp in 5th grade and 'invited Jesus into my life as my personal Lord and Savior.' I cried like a baby, too...But then, a few years later, I was a counselor at that camp, and I discovered that the staff set that night up every year. They called it 'Cry Night.' " Link.

So, do you think the young man would have felt just as conned if the preaching were specifically set up so that all the rational, logical arguments for a Saviour were presented instead and it were called "Thought Night?"

Maybe your answer depends on how you think people get "saved" in the first place. Um, or even if you believe in salvation anyway. (Yeah, that would necessitate a way different preaching style for sure.)

Just going back to the Bible, I see all kinds of ways people came to know Christ. There's the Ethopian eunuch, just sitting around reading a scroll when Phillip "happened" by. They discussed some theological questions and ta-da! Instant "I wanna be baptized right NOW" kind of salvation happened. It sure doesn't sound from the account in Acts that Phillip did the old "turn or burn" preaching message on the fellow. He found out about who Christ was, how He fulfilled prophecy and how he could enter in to this promise through belief and baptism. (Acts chapter 8 if you want to read the account.)

Hey, but another way isn't so intellectual. Ananias and Sapphira... could you imagine people dropping dead because the Holy Sprit told your pastor that they didn't give ALL their money to the church? But yet the Bible tells us that "great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." (Acts 5:11) I'm not sure if that means there were more converts as a result, or if it just meant that people didn't specially want to bicker with Peter after the sermon about some minor point for fear they'd drop dead. But even the book of Esther in the Old Testament recounts that there were conversions because of widespread fear in the land. It isn't just a Christian thing to record conversions and rejoice about them.

My opinion (subject to change without notice) is that pastors should know their "audience" and pray. Ta-da! They of course can change their style if they feel their words are not reaching their audience. I'm not sure that my children all appreciate the same style, either, though they are all going to have to attend the same church whether they like it or not. I guess I wonder where the line between "making sure you're reaching people with the message" and "manipulating people to come forward, cry at the altar and make a huge Christ-commitment" would be. Perhaps that line is cultural. Or perhaps it depends upon the preacher and his motivation. Just thinking alound and I'm always glad to read your thoughts. :]

27 January 2009

Tea on Tuesday







For our Tea on Tuesday, we made pumpkin bread and served it with mandarin oranges from a can. We're reading about Winnie the Pooh and his adventures.

26 January 2009

It's the Parent's Fault.

It always is when children die of vaccine "preventable" deaths. Here's a story about how children are getting the Hib cooties not because Hib is "out there and contagious," but because their bad, rotten, negligent parents didn't get the kids their shots. Well, that's the implication I came away with after reading the story.

This is plain old bad reporting.

You know what? Mayyybe Hib vaccines can prevent an immunized child from contracting Hib. Not always. Find me a vaccine that says "perfect protection from disease, zero side effects" and I'll show you a lying manufacturer. Not that I'm a cynic or anything. I myself have contracted a medically documented case of the measles after my parents, bless them, followed the full vaccination schedule.

Anyway. So here's a child who DIED after, the news report claims, the parents' decision not to vaccinate. Hey, maybe. But was anyone asking why a mom or dad wouldn't want a vaccine? Or WHY there was this "shortage" that "might" play into some of these Hib illnesses?

Simple Google search, people.

Merck's Hib vaccines were found after inspection in 2007 to have "45 areas of concern, including contaminated packaging of children’s vaccines, unwanted fibers on vaccine vial stoppers, failure to follow good management practices, and contamination of bulk vaccine lots. The FDA sent the letter after determining that Merck was not acting quickly enough to fix problems at the plant." Link.

Vaccine shortage caused by bad vaccine. Bad vaccine that some kids no doubt RECEIVED before the recall. Would you like "unwanted fibers" injected into your kid? Let alone whatever it is that happens to vaccine after the company's "failure to follow good management practices" or the more vague "contamination" has occurred?

Did I mention that you're a bad parent if you refuse to get your kid vaccinated? Doesn't matter that there was some bad vaccine out there and you're concerned. Get with the program.

You know, I'm not anti-vax either. I just don't like alarmism on either side of the debate.

HELLO, let me tell you that when a child dies you have NO idea if that kid would have gotten whatever disease if he or she were vaccinated. You could say, if you are a statistics believer, it would be far less likely. You could even say that overall, vaccines are relatively safe, effective and have rid things like polio and mumps from being common childhood experiences.

But we don't know everything. I'm not going to flip and say my childrens' autism was caused by vaccines because there's so much out there that could have been a contributing factor. But neither will I back up vaccine companies and say these vaccines could never EVER have anything to do with it, or that thimerosol is a really kewl thing to inject into your veins.

I'd like to see some balanced reporting. It seems that either you're eating from the manufacturer's hand or you're some crazy nutball who thinks the government is genetically modifying mice to spy on Republicans in Montana. It would be nice to see some sort of in-between moderate thing going on IMO.

Birthday Cake.


Girls are always sweet and demure. They eat their food neatly and pleasantly without mwwam *snort* mmm sounds or food-throwing. Elf and Emperor were given a box of cake mix, a dozen eggs, vegetable oil and a measuring cup and told to make the cake themselves. All I did was put it in the oven. D gave them a grade of only a B plus because the cake did not have an interesting shape. Rectangles, apparently, are not interesting enough. I think to get an A, the cake had to be multi-tiered and decorated in italic frosting script. We'll just take the B. :]

25 January 2009

Happy Australia Day!

... to all my Aussie readers, hope you're enjoying the long weekend. :]

Assorted Thoughts.

I feel like I must be more specific in all my dealings with children. Every utterance must have several subparagraphs covering each eventuality and what to do in every case. When I speak, no matter how urgent the request, I must keep my tone even and THEN I must be understanding when someone "didn't hear" me speak. (several times) Any misunderstandings are always, always MY fault.

Oh! And I am not allowed to make up new rules. That wouldn't be "fair."

This entire week, I've had Patrick and G stumble out of bed at 6:30, pack a ziplock of breakfast cereal and their lunch, brush their teeth and run out the door. Prayers are unsaid. I get zero help with dishes and getting the other children ready for their day. In short, I feel treated unfairly. Bet God does, too. But, I know my limits and unless GOD comes down and changes things 'round, in our family unless we sit down and pray in the morning, it just plain old isn't happening. Sorry, God.

The "rule" is that you must be up, dressed, lunch packed and breakfast made by 6:10 or bedtime's at 8 p.m. Now, *just* because I haven't enforced this rule, doesn't mean I can't clamp down and put it back into effect any ol' time. Just because you get away with something for a while because Mom doesn't want to be a mean nag and she gives grace sometimes, doesn't mean that the sixth time you pull it that there aren't consequences. And I can't clean the kitchen, wash and change children, straighten the homeschool stuff and settle everyone down for the day within ten minutes so that we begin homeschool on time and be ready for therapy at the SAME TIME that I'm watching everybody.

Just so you know. We're getting to the point where Mom is going to charge you $2 for school lunches because the kitchen MUST close at 6:40 if I'm to get my work done on time. That's all I'd need when the therapist arrives, bunches of peanut butter and sandwich bread all over my kitchen, the children unchanged and smelling of last night's potty diapers... my Elf's hair uncombed and everywhere, cereal on the table and assorted dirty dishes. Laundry not started. Beds unmade. Hey, some days "cleaning the bathroom" means flushing the toilet and making sure there's a clean towel, ok? So Mom's going to start clamping down soon because you guys don't seem to get this "grace" thing. You're given "grace" because I know you're not perfect (not being perfect myself) and it's not meant to be license for you to do whatever you want and leave me in the lurch for everything. I want YOUR stuff done by 6:30, you can watch the children for ten minutes while I clean the kitchen and make the beds, we pray for five minutes and then out the door you go. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK???!! WAAAH!

I hate being like that, though. Everyone can have a bad day and I let things slide sometimes. But it's getting ridiculous and I'm almost always the person who picks up the slack. I say "almost always" and not "always" because out of perhaps a billion toilet paper roll changes or after-breakfast kitchen cleanups or whatever, someone might do this job once or twice. This loses me the "always" claim. Sigh. I hate grammar at times like this.

Suppose you really have to go to the bathroom for 20 minutes right after dinner and can't help Mom with a toddler downstairs so she can watch the baby, who's still eating. Stuff like that happens, but it isn't very safe for me to leave the baby, run and peek at the toddler, and run back to the baby etc. all the time. Soon Mom becomes the meanie and says QUIT going to the bathroom right after dinner. But from their side, what kind of nasty person doesn't let you go potty fer crying out loud? (Um, the mom who sees her toddler can rock the booster seat and is dangerous there after eating, but doesn't want the baby to starve when she sends the toddler downstairs. That's who.)

Well, I'm just blowing off steam here. What will probably happen is that I'll make up some new rule that no one will follow, and I'll be disrespected when I try to enforce it. Yes, these are my children. Yes, I suppose I totally am a bad parent that my children don't fall into line right away with instant, *cheerful* obedience. Sorry to disappoint you. Frankly, I have disappointed myself. However, that being said, I can't force obedience from children who are still taller than me when they are slouching.

I can sure make their lives miserable, though. That alone gives me hope. :] OK, thanks for listening to that part of the post. I try to console myself that at least my kids aren't driving and doing drugs, but Patrick is a smartie and says, "How do you know any of that? You don't KNOW." Ok, I'm guessing based on available evidence. The children get $2 per week allowance, which I don't suppose buys much cocaine in today's market, let alone lots of gas money and a car I don't know about. Plus they come home from school every day. So, unless the school lets the kids out for drugs and cruisin' time, I'm pretty assured not much of that is going on. Hey, public schools are NOT that bad in this area. Things could be a lot worse. Maybe they are some places.

In other news, Elf has been "resistant" to getting his hair combed. This has been quite the battle and results in extreme difficulty when we finally have to go somewhere. I've gotten to the point where I've told the child that you WILL get your hair combed every morning after breakfast. He hates it. But without that habit there, things get difficult and Elf doesn't do the combing well himself. I would like to hand these chores over to the younger children and they can be responsible for combing their own hair, clipping their own nails, and etc. I think the older children took these tasks upon themselves at an earlier age, but I'm not sure how I made them do this. Elf is very upset even at the idea of going into the shower. Screaming and fighting and literally freaking out. I can't force a naked child into a wet box like that or he might break a leg. He is afraid of the enclosed space and I don't want to traumatize him. So he must have a bath. He's allergic to many soaps. So it's baby shampoo. Just tell me what that looks like to an "outsider," that I have a child who is almost nine who insists he is an Elf and must be bathed in the tub with his ducky and baby shampoo. Go ahead and say it. :]

I have posted a post-it note with all the steps to taking a bath in the tub for Elf and Emperor and things worked well for a while before the note lost its sticky. I need to make another one of these so the children don't need MOM constantly. But on the sticky note, you can't just write "take a bath" or "wash your hair." Here's what I wrote:

Look for a towel. (That's a big step, ok?!)
Pull plug shut
Turn on water
Wet hair
Shampoo on hair
Rinse hair
knees, feet, butt (that means take a washcloth and some soap and wash these areas, please!!!)
Rinse
drain
Out

Then the children can get their own clothes on, but I have to pick them out first and lay them on the bed. I'm looking forward to more progress in this area. But honestly I am having a VERY DIFFICULT time teaching Elf and Emperor to be independent. We have shoe lace puzzles, but they can't lace them. Elf is nearly nine! How am I going to do this??

Little steps.

Wish me the best as we go to church this morning and Elf is going to say "hello" to everyone. He is going to try to make eye contact with everyone who says "hi" to him today. He is going to sit nicely. Ok. I'm off to take a shower and then head out. :]

24 January 2009

Happy Birthday, Rose!


She is the sweetest little girlie, EVER! She's a snazzy dresser, has an interesting hairdo and do you know what else? She can walk three steps. Yes, she can. :] Her actual birthday is tomorrow, but I'm posting tonight anyway.

The Audacity of Dope?

Presently I can't see the happy rainbows and unicorns with the inauguration of Barack Obama. But if I were to use this product, maybe I could! Holy Coast blog says this stuff sells because "it's all in the marketing." Other GREAT FLAVOURS include Teletubbies Cocaine and green crack for St. Paddy's Day celebrations. I think it's unfair that no one marketed this stuff for the McCain campaign and the "McCain girls" were nowhere near as pretty as the "Obama girl." I think it's a media conspiracy. :p Ok, who really thinks up this stuff?

23 January 2009

I WIN!!!


Yup, I walloped a small Elf at Battleship. But look at how *very close* I came to losing. Yes, one of the boats is missing, so we just each play without it. I was trying to show this to D and he was busy and told me just to blog about it so he can look at it later. Sigh...

22 January 2009

School Uniforms!!!


Ok, not really. But I ordered these from Printfection, where you can download about any picture you could ever imagine and custom-order T-shirts, sweatshirts, mousepads and all kinds of stuff. Nope, not a sponsored post. We're just happy with the product. Guess what we call our homeschool?

Obama = Bush?

Well, I thought it was funny. Hat tip: Holy Coast blog.

Teaching About Jesus. All day.

"Rebecca" left a comment on Dana's blog to the effect that additional homeschool regulations would be appropriate to hold parents accountable because "lots of home-schooled kids are just being taught about Jesus all day."

Wow.

Well, first off, I'm sure a good number of secular, Muslim, Objectivist, gay and other homeschooling parents are flattered to know they've done such a good job of teaching their children conservative Christian theology. Kudos to them!! Hey, guys... we'll have to throw a party later and your kids can show me all the Bible verses they know, ok? I'll bring the cake. :]

I guess "lots of home-schooled kids are just" are a lot of things. Throw a stereotype out there, why don't you? They're:

unsocialised
behind public school peers
indoctrinated
not allowed to grow up normally
raised by parents who are overly controlling
abused
you-name-it.

I'm sure the sorts of people who perpetuate these myths would never throw out the "lots of children of gays are sexually abused" myth, let alone the "lots of black children are good dancers" myth and the "Chinese children do so well at math because they're naturally smarter" myth. Shall I go on, or do you get the picture already?

Maybe I missed it. Maybe children of ethnically Chinese people really ARE naturally smarter, and I just missed GOD coming down in the form of a statistic to tell me that information. My bad. Here all this time I thought He took the form of a man instead. At least that's what I've been teaching my children about Jesus.

All day.

You know, I think this is an excellent idea. Tomorrow, I'm going to do nothing but teach about Jesus. When we have a set of fractions to subtract, I shall declare that GOD HIMSELF hath ordained that nine-tenths minus one-tenth equals one tenth, world without end. Amen.

Ok, enough silliness. We really do teach about Jesus all day long, I suppose, in our homeschool. When we're learning science, we come at it from a young-earth Christian perspective. Don't like it? Too stinkin' bad. You're not buying my curriculum, so what's it to you? When we learn history, we study missionaries as well as politicians. Don't like it? Too stinkin' bad. When we read, we read the Bible as well as carefully selected texts that contain nothing contrary to my understanding of theology. Don't like it? Too stinkin' bad. Go teach your own kid.

Hey. That stereotype about Christians being meek and mild is just that. Don't like it? Too stinkin' bad.

I'm guessing Pagan moms and Buddhist moms teach their children religious precepts as well. It's none of my business to interfere in such matters! I couldn't imagine myself voting against their rights to do so, either. What is it about some people that the feel the need to manipulate and control others? It isn't just secular people. I was very sorry to learn that Sonlight wouldn't be featured at a Christian curriculum fair because the hosts felt it wasn't conservative enough. (Hat tip: Luke)

Unfortunately, I fear that's the sort of thing that happens when fighting is so intense between secular forces and those who want to teach about Jesus all day. Sometimes we accidentally make enemies of those who don't (in our view) teach the correct doctrine or teach our understanding of theology perfectly. That's a shame. I've ordered the Singapore math stuff from them and while I don't see "GOD SAID..." on every page, I do see that God has made the whole world and He really did ordain the order and scientific principles we see before us each day.

Just my opinion. You're welcome to teach your kids whatever you feel is right. I think. Well, in most states. :]

21 January 2009

Everyone Loves Woodjie!

Woodjie loves kisses, too. Even from himself.

Good Morning, Elf.


Elf models the "natural Mohawk" look straight from Bed-land. He would strongly prefer you not touch his hair in any way. "Strongly prefer" is rather a generous description on my part. I have been very insistant upon his getting his hair done with water and a comb every morning if for no other reason than that he has been, shall we say, "quite resistant to conventional grooming methods." YES, those are his favourite pants in the picture, too. I have only two pairs that he will wear without complaing. This is one of them. Sigh. Ok, I love the guy.

Tea on Tuesday






Yesterday, we had some dried apple slices we strung up with some noodles in the kitchen. The noodles held the apples apart so that they wouldn't touch each other while drying. We also made lemon poppy-seed bread and lemon-flavoured butter! The children put some of the Lemonheads they had been saving since Christmas on this as well.

In Praise of Uncle Tom.

I like him. I really, really do. Have you ever read the book?

Uncle Tom, knowing he's to be sold to pay his master's debts, goes along with the plan willingly. He does this because he knows that otherwise, OTHERS will go in his stead. So he takes the burdens of all upon himself. He helps others to gain their freedom while losing his own. Just imagine Jesus without a temper, always sweet and gentle in his words and wearing a bright halo, and you've got Uncle Tom.

Jesus woulda whooped their stupid butts IRL, I'm thinking.

You have to appreciate that the book is really sap. The whole literary genre is really sap. So Uncle Tom is MEANT to be sappy, corny, always loveable... just as the other characters are always drunk, always angelic, always angry... well, you get the idea. No lasting literary value at all here, which explains why most schools don't assign this work to their students.

Sure, it has HISTORICAL value. It inspired people to take a look at the humanity and Christlikeness of this FICTIONAL character, but that's about where it ends. I'd have to say that if I were to meet Uncle Tom in person and be able somehow to have a genuine conversation with him, I'd tell him he's being foolish by clinging to his principles so tightly that he deprives his children of their father. I think really, the aspect of Tom sacrificing not only himself but his whole family for the sake of others must have been lost on the reader of the times. Today, I have to read it and go, well, your morals are great, but couldn't you bend a little and help your family to EAT? To stay TOGETHER? And you're giving up all this to help massa pay his debts??

But you have to appreciate a man who sticks with his integrity even at great loss. That's what I like about Uncle Tom. But the whole concept of the noble savage is just a mite racist, ya think? I guess I can say at least they didn't make Uncle Tom a gangsta and say "they're" all like *that.* Maybe I have a preference for the type of stereotype I read about. :]

I've noticed this trend on children's television programming and it reeeeeeallllly bothers me. So, say that Jorge is a great guitarist and it makes Jeff really sad. Then later in the show, we find out that Jeff writes awesome music and everyone is happy because Jorge couldn't have won the talent show without Jeff's new musical riff, and etc.

Barf.

Shows like this make the real-life Jeffs wonder what their true talent would be, and sets them up for discouragement when it isn't found. Lemme add right here that autistic children aren't magic ponies and don't all have some sort of hidden MENSA talent like counting toothpicks or anything like on Rainman. Thought I'd mention that, because let's just say that some kids on the spectrum seem to think they should be able to call forth these magical powers and God forgot the fairy dust, ok? Some of us plod along and don't know what our talents are or even if they exist in comparison with others. Some of us need to know that we're good enough, we're smart enough... because doggone it, God loves us. Really.

So anyway, usually people are just a little more nuanced than you read about in Uncle Tom's Cabin or see on TV. Or read about in the newspaper. If Stella killed 20 people tomorrow in a Toronto shoe store, people would remember her ONLY for that and they wouldn't go, what a great reader she was! And she posted such great photos on her blog! Look at this great arrest photo on the sidebar! :]

They'd wonder what she was doing in Toronto. Let's face it. Then they'd wonder what kind of great sale the shoe store was having that 20 people would be in there at once. I think we all know that the thing she did would far outweigh the other things she was. When the made-for-tv movie comes out, there would HAVE to be some sort of foreshadowing. The actress would have to give some sidelong glance at the camera, some look of hate when platform shoes are mentioned, some sort of love interest with a shoe salesman... something that gives the viewer a clue about what's going to happen.

But I think we know real life isn't like that.

20 January 2009

Give Kiss?




Woodjie is happy to give you one if you ask. He can say "mmmm" when you hug him and pat you back. We took him out to a faraway place where there are "escalators," and he thought that was the best thing ever! Escalators are the most awesome, amazing and fantastic things ever invented. According to Woodjie. He fell asleep on the way home.

The Emperor.

We talked a little bit ago about the little kid by the name of Adolf Hitler. Did you know Emperor has a funny name, too? It really is an emperor's name, and probably not one most Christians would name their son, but I do stuff like that just to irk other people and make spelling difficult for the kid. Once, a lady accosted me RIGHT IN FRONT of Emperor for "saddling him with such an awful name." Yep, this happened at church, too. The Spirit of Christ was just movin' big-time in my response, too. Because I'm a hypocrite and am only Jesus-like when it's convenient and I'm unoffended. :]

19 January 2009

Product Reviews You Wish Were Printed on the Box.

"Thank you Playmobil for allowing me to teach my 5-year old the importance of recognizing what a failing bureaucracy in a ever growing fascist state looks like. Sometimes it's a hard lesson for kids to learn because not all pigs carry billy clubs and wear body armor. I applaud the people who created this toy for finally being hip to our changing times. Little children need to be aware that not all smiling faces and uniforms are friendly."

-Excerpt of product review posted at Rational Jenn. She has some... rather interesting comments to add herself that I dare not excerpt myself. Go click and see what I'm talking about. Dare ya.

18 January 2009

Happy Housekeeping Tip.


Pancakes are very yummy with chocolate syrup swirls. However, the chocolate DOES stick to the pan and it's difficult to clean up. This is why I made chocolate pancakes when Patrick and G were slated for kitchen cleanup duty. Go me!

Unfit Parents.

We all heard about how little Adolf Hitler and his two sisters were removed from their parents' home shortly after ShopRite refused to put his name on a birthday cake. The state says oh, they'd not remove a child just because of his name. There would have to be other factors involved, like, the name is really bad and would place a "stigma" on the kid.

HELLO???? Is it not obvious that a name like "Adolf Hitler" might just... you know, sorta be kinda bad and maybe place a "stigma" there? A little??

A kid in Emperor's preschool class was named "Jihad." The kid would have had to have been born right around September 11, 2001. Just seeing that kid's name on the smiley laminated desk tag got me mad. "Jihad." I still think "Crusader" would be a way better name, and he could kick "Jihad's" butt on the playground. Twice. Tolerance, my butt when I see names like that. That kid is not invited over to play. But you don't see me stomping around and proposing we take the child away from his parents. I mean, who gets to decide when a name crosses the line into offensiveness? You can just go thank Allah it isn't up to me. :]

I think parents are pretty crazy people naming kids stuff like this. But it also creeps me out to see news story commenters say it means you should have your children taken away. I get a little nervous about that, not necessarily because little Adolf won't have a good life in a foster home (hey, he probably will, and his name is probably Andrew or Aiden now, thanks), but because I'd be concerned about the slippery slope in this and other areas...

Susan R. recently posted on the state going a little too nuts over accusations that aren't worth investigating anyway. When is it even worth the social worker's time to come by for a visit? Apparently homeschooling and owning weapons gets you under suspicion.

Are you "isolating" your child from the "real world?" I see some claim that you shouldn't be allowed to do that. The government should make you send your child to public school to make sure he gets a "chance" at a "normal life." On some blogs, I even hear talk about how this or that kid should be taken away and/or those religious fundies shouldn't be teaching their kid about religion. Unless they're Buddhist. Or Pagan. Oh! Or even Muslim. That's ok because that's "diversity."

Remember Texas? Where were the self-described liberal bloggers defending the FLDS people's right to marriage the way they define it? Nope. I saw a lot of giggling about the silly dresses and how wack homeschooling those kids was. Sheltering them from the real world. A whole media series on the "lost boys" in this Mormonish sect who had to move out. How hard life was for them.

Aargh.

16 January 2009

Restraint and Seclusion Should Be Banned in Public Schools.

Except in very rare, isolated and EXTREME instances, this practice needs to end in all public schools. There needs to be accountability and parents should always be informed. Thank you, Senator Dodd, for your speech on this issue. Hat tip: Missouri Families Against Seclusion and Restraint blog. Ordinarily, I'd say the federal government needs to stay OUT of public education, but this is a civil rights issue. How many people are griping today that the government got involved to break up state-run segregation in public schools 50 years ago? Someday, I think we will look back on these times as the "bad old days" when so little was known or understood about how to truly help those with developmental disorders and/or autism. Hey, if you want to run your own school with your own money, go ahead and keep black people, Christians, autistic people or whoever you want out. (Not that I'd want to go to your stinky school anyway...) But my tax money shouldn't be used to lock my children up AND defend the abusers who practice this in court. I'm going to voice a disagreement with one idea in this speech: most people who pull this crap are NOT GOOD PEOPLE who just don't know what to do. They are abusers. They should not keep their jobs, let alone receive "training" on the public's dime.

15 January 2009

Fluency as an Educational Benchmark?

"How can you tell whether someone has truly mastered a skill? What is the measurable indicator
that a person really knows how to do something? These questions should be at the heart of every teaching decision, every observation of a child’s performance, and every evaluation we make about the success of an educational program. Yet for many educators, and certainly for most parents, answers to these questions are anything but clear. Most of us have grown up in a 'percentage correct world' where 100% correct is the best anyone can do. But is perfect accuracy the definition of mastery? Or is there another dimension that makes the difference? In fact, we see many children and adults who can perform skills and demonstrate knowledge accurately enough – given unlimited time to do so. But the real difference that we see in expert performers is that they behave fluently – both accurately and quickly, without hesitation."

The above quote was copied from this link that jh gave me on Lefty's blog in the comments section. I'd link to jh, but s/he hasn't enabled profile access. We were discussing the difference between Singapore and Everyday Mathematics. It so happens that I use both in our homeschool. I find EM much easier to teach, but not as rigorous. EM is more geared toward a large classroom and "group" work, which I usually skip.

I'm not above being cynical of the link, as I noticed some of the products listed at the bottom of the report juuuust so happen to seem to financially benefit at least one of the writers in some way. Then again, how often does someone truly BELIEVE in something, and then go develop the product they want to fit that perceived need? So, that fact alone wouldn't make me totally discount the idea that fluency, not accuracy, is a more reliable indicator of academic achievement.

If that's so, I'll have quite the difficulty teaching Emperor math in a few years alongside his brother. He is already two and a half grade levels ahead at the age of seven. I can't imagine that it would be right to let him go on just because he has demonstrated "fluency" in his subject matter. (No college would accept Mr. Jumpy at age 14, I'm thinking...) He keeps writing down answers - correct ones! - with no work shown. Meanwhile, the same work will take Elf two hours and I'll catch him counting on his fingers and asking questions of the "peanut gallery" nearby. I've recently noticed that Emperor can "scratch" with two fingers right at the moment I ask Elf a question with an answer of two. Or Emperor has neatly tucked his thumb under his chin when the answer is "four" and Elf looks over. Or, more commonly he "just can't help" yelling out the answer. It's just too tempting.

I'm solving this by sending Emperor upstairs with his GameBoy when I need Elfie math time. Poor Elf. Right now, he's finally finished with his math and he gets to colour and use his GameBoy as well. All is right with the world.

Let's Check the Schedule!

Woodjie has a schedule on the pole in our family room. It's attached with sticky velcro. Usually I will put only one or two things on the schedule and tell Woodjie "ball time" and stick the icon back on the pole before beginning. His speech therapist also has little schedule icons for things like playing bubbles and reading books. I use sticky velcro on the sides of the pole to hold all the icons we're not using.

The Rights of the Child.

You know how much I hate alarmism. I'm not freaking out about who's eating which soup or why everyone isn't required to be telling me to have a Merry Christmas. And, well, *most* of the time I try to be objective and not say things that imply that every public school teacher is out to teach your kid to sin in three easy lessons. (It takes only one for homeschoolers because they're smarter than YOUR kids. :])

But here's something.

Every now and then, I've come across this "Rights of a Child" idea and every time I do, I have to just shudder. I'm hoping that the American freedom-loving people of all political stripes would somehow, sometime be made aware of the UN and the fact that it isn't, to use a euphemism from Monty Python, just a cute little bunny. It has these teeth...

I honestly don't understand why people who don't value the UN tend to be the more conservative types, because I've noticed that liberal people like to have this thing called personal freedom. Hey, they even take it to extremes I don't agree with (gay marriage and abortion). They generally look upon Christian conservatives as being a bit intolerant in those departments, and they'd be right. But it ain't nothin' like living under Sharia, bayyybee.

Which, so far as I understand, is where the UN is eventually headed. Already forms of Sharia have been proposed in Europe. Already there are places the Holocaust can't be taught for fear of riots, and places where parents cannot educate their own children according to their cultural standards. And when those countries get to tell us what to do after the Rights of a Child gets adopted in our country, everybody's gonna be really sorry.

I'm thinking liberals and conservatives, black, white, American Indian and Asian people are all living together mostly pretty peaceably in this country. Sure, we have our moments where things don't go so great and some idiot has to stomp a white kid because he saw a noose some other time somewhere else and, well, he's a good kid anyway... Or some gang of thugs decide they're going to rape a lesbian because she's sporting the wrong bumper sticker that day and, well, she needed a little help going hetero... But, you know, at the end of the day, I really do think MOST people aren't out to ask God to "damn America" or anything like that. I think every religion has a few wackos like that. Every ethnic group has a few wackos like that.

MOST of us do pretty well with one another and have the same concerns as a society. We might want to solve things like health care problems different ways. We might want less money for the army and more for roads or vice-versa. I think, though, as a broad whole Americans get along and widespread riots and that sort of thing doesn't happen over which party gets elected president or which teacher allowed a teddy bear to be named Muhammad. (Do you remember that? Crazy.)

I wonder, though, where the outcry on the UN Rights of the Child is from liberal quarters. (I also wonder where the Christian outcry is on a few other issues, but another post.)

Heartfelt Homeschool blog has been exploring this issue off and on for a while. Usually I just pop on to see how Sarah is learning to tell time, or look at the new kitchen paint... stuff like that. But Lisa hits the nail right on the head when she talks about the Rights of the Child. I mean, "Rights of the Child" is more like a UN version of the "Patriot Act." Everybody wants to be patriotic, right? Everybody wants to give "rights" to children, right?

Sigh.

I wish I could just ask for the "Happiness and Prosperity" act to be passed. In the fine print, I'd get about a billion dollars. You want happiness and prosperity, right?? Ok, hand over some prosperity and make me happy. :]

If you'd like to learn more about the "UN Rights of the Child" and how it would impact American parenting, please go to this link.

I think we have enough homegrown silliness on the issue of parental rights without adding some international stupidity to the mix.

But you know what? At the end of the day, if this treaty gets ratified, it's our own fault for electing these people. It's our own fault if we've chosen people to represent us who want to trade our freedoms in so that they can get a little international street cred. I hope we haven't.

14 January 2009

FREE Theatre.

Presented by Emperor and Elf, this dramatic presentation will delight viewers young and old. Please leave a comment. They are very excited about sharing this with you.

13 January 2009

Today's Schedule.

Later, I'll have to post Woodjie's picture schedule. This is the one we use for homeschooling. I am trying to teach the boys to read my handwriting so I will have a translator if necessary. Can you tell we've already done the "cooking" item on the list? I have drawn Elf and Baby Giant (Emperor) at the bottom of the board.

12 January 2009

Sugar.

In keeping with my housekeeping theme today, I'm going to share a bit about our cereal. We buy Tootie Froooties (or something like that) at Wal-Mart. It's a good enough bargain, but maybe a little too sugary at the bottom. I sift it out. I mean, I like sugar. But not quite that much all at once.

11 January 2009

Elf Goes To Church

He picked out the outfit and the pleasant attitude all by himself.

"Specially Delivered Naked"

The subject line of an email. Sent by MY ACCOUNT. Should I delete it? Hit the "report spam" button on "myself?" Has anyone gotten a "Specially Delivered Naked" email from "me?" And did it contain pictures? Looks like mine has an attachment.

10 January 2009

Children Lived Here.




I hope you don't think I'm reposting these pics to be critical, but do you see the little handprints there on the stairwell? Little toys in other areas of the house. The SPACE HEATER next to the toilet, tub and sink?? Well, this is one gorgeous house, or at least it used to be. I hope my husband or kids convince me to move if I can't take care of mine any better than this. Maybe I might be persuaded that the parents in this instance should be offered some parenting classes? Or a mentor friend? Some help? Maybe the job just got so big that you just don't know where to start. OK, I feel like that sometimes, too. In theory, I think the state should stinkin' well butt out all the time no matter what, but then the little handprints testify to the fact that a small child was crawling, toddling and playing about here just weeks before the photos were taken. Your opinion?

09 January 2009

Your Child Can Thrive in Public School.

It's a NEWS story on OneNewsNow. Conservative folks must be looking preeeetty askance at public education if it makes news when someone from their camp says it's ok to send your kid to school. It sounds like something out of the Onion or something... an Evangelical pastor who ACTUALLY uses the public ed system! *gasp*

You know, when I took journalism classes we were explicitly taught that the news was to involve the unusual. "Dog Bites Man" is not news, but "Man Bites Dog" would be. Here we have a NEWS story that says "Your Child Can Thrive in Public School." Well, it's possible, anyway, the reporter implies. Maybe. If you do your devotions in the morning. Go read the article for yourself and see if you don't come away with that idea.

The entire story is really just a plug for a book written by parents of eight children who have been through/ are going through public schools.

I've said this a billion times, but it bears repeating. Patrick and G are in public school. The staff I've seen at this particular building have been helpful for the most part and considerate. I even had one email me a couple days back and ask how she could help G do well in drama class, and related that she had already contacted his case manager to find out more about him. Isn't that great? Doesn't that scream, "I want to include this child and be aware of how his autism is going to need to be accomodated in my class?" Well, it did to me. It was a very sweet and concerned letter.

Oh, drifting off course... correcting...

So the older boys are in public school. I'm not going to disagree with the idea that your child "can thrive" in public school. Whatever.

But...

Maybe it's just me thinking this...

The tone of the news stories on OneNewsNow seems to be a "take back the schools" rallying cry. Some of these schools aren't worth taking back. Some of these places, I can't imagine sending a child I love into those buildings. Not that your child isn't worth saving. Not that your child isn't worth "taking back" the schools. I'm just parenting MY kid, though, and imperfectly at that. It isn't that I don't care. It's just that I'm too overwhelmed with my own problems to take on yours, too.

But books like this just kill me. I clicked the "about" the authors on their website. It appears (unless district lines are drawn funny) they live in this district with only about 2500 kids, located in "rural/suburban countryside nestled between the Cascade Mountains and Puget Sound, and is surrounded by farmland and seven lakes."

Um, are you feeling that you're going to get really rough and tumble advice from this book about how to deal with problems in YOUR school district? Gimme a break.

I have to call it as I see it.

Ancient Egypt.

Elf was very nervous about EVERYONE seeing him talk. I told him he did a great job.

Assorted Thoughts.

I have all kinds of assorted thoughts, but of course not enough coherent thoughts on the same topic to string together in a nice little post.

Theology

Been learning about the twelve disciples in our homeschool Bible studies. The children are learning about the disciples getting to know Jesus personally. We can know Jesus through the scriptures, but not personally in the same way these men did. What was Jesus's favourite colour? They want to know. I think, though, if Jesus were on earth, he might not have different favourites at different times as I do.

There are just some mysteries of the world we're never going to know. Emperor says that yes, you can find out everything. All you have to do is sneak into heaven and steal God's brain and put it in your brain. Sigh. It would be so cute if he weren't so serious, thinking that this was a viable plot. I would have asked the logistics of this, but Elf beat me to it by reminding Emperor that stealing is wrong, so the plot's off.

Yes.

G

G is an area of concern lately. Would you join me in praying for his heart and mind? He feels that he is "retarded." First off, that language isn't used in our house and second, disability does not equal personhood. BUT that being said, why does he feel he is the "stupidest" and therefore God does not love him?

This all started during his three-year testing results being discussed. He needs some help calming down and staying on task at school. There were many great things said about his character and the improvements he's been able to make. But of course, the meeting isn't about his improvements. It's about areas of concern and discussion of test results. SO he walked away with a skewed version of reality. And yet, I want him to participate as fully as possible as it is his education and his future.

Patrick

Patrick is more the absent-minded professor type. He wanted to get together with a friend, but forgot his phone number. This resulted in his calling every residence within 20 miles that had the same last name listed in the phone book. One family answered and they had a nice little chat about "Z." Patrick is his good friend and knows him pretty well, he told them and he wants to invite him over for video games.

Well, I'm not sure, the parent said on the other end. What with Z being only three, and we don't really know you...

LOL

Well there's more than one "Z" Lastname in our town then. How funny. Well, turns out Z has his own cell phone and wasn't in the book anyway.

Another time, Patrick had been trying to arrange a Nintendo Wii "Brawl" fight online with a friend I'll call Scott. Patrick... being Patrick... kept calling the number listed in the school phone book for Scott F. He kept talking to the mom about well, what's Scott doing now? Oh, walking the dog. He's not free now? Ok, and what's he doing tomorrow?

All kinds of personal information about Scott F. was revealed by his mother to Patrick. He finally calls to find out that Scott is free to chat on the phone!!

So, are we going to fight today? he asks.

What?

We're fighting, right? When are we going to Brawl?

Who arranged this fight? Who is this, anyway?

LOL ... wrong Scott. Sigh.

08 January 2009

BO Duke.


OK, so his bangs are crooked. I'm counting the haircut as successful because he has both ears and eyes still. He's running to the camera to get his photo taken. Cameras are a source of joy and excitement. Unlike baths. BO to baths, Woodjie says. And BO to nigh-nigh time. And BO to being told "all done Bob Tomato." BO. I guess he'll learn to say "Luke" and "Uncle Jesse" later.

??

This is the kind of thing I see all the time. Emperor is the only person who can jump and do math at the same time. WHILE he is doing a running commentary and giving away all the answers to Elf. He really doesn't realize he's doing it. The humming. The flipping of his legs in the air during English. (Why do you keep doing that?? I don't know. Well, wouldya QUIIIT? I'm trying!) Unfortunately, the boundless energy doesn't always translate into a clean room or a great job on repetitive tasks like stirring cake batter. But he is awfully cute. I think we'll keep him.

07 January 2009

Our Homeschool Day

This post's random belly button pictures were brought to you by Emperor and Elf. I do wish Emperor would remember to zip his fly and pull up his pants. Usually that sweater hides these bad habits.

We began our day with cooking and listening to Jonathan Park on CD. I think I'll count this toward science, as it discussed how the Tower of Babel story in the Bible accounts for differences in people. Today's culinary delight was cranberry-orange bread. I haven't told the children this, but it was horrible. All the younger children, including S, ate this stuff up as though it were actually tasty.

Woodjie made some Play-doh creations while we mixed and cooked. He became quite upset that HE didn't get pans while we were cooking. I will have to save some old pans or something for him to keep with his Play-doh, since it is so important to him. Today he made a butterfly with Mom.

I did "math review" with the children, which only took the children about 20 minutes to complete. Usually I am mean and give a good hour and a half of math time every day. We learned about how to use an index in English class. We said "goodbye" to our second-grade journals. The boys are still in the process of writing their last thoughts before we begin third-grade level spelling.

We learned a bit of Spanish. It's been a while since I taught any of this. I'm afraid of sounding like Peggy Hill when teaching this stuff, so to be honest I have been avoiding it. Well, the boys have even forgotten how to count to TEN. Bad mom. Must at least do this once a week. Maybe twice. I think it's been almost a month and a half since I last opened a Spanish book with them.

Some cursive handwriting. The letter D. I did some workboxes with Woodjie while this was going on. Then the boys each read their memory verses a few times.

Maybe we'll do a little reading later. Woodjie just got up from a little nap. Can you tell he is a bit grumpy when he wakes up? S will get up in about ten minutes if she doesn't wake up on her own. In other news, the boys just got some Jonathan Park caps in the mail. Elf says that now it looks like he's ready for adventure! BUT... I have to save those photos for their blogs. They seem to have gotten the comment bug and want to know people are looking at their pics.

Some Thoughts on Culture.

Daja has awarded me the Premio Dardos award, which "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day." Yep, I have a lot of cultural values being transmitted here.

Ah, well, I do try. I've been trying to instill a love of beauty in my children and I've tried to raise them to be godly, thoughtful people. Hopefully when I blog, I'm giving good thoughts to others as well. OK, when I'm not being silly and posting elevator videos.

Giving this away to other bloggers? That's hard to do because I know there are some folks out there who don't mess with bloggy bling and tagging and stuff like that. SO, if I tag you, and you don't want the award, you're not obligated ok?

1. For Chris at Diet Coke Rocks. She's one of my best bloggy buds and has hosted the Stanleys in New Zealand last year.

2. For Elf at Elf and Etc. He's just so cute!

3. For Emperor at Emperor and Etc. This kid needs to go post something on his blog because we've missed hearing from him. That goes for G over at G and Etc. as well. He keeps meaning to post, but he's gotten a new DS thingy and ... well, that takes up a lot of time, I guess.

4. For Dianne at Forks Off The Moment. Her recent post about an elephant and dog friendship was really cute.

05 January 2009

Conform or... Look Silly in an Elevator.

The older children and I tried this on D when he came home and he kept going, "WHAT? Do you need something or is something going on?" Oh, noo... we're just standing here... "Well, I don't have time for that." And he walked away. BLEH! If you're going to try this experiment, Patrick says it would probably work better in an elevator. It would probably also work on people other than D. Stubborn man. Got this little video from the Why Homeschool blog. They'll be hosting the Homeschool Carnival blog posts pretty soon. You should go check them out. I'm hoping to have my post on workboxes included among the offerings. :]

So, What's a Bargain?

Don't you just love talking about whether something is "cost-effective" and/or a good bargain? It feels good to pick something out and know that you and the seller are both making a fair deal. I've seen a good plenty of blogs where the writer (hey, sometimes it's me!) will gloat over a particularly shrewd purchase. But how many times does someone write, well, I spend $70 each week on my beauty routine and I still look like crap? Or, I paid x amount for car insurance, but then when I got into a wreck, the bums raised my rates and didn't pay half of what I really should have gotten? Well, no one likes to look like a fool shelling out bunches of money for nothing.

And now, to discuss something unrelated...

The very moment voters passed a bond issue, the school district AMAZINGLY discovered millions o' bucks missing! Who would have ever thought such a thing could happen? And no, of course these "discoveries" aren't timed so that the voters have zero chance to say no at the polling place to more money being extorted from the taxpayer "for the kids." That would be wrong of you to say. Almost like you're paranoid or something.

Now shut up. Times are hard.

They're so hard, that... um... well, now that we've discovered all this money is missing, we're going to have to tighten our belts blah blah economic crisis blah blah. And you over at the Local Tribune just quit reporting on our ex-superintendent living it up on the taxpayer dime, wouldya? Just so happens it is total coincidence that he took a job in another district. In a state far away where they've never heard of "embezzlement" and other two-dollar words. (Well, it's a two MILLION dollar word hereabouts, but all them-thar numbers ain't in yet on what "errors in judgment" this guy and others mighta cost us. Maybe it's a four MILLION dollar word and we just don't know it yet.)

It's also, you nosy reporter, total coincidence that the school board rejected the idea of a state audit of its records. Still more coincidental that the e-mail system the school uses to keep parents informed came out with a vicious attack against a Republican candidate for state senate who ohhh... just *happened* to say that it would be really nice if the school would submit to an audit conducted by the state so that taxpayer confidence would be bolstered because things looked a bit fishy before the election.

So just shut up. Times are hard for everyone. Here's what's going to happen. Remember that money you dopes -- I mean, hard-working and informed, compassionate voters -- remember that money we're raising on this bond? Well, that's going to be a drop in the ol' bucket. Now schools need more money. OH, and did I mention that schools are cutting the music and arts program? Now, instead of playing cello at school, I think it's going to be shoebox and rubberband time. Just think about how creative one can be with those items! It's kind of like art AND music in the same class period! Yay.

So parents get a note telling them times are tough and arts are outta here. Or like, really curtailed. Kids and moms all upset. We need to send the school more money! For the kids! Somebody think of the kids!!

I'm not going to say that this is a liberal or conservative issue or rail about the evils of public ed in this post, because people make mistakes and/or commit crimes regardless of their political persuasion. But back to the question of getting a bargain.

I'm not going to say I've always gotten a bargain on my homeschool purchases. Luke posted recently about the cost-effectiveness of Sonlight curriculum as compared with public school. One thing I like about Sonlight stuff is the "curriculum advisor" thingy they have. I can't tell you how many times I've bought stuff and figured out later I need books and expensive timelines, special "listening" CDs and et cetera. If I don't buy it, I know my children will be forever marred because they'll have to hear *me* sing "Yankee Doodle" instead of the cutesy childrens' choir and they'll learn the song all wrong and be scarred for life.

Do NOT ask me what my curriculum purchases run each year. That's a secret. But it doesn't stop me from thinking I want just one more thing. Kind of like David was with all his wives and concubines and stuff. You know, he had more stuff than he could really use (if ya know what I mean) but Bathsheba still happened.

Anyway.

This comparing homeschool costs isn't really fair to the public school, because I know homeschool moms who threaten their children with the "yellow bus" if they don't obey. Teachers at school can't threaten that they'll call parents and make them come get their kids... well, ok, they can. But then they get stuck with the same kid the next day, usually with an unreformed attitude.

Aside from that little sticking point, though. I've ordered from Sonlight and found their customer service to be *amazing.* Maybe a strange aside... I use Bob Jones stuff and find feedback forms on EVERYTHING. Then when I send these in, I get personally typed out letters back addressing my specific feedback points. I've even gotten phone calls about this or that. I think they must know that I buy everything down to the recommended optional plastic apple or specific size paper clip, etc. for every lesson, and they want to keep me very happy.

That, or they're just very nice to everyone.

Sonlight, if you order stuff from them, wants to make sure that you're GOING to be happy with your stuff before you get it. There are little advisors, programs to help you choose stuff you want, forums so you can get everyone's opinion on stuff that they say you don't want but you know you really do, and etc.

But I think the most cost-effective thing is the thing you're going to use and enjoy the most. What's cost-effective for you might not be for me. I think so much depends on the individual family and what it's looking for. What are some of the things that make you happy in an educational program or curriculum? Hey, I include public school in on that. Comment section's open. :]

04 January 2009

Girlie.


Rose likes to take whatever you're using. Then she will give it back. You're supposed to then hand it back to her. Such a strange kid! WHO taught her to share? I don't think it was her brothers.

02 January 2009

Sewing WIth Elf.



Please visit Elf and check out his creative endeavours. Tell him what a great job he did, too! He'd love to hear from you.

01 January 2009

How to Do Workboxes.

******************************* ****
Woodjie's play therapist helped us get started with workboxes. You might enjoy doing them as well with your autistic child or preschooler.
*
First, get a couple of old ice cream containers with lids. You'll also get some sticky-back velcro and cut little signs for "work," break time, and "finished." You can make your own sign or download one from the internet. Mine are laminated, but yours don't have to be as fancy. Oak tag and velcro will do.
*
I've loaded each of my boxes with an activity. Puzzles or potato-heads are good examples of what to put inside. You want to find an activity that has a definite beginning and ending. A toy Noah's ark or baby and bottle set, for example, wouldn't quite fit the bill. You want something that the child will understand that he has completed. Sometimes I'll even get the large puzzles with knobs and pictures underneath, and just put the pieces in the bucket.
*
We started slowly with making these activities part of Woodjie's routine. The idea is to acclimate Woodjie to a schedule of some kind, and give him a sense of order and "what comes next." We started with one bucket once a day. We're now up to two buckets twice a day. Some day, we are hoping that he will understand a picture schedule and understand things like, TV time comes after lunch. Then we will play and read a book. Next comes dinner. Etc.
*
I come into his play area with my strip and the buckets and sing a song to the tune of the "Muffin Man:"
*
Ohhhhhh
Do you know what time it is?
What time it is?
What time it is?
Do you know what time it is?
It's time to
WORK.
*
He's very excited about this and usually does a little dance and a good hand flap before pulling the "work" icon off and handing it to me. What's next on the schedule? He knows he's to pull the blue dot and "match" it with the blue bucket. We help him affix the velcro ends together and walk him to a plastic picnic table to do his activity.
*
One of his activities is to read a book. He used to be very resistant to reading books and would bang his head and throw fits whenever they were presented. Now we can get through several pages, although he will try to squirm and get away after that. What we're trying to do is get him to the very limit without quite going over... and then hope that that limit gets longer and longer as time goes on. So far, with a few regressions here and there, it has really been helpful. Now occasionally he will point to a picture. (This is rare, however.)
*
Between boxes is "break time." He's guided to "check the schedule" after completing his first box. He hands me the "break time" icon and I set the timer for three minutes. When the timer goes off, he excitedly turns it off when it's presented to him.
*
THIS SOUNDS LIKE HARD WORK, and it is to get started and make a part of your schedule. Then again, here's a child who has never said Mama or Dada, and he is able to do these things with some assistance. It would be wonderful if he were to speak more, but if that isn't possible, I'd at least like a child who understands there is some order in the world and is able to use picture icons. So, we're working on this diligently.
*
Usually the second bucket is harder for him to do than the first. I put the easier of the two activities (his puzzle) second on the list because I anticipate this. Just as it's harder for the average worker to continue to put in his best on the job right before quitting time, Woodie has a bit of a hard time toward the end there. Sometimes I'll get a picture of Bob and Larry as a reward and he can trade this for Cheerios. The main thing is to get him to understand that the schedule is his friend, that it makes some sense, and that he can accomplish tasks and receive praise.
*
Feel free to ask questions in the comments! I'm excited to share this system with you.

Teaching Science.

"Is there a lack of scientists due to a lack of wonder?" asks a middle school science teacher at A Voice From the Middle blog. Not enough Americans are pursuing math and science career options because, he opines, the science curriculum as currently presented in most American schools doesn't fuel a child's natural inquisitiveness.

"We are so caught up in teaching content through having students memorize facts," he writes, "that most students do not get to capture the sense of wonder of simply discovering things. I do not believe the way to deal with this problem is to radically change the curriculum we are teaching but instead change how we are teaching it. If we can produce more inquisitive students, they will naturally flock to these fields.A college professor of mine once told me that the purpose of school was not to memorize information but rather learn how to ask the right questions. In this digital age there is no lack of information but there is a reluctance to question things and to seek out that information. Teachers need to spend more time in inquiry-style teaching where students are not simply spoon-fed answers but rather are responsible for even figuring out what the problem is and then come up with possible solutions."

Oh, boy. I wish I had a friend like this to help me teach science every now and then. I can't quite do it from the book as well as I'd like.

Today, we were learning about gravity and mass. We learned the fact that the earth pulls on every object, and that this pull is called gravity. Of course Elf told me this was only PARTIALLY true because birds don't have gravity. People have magnets in their feet to make them stick that way to the ground (?!), but leaves do not. This is why leaves are blown about in the breeze and people are not.

Speaking of which, why isn't the wind stuck by gravity? Emperor wants to know. And if you're teaching me that gasses become liquids when they're cold, howcome there's air at the South Pole?

Well...

I don't know. I'm sure there are really good answers to all your questions, but for now we will just accept that winds blowing and birds flying are special miracles from God, ok? I see by the looks on their faces that this is NOT OK with them. But the answer is not in the book. Crap. I'm mentally putting those things on a "look up later" list. These are things that have been around me all my life, but I'm stumped by a little kid's simple and genuine question.

Diversion tiiiime! HEY. Remember I told you we'd blow up a balloon and you could see that a balloon's air has mass? Hm? Let's do that. Now, we put the deflated balloon on one side of the hangar, and we blow up a balloon and tie it to the other side. According to the book, the side with the air in it will hang lower than...

The children are yelling with joy because the balloon is coming after me!

Well, it wasn't supposed to do that. It's static electricity, you see. Oh... um, where does that come from? Um... well... where does it come from. Um. Well, you can *see* where it comes from, right? Weren't you watching? Okaaaaaay, I really don't know where that comes from, either. (BOY do I feel stupid!)

Well, let's hang the balloons on the wall here after we rub them on our heads.

And so ends our science lesson. I think next time we buy science curriculum, we'll have to buy the kind with all the experiments on video.

Seclusion Rooms



From Ange's blog. Yes, I'm going to say it again. This practice needs to stop. We need to be advocating for children who can't speak for themselves. YES, this is legal. And yes, it is traumatizing to those children who undergo this treatment. Please don't wonder what the kids did to get themselves sent there and restrained. SO OFTEN these are disabled children who are forced into environments in which it's well-known they CANNOT cope... and then they are punished for their behaviour when they act out. Watch the whole video. Just turn down the music and really listen to what they're trying to tell you. These are the kinds of practices we should not allow to be commonplace.

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...