28 February 2009

The Job D Didn't Get

D was speaking with the human resources department at Playboy magazine the other day.

I can't say that he'd make an ideal employee there, because the reason for his call was that he was hopping mad. SOMEBODY must have sold his name to the Playboy people, and big bunches'a boobies on a postcard in the mail were delivered to our home.

"LOOK WHAT I GOT!" an angry D exclaimed upon entering the house. Boing! My eyes were assaulted, my word.

Um, I'm usually not one to point at and discuss other people's body parts, but breasts that big just don't happen naturally. And even if they did (which I doubt), no one could possibly walk down the street with these huge bulbous-y things hanging out. I mean, the postcard was pretty much plain old porn.

Now, I know times are hard (shut up LOL) for the poor pornography sellers, but mailing this stuff ought to be illegal. We have teenage boys in our home that I don't especially want looking at this stuff.

D was more upset that they have his proper NAME and ADDRESS. He wants to know where they got it from. The only thing he did differently lately was to subscribe to Popular Mechanics. He is suspicious that they have sold his name, but they wouldn't admit it during his angry phone call.

I left the house to do some errands with Patrick, but came home two hours later to find a fuming D still on the phone, looking for answers as to who gave them his name and what he can do to have people nevernevernever send that crap to his house. At one point, he was "helpfully" transferred to the Playboy HR department. He's called about every business he could remotely think of connected to this fiasco, including the United States Postal Service. They told him to write, "REFUSED, Return to Sender" on it so that the company would have to pay return postage. Hopefully if enough people do that, they wouldn't mass-market like that. Or maybe they just wanted this angry guy off the phone.

Poor D. He's not alone, though. Do you want to see the offer he received? My blog friend Luke got the same thing. I wonder where they got his name from. Do the honchos at Playboy go, yeah... homeschooling dads... hot new market...

EEEEwww. Ok, I'm ending this post now. Yuck.

Effective Prayer

You kind of wonder what the point is sometimes. You pray, and you know all your friends are praying, for elections to turn out a certain way. And then they don't.

You pray, and your friends pray, for your family situation to get better. And you try and try and try in addition to praying... and it just doesn't. In fact sometimes, just sometimes, you start to wonder if there isn't a scientific correlation between "your prayers" and "everything getting ruined." So maybe we Christians look a little silly to people who believe.

Maybe we believe BECAUSE we are silly.

I do know that there are many areas of the world that missionaries and believers are in great danger. I cannot imagine that somehow they are different than me, that they have some sort of super-believer faith in other areas of the world. One thing that I've heard of is that there are miraculous healings in third world countries, and also great persecution. SURE, Grandma is up off the floor mat and walking (wheelchair? don't have those), but cousin Nyguen just got himself into prison again for preaching the Word. And you are not sure if they are torturing him or even if he is alive.

Maybe third world living, spiritually, is just like our Christian life here, only AMPLIFIED in some ways. Or maybe we are so used to eating three meals a day and being able to travel without highway bandits that we aren't attuned to the spiritual. Or maybe people in the third world countries are attuned to the spiritual BECAUSE of these problems and prayer is a survival issue. Sort of a Christian Darwin thing LOL.

What do you think? I am thinking on this because we are having missionaries by our church tomorrow. The children and I pray for missionaries but never quite know what exactly to pray for them so that they will be effective.

As an aside, I know of NO missionaries who have autistic or disabled children, which makes me wonder if that's because they are more spiritual than I am (therefore my childrens' autism is my fault b/c I didn't pray right? Would God do that? Not going to think about that today.) or because people whose children have problems are unable to minister (um, which given my life, I can sure understand...) or if all the disabled kids on the missionary field just die (ok, maybe I won't think about that). Ok, forget that whole aside.

So, how do you pray for your missionaries? I pray stupid stuff like, help them find the food they need this week at the market at a good price. As if that's gonna save any souls, but I guess I want God to encourage these people somehow and I don't know what to say. :]

27 February 2009

Speaking of Taxes...

"Democrats have long been of the belief that you can raise taxes on business and they'll just pay it out of their profits. They don't seem to understand the connection between higher costs to the companies and higher prices to the consumers. They just assume that higher taxes and fees will be absorbed by the evil corporations. Consequently, any taxes on business are in reality a tax on you the consumer. You will pay the bill."

"They also seem to be strangely dim about the concept that whatever you tax you get less of. For instance, raise the capital gains tax and you will get reductions in capital investment. It works every time it's tried. Investors don't enjoy seeing the value of their investments destroyed and they will look for other avenues to keep their money."

Quote above from the Holy Coast blog. I'd agree with much of this quote but add the stipulation that this isn't just a Democrat sort of a problem. It's a voter sort of problem, as we are only getting the representation we as a nation have elected ourselves. That's why I think the idea that the economy and this and that that Obama "inherited" from Bush is all the Republicans' fault is just pure silliness as well.

25 February 2009

Support SB 445

Missourians, please contact your state senator and let him or her know that you support SB 445.

"This act prohibits school district employees, volunteers, and independent contractors from placing a student receiving special education services into seclusion, which is defined as confinement in a locked box, locked closet, or locked room as a behavior management technique or discipline management practice. Exceptions to the prohibition on seclusion include a court-ordered placement, situations that fall under the federal Children's Health Act of 2000, and when a student has a weapon and confinement is necessary to prevent bodily harm.Follow this bill here."

Many thanks to Ange and her advocacy at the state level for every family whose special-needs children attend or receive services from public schools.

24 February 2009

Did You Know This About Autism?

"An autistic child cannot lie if they are verbal. They do not understand why anyone should care to follow rules. They have no idea about any kind of rules unless specifically taught and they do not care if they break them. This is not out of any need to break rules, rather it is a pervasive lack of understanding. They just don't get it."

That was a quote from some "Educator" on a message board who no doubt knows through extensive personal experience that autistic people are perfect angels who only break rules because they don't understand. And they never lie. I think they also get super flying abilities if you get the autism mega-pack with the pixie dust. Doggone but I shoulda spent extra on that.

In any event, I looked online for others who are homeschooling autistic children via Google search and um, wasn't very happy with the results.

Dill Potato Skin Fries




G and D worked on this together with a fry cooker. They took potato skins (we used the potatoes for something else) and put them into the frier with dill weed spices. It turned out very well, but I don't have a final picture because these were eaten too quickly.

23 February 2009

Homeschooling with LIFEPACs.

In our science LIFEPAC, we're going to learn about time zones and why seasons change. As an introduction, Tom relates to his class that he has spoken with his grandmother in France yesterday, where time is somehow different than it is "here." How could that be? Well, his teacher, Miss Forest, asks the class to open THEIR LIFEPACs to find out. This has captured the imagination of Elf and Emperor. Elf has drawn Tom, looking amazedly in his LIFEPAC at himself as he was yesterday... who is looking at himself in a LIFEPAC... who is looking at himself in a LIFEPAC... The children don't seem to see simple advertising, but some sort of space-time continuum problem here.

Monday.


What Do YOU Say?

"I would rather have her marry a black than a Catholic."

Ok, what would you say to that comment? Would you say anything if this were said to you? Would you address the wrong-ness of hating blacks or Catholics first? Or would you just not talk to the person who said this to you ever again?

I have a friend who heard this as a little girl. It still hurts her to this day, although she is elderly. Do you think that if someone said something right then that the speaker would have learned anything? How can you say something so that the speaker learns something?

When someone says things like this to me, I really don't know what to say except that I really like "Joe" or whoever we're talking about, and I think he'd make a fine husband. But then that leaves the other half of the statement hanging, or I get bewildered when statements like this really come up (because I'm unprepared!) and say something stupid like, "Well, I don't see too much of a problem here..."

And when I find myself in a group of people talking like this, I try to leave. Maybe I do that more for my own comfort than teaching anyone anything. Maybe I don't want to be seen as agreeing with them by even hanging out. Maybe people like this wouldn't listen to me anyway.

But I leave. Maybe I am a coward. What do YOU say?

20 February 2009

Movie Time!

Please visit Elf's blog for a short and entertaining movie. Don't forget to comment!

Homeschool Update.

Well, Emperor's knee has been bugging him for a while now. He can't remember injuring it, and it doesn't look red or swollen, but he's limping everywhere. I finally took him to the doctor. The doctor wants to know how it happened (no idea) and how long it's been going on.

Emperor wanted to be very specific about answering this question. "It was one full day, and perhaps a little less than three-fourths of the next day, so maybe five-eighths? I'm not sure. I would prolly just say one and three-quarters if I were rounding in fourths but it doesn't hurt when I'm sleeping so maybe I should just say ONE day. Or would you like to know how many days, like whole days, altogether? Or should I just say one day and part of the next day?"

I told the bewildered doctor just to write down two days. He has told us to give the kid some asprin and come back if it isn't better in "awhile." Emperor wants to know exactly how long do you mean by "awhile?" Can you give an answer in hours?

Do you wonder why I often tell my kids they can say "hi" and nothing else to strangers? And can you tell we're studying fractions? Emperor's concern with taking medicine wasn't the ingredients (who cares about drug ingredients, eh?) but WHERE the medicine was made. He's not sure if he wants something from China. It's from Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, kid.

Oh, Washington. I guess it's ok, then.

(aaargh)

I'm really *trying* to work on our behaviour and how to be polite in public. It seems the more impolite my children are, the less we get out. The less we all get out, the harder it is to be polite. Not to mention Woodjie. We love Woodjie. He's sort of a wild card.

So. We're working on "how to make an introduction." Our Bob Jones curriculum has beautiful pictures of little boys in ties introducing one another at church. We're instructed to think of one interesting thing about a person (not embarrassing stuff, please!) when making an introduction. For example, the curriculum gave us "Mark," who is in third grade and enjoys riding bicycles after school. Now, it instructs us, YOU think of two friends that you would like to introduce to each other and name an interesting fact about each of them.

We don't get out much. One of the answers was "GOD," who made the world. Um, the problem with that, you guys, is that no one could see GOD and live. It would make a crummy sort of an introduction if your friends dropped dead in the church foyer. Visitors don't like seeing that sort of thing.

"OH, but that's cool! Ok, so here's how we'll do it," Elf plans. "I'll tie a blindfold on and bring GOD into church and introduce Him to everybody. Everybody will go to heaven!"

Emperor is not so sure. "But how are we going to tell GOD something interesting about our friends if He already knows everything? It wouldn't be polite for us not to say something...?"

That's a real problem. Apparently finding GOD, blindfolding yourself before seeing Him, and leading him all around town are NOT logistical problems. Just so you know.

19 February 2009

Super Duper IEP Meeting.

Goals on G's upcoming IEP include less arguing with the teacher and more help with completing assignments. He still gets speech therapy, but he has (finally!) gotten to the point where he no longer searches for words and has to tell you that he put the milk in "that thing that has a door on it and makes things cold." His speech therapy will be in "social skills" groups and he gets no more one-on-one therapy because he doesn't need it. Great! Wouldn't it be nice if we could just schedule *no* extra help because G functions so well? Ah, but the school isn't able to quite do that just yet. :p


I can't imagine the school doing any MORE for G than it is already doing. He has the ability in many of his classes to take a two-minute break in the halls at any time and has a special pass. He gets squishy balls. He gets a "scribe" during tests (yep, kind of like his own personal secretary). They're going to make it as easy as possible for G to succeed in school with other kids. Even then, it isn't too easy. Even then, G is going to struggle. I know when it's time to talk about "transition" and moving out into the real world that his employer is not going to be ok with G taking two-minute breaks any time he feels like it, being argumentative and not finding any of his assignments or working well in groups.


But cross that bridge when we come to it. It looks like the teachers are really wanting to work with him, and considering his sassy behaviour sometimes, that's really forgiving on their part. We have asked one of his teachers and the beloved gym coach to show, and they did come to show support for G. I was very honoured that there was such a genuine atmosphere of caring for G.


G's case manager even asked if there were anything I wanted. I felt like Solomon, getting that "Ok, ask me anything and I'll grant it," message from God.


What did I ask for?


I asked that the school please help G realize that he is autistic. That it is not going away. That he isn't like the other children. Better to ask for help right off the bat and explain the situation than to let it become obvious that something is "wrong" with him later on. G has said in the past that he doesn't like that idea because he just wants to be like everybody else.

Sorry. He isn't like everybody else. I've had to squash a few of his dreams here and there in that regard because he *won't* be able to handle some of the things he'd like. Questionable cases? We've let him try all kinds of things when we weren't sure how it would work out. When we're sure it would be disaster, we step in. Again, I'm sorry. I didn't cause his autism (um, that I know of), and all I can do is make this the best situation possible. And unless God makes him able to handle certain things (like unexpected difficult demands or "unfairness") very soon, he's going to spend the rest of his educational career in special ed. He's going to have a job in which he does NOT interact with the customer. Ever. He may even need some special assistance to keep a job or need some sort of help forever. That's just the way it is.

Sorry again. But it isn't changing.

So, one of his goals is to learn to advocate for himself using some of these disability words. I'd like to see him use statements like, "I need to take a break right now because I am starting to feel overwhelmed."

There was a lot of brainstorming at this meeting. I was truly impressed to see the team pull together and come up with some really great ideas. They even figured out that G needs to alternate classes with "movement" (like drama) with classes like mathematics, and that there needs to be some sort of movement class after lunch.

G was running about during the meeting and just being himself, which I just kind of chalk up to him being a bit obnoxious sometimes. "Tactile seeking," the consultant they had come in to help out noticed. See how he's touching everything and bouncing off the walls?

Ok, and here I thought it was my lack of discipline. I keep wondering why my best efforts never work. DUH, I need to accept G's autism as well. This is a lifelong process, should God not wish to expand his abilities. Maybe I need some help advocating as well. :]


These last few years, G has had wonderful instructors and extremely talented staff. How could this be the same district that allowed Elf to be locked in a closet?? Do they just send all their crummy staff to X school, or is the training and environment just really bad there? Not that there is any excuse for that. But so much depends on the teacher.

So what makes this group of people so different? So accepting of G's diagnosis and difficulties? Because I want more of that in my life, and I want more of that for the other children at the elementary school Elf no longer attends. :]

Hey, I'm not very generous with the compliments, so take this as a very big one to the staff at Cityname Junior High. I'm astoundingly happily impressed. The cynic in me says I'd better start knocking some entire trees, but I've been very happy with these folks.

18 February 2009

Language Misunderstandings in Neurotypical 13 Month Old Female.

Sounds like a case study, doesn't it? Poor me, I read too many of these about my own children.

Woodjie McOnion McGillicuddy Muffin McMuffin McMuffin with Cheese is raised in a language-rich environment. Worrying mother-hen old Mom is doing workboxes, reading, signing, doing the picture schedule and just about anything else but stand on her head to get the two-year-old guy to talk. I'd learn to stand on my head if I really thought it would help. And yes, that really is his nickname. Can't wait to put that on a form sometime when that's requested.

Rose, though. I'm sure we talk to her sometimes, when we get around to it. It just isn't programmed into her schedule. No flashcards. No picture books on daily activities done in precise order, no picture schedules. No PECS. She just somehow LEARNS WORDS without formal instruction.

It's very eerie. I don't think ANY kid in our family ever did that.

It's almost as though this child is learning to speak from, you know, hanging out with other people and hearing them talk. Weird.

It's interesting to see her reasoning process. She knows when she climbs to the tippy-top of the couch and stands on the edge on her tippy-tip-tip-tiptoes, about to fall and give herself a concussion, that that is called "DOOOOWNNN!" She loves to climb all the way up, balance herself precariously and look at me with a big smile and say, "DOOOOWNNN!"

Yep, that's cute. Dangerous and heart-stopping, but very cute. She gets one minute of playpen time for that infraction every time. Little toes kicking madly at this injustice before I can even get her settled in the pen. OH, but she turns red. Mom is *so stinkin' mean,* you guys. Here she did all that work and used the PROPER word for her activity. She even wrinkles her eyebrows and does the pouty thing, because she can't believe your cruelty. As if that's going to work.

17 February 2009

How to Prevent Abuse.

How can we prevent abuse of children in private homes?

You can't always, but you can help a parent to *be* a better parent with a bit of loving support. You can help a struggling parent with ideas and/or a listening ear.


I think no matter what system of accountability you choose to deal with abuse or potential abuse, there are going to be problems. Children are small and can't speak for themselves... well, at least in any sort of meaningful advocating kind of way when someone at home is hurting them.

But make government tightly wound up with the home environment in an attempt to catch abuse, and it still won't catch every case. THEN abuse that happens at the public school is not so easily escaped. I think what Elf experienced is actually pretty typical. I think a LOT of students are bullied by their teachers and peers, sometimes mercilessly, and nothing is done. Easy to say that with public "accountability" that schools will do the right thing. They DON'T. Sometimes children who suffer abuse at school don't tell, and so of course Mom's not going to put that call in to the school. Sometimes the school plain old drags its feet.

Sometimes stuff happens. But I think EVERY time it happens, it's tragic no matter *where* it happens.

In fact, I fear with more tax dollars and everyone under a certain income bracket having to use the public schools for special services, there is a "what's good enough for me is good enough for you" mentality in too many fellow parents. (Crab in a bucket kinda thing. Your autistic kid is eating up too much of my kid's money etc.)

At least, God forbid, if I were to drop off my son at my imaginary friend Joan's house for a few hours and later discovered she'd abused him, I wouldn't HAVE to send him back to her house the next day. I wouldn't need to prove to the state that I have his best interests at heart by keeping him at home away from his "peers" and her helpful oversight. I wouldn't HAVE to fight tons of district (taxpayer-financed) lawyers working against the interests of my family like parents do in some states.

Of course the other end of the spectrum, letting parents do whatever they jolly well want, has its flaws as well. There will *always* be some sadistic parents out there, and some that even in a watchful society, will find ways to get away with stuff. There just will.

I've heard of people losing kids for no more than spanking, but I've also heard stories... oh, goodness, I've heard awful, awful stories that make you just want to check up on every little kid out there just to see if he or she is ok today. :[ Just to give each of them a hug and hope things are well for them.


So sometimes, I *do* understand, emotionally, why people err on the side of Nosy Nellie, even if I think Nosy Nellie is acting all unconstitutional and should mind her own stinkin' business.

I don't think there really is an answer, but I hope people don't try to make the "state" in charge or every family.

So how would we make sure that every child is cared for? How would we be sure that kids aren't being burnt with cigarettes and/or starved at home?


I'm not sure that there is any foolproof way. Honest answer. And someone else being a nutbrain shouldn't mean I have to be "accountable" to doctors and other assorted personalities of the Godhead.


(That was sarcasm, not bad theology. Just FYI.)

Not to mention, I personally am beginning to get VERY DISTRUSTFUL of doctors. The questions they ask when you go to the ER, like, are you up to date on shots? Is there abuse in your home? Are none of their @#*$ business if I'm there for a busted finger and I TOLD you how it happened for crying out loud. Then they seem to think I'm belligerent that I won't answer their question "so they can help me."

Holy crap. Just mark me down as a mental case and move on, all right?

OK, and we also got kicked out of a medical practice for refusing certain shots. New doctor does NO shots. So... in the interest of public health and safety, you've just alienated a family with six children from getting ANY vaccinations instead of just about 3/4 of them and made them less likely to see physicians for problems. That's great!

Instead of meeting people where they are and dealing with the fact that we religious people are sometimes a little quirky, they have to be all authoritarian, give it the all or nothing approach and wonder why we're choosing, more and more frequently, to say, "NOTHING! Stay away from my kid!"

This sort of attitude then gets misinterpreted as "they have something to hide." You can't win.

But I don't think this side of heaven that there is an "answer" as to how to prevent abuse completely. Having strong families, people who are connected to others in their community, would be a great start. Wow, I'd really like that. Nevermind the abuse prevention situation for a sec, it would be nice to have *somebody* around. Here we are with no family nearby. Last time I went out with my husband alone? Years. No. Take that back. I had about two hours when I was delivering S in the hospital last January... but other than that... years. Maybe I should say that that would just be a plain old nice thing to have. But having a little help here and there, I'd guess, would be a nice way of having people in the community involved with a family.

But wait! Maybe we need to define "abuse" before we go on. Reading the Bible to your kids is not abuse, nor yet is enrolling him in a Madrassa. You can teach the child that Santa is REAL and that he's descended from apes. In my opinion, abuse is not feeding your child enough, but it doesn't count when you send him to bed without supper for being sassy. It counts if he NEVER gets supper. Unless you're celebrating Ramadan all year, in which case, whatever, but just feed the kid a big meal at least once a day and I think we're good.

On spanking your own kid. I don't ever want to see it. But I can't say you should lose your kid for it just because I want to cry and hide witnessing this. Spanking your kid all the time, leaving your pornos out for him to find and calling the kid a stupid f-ing maggot on a regular basis is a bit problematic. Just so you know for next time I come over.

Speaking of the definition of abuse, I do have a son who literally thinks he is abused when his Nintendo system is taken away. Oh, my. This particular person will scream, bang on things and yell choice words like, "YOU'RE ABUSING ME! AAA!!" He'll start kicking the wall, punching things, thump thump thump... which sounds really great if you're standing outside. I wonder why I have received no helpful visitors from DFS yet, but they are hopefully busy dealing with more pressing cases of abuse as detailed above. Not that I'm wishing for real abuse cases. Well. Arg. You knew what I meant, people. Ok, so anyway, knowing what abuse is and is not would also be helpful to (ahem) certain people in the community. Losing the Nintendo does NOT qualify.

I think churches also play a big role in abuse prevention, as do family-centered businesses like preschools and daycares and schools. Maybe I'll get flak for saying that, and it kinda goes against what I said up in paragraph 4 (hey, I'm not writing Scripture here; I'm drinking my coffee and chatting with you. I get to contradict myself while I'm being consistent about it. My blog.).

Lots of people use these institutions and they're not going away anytime soon. However, I think before nosy teachers from school call about abuse, they should be SURE it's going on. I think the law should be changed to NOT allow anonymous reporting of abuse, ever. The name, address and driver's license number of all reporters should be at least known to the person taking the call and investigating. And no more shield laws protecting these professionals. Abuse of the system is abuse of the system no matter who does it.

You know, when I was in journalism we had the saying, "When in doubt, leave it out." Oh, there were plenty of times stuff did not get printed because we didn't have two sources on record saying this or that, or we had some loose ends to tie up before the story is printable and no one seemed to be able to get that information. Mind you, I was at a teeny little daily. I'm sure better-connected journalists who have been able to print stories like, "Alien Cousins of Elvis Visit South American Tribe" are more qualified to speak on this maxim.

But anyway. All that to say this: Be careful before making accusations. If you're so big and bad that you can report on a defenseless family to the DFS out of "concern" for the child eating too many Twinkies and playing outside on a school day, make sure that it's really concern and not retaliation. Be really sure that it's abuse before picking up that phone, because it is really going to mess up some little girl's life if they have to "examine" her, ok?

In conclusion, Mrs. C is not in charge of the world. Maybe Mrs. C feels the way she does because her kid wasn't treated so well in daycare and school situations. Like I said, I'm not writing Scripture here. Just chatting.

16 February 2009

Free and Appropriate Public Education?

This man is an anti-Christian, bigoted, pompous ass. The state is now questioning the sincerity of a couple's religious beliefs. The state can now force parents to pass some sort of theological test as to where the vaccination "comes from" (God or the Devil) and ask them to answer whether God can make a rock so big He can't move it. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Liberals seem to be pretty big on that one. Well, until someone in a church happens to vote some way they don't like. Or until someone makes a parenting decision they don't like. From the comments: "like the Inquisition in reverse" and "Why would you have to believe in the supernatural to be able to be exempt from vaccination anyway?" Why, indeed.

Wisdom From a Teacher.

I was out browsing blogs and came across this post on how teachers can keep themselves from being accused of wrongdoing (leave it at that). I thought I'd share an excerpt of what I read with you:

"If you are male and see a young lady unsuitably clad, try to have a calm, rational female colleague address this issue if you find the attire to be detrimental to the learning environment but especially if you can't look at the student without feeling uncomfortable. Sorry to say, since I am all about gender equality, but a male teacher should see nothing below the chin on any young female person. If you comment, a defiant child will try the gambit of asking loudly and embarassingly why you would even be looking, and the conversation will degenerate from there very quickly to charges of lechery."

Sad. Probably very true. You can read the whole post here. Many of the trials she and fellow teacher bloggers go through make me go *whew* that Patrick is in gifted classes and G is getting special help in public school. But some of the students I hear about 'round here aren't usually violent, but just plain old weird. One of the young men that Patrick goes to school with spent several years convinced that he was actually the son of a dragon and had its spirit or something. Really. Another kid I saw walked around with chains all over in some sort of apparent identification with Jacob Marley. Except he wore all black, I guess so stains don't show... whatever. I think actually black is the new Garanimal for these teens because it just goes with everything when it comprises your entire wardrobe. Black shirt? Goes with the black pants and the black socks with the skulls on them. Ooh, top off with a black hat. Now... what colour bag should I use? Hm. I could use the black backpack, the black messenger bag, or the black carry tote. Choices. :p

14 February 2009

Patrick's Medal

Patrick ranked fourth in the junior high division, sixth in high school division at the Missouri State Championship this year. Go Patrick!
I sympathize with the schools on this. Too often, schools are trying to deal with discipline issues, academic lack of progress and "etc." without the proper backup and reinforcement at home. It's a good argument against compulsory education, actually, because it keeps the other students behind when the teacher has to constantly deal with "stuff" and is not able to get things straightened out with parents. It sounds sappy, but there IS a REASONABLE amount of partnership that should be going on. Do you want the school to help you when your child is bullied? Then if you receive word that your child is bullying, do your *best* to stop it and impose some consequences at home. But to *require* parents to show up at the school at a certain time, and subject them to fines if they don't show up, is a bit over the top. Imagine if I were a single parent... Patrick and G's school has one side entrance that is stroller-accessible (everything else is stairs up a STEEP hill), but it's LOCKED and opens only from the inside. Here I am, I've just busted my hand and have a nearly impossible time doing anything or bringing ALL the children out. My younger autistic children? Good luck finding a reliable, safe babysitter on my budget. And do you think I can afford the $200 fee per child if I don't show up for a second missed conference? I guess my at least twice weekly email and phone calls with the school aren't good enough for this legislator who wants to "begin a conversation" about parental involvement. I don't feel like "talking" with clowns like this. I hope the voters hand him his butt on a platter in the next election, God bless 'im.

13 February 2009

Call to Action for Missourians

National media has been exposing alleged abuses in Chicago Public Schools. Most people are unaware that corporal punishment of school children is still allowed by law in Missouri. Missouri lawmakers should abolish corporal punishment in schools and also address the abuse of restraint and seclusion in all schools.

House Bill 96, which is making its way through the Missouri House right now DOES NEITHER. Currently The Safe Schools Act allows corporal punishment. HB 96 would also add "use of force" but neither will be defined or regulated. Your help is urgently needed to push for real reform for the safety of children attending school.

Consider contacting the Missouri House Special Standing Committee on Children and Families :http://house.mo.gov/content.aspx?info=/bills091/commit/com488.htm and Elementary and Secondary Education Committee: http://house.mo.gov/content.aspx?info=/bills091/commit/com455.htm

And the Missouri Senate Education Committee: http://www.senate.mo.gov/09info/comm/educ.htm and the Joint Committee on Education: http://www.senate.mo.gov/09info/comm/statutory/jced.htm

*****

Copy and paste URL:http://www.wbbm780.com/Report--Abuse-Found-At-Chicago-Public-Schools/3823032

Post taken from the Missourians Against Seclusion and Restraint blog. Link here.

I know most readers of my blog aren't from Missouri and won't have much clout with state reps. Even my own letters have been unanswered. I'll keep sending them anyway and keep praying for activists like my blog friend Ange working to end this barbaric practice.

World's Largest Number Discovered!

PALO ALTO, CA - An international mathematics research team announced today that they had discovered a new integer that surpasses any previously known value "by a totally mindblowing s---load." Project director Yujin Xiao of Stanford University said the theoretical number, dubbed a "stimulus," could lead to breakthroughs in fields as diverse as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and Chicago asphalt contracting.

"Unlike previous large numbers like the Googleplex or the Bazillionty, the Stimulus has no static numerical definition," said Xiao. "It keeps growing and growing, compounding factorially, eating up all zeros in its path. It moves freely across Cartesian dimensions and has the power to make any other number irrational."

More here. Hat tip to Darren. The really funny thing is, when I first read this I was just waking up and thought this was some Democratic propaganda.

Happy Darwin Day!

You wish me a Merry Christmas on Dec. 25, and I'll wish you a Happy Darwin Day today. You don't have to believe in Jesus and I don't have to believe in evolution. Whatever. Just don't expect me to buy you a card with that mutant fish on it. I keep expecting five eyeballs and a dragon tail to pop out of that ugly thing.

12 February 2009

A Few Rotten Apples.

... spoil the whole bunch.


I don't think that people are apples, though. We talked about this idea of the state making too many laws that are intrusive into the average person's family life. I think that having a few bad parents out there doesn't mean we ought to view every parent with suspicion.

As of yet, I have not heard of any broad proposal to require preschool attendance from every child over the age of one. However, I have heard from several places over the years that the second year of life is the most problematic for children abuse-wise. Is there a way to know for sure? Probably not, but I would imagine that to be the truth because of the nature of the two-year-old. The kiddo is getting into everything, telling you NO, making you tired, and pooping on the floor. In short, the kid is a mini-teenager who can't rat you out to the fuzz. :p

WHAM! upside the head isn't the answer to that, obviously, but neither is assuming that there is this vast undercurrent of head-bashing pedophiles whose lusts would be totally gone (*poof!*) if only we had preschool for children over the age of one. I'm going to go ahead and guess that if preschool were required for one-year-olds, it would give some potentially abusive parents a break BEFORE they hit the snapping point. It truly could save a life here or there; who knows?

BUT

I remember putting Elf in preschool when he turned two. It will be GREAT for him to socialize rather than being BORED with old Mom who couldn't possibly give him all the social interaction he needs, right? Ok, well, that's what I thought at the time.

A strange thing happened, though. Elf would run away. From a playground. The workers never thought to put a lock on the gate leading OUT of the playground or even latch the door at all. No kid is going to leave a playground, right?

Wrong. He did this sort of thing for a while and I THOUGHT that the workers knew what to expect and would have things under control after we talked about things, made plans, etc. But before you know it, they went and lost him again and he wound up within 30 feet of a major highway.

Now, what if I were REQUIRED to put Elf in such a school? I'd submit to you that that would be like requiring him to be sent to school to be abused. JUST like he was abused in public school later. Not that I'm bitter or anything. And not that I think for one second that any one of these people woke up on a given morning with an evil cackle and gleefully plotted against him. But Elf is still negatively affected by his experience regardless.

Hey, there *are* truly some great programs out there. If you can get into them and live nearby. Sure. Public school is not the Great Satan, even if it ACTS that way as an organization sometimes.

And there *are* truly some parents who "homeschool" to cover abuse or, as it appears in the Benita Jacks case, to cover up a murder or four. I think we should be careful before putting constraints on the parents, however. Even with the Benita Jacks case, social workers, school officials and other folks were well aware that this was a family in some serious trouble. The rules that WERE in place at the time of the murders weren't even followed, so I'm not really sure what putting MORE laws down on the books is gonna do.

Perhaps because lax enforcement is expected, lots and lots of laws need to be passed so that someone looks into suspicious stuff *sometime* before someone's killed the next time?

I could link this idea with the several situations I know of REAL children who were abused by their "parents" while attending public schools. It is NOT the school's fault. It is NOT the social worker's fault because she assumed that most parents are going to love their children. It isn't fair to cry for the social worker's job on a platter if she truly showed up and did her job but reached the "wrong" conclusion as evidenced later. The abuse is NOT her fault.

Abuse is always, always, always the fault of the abuser and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. I'm going to leave my opinions concerning the role of the posse in regards to the repeat sex offender for the sake of brevity here. Let me just say these people are nasty, nasty, sick and gross and too many of 'em never get caught. Too many "plea bargains" out there. They are someone's children, though. When they've served their time, is there any place that wants them? I'd ask my Christian friends reading if they TRULY TRULY believe that a child molester can be transformed and repentant. And if they do, whether neighbourhood watch lists are an appropriate deterrant. I'm genuinely really, really not sure. I do know that I wouldn't want, for my child's sake and others', for them to work in the church nursery or the local schools because of the temptation factor.

More on this later. God bless you as you read and respond.

10 February 2009

How I Take Care of My Children.

If you're not beating your kid *right in front of me* or locking him in a hot car and walking away, I don't care what you do. Want to marry your daughter off at 13 to some weirdo on the compound? Well, have a nice life. Your decision. I guess I'm more pro-choice than some other people who bandy that title about. I think if the kid's hit puberty, she can get married just as well as have sex in the public school stairwell (no, I'm not linking to that story).

Since when did we as a society evolve from the idea that you should take care of your kids your own way and good luck to ya... to "take care of your kids the way the school, doctors, and assorted nosy people like or you'll lose 'em if you don't?" It bothers me.

You know, when I had my younger two children at the hospital, did you know they would not physically let us go until they'd SEEN the car seat in the van and SEEN how the child is strapped in? Oh, boy. That gets me really mad. It's not their kid! It's not their flipping business if I have buckled the child in well or not. Once the child is out of the hospital, it should be ZERO concern of yours. But I don't specially want nosy DFS people at my door. And I was gonna buckle the kid in anyway. So fine, go look. Grr.

We have a Ford Taurus station wagon and when the kids were small I'd tell Patrick and G to go get into the trunk so we could get going somewhere. It's kinda fun to see people's eyes pop out and snoopy nosy-noses pointing back over at your car until (drat!) they realize that the children are nicely buckled in a real seat in a real car.

We had a lot of fun in that vehicle until the state started messin' with our lives. New law came out stating that all children under 8 had to be in a booster seat unless they were, like, six feet tall and 185 pounds. You know, stuff that would be impossible to have really happen before the kid is 8 unless he's doping steroids or something. The back rear-facing seats you specifically can NOT put baby seats in or use booster seats with. So the car became USELESS to us unless we pushed things and brought smaller children to sit in the front. It was way safer the way we were doing things before.

We bought our van right about then. Every now and then, though, if the van needed servicing we'd either have to drive illegally, do the "leave the kids at home, hurryhurryhurry and pray they're all there when you get back" thing or find someone to watch them (HA! Ok, that was good.)

And so it is with school as well. D tells me to QUIT telling people that my younger children don't go to school. Just say they're homeschooled and show the record books and portfolios and have your kids recite the Pledge of Allegiance right there and ... Ok, mildly exaggerating. But you know what? It's none, none, NONE of your business if my children go to school or not.

My middle children don't go to school.

I was asking our eye doctor where I could find some low-cost eye screenings for Elf and Emperor next year. I'm thinking Elf will be nine and it would be nice to just get a little "can you read this line?" kind of screening to make sure he's seeing well. It isn't like he'd be having trouble reading the blackboard, so I just want to cover all the bases there.

Ah, he tells me, the school should have told you all about this. You're REQUIRED to get a screening from a LICENCED opthamologist, don't you know?

No, I didn't. That was nice of our lawmakers to do. Didn't cost them a penny, either, and only think how that would help the economy in employing those starving opthamologists and makers of nerdy kid glasses. But you see, I didn't know this information because

My kids don't go to school.

OH! They're homeschooled?

And I'm tempted to say, no, they're not educated at all but are being raised by wild wolves in my back yard. Good enough for Romulus and Remus. Ok, but I don't. He's a nice guy and I tell him yes, they're homeschooled.

I've been reading in the news about parents who are taken to court and charged with murder and neglect for not doing exactly what the doctors want with their children. I think it's a very slippery slope there. SURE, wouldn't it be nice if all moms and dads had common sense and we all agreed on when "prayer" is the answer and when medicine is the only way to go?

But we don't all agree. So I think we should butt out of people's lives so long as they're not endangering anyone else. And I don't mean their kids; I mean OTHER people's kids.

Once we get into letting the doctors make all our parenting decisions, we can be very certain that children will receive lots of expensive treatment they don't need, and in the cases of terminal illness, will miss out on their last few moments undisturbed at home. They'll just have extreme measures taken in some hospital bed instead of spending time with their families outside or cuddled on the living room couch. Costly, expensive things that might or might not prolong life.

HEY, you say, but what about the children who die who could have been saved with a simple antibiotic or blah blah blah?

Well, you have me. So, we should just let doctors make the final decision always, right? Or maybe I should get the right to say that YOUR kid can't skateboard because of the zillion head injuries caused by skateboarding each year? It's only for your child's good, and if we can save *just one life* through good legislation, we'll all go away knowing good has been done here.

So, no skating. No smoking near your kid. Your children must have eye and ear exams yearly with super-specialists who cost about $100 an hour (and by the way... an hour is now 5 minutes long... but only when the doctor is in the room), and you must visit the dentist twice a year and your kids *better* remember to floss and they can't be overweight. Or else. But that listening to obscene lyrics and dressing your infant like a street-crawler? That's ok.

I think we intertwine "concern" and the "law" too deeply.

09 February 2009

Ready, Set, GO!

He loves to take whatever I'm using. I was *going* to sweep the kitchen after dinner and Woodjie had the biggest screaming/crying fit you've ever seen. I had to figure out that he was very upset that HE didn't get to use the broom as well. Pencils are another fit-provoking item as are vacuum cleaners and coffee mugs. Woodjie LOOOVES coffee with lots of cocoa mix stirred in.

More G Drama.

Doggone it, but I got a call from the school. Seems he's having (ahem) difficulty "staying on task" and "letting the teacher be in charge" and "not disturbing others" of late. And I've been asked oh-so-gently about what G eats for breakfast. Because Mr. L just "happened to notice" that G is bringing in a LOT of candy from the vending machines. And were you sending "all that money" with him each morning thinking he was going to buy lunch? Just wondering...?

All that money, you see... well, it shouldn't exist. G gets $2 a week for cleaning all the toilets in the house. Then he tithes on that. $1.80 a week shouldn't buy you too much candy. Every now and then I'll let him "babysit" while I'm in another room for $2 an hour. But he shouldn't have a big stash of money. His case manager Mrs. A told me that would get him exactly two candy bars with a stupid dime left over if he spent his $1.80 allowance. So he has to be spending a LOT of money and I'm wondering where he's getting it. Mrs. A said she's not really concerned about that but um, I am.

Ok, is he taking stupid dares at school and eating bugs or whatever for cash? Mrs. A tells me that at this age, no one is going to give money for stupid dares. Usually dares are done for free. Hmm... I would ordinarily expect "drug dealer" to come up next on the list but his interpersonal skills are so crappy that he'd be busted on the first deal.

The only other answer is that he's spent ALL his money on candy or has gotten into my secret dollar stash (dear potential robbers, it contains about $8, which is not worth your going to jail for at my taxpayin' expense, but it helps me pay allowance and stuff without rushing to the bank on a Saturday morning. Yes, $8 covers all the children and their allowances because I am CHEAP. But I am the only place the children can earn cash bwa ha ha haaaaaaaa....)

We've interrogated the child and it turns out that he not only spent all his money on candy, but all his EMERGENCY money as well. He's required to have $5 in emergency funds in case I have to drive him to school. (We just covered this a couple posts back.) The problem used to be that he would spend all his money, misbehave and miss the bus on purpose, and then OOPS not have my $5. So in order to SPEND any money, the children have to tithe and have that $5 transport fee in savings.

I'm so miffed at him.

And I'm miffed that I had to deal with the concerned phone call about what the kid eats and you know, mayyyybe, just mayyyyybe, having 500 candy bars and a couple sodas in the morning might be why he's giving me a hard time when I teach him in the afternoon, Mrs. C?

Aargh. I really like his teacher and I'd hate for her to think I'm starving him or feeding him bunches of sugar and then setting him loose at school to watch the fun.

Because it's no fun unless I get a ringside seat to see how other people deal with it for a change.

(*gasp* Did I just say that??? Ok, I think I'll leave it in and see if I get accused of not being spiritual enough. Not praying enough over my kid. Getting tired of "stuff" and just not handling it well any more. Can I admit to not handling it well any more? Mom is tired.)

Well, now G is going to have to earn $5 back before he gets to "zero." And I will hold that $5 in safekeeping. This is just what I did NOT want to do because it sets me up as the person who unfairly takes all G's money. (I think we kinda covered that idea, too.) G right now is recognizing that he has a spending problem. BUT that doesn't mean he's going to recognize that he's not able to handle money in general without some input later on when he wants *whatever* at the store...

More coming on this front, I'm sure. Poor G is going to have a hard time with all his money being gone, but I'm wondering how much money the school made off this kid. I'm thinking he started out with about $15.

Natural, Earthy Spelling.

Are you a naturally wonderful speller?

I'm jinxing myself to posting a ton of spelling errors by writing this, but I don't use spelling-check machines at all. I've looked into how they work a few times, and noticed that the spell-checker hates all proper names and the hyphens and intentional international spelling I enjoy using on occasion.

Other people are totally dependent on checkers, which is odd because it seems to me that it's much, much more trouble than it's worth. But I don't think that it follows that I'm some naturally wonderful speller. I brought home a good plenty of C's and D's as a small child and was well-known for my terrible handwriting. Thankfully my parents understood and were always kind-hearted about accepting my limitations, so long as I tried my hardest.

(NOT. I just wrote that to see if my mom were reading the blog LOL. I guess I would have very mixed feelings about being homeschooled myself. If I had to deal with "report card day" every day at home, maybe public school is a blessing. Then again, if my mom taught me and saw how genuinely hard some of these subjects were for me, maybe I'd have not run away from math and scholarly reading for... um, years after college. I've learned that you spit out exactly what the teacher wants on the test, and forget the rest. Come to think of it, maybe that's a good education. Mmm, you decide what you think and let me know in the comment box. Hm...)

Anyway, I was a "krapy" speller as a kid, ok? I think that the spelling work I did from the old Scott, Foresman readers didn't really do a bit of good. I think I just grew into spelling well.

No, really. I mean that.

I use spellers with Emperor and Elf, but really, Emperor could skip this subject entirely. Often on the pretests he'll get 100%. Elf does not instinctively spell strange words like "trachea" correctly like his brother. Then again, he's nowhere near as poor a speller as G. Bless him, G spells "Russia" with THREE R's and an -sh. Really.

What I find good about using spellers is that they help the child know the correct way to spell, even if he doesn't always use it. Now I can circle "because" in his writing and just tell him to correct that mistake. I think seeing something written correctly and practicing the correct spelling helps later in writing. I don't know that it's following X curriculum and not Y. I think it's the act of practice.

I've also heard that one should NEVER allow a child to see poor spelling as this will teach the child how to spell the word incorrectly. I am not sure if I agree with this, because Emperor sees plenty of his brothers' poor spelling and seems unaffected.

We use Bob Jones third grade spelling. There are 36 units, which for *us* translates into about a year and a couple months' work. We do a unit or so every two weeks because Elf reallly has trouble in this department. There are little crosswords or fill-ins to do each week, and a dictionary page to complete about every other week. Once a week, a journal-writing exercise is called for and the children read about the history of a word (just a couple brief paragraphs).

If you homeschool, what do you use for spelling, and do you think it makes a big difference?

08 February 2009

If You Give a Mom an Hour...


She'll want to clean and organize all her stuff for homeschool. While she's organizing, she realizes that there are several things that can be put into storage. She runs downstairs with these items and takes out several boxes of homeschool items so that everything will be stored in the proper box. While she's digging through books and papers, she sees the laundry out of the corner of her eye. This reminds her that the laundry has to be done. She begins to do some more laundry, but taking clothes out of the dryer reminds her that there are large, bulky items from Sam's Club that need to be put away properly or she'll twist her ankle again. These need to be carefully organized by product type and expiration date... Oh, nevermind. I stacked all that stuff quickly, threw some laundry into three different piles, boxed up old stuff willy-nilly and returned to find Emperor had squirrelled himself away with several homeschool catalogues. He would please like ALL the stuff in the catalogues, because he just can't decide what he likes the best. We have room now, you know. Yes, he is my son. I tell him I've already thought of that idea first.

Hare-brained Business Idea.

Joe's Vacuum Cleaner Cleaner business. That's right. You bring your vacuum cleaner in to be cleaned. It will cost you two cents to get this service performed, but the owners are planning to get a LOT of jobs at that rate, so they'll really get a LOT of money.

In fact, they'll be very rich.

Soon, the other vacuum cleaner cleaner businesses won't be able to keep up and they will go out of business. THAT is when they will slowly, slowwwwwly, very slowly raise their prices and get WOW a lot more money.

Yep, that's an Emperor and Elf idea there. I'd hate to bust their little bubble and tell them there aren't enough hours in the day to do all the work they'd get for two cents each... or that no one really wants their vacuum cleaners cleaned... they just use the cleaners to clean so they have clean floors after all that cleaning.

I haven't even gotten into the tax problem yet and how their Uncle Sam will take all their profits slowly, slowwwly, and finally bust 'em when they get a monopoly on the vacuum cleaner cleaning business. :p

06 February 2009

We're Expecting!


And due in November! It's going to be another boy. And Emperor would like the name Waltson. Isn't Waltson a great name, Mom? Then, when he is older, he will be a doctor. Then, instead of calling him MISTER Waltson, it will be Mister DOCTOR Waltson.

But... one problem. I'm not pregnant. Emperor, where are you getting this thing that the baby will come in November?

Math. You just add nine, because February is the second month, plus nine more, that makes November!

D always says you can't argue with a crazy person.

Of course, Emperor is the guy that really makes listening to stories hard because he's such a realist. Take King Midas. Emperor wants to know why his internal organs didn't turn into gold. I mean, why wouldn't they? he asks. If your hand is touching your arm, and your arm is touching your body, then, all your guts will turn to gold! And why don't his feet turn the ground gold?

Oh, wait. And the ground would turn the trees gold. Then the SKY would be gold!

Mom... I'm not sure that this is a true story. Did this really happen? Yes or no.

Tenemos Una Fiesta.


They're supposed to be sombreros. Gumdrops on sugar cookies with icing and sprinkles. I think it would look better if we had followed the directions and ONLY put the icing on the edges and sprinkled those. But they're tastier with frosting everywhere, you see. We're starting to study Spanish. I bought a curriculum for smaller children so that we would have an easy time with this elective. Well, "smaller children" meaning second grade. So it'll be easy in that we don't get into conjugating verbs, but we'll learn a lot of vocabulary and sing some songs.

Truancy Is Now In Effect.

Here are some black teens wandering about their OWN community and minding their OWN business when the cops pull up. The children are interrogated by the officer and forced to admit that they're late for school. Then the curt officer tells the young men to get into the squad car and informs them that "truancy is now in effect." Meaning, I suppose, that they are now prisoners.

They get carted to a holding tank at some building, where they're further interrogated by social workers. One person brought in during this video is coerced to admit that he uses drugs. No doubt his life is no longer the same.

Maybe that's a good thing. For his own good, the boss-man is gonna take care of him. Forgive the racial overtones in this. I don't do it often. But just *look* at how the government is treating its own people. How the schools and the police and the judges, social workers... they're all working together to infringe on the rights of these black teens. It is racist NOT to notice that IMO.

As a free citizen of a free country, the idea that some cop who can't even pronounce the "L" in "schooL" can force my children into squad cars and take them God-knows-where is really chilling. You'd think that that would be the sort of thing you'd expect in, say, Yemen or one of those rinky-dink dictatorships in Africa.

But, no. Welcome to the new America.

05 February 2009

G's Day Part I

Yesterday, G informed me that instead of staying after school for chess club, he'll just mosey on over and make up a "detention" he has to serve. Why? Oh, um, for being tardy to class. Well, I'd better leave my nose out of why he's tardy all the time; it's obvious. But I informed him that in another year and a half, when it's no longer possible for him to walk home from school, that he'll have to pay the standard $5 fee for Mom picking you up when it's an extra trip that wasn't scheduled ahead of time (and if you think I'm picking you up from DETENTION for free if you schedule your misbehaviour ahead of time, well... I'm not... so stop thinking it...)

Oh, no, he can walk the three miles, he says. Across major highways. I told him no. And before you think of it, G, NO you will not get rides from friends.

"Well, you just want money from me all the time!" G explodes. *raging meltdown*

Um, yes, I do. I want lots of money from him, and that is why I am giving him a stinkin' year and a half notice that I won't be doing this for free. I've somehow PLOTTED the district boundaries ahead of time so that I can cash in on his serving this mythical detention a year and a half from now... that he hasn't "earned" yet. AAargh.

My son Woodjie is non-verbal. I'd give about anything to have him speak spontaneously. I'd like him to tell me that he would prefer a puzzle to the doodle board he's been given rather than rolling around in circles, hitting his head and screaming. It might even lead me to giving him the puzzle sooner, so it's a win-win situation.

G, however.

G.

We love G. G is autistic, but he can speak well enough that you fool yourself that everything is ok. But he doesn't get some things in life yet. Hey, why don't you throw some things out the window of a moving bus so you can be cooool. I dare ya and I'll watch, his "friends" say. (OK, so he gets *what* for being so cooool?) Things like that happen in the "discernment" department. No fair telling me that we should just practice these situations and this stuff will get all better. Or that we should have a talk about how this or that action will have an effect. Sure, we do those things. But please understand that the nature of autism is that it doesn't always sink in the same way it would for you or me NEXT TIME he's confronted with the same sort of situation. You'd think he's "smart enough" to "know better," and I sure wish it worked that way. For his sake, if nothing else.

But he's ashamed to be autistic and refuses to talk about it. I wish I could give a couple kids at the local school a talking-to and tell them hey, that hand flapping thing isn't a gay thing. It's an autistic thing. He doesn't want to tell you that. Not that it's your business either way when you're a dork and tease him, but please shut up and stop announcing that somehow you understand all about his sexuality because of his stims. Because that's a little weird on your part.

G doesn't want the special seats or things to play with during class to keep his attention on his work. Oh, noooo. That would call attention to his autism in a way that exploding, being unable to handle things and getting sent to the "buddy room" and the principal on a regular basis never could. Right?

I don't say this often, but he needs to be out and proud on the autism thing. He's not going to handle life any other way, and you can't advocate for yourself without explaining to the other person a little about your situation. Just courtesy talking here. I wouldn't make a special rule for you "just because" if I were your new boss, or your new friend. Explain what's going on. I'm talking to him about this, but he's not quite getting what I'm saying.

Ah, but he's autistic. Hard for him to explain to someone else what's going on. Ok. His teachers would wonder, how about we help out... since you lose your papers all the time, (oh! ok, or *almost always with the exception of that one thing you turned in last week* you're right... sorry! I suppose we shouldn't overgeneralize), the friendly people at the school are ready to go through your binder WITH you every day to find them.

AAAA... no, he says, no one can touch his stuff. But no, he can't go in that binder and look for it. And why are you judging him on whether he got the paper turned in? You're just not trusting me that I got it done and it's not fair *insert big meltdown here*

Crap. The school really is trying with him, and I'm afraid of what's going to happen if all this keeps up. He functions too well for help sometimes, and not well enough even to deal with things even in the special ed class other times. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to this. He's verbal so he should just be able to TELL ME what's going on. Nope. The answer is that the teacher bothered him, or Mom and Dad are just being big jerks, or it's all Emperor's fault for the thing he said or bleh... whatever. I wish I could go ask my online friends to make up a reason, kind of like those "make a caption to this picture" contests. This way I might just get a reason that makes sense, and even some that are funny.

So, fine. I will just see G after detention. Time to homeschool and look at my best friends on the blogggs. Mmm.

*pop*

Stupid email system. I hate getting emails from the school. G got a **47** in math?? As his overall grade? In special ed??? And he's doing math Elf and Emperor just *finished* in homeschool?? Aargh. I'm hitting the forward button and sending this one to D.

Back to the blogggs.

*ring ring*

Hi, it's principal W from (school) how are you?

Um, you tell me how I am...? What's going on? (LOL they can't kick *me* out of school, now, can they?)

"Well, I have G here in my office and" he launches into a song and dance about G's behaviour. I almost want to stop him after the first sentence and go, "Is it gonna be script A, B, or C, or some minor variation, because we're both very busy people..." but I don't. It would be rude. But this one was script B, the standard "talk to your kid 'cuz I don't know what else to do."

Poor principal W. Poor me. Well, ok, lemme talk to him.

Hi.

Hi. Having trouble?

G relates he's upset about how everything's fine and he told Mr. W he could go back to class and nothing is wrong but he won't listen...

Um, ok. (not gonna argue!) So you can go to class and be good? Because you can't serve your detention unless you calm down... I'd have to get you. (NO I didn't mention the $5 fee then!!)

Ok, hand the phone back. And off he goes.

G's Day Part II

This post isn't for the faint of heart. It's gross. It's honest. Maybe you should skip it, or better yet just scroll down to the comment section, give me an internet ((hug)), and I'll think you've really read it and care a lot, and you'll spare yourself a few minutes that could be spent doing other things like picking your toenails or pickling raspberries. But please, not in that order.

OK.

So here I am going to the bathroom. I have six children and the worst bladder known to mankind. In our house, we let it mellow if it's yellow and if it's brown we flush it down. Otherwise, even our $90 per month water bill would be much higher. Mind you, YES, we flush before company arrives. And YES, we wash our hands every time. But if Old Mom is just going to go to the bathroom in 15 minutes, there's no need to waste a gallon of water EVERY time. Just from a money and conservation standpoint.

I exit the bathroom to find standing RIGHT THERE one of G's friends. And he goes to the bathroom, no doubt realizing what hicks we are that we don't even flush. Uggh. I'm in the process of getting all embarrassed about this until I realize that he doesn't wash his hands after using the bathroom.

Um.

Suddenly my "not flushing" habit isn't so bad, comparatively speaking.

G tells me right in front of Q that Dad says his friend Q can stay over until churchtime if I say it's ok.

I have some choices. Q has walked about a mile to get here from his house and it would be rude for me to turn him away. I feel more than a little put-upon because if I say NO, I'll either look like a meanie or I'll have to embarrass G by listing the 47 in maths, the detention, the blowups that have been going on, and oh, everything else he did in the last week that isn't flattering as an explanation.

So I said yes. This one time.

Here it's after 5 p.m. which basically means G has invited his friend to dinner. I'm NOT getting bunches of stuff out and cooking it when church starts at 6:30. Macaroni and cheese, three boxes. Voila. I've put some on S's tray and in Woodjie's bowl to cool.

Q comes to the table and sneers at S's food because it's congealed. Yeah, like I'm going to serve her stuff right from the pot and burn her? Guess not, he says.

So I've served the meal and about five times I've caught Q doing that *barf* thing by sticking his tongue out when he thinks I'm not looking. I am mad at G for not stopping it right then the first time. And you know, ordinarily I offer guests some sort of choice, but when you arrive at dinner and expect to be fed, you get what you get. Finally I had to tell him to quit it, and the kid tries to LIE TO ME by saying he was just doing some other move he was practicing... whatever. But keep your moves to yourself at the table. I'm smouldering angry at this kid.

After dinner, he STILL didn't wash his hands. Then Patrick got mad at him for touching his stuff without washing his hands. So he finally did. And this kid said "dang" a bunch of times, which I found rather shocking. He didn't seem to censor himself very well, but D says he probably WAS censoring himself and "dang" is more acceptable. I think it's all in how you say it. D also says that you know, compared to a lot of other kids, this guy isn't so bad. And he's right. I mean, I LIKED this kid until yesterday's *barf* thing at the table. Maybe I take that too personally, but dang. (LOL just checking to see if you're reading. Don't forget the "hug" later.)

I'm fuming. I know I should say something. But I'm one of those people who is nice, nice, nice, nice and BOOOOOOOOOM. The problem is I'm not good at speaking up before BOOOOM happens. Other people go, wow, what's her problem? It was ok before and it isn't now?? Huh?

Well, not much time before the older boys walked to church. But before Q left, he went to the bathroom again. And he didn't wash his hands! Iwwww.

I'm baby-wiping stuff all over now. That just icks me out. I shouldn't be surprised, though, as Patrick has been complaining for several years that children at school do not wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating. It really bothers him. I've never seen a boy more meticulous about stuff like that, which is surprising considering the state of his room.

The whole time those boys were gone, I was hoppin' mad. Hoppin' mad. Angry. Furious. That G is so nasty to me and he NEVER listens and I can NEVER say anything to him because he ALWAYS blows up. I can't STAND how no one EVER listens to me or appreciates me.

Finally, they get home and I'm gonna let G have it. You know the position you put me in by bringing a friend over... and this is why... and this is how I feel about it... I went through everything in my post and how upset I was about it. And do you know what he said?

DO you??

"Yes, ma'am. I'll try to remember that next time. I'm sorry."

!!!!!

Ok, I was just waiting for him to yell at me so I'd have somebody to yell at back. And he didn't. He genuinely apologized. Now I'm all frustrated and angry and have nobody to take it out on. He even meekly accepted the idea that we should ALWAYS pre-arrange our friends coming over, most particularly right before dinner. !???!!??

I wonder how long this will last, but I can be glad that it's lasting while it does. I'm still feeling very, very angry, though.

04 February 2009

500 MILLION Jobs Lost Per Month!

"Given that there are only about 330 million Americans (including children), that's a lot of jobs," quips Rick at Holy Coast blog. Ok, this lady is much more entertaining than Newt Gingrich ever was.

Homeschooling at My House.

I've had a few questions by e-mail and in my comments section about our homeschool that I thought would warrant a blog post.

Does the School Give You Your Teaching Items?

I seem to get asked this from the therapists who come into our home to teach Woodjie. They must think I'm accredited or something LOL. Answer: Nope. I buy all the stuff I feel like teaching my children from wherever I feel like buying it. Yes, that means that I could be teaching a lesson on "how to name everyday objects" with a seven-year-old later. Don't make me cry... Woodjie still hasn't said "Mama" yet. Hey, if he still hasn't when he's seven, that's English class. We move on when you've mastered the basics.

(I appreciate that the law is broad enough that such things are possible in my state. Places like Vermont, you might as well forget it. They OWN special ed kids there, baybee. And I have a lot of mixed feelings about special ed. SURE, there are great specialists in public school. But have you read my "Why We Homeschool" post lately? They're closet-lockers here. Better just to have a little inferior education in the "how to say everyday objects" department than everyone having to deal with Post-Trumatic Stress Disorder and let the kid be able to name all the everyday objects he was beaten with during psychological therapy. I jest, but only a little. I'm NOT a specialist, and I'm sure there are some things speech therapists can do that I'm not as good at. I'm just not sure that sending my child to public school later on is going to be a net benefit. Cross that bridge later. :])

So... thankfully, I'm not "accountable" to the state for reaching certain levels of achievement with the children. I look ahead to teaching Woodjie all that he can learn, and I am very glad for that.

In teaching Elf and Emperor presently, I like to use mostly Bob Jones stuff just because it is so ordered and seems to present things from a worldview identical to my own. God is not separated from the textbook, and the Gospel is presented unapologetically as the ONLY way to heaven.

I read a review posted by a Wiccan on a Christian curriculum (yep, I was doing a search on a certain curriculum. I'm pretty decided on what I like but I enjoy browsing. I'm too fat to look at clothes, so here's what I do.). She said she uses (name) curriculum, it's true. But it's ok, she tells her fellow Pagan and Whatever readers. You just leave out the "God" stuff in there and it works just fine. Wow. Ok, you could NOT do that with the Bob Jones stuff. It just isn't possible. The book would wind up looking like some serious semi-released CIA document with black marker everywhere if you played that game. And you'd get all the "Jesus is the only way to heaven" type questions wrong on your Heritage Studies tests, too.

And, you know, I like that. Since I'm the one spending the cash on it, I get to pick. Too bad if you don't like it. I've already paid for the secular humanistic stuff your kid learns in public school. You're welcome.

Let's Start Our Day!

Generally, we're up and ready to start homeschooling at 6:45 a.m. We usually start with maths. Currently, our curriculum is Singapore Maths 4A, and we're learning to add and subtract mixed numbers and improper fractions. We sometimes need to convert these fractions so that they have common denominators. Emperor does all this stuff in his head and drives me crazy. About half the class time, he is squeaking and hopping like a frog, trying not to give the answers. The other half, he is giving the answers away and/or I am handing him his Game Boy and telling him to go away for ten minutes.

Then I break lessons in each subject up not by what the book seems to teach, but by how LONG it takes children to get a reasonable effort in on a subject. I don't want things too easy or too overwhelming.

Somewhere around 8:30, we're ready to move on to the next subject. Yes, we spend about two hours on math each day.

Next up: mmm... whatever. Usually it's whatever has not been done in the previous day or two. Sometimes it's grammar, other days it's spelling or social studies. I tend to want to STICK with a subject for a while. I like to spend, say, two hours on social studies and skip English one day, and spend several hours on English some other day and skip science, etc.

Unfortunately, this leads to a tendency to get way ahead in one subject at a time. But if I have all my books out right then and we're concentrating well, why should I stop just because there's a "Lesson 2" heading in my book? Conversely, I'm stopping smack-dab in the middle of a lesson if we get too bogged down. We'll come back again to it some other day with a clear brain if we're having too much trouble.

What We Use for Homeschool.

I'm pretty sure that since most of our curriculum is Bob Jones stuff, it all should coordinate. Um, if we were doing the same grade level in all our subjects. And if we were to begin curriculum in early September and do one lesson per weekday. Wouldn't it be nice to do the "Christmas" stuff at Christmastime in all our subjects? But the way it works out, we do some Christmas stuff in March, some in September and some (like our entire Bible subject unit) we can actually save for Christmastime.

But I just cannot follow these silly weekly planners companies put out. They assume children will learn one lesson per day in each subject. Sorry. I have the Bible books out now, and we're going to do maybe three or four lessons depending on how long they are. Tomorrow, I may have several Social Studies texts out and neglect the Bible completely.

(Go ahead and call me a heathen, but there it is. Incidentally, I do see a general principle in the Bible for some sort of daily communion with God, but not necessarily a Bible-reading time to keep one spiritually in shape. I don't know where that idea got started because I don't see Paul mentioning that he "needs" 15 minutes of scripture-reading time or he just doesn't feel spiritually recharged. I suppose if I didn't dust my Bible off for two weeks, that *might* say something about my spiritual life. But I think it says something more about my lifestyle and attention span that I can devote an hour here and nothing for several days, and then maybe half an hour another day... Ok, I wonder how many Christians out there REALLY have half the "quiet time" they should anyway? If you want to do all that time on Wednesdays and Saturdays, I shouldn't think you're less spiritual... you know, like me... :] And what does it say about you that you keep reading my blog if you think that? Just sayin'. :p)

By ten o'clock, the littler children are really ready to do something different, even though I do try to vary their toys and play a game occasionally with them. It's time to start throwing worksheets at Emperor and Elf, or handwriting, or something easy-to-do. It gives their minds a break and me a chance to reconnect with little ones and/or make lunch.

Lunch is usually at 10:30 because the small children get grumpy around then. By noon, the children are settled, S in her playpen upstairs for a nap and Woodjie on the chair by the tv. (He doesn't sleep every day at naptime.) That's when I eat lunch and say HELLO to all my blog friends.

Then it's back again for an easy subject or for listening to cd's or something like that for a couple hours.

About Hours and Recordkeeping

Usually our school day lasts for about five or six hours and we could technically be on vacation from March through July each year.

Missouri mandates that I teach 1,000 hours each year, 600 of which must be in the "core" subjects of communication arts, mathematics, science, social studies and reading. I'm not required to register with anyone and no "nationally normed" tests are necessary unless I jolly well feel like it. Which I don't. I think that a well-educated child is more testimony to the fact that I've done my job with him, but I do keep the records I'm supposed to in a 50-cent "composition book" pictured in a lower post.

The law demands that I record the hours spent, a portfolio of work samples and a description of the stuff I'm doing. Ok, that wasn't a very legal description of the stuff I have to do. For that, go here.

This is not a very restrictive demand in the upper grades at all; however, I found it a bit tough to record all the work we were doing when I first began to home-educate Elf. He was six at the time, and while I feel that 1,000 hours per year is NOWHERE near enough for a high-schooler, it's a bit much for a six-year-old. I think this is why only children seven and older are required to do these things, although we have to be vigilant that the state doesn't try to apply these standards to younger and younger children. Better to think of beginning a child's formal education at eight and leave the wonder intact than squelch him with his ABC's at two if he's not interested. I think that requiring younger children to be educated would be difficult for parents and children and work against the more unstructured and free nature of young childhood.

(Or better still, how 'bout not requiring anything of me at all and letting me decide what my children will learn when they're ready? Ok, just me daydreaming again. There's a group of about seven families out there, I think, who are determined to ruin things for everyone. They're not going to educate their children. They'll feed them Jell-o all day and/or sell them to the neighbours as sex slaves. Not to mention the "letting outside to play on sunny days" horror! I know this fact because the commenters post about this group on almost every news story. They all seem to know the same "lady up the street" or "coworker's brother's family" who did this and this with her children and how's the law going to help them?? Ok... anyway...)

I really do feel that Emperor and Elf would not be nearly so happy in homeschool had they been "pushed" academically at a young age. They simply were not ready.

How I Decide What to Buy for Homeschool.

Ok, marketers. Listen up. When you make a kit, make sure everything but the pencils the kid needs is in that kit. Or even include the pencils; I don't care. But I HATE to find out I need a supplemental flip-chart or whatever to teach a lesson. I'm a poor planner. That's why I buy the kit. I want YOU to plan FOR me. If I need to read a book to the children as part of the lesson, include the stupid book in the kit. I'm not chintzy in my homeschool spending. Make the kit as big and expensive as it needs to be. Then I'm able to really compare apples to apples when I look around at other places. Be sure to tell me about all the kewl bells and whistles in the kit, too, so I'm duly impressed. You're proud of what you've created, and you want me to be happy with it. Well, I can't be happy with it if I never buy it. Impress me BEFORE I spend my money.

And I don't go to conventions. I look at "samples" online and that's how I got into the Bob Jones stuff. Right now, I don't really want to do too much changing. Maybe when my children are older, I'm going to want to get something else that's less teacher-intensive. There. I said it. It will be hard to say goodbye or even taper down.

But I don't want to commit to an entire "package" from one company and then find out I hate it. I don't even want to buy all Bob Jones stuff in a mega-package because we're about a year and a half ahead in some subjects than others. Drives me nuts that I can't pick and choose fifth-grade Bible stuff instead of fourth, and fourth-grade stuff instead of seventh in a package...

Looking Around

As I said before, I'm always looking around. I like to visit other homeschoolers on the web and see what kinds of curriculum might be available. I think I can be happy with what I have and still be glad for you that you have stuff you like. Every once in a great while, I'll even change. It was hard to change over to Singapore Maths, I'll tell you. But I kept reading blog after blog. Teacher after teacher wishing he could teach this type of math. I'm not saying that having a public school credential makes you smarter than me, but guess what? I'm humble enough to tell you that I really don't know that much math. I'm listening to the opinions out there and thinking about them. That's what helped me make the switch. I think we're adjusting "ok" now, but wish we had switched either earlier or not at all. I think we lost about two months trying to figure things out. Maybe that time is not wasted, but it seemed like that's about how long we were spinning our wheels and getting acclimated.

I do define a good education as being ready to serve God and your fellow-man as well as being a responsible citizen. I guess what I would look for in a high school curriculum would be very different than for a seven-year-old. That's why I don't object to the teaching of evolution in high school. I DO object, however, to the inability of public schools to air all sides of the debate, however. I'm not even sure that evolution "needs" to be taught at this level as not too many kiddos will move on to being paleontologists or archaeologists or anything of that sort. How many accountants really draw upon that information each day? I think it would be a better idea to teach some of these young people more valuable and applicable lessons such as "how to write a check" or "how to answer the phone" or "how credit card companies make money on YOU" or "100% of the people who lose their homes qualified for a mortgage. Think before you buy."

All of these may be included in our homeschool later. :]

03 February 2009

Expensive ER Visit

The good news is that G is a perfectly healthy kid. He weighs a whopping 135 pounds and is six feet tall. His thumb is not broken, but was very purple and swollen, necessitating a trip to the ER. The bad news is that someone called him a faggot one too many times. I wonder what price Mom and Dad are going to be paying here for his defending his honour...? I'm guessing about $2,000 because of the high-tech splint and the fact that an x-ray was taken.

02 February 2009

Here You Go. I'll Share.


Dad also had to take the girl away from the little pile of Cheerios he left out for Woodjie because she was starting to look like a chipmunk.

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...