31 October 2009

Star Trek Homeschooling.

When I first began homeschooling my little Elf, I thought that "homeschooling" was really all about teaching the kid to read and write. He may even learn to balance a checkbook eventually and fill out job applications and that sort of thing. I had no idea that I was doing it all wrong.

You see, I wasn't Thomas Jefferson homeschooling. Homeschooling on the Trivium. Classical homeschooling. Charlotte Mason homeschooling. Enki homeschooling. Anything you could imagine out there from "public schooling at home" - schooling to UNschooling. You need a special name to fit in here, folks.

And I'm just not fitting in anywhere here... so just for fun, I'm going to make up "Star Trek Homeschooling." Read along and decide which character suits you! We Star Trek Homeschoolers can't be a monolithic sort of group, you know. That's why it's called the Federation of Star Trek Homeschoolers when we get together for conventions each year. Not *all* of us wear the Vulcan ears or speak fluent Klingon, you know.

We'll start off with Red Shirt Homeschooling. I'm usually not one to tell parents what to do, but I do NOT think this is the sort of homeschooling you want to do. I know the guys in the Red Shirts appear frequently in the Star Trek episodes, but not for long. If you suspect that you are a Red Shirt Homeschooler, I would nix the interplanetary field trips for a while until you get more bridge experience and the viewers get attached to you.

Dr. McCoy Homeschooling: "Dammit, Jim, the school system is dead!" This is the "Party of NO" in homeschooling... we all know them. They're the homeschoolers who homeschool only because they think the system is bad or because they object to this or that. They're pretty ok people, really, and like Dr. McCoy, they have a lot of strong feelings about issues, unlike...

Spock Homeschooling. It's logical. It's ordered. It's great for large families because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, or the few. Big family moms get this concept, even if they don't speak it outright. They'll tell you that they love each child equally, and that each child gets 14.8 minutes of undivided attention each day... but... I'm thinking they're saying this because all the *other* moms keep saying this... and they don't want to be the oddball who says that it doesn't really work that way.

Uhura Homeschooling. Mostly because of the cool name. Uhura is smart, pretty, and she communicates well, but she can and will kick your butt if she is threatened. Don't mess with her.

"It's going to take me six YEARS to finish that curriculum, Captain! There's nae way I can do it by June!" Welcome to the world of Scotty Homeschooling! Study technical manuals in your spare time and make up crazy estimates for project due dates. Fun.

And finally, Captain Kirk homeschooling. Be adventurous in about any way you can imagine, and probably a few you can't. Go shirtless! Do things your way, because YOU are the Captain and you said so! Follow the Federation manual to the letter when it suits you and when it doesn't? How convenient that you were out of contact range with Headquarters when a major decision that affected the course of the entire universe had to be decided... My bad. But the Captain always does the right thing. And he gets to wear velour... mmm... velour.

29 October 2009

Handwriting.

It's very difficult for Emperor. This is his neatest work... readable, but not without a little effort. We've gone through the writing in shaving cream, workbook exercises, etc. and I'm sure he's improved over the years, but I still can't say that it isn't a problem. One of the difficulties in comparing his writing this year to years past is the fact that one must do MORE writing as one ages. It's one thing to turn in a single page, perfect, with nothing but B's on it. Quite another to write, flowing, legibly, one letter into the next while maintaining a train of thought on paper. Emperor turned eight in August, and would have been in second grade this year were he in public school.

Waiting...

So, I'm waiting for an appointment with all the kids except Patrick. This is one of those semi-governmental places that I wish I didn't have to visit... but nearly free is nearly free, and you know how that goes. I've discovered there are actually some good things about these places. A few, at least.

First off, the "clients" there are rarely snotty to you. I know, I know, when I hear the word "client," I think about prostitution just like you do. That, or some awful lawyer defending a criminal... but the lawyer can't say "criminal" about the guy he's defending... so he calls him a "client." I think it's a code word or something. But that's what they call you when you're a patient at these places. Somehow when you are a client instead of a patient, that lends class and dignity and stuff. Empowers you, even. All that without their having to spend any money or be nice or anything!

Maybe someday soon, teens will use the word "client" to insult one another. "Aw, Davey, you're acting like such a CLIENT!" Well... maybe.

No matter... my point being that by and large, most people in the waiting room don't bat an eyelid about your kid's mismatched clothes or give that "I'm more important than everyone in the waiting room! Look at me use my cell phone! See my pretty rings and purse!" posture. They mind their business and we mind ours. Sort of. Did I mention that I have two toddlers? A few people were a little inconvenienced, but I was able to delegate some responsibility so that the effects were minimized. :]

Another good thing? There is a preschool next door that brought the children in for trick or treating. About 13 kids in the class, all dressed up as little monsters and faeries and stuff. Emperor thought that was great! They have a bigger family than ours!

"You must have adopted that lil girl though," he tells the teacher about the Hispanic child. He didn't mean it in a mean way, but I thought of a post I read this morning on socialization and learning about differences while I was apologizing and ushering him away from the group. (Somehow everyone else is able to socialize their kids in such a way that odd remarks like that disappear by this age... but at least we've gotten past the "LOOK! A BLACK PERSON IS OVER THERE!" statements.)

I just told him that if it is a big family, they had to have adopted several of the children because most people can't really have more than twins or triplets all at one time... and... see how all the children are about the same age?

"Oh, yeahhh..." And it's a preschool, anyway, kid. Just so you know. "It IS?? Where is Miss Bev??" Well... it's not YOUR old preschool... it's just a preschool... (I feel some days I explain one set of questions, just to have five more pop up.)

That's one rockin' preschool party, going to the nearly-free clinic and getting some candy bars in the waiting room while everyone coughs nearby. Woodjie ran to join the other little kids because *of course* bunches of kids together means a party! Food! Treats!! Rose ran up in there as well.

The treat-passers were merciful and gave us some snacks for the kids, but they had to dig around a fair while to find something for Woodjie. I'm looking ahead to Christmas parties and all sorts of other things in the school future for this kid and it looks pretty bleak unless I bring the treats myself.

In the end, the kid got the nurse's granola bar. She had been saving it for a snack, but she felt sorry for the poor guy. ALL the candy they were providing as treats had milk in it except for the Starburst-type things that would be a choking hazard. Bummer, Mom refuses to risk death to keep the peace. Mom sure appreciated the granola bar. God bless that nurse.

I think these nearly-free places don't have very good "client" relations people and receptionists, though. The receptionist I booked the appointment with warned me to take only the child with the appointment! They don't have room for all the children in the waiting room!

They are such stinkin' liars!

The place had to have had twice the space of my living room. I'm telling you, I could have brought 16 kids into that place and they'd have all been just fine. The entire preschool just came, and I had MY kids, and there were others in the waiting room... and we all don't fit??

I think the receptionists must be unmarried, childless cat owners or something. And if you want to do that with your life, I don't have a problem with it. But please, if you dislike children and that's your lifestyle, maybe a different job... you know, one in which you do NOT interact with people in the general public, who usually have kids?... might be a better fit for you.

OO, Mrs. C just gave out some career advice for free. God bless ya! :p

28 October 2009

Just a Rant.

I don't watch tv or follow the reality shows, but even I know who "Balloon Boy" is because I have facebook and an AOL welcome screen. No offense to the avid followers of the Balloon family, but I was tired of hearing about it when I first heard it. I'm thinking that for a great reality show, we need to follow the lives of several lower middle-class families that have genuine need, but don't qualify for state help. Watch them beg for services. Hear the evil and snippy tone of the people they must call on a daily basis. Figure out how much time is spent advocating and getting nothing. Oh! Also relay to the viewers how just thinking about how one has to call, making calls and waiting for calls is almost as stressful as the sickness itself.

Watch them go without needed care on a regular basis. Then watch them pay their taxes so that the "less fortunate" get a better, more comprehensive coverage for free. Watch them jump through a bunch of hoops and answer personal questions so they can find out that they do NOT qualify. Or watch providers "just" charge a nominal fee based on the idea that they are the only expense aside from food and shelter. Other bills and other providers? Not my problem, baby.

Act surprised as these families turn militant. They'll either petition for more services to be covered by the government for EVERYONE, or they'll lobby that the entire system get shut down, because they're the victims of it. I would posit to you that the first reaction is the more common, but the most short-sighted. I would also posit to you that when you're in a bad situation, you don't bloody well care about rights so much, so it's understandable that these families are asking for SOMETHING to show for the process they've ALREADY been through, for having to have given up the information they have ALREADY shared in the hopes of getting care. When you have already been humiliated to the point where you're bingeing and vomiting and your hair is falling out and your heart is skipping beats, how much worse could it get?

So what if you want my social security number and a description of our embarrassing problem? There you go. I know you're a petty bureaucrat with less education than the average DMV worker as evidenced by the silly "empowering" posters on your wall, but if you're the only gatekeeper I can find to answer my calls and grant me an appointment, I guess I'm spilling my guts.

There you go. I tried to keep things together and look like a respectable citizen. Now you have my social security number, family income and now you know everything about me. There is nothing hidden from you. I have bared my very innermost hurt here. Can I have help now?

No. It's always a few more things that are needed.

More paperwork. Wait to hear back from some guy. I'll call you when the paperwork is ready. Quit calling me. Call this other guy... sorry I can't help you... here's his number...

Other guy: No, um, I'm so glad you took time off work to make this appointment and waited for two weeks while things fell apart at home so you could attend, but you're in the wrong place. This is the number you need to call. (On and on it goes... several false leads, rabbit trails, re-explaining the embarrassing problem over and over and over and over. Finally... here's a new number!) Yes, I know it's the first number and those people referred you here. But you need to use the following medical words in this order to them, and you will receive services:

Bibbity bobbity boo.

The really frightening thing is that sometimes using the magic words ACTUALLY WORKS SOMETIMES. A little. You must use them in the right order and in their clinical context. Somehow, using the magic words will open doors faster than "Open Sesame" if you call just the right person and the stars are aligned properly and you are wearing red.

No, these aren't really the magic words... I fought hard for the real magic words and will be renting hotel conference rooms over the next six months to impart them to people so I can help them out. I think I'll charge $1,000 a person but I'll serve lunch with it, so it will be a "super-bonus value."

Yes, I'm kidding. But no, I'm not kidding that my family is going through "stuff" right now. I'm also not kidding when I relate to you that dealing with semi-governmental agencies is enough to make you need services if you didn't already to begin with.

I used to be a reporter. Not a big-time reporter for a huge conglomerate, but a reporter nonetheless. I did the City Commission thing, covered the court beat, the police report, the assorted stories around town. I've dealt with hostile people. I can play phone tag with the best of them. But, you know, even though technically "the press" have no more rights than the average person (it's true!), I'd at least manage to get an answer or a "no comment" to about any question within a week. Tell the guy answering the phone that you're a reporter from the Name of Backwoods Paper and watch people jump. (It's amusing, really.)

But this running in circles and being continually disrespected by everyone? I think being lower middle class sucks.

24 October 2009

Fall Room-Cleaning.




As you can see from the top picture, the beds are pushed 1-2-3 near each other so one can barely navigate. D is uncomfortable with bunk beds because of the possibilities of falls and injuries. Someday, I hope to get captain's style beds for the children so that at least we don't have to have three beds AND dressers in the room. While I had the blankets and sheets out for a washing, I did a good dusting and moved some furniture back and forth to see what I'd find. If you're brave, embiggen the pictures for a good look at these dust monsters. They can't rightly be called "bunnies" any more. This is one of those things that I used to "get around to" literally every three weeks to monthly when I had two children, but now that I have six? I'm lucky to get 'round to this sort of thing every six months. Ok, the sheets get washed more frequently than that, but the room sure doesn't get cleaned nearly so well or so often. I have officially told Elf and Emperor that they've lost the dollar allowance they usually get for cleaning their room. Obviously I hadn't been checking under beds and behind dressers before shelling out each week. I'm not sure if it's because I'm too trusting or too lazy... or maybe I *am* sure and don't want to reveal quite all my dysfunction on the blog just yet.

23 October 2009

Indian Arrowhead?

Elf and Emperor found this in our rock garden this summer. They like to imagine that it is a real Indian arrowhead. Um, it's made out of chert. You know, like every other rock around here? And it looks nothing like the nice big, black arrowheads made of volcanic rock (ok, that you can't find for a few hundred miles) that are finely-made and stuck on the end of decorative sticks that we see in the movies. Yikes! Just looked up "chert" so I could show my readers what other examples of chert might look like... and came across this... maybe it is a real arrowhead after all. I could not imagine selling it.

Fixing Short-Short-Shorts.

They make shorts too stinkin' short for little girls. If I left this as-is, Rose's diaper would hang out the back end if she wore it in public next summer. Then again, I couldn't pass up paying 20 cents for the shorts... I took an old piece of a skirt that is too small for me and attached it to the bottom of the shorts. I had cut off the "legs" first, but I think next time, I'll just flip the shorts around and sew through the open waistline so that there is a modesty cover under the skirt. :]

Family.

You gotta love 'em, but you don't have to love them in the same room. The Mom With Brownies wrote a poignant piece about accepting others and protecting yourself, even as others do not accept you as you are:

"Just because we WANT them to like us, does not mean that they will like us. We can beat our head against the wall trying to fit our heart into a square hole but it will never fit if we are only being tolerated! If we can understand that this is normal, we can then shed the 'what ifs.' We will have found the Holy Grail of peace. There comes a time when we mature enough to know who wants us around and who does not. When that time comes, we need to make the hard decision to walk away and give them their desire... Let us let go. Let us live our life. Let us let them live theirs and stop wasting the minutes we have on this earth. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. We do not have to have them over for tea or even have them in our lives at all. We have tried and tried to be loved. We have tried and tried to smile, accept, enter their confidence. If it hasn't happened by now, it's not going to."

Yeah. Read it and weep if you want. It's a great post.

22 October 2009

Back in MY Day...

They used a longer paddle to swack me back in the day than they do on these young hoods today! And they did it in front of the whole class because that's an effective deterrent! Yuk, yuk. That's really funny. And it learned me good, too. So that's what we should do to these ruffians in Mississippi schools. Just swack 'em good. Happened to tens of thousands of kids in the state last year alone!

(I'm sure Mississippi will score very well on all standardized tests next year, because they done knocked some sense into these young'uns. You just wait and see if I'm not right.)

See, because the alternative to swacking them takes too much time out of our school day, and when we send kids HOME for Mom and Dad to deal with, we don't get state funding for those hours. That's more important than whether the kid learns anything or is treated with respect. We're busy. We don't want to take a little extra time and go over what the problem is and maybe think of an effective deterrent for next time. We don't want to change the environment at all or ask the child how we can help him stay in control. That's too touchy-feely and modern and stuff.

Oh! And by the way, I just want to reiterate that only professionals can swat kids with paddles. They're certified and all, so don't you try this at home. You pull that and CPS will take your kids away faster than you can say Jack Robinson. They think it's abuse; shame on 'em. But don't worry. Once you drop your kids off at school, we'll be sure to help them out with a good paddling or two when they step out of line. Don't trouble yourself with permission forms, because we don't need 'em.

In other news, I think those homeschoolers ought to be watched more closely. Some of them abuse their kids. Thanks for listening, y'all.

21 October 2009

Woodjie at the Pumpkin Patch








I took Elf and Emperor to the pumpkin patch as well, but we haven't had any Woodjie pictures in a while. Woodjie was a pretty good little kid, considering he got very overwhelmed by all the sights and sounds at the farm. He was frightened of the animals. He was positively terrified of the tractor ride. But he just loved the kiddie playground. Most of the rides are fun, inventive things like rocking lambs made of wood, animal swings made from tires, a barrel and hula-hoop rodeo game, and a real bitty Fort Liberty stockade. Yes, I kept Woodjie on the monkey leash but mostly I try to hold his hand when we go places.

Good Reporting?

"Paul scoffs three family-sized takeaways a night and wolfs down Sunday roasts like snacks."

The article from which I took this quote is about a fellow who is so overweight that he needs very expensive help. Doctors have scheduled a stomach-reducing surgery in the hopes that Paul will eat less and therefore prevent an obesity-related death.

Now, I'm not sure that that will work. I've heard of people who can train themselves to get around the effects of the stomach-stapling surgery and I've also heard of severe complications. Then again, at nearly 1,000 pounds, the guy is probably just desperate for some help.

Imagine being that desperate for help. Imagine how tough that would be to go over and over and over your medical history with these medical folks every time you tried to make an appointment. Imagine the calls you'd have to make. Explain over and over again how you don't fit through the door. How, sorry, but no way you can make this appointment 150 miles away. Sure, they make it sound like the medical orgs are going out of their way to pick him up as though he were a little princess... but I will bet you dollars to donuts that that is the result of tireless, patient advocacy on his part. It had to be very difficult.

Sure, I don't think eating 20,000 calories a day is cool and I'm not defending that. But writing an article stating that the guy "scoffs" and "wolfs" down his food seems to convey a bit of disgust to the reader. If the article were about an alcoholic going to an expensive treatment center, would they have described him as "guzzling booze like a lowly wino?" Guess that's not ok to do because there are plenty of recovering alcoholics out there who would take the news guys to task for a report like that.

It bothers me. I have to wonder why this guy's private medical info is published. Did he ask for that? Or is the single-payer system so accountable to the taxpayer that the public has a "right to know?" Or did the fellow agree to doing the article for pay, so he can support his "take-away" habits because his addiction is at the point where sure, he'll humiliate himself in print for some food? Just wondering aloud here. And BTW no, I am not trying to be disrespectful. I'm just wondering what the motivation of all the "players" involved here might be.

Another thing that bothers me? The fellow pictured in the article is obviously too big to drive. He would have to be too big to get his own shopping done. Unless he's rich, family or friends have to be doing these grocery runs and providing this immense quantity of food. I should imagine that halving what is brought over for a while would be a good thing for his health. Then in a few months, halve that again. I would imagine he'd still be plenty overweight on 5,000 calories a day, but at least at that point you're not enabling him to the *extreme.*

I know I don't control my family. But I will *not* buy alcohol for you if you come to visit me. You could be my best friend, and hey! maybe you don't have a problem with abusing alcohol. But I won't buy it for you. I just wouldn't feel right about it. If you want to do that to your body, and you think you can handle that, then that's between you and God. I know plenty of very Godly Christians who don't feel that drinking a glass of wine with dinner is a problem.

But see, I do. So, please don't ask me to buy it. I know too many alcoholics and see what "just one drink" can do to some people. Though if you weigh 1,000 pounds I could easily see buying you more to eat than the average person. I can't imagine restricting you to a 1,500 calorie diet with that sort of weight would be healthy. But... I couldn't see swinging 20,000 without a doctor's note.

Don't ask me. Not to BLAME the relatives (obviously they're not the ones directly eating the food), but what are they thinking?

19 October 2009

Famous Australian Landmarks

Um... this one is worth your time. It will be a new favourite, especially for my Australian readers. I saw the link to this at Brenda's Family Revised blog.

18 October 2009

What's the Plan?

Since April, I've been working with the slow-as-molasses Regional Center to develop a plan for Elf. It is similar to an IEP, but funded through a semi-governmental agency that sorta gives funding and then you scrap around and hope to magically find a provider that accepts the funding...

Meh. It's something, anyway. Of course, now that our plan has finally gotten finished (do you know how much pestering it took? Well, just imagine), now we are on the waiting list, which is about two years long. Ughhhh.

But Elf has been involved in this process. I want Elf to have a real LIFE outside home after I drop dead or he grows up. Not to be morbid, but I think it needs to be a consideration of every special needs kid's parents. "Regular," standard-issue kids can be pawned off to the nearest relative and aside from the regular, standard-issue "boo-hoo, my mom died in a fiery wreck" sort of problems to work through, the kid grows up ok. S/he gets a job and moves out. Marries. Has kids.

You know what I mean.

So... Elfie through the process has been interviewed by the "case worker" during her visit. He knew Mom has this idea in her head that Elf should go to a store allll by himself and pick up a loaf of bread or can of soup without panicking. I think he was hoping that Mom would somehow forget that idea if he just laid low when I was filling out these forms.

But here they are! A plan. No money yet... but a plan has arrived in the mail with the stated goal of helping Elfie go to the store with help and transition to independent store shopping eventually. I clued Elf into this and Elf got all mad. I tried to tell Elf that someday, he'd need to have a job. That means driving.

Hmm... ok... the look on Elf's face indicates he is ok with this, so I continue... "This means getting into a car. And putting the key into the ignition and backing out of the driveway..." He still looks ok about this.

"... It means going by yourself in the car, away from the house and away from Mom. All alone by yourself, driving to work and meeting lots of people and going into crowds and being OK with it."

Ut-ohhh. Rumpled face.

"Well," the visibly angry Elf told me, "had you ever considered the fact that I might not LIKE to drive? That I might want a job where I don't HAVE to drive? I don't want to drive, EVER. I'm going to do something completely different. You should have asked me what I wanted to do!"

Um...

Hmm...

He's right. I had never considered the child's brilliance. Here, he must be advocating for a work-at home business in which he does not have to leave the house. Too often we have such a cultural imperialism about us, don't we? The child wants to leave the paradigm of the workaday industrial, clock-punching reality most of us accept as necessary. It was closed-minded of me.

Why should we be corporate colonists when we can tell the King where to get off and start our own businesses? Good for Elf! I knew that homeschooling would nurture that out-of-the-box thinking. I repented that I had never ASKED him what he wanted to do, precisely. Here I was following our predominant cultural model of enabling the young man to live independently. I had no inkling to ask Elf. It was inconsiderate of me to think that he's just a child and that he'd get a clearer picture of what he'd like to do as he aged.

Sigh. I'm so sorry, Elf. You're right. What is it you want to do?

"I want to be a jet pilot! Then I won't have to drive away from my house!"

16 October 2009

It's a Major Award!

You bet, when it's given by a loving friend. I appreciate all of them, even if I don't blog every one. Things have been so nutty around here... maybe you've noticed the shorter posts. In any event, my buddy Bonnie has awarded me the Gorgeous Blogger Award. I'm going to tell you six things about myself and then award this to six other gorgeous bloggers. Ready?

1. I'm really a 53-year-old liberal man. I write this blog as a sort of alter ego. I also like to stretch the truth quite a bit on occasion, and this is one of those times.

But you never know about people! When you're online, you could really be talking to just about anyone. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get to know someone. One thing I have discovered on this blogging journey is that my blog friends "get" it when my family does not. Do you know how often I've been emailed by people going through the same things that I am? No, I won't out anyone. Ever. But I will say that it's sad and encouraging (bittersweet, even!) to see other people out in cyberspace be able to read between the lines and share that they are going through the same or similar things.

I'm floored by that. I'm floored by God's grace, even through what I used to consider a rather evil medium. I've even found praying friends on YoVille. I'm incredibly sad this morning as a good friend, "Doloris," has told me that her eyesight is failing and she is having trouble keeping up with our conversations anymore, even with magnification. She is such a prayer warrior and a beautiful Christian. Please say a prayer for her. She truly does have a ministry playing games online... she really does.

2. I wanted to be born somewhere glamourous like Vienna or London, but my parents chose Cleveland. What's up with that?

3. Elf and I have been crying all morning. Poor Elf is absolutely heartbroken. He has read me "The Daisy." (suggestive sidebar ad warning. Did you know that we use Post-It notes for these? They're perfect in that they're removable but don't obstruct the entire screen. Patrick has a few for problematic websites himself. This is one of those practical "hints" you don't find anywhere else.) The story is so sad. *sniff*

4. I dislike the works of Hemingway. I don't understand what the big to-do is about his writing. The man writes the longest run-on sentences you've ever seen. Modern art? I also dislike most of that, but every now and then there will be a truly great piece that surprises me. Still other times, I could think something looks stupid and dorky until I see it in real life. Have you ever been to an exhibit and found that even though you are looking at the same thing that is in your book, that you like it better when it's before you?

5. I like cooking well enough but hate the cleanup. I don't dislike doing laundry, though. I know a lot of people can't stand smelly laundry, but I like the idea of getting it all *done.* Just when it is *done,* though, it seems someone's found a dirty pile of clothes to toss. :p

6. I give up. There are only five things about me you didn't know.
I'm passing this little trophy on to:
3. Lisa

15 October 2009

Spongedad?

Spongebob is getting married to Sandy the Squirrel! It will be fun to watch how nicely Spongebob straps his kids into their carseats and gets a higher-paying job so that he can support his family.

Or maybe they'll be less traditional and Spongebob will stay home to homeschool the children on "how to drive a boat" while Sandy goes into the workaday world. "Hope he gets a prenup," one commenter quipped. "Someone stole half of my pineapple once and it wasn't a good feeling."

13 October 2009

Spelling Discouragement.

Elf has a little trouble spelling. He'll study and study and study and study. Oh MY will he study.

He's finally, after three years of homeschooling, gotten to the point where he no longer spells "dozz" for "does." Now it's "dose." Arg. Ok! But it's progress.

It isn't the spelling list. There is no magical curriculum that is going to make it easy for the Elf. I think he's an awesome reader, and he does well in math, but I'm just going to do the best I can with him in spelling and call it good. I think there is only so much the best spelling teacher can do with certain students. I love the kid... but there it is.

One of the spelling words this week was the name of a book in the Bible. It also happened to be Elf's name. "Whew!" I thought. "Finally, some easy points for Elf on the test!" But he got it wrong. And then, after more studying, writing the words out, blah blah blah, he got it wrong on the retest. Double Arg!

I'm going to admit right here that had the kid gone to public school, that's one thing he'd have learned better than here at home. At home, this little guy has been signing all his worksheets "Elf" for the last three years. That, or putting a tiny, tiny dot in the corner of his paper and saying that that was a detailed picture of him. You just can't argue with that sort of logic.

Mean Old Mom (Or just MOM for short) will probably be requiring that one writes one's full legal name on worksheets occasionally. In other news... Elf and Emperor have lived here their whole lives, but have forgotten their address and phone number. I swear I cannot make this stuff up.

Update: Elf's spelling troubles with his name are over!! I *brilliantly* showed him (short version of name) + u + elf spells his name if he removes the F. So it really spells that "U" are an elf. We take the F away to disguise exactly how elfie he really is... Yes, someone is very obsessed still with being the elf. I have caught him more than once trying to wear the elf outfit to church under his clothes. :]

12 October 2009

The *Love* Poem.

A friend once described me as being "uppity and sarcastic," probably because she has never met Patrick.

Ohhhh, my, Patrick is worse than all those arrogant professors you had in college on a bad day when they're desperate to impress a colleague with their mean wit. He can absolutely floor you with his answers, and he doesn't even need the little tweed coat with the leather patches on the elbows or little reading glasses perched on his nose to make you feel inferior. If I wanted someone to, say, write something that would be sure to alienate a potential girlfriend, I'd ask Patrick to write it for me.

Patrick might be writing love poems for a friend to pass off as his own, he told me when he arrived home from school. And he might be getting paid to do it. (Patrick? LOVE poem? *snort inwardly here*)

"How much are you getting paid, Patrick?"

Well, I'm not saying I AM doing this for money, he said. I just said I miiiight be. (Ok, so he's being a smartie and teasing Mom at this point...)

"What's in the poem?" I asked.

"What poem? You have a poem?"

(He's good at this game.) You know, the poem he might have written and might get paid to do by a friend? That poem? Round and round we go on this for a bit until he feeels like answering...

Yep, he's probably getting money for it but doesn't want to admit it because Mom has- no kidding - about $1.47 counting the kitchen knick-knack drawer pennies because she hasn't been to the bank. But I know Patrick has this sort of zing-y sarcastic wit that can be hilariously insulting. He finally got around to describing his literary opus that begins with smoochy gushing over the young lady's beautiful brown eyes and ends with some sort of night of yowling passion.

UM...

Maybe Old Mom should not ever, never-never-never, ask a question unless she is truly prepared for the answer. Now I'm left wondering if some poor girl is receiving a love note at this very moment from some lovestruck young man... that was really written by my studiously innocent child who had better not have any idea that "passion" could refer to anything but Jesus's death on the cross. He's only 16, and at that age I was...

Um...

Ok, I think I'll settle for the poetry.

Here's a Sunday Funny For You...

Our pastor likes to start his sermon with a "funny." Here's a good 'un: A young man is on his way to church with two quarters. He plans to buy ice cream with one and put the other one into the offering plate. As he's strolling along, he's flipping the quarter into the air, singing a little song and thinking about buying ice cream. But as he nears the shop, he stumbles and the quarter he was playing with goes down into a grate and is irretrievable. The boy thinks about what to do. Finally, he pulls the other quarter out of his pocket and says, "Sorry, God. This quarter is for ice cream."

"HEEE HEEE HEEE HEEEEEE!" Elf thought this joke was very, very good. I don't know that he remembered anything of the preaching. I could hear him stifle little giggles all through the service. All that week, I'd occasionally hear him snorting and giggling and saying, "Sorry, God. This quarter is for ice cream!"

I don't think any other nine-year-old has appreciated a pastor's joke quite so much. This joke also had to be acted out by Elf and Emperor many different times. Complete with pretend ice cream, what flavour each boy would pick out, etc. I have to admit to laughing many, many times over this joke because Elf's red-faced laughter is just so contagious.

Here's another Sunday funny for you. A fellow is driving down the highway when he receives a frantic phone call from his wife. "Harry!" she says. "Be careful! I just heard on the news that some crazy person is driving the wrong way on the highway!"

"Ethel, it isn't just one person," Harry responds. "They are all driving the wrong way!"

Emperor did not like this one. It is dangerous to drive the wrong way on the highway. It's even more dangerous if EVERYONE is driving the wrong way on the highway. This is not funny. This is sick. The pastor's preaching this on a Sunday??

Sigh. Yep. It was about all I could do to keep the kid from yelling about this outrage during church. I explain the joke to him later and he's a bit mollified. I can tell he still feels a bit infuriated at the thought. But that did not confuse Emperor nearly so much as the following story:

Two airheads are getting ready to build a fence. "This nail is defective!" one says to the other. "The nail's point is going the wrong way."

"Oh, no, that's ok," the other replies. "It's for the other side of the fence!"

Emperor had some questions...

What is an airhead and why is it building the fence? Is it trying to keep something out of its yard? What kind of fence is it building?

What was wrong with the nail?

Did they get the fence done?

And I don't see why this joke is funny, Mom...

10 October 2009

All About Girlie

At last count, Rose can say 33 words. They include words like "sniff," as in, "sniff my feet so I can laugh at you." Or "ball," as in, "I am not happy with the food that is served. I want the cheese balls I see on the counter." The cutest word? "Nigh-nigh," as in, "I feel that it would be best for you to tuck me in to bed before I get out of control here." This has to be the world's only kid who consistently tells you when it's bedtime. When she gets up to her room? "Doll. Nigh-nigh. Shhh." Well, ok, then. Good night.

08 October 2009

Itsy Update.

Here's what we're up to in the Happy Elf Homeschool:

Maths:

We're finishing up Singapore Maths Workbook 4B this week. We'll finish the textbook next week. Then we'll doodle around for a bit. We'll "review" for a week or so, too, and I'll see if I can't trip the children up here and there and find some weak spots. Word problems. Yeah. They'll hate it, but it will build character. I might print off some other state tests and see if they do well on those. Every now and then, the way in which the question is asked just throws them off.

Or better still, maybe I ought to just drill 'em for the SAT now so that in about six years they'll be really, really ready. My, I've seen other families do that even at this young age. You can succeed like that, you know... but I'm not sure it would teach math very well. Hopefully you know what I mean. Not that the SAT isn't really a good math test, but if that's all you're striving for, you'll miss it.

For that matter, it doesn't matter so much what grade level the children are working on, so long as they are progressing.

English/Reading:

Just finished the Prince and the Pauper (abridged version) and am midway through Captive Treasure. I don't like the book. It seems very... unrealistic that the power of the Bible in one's hand would make a charging horse go in the other direction. I can't say that I've never heard of Bibles stopping bullets during wartime and giving protection, etc. but... I have a very hard time with the goody-goody family portrayed here wanting to leave all behind and minister to the Indians and praying during their nightly Bible reading. Or for the tribal leaders to call some captured kid the "Daughter of the Sun" and be so open to the Gospel, etc. I've read some of Milly Howard's stuff before and liked it much better than this book. She has a wonderful way of describing things and helping the reader "be there," but for all that I cannot get past these glaring problems I find with the novel.

I'm getting it done just to get it done. I've made plain that it isn't my favourite. The boys are excited about the book, especially as it is covered and discussed in their Bob Jones Bible curriculum. I think I would recommend another book, however. Usually I'm very excited about BJU resources.

We're progressing in our Spelling and our Landmark's Freedom Baptist Literature curriculum. The literature curriculum shows me plainly that Emperor has a very hard time sorting the information that he reads and finding it again. I don't know how to help on that except to make him go back and do it again, or show him yet another time that yes, the answer you were looking for is *right here.* Such things have always been easy for me, but it's very difficult for Emperor despite the fact that he enjoys the stories. Elf gets these exercises done super-quick for the most part, with few corrections. He tends to be slower in the math. It works out eventually to be about even so long as I do the "teaching" time with both of the children and then allow them to work at their own pace on the things they must do themselves.

Science:

I finally got some nice LIFEPACs and we're beginning a unit on animals. In fact, we're writing a paper about honeybees as suggested in the LIFEPACs. The children spent this morning "researching" (reading books and looking at pictures... hey, it counts) and writing a little rough outline about what they'd like to say on the subject. Later, we'll polish it up and hopefully have something new on the little boys' blogs.

Social Studies:

I've always known the names of the three ships Columbus sailed to the New World, but had not studied the context in which he sailed until college. The LIFEPACs we will be using these next few weeks give a little information about continents and major explorers. We'll talk about the trade in spices just a bit. I think it's a nice overview for this age, but it does not go into any detail. Even the overview seems a bit overwhelming. I have a feeling that as we go through this unit and learn more, it will be easier for the boys to put things into context and understand them.

Later, when we're done with our honeybee papers, we'll research a spice and do a little paper on that as well.

Bible:

Elf and Emperor have memorized Psalm 103! They start to freeze a bit before the camera, though. Will have to work out some bugs on that and see if we can't get some shy children to show what they're capable of doing. (Yes, it took a long time for us to get that done. Please don't think it all happened in one afternoon. For tales like that, visit another blog. It took us months.)

06 October 2009

The Sad Story of Homeschooling.

I've had several public school folks from this and other websites asking unbiased questions in their websearches. They don't stay long, presumably because my website didn't give the REAL story.

Do you want the real story? Here it is!

An AOL search of the "sad story of homeschooling" reveals that children are forced into public schools in divorce cases. Ok, that's a sad story. My blog *somehow* came next.

Next up? A post that links to a news story that pretty plainly states that "homeschooling" families are a bit wacko and are trying to hide stuff. "The school bus never stopped at the secluded trailer on Hickory Crossroads in rural North Carolina," it forbodingly opines, "because for five years Nissa and Kent Warren home schooled their children."

Are you hearing the doom-y music in the background? Um... they found squalid living conditions and some dead kids... must be the homeschooling. Nothing to do with wacky parents who were known abusers and CONVICTED in another state, right?? Good grief.

Ok, ok. One more. The "my son hates being homeschooled" story in which the poster asks for advice. You would think from the oh-so-relevant gay sex remarks written in response that public-schooled children neeeever complain about their teachers, homework, classmates or school rules. Better get that kid into public school post-haste so that he can have a chance at a "normal" life... you know, like commenter "Yiffing in Hell" does. What is yiffing, you ask? Oh, boy, are you going to wish I hadn't provided the answer to that one.

Don't click it unless you really want to know.

05 October 2009

Pay Cash = Pay Less?

This whole idea bothers me. Some of these retailers need to put on their big-girl panties and deal with life as it is. Don't like the credit card companies skimping on you? Don't accept the credit card as a form of payment.

A good plenty of businesses will tell you "NO CHECKS" in nice bold print by the register. They've been burned a good plenty of times by unscrupulous customers and/or people who have no idea their account has been overdrawn somehow. At least with a credit card, it either goes through and is approved or it isn't. There is no grey area there. You don't have to chase after your customer for payment and listen to the "I had no idea the gas company got my check yesterday instead of next week and would cash it right away!" stories.

(Which might actually be true in this era of electronic check cashing. Another post, but that makes me nervous how a business can literally ruin you by resubmitting a check 48000 times. I get the idea that a check-bouncer should pay, but banks and financial institutions are not mistake-free, and sometimes, just sometimes, it's the little guy without the lawyer left with the bill. Ok, that's another post.)

With cash, you run into problems as well. In fact, I remember a day not too long ago when people were proposing giving lower prices to CREDIT CARD users because of the problems with counterfeiting cash, not to mention some of the crime a business might attract if it became known that large amounts of cash were lying around in the register.

The article argues that some customers give a greater profit margin to a business based on the payment form. Well, if we're going to treat customers differently because of the profit margin they provide a business, we'll have a host of unexpected consequences.

For example, when a morbidly obese lady comes in on her electric scooter, the local buffet will charge her $50 for her meal. Hey, our obese customers tend to eat more than our skinny ones. Why should the skinny people "subsidize" the chubby ones?

Obviously no buffet is going to do this, really. Bad public relations. Anyone who runs a buffet restaurant for any length of time would tell you that they've figured out what an "average" customer is going to eat and charged one price for everyone accordingly. They have a little padding on the bill for some people, and they may lose a little on other customers, but overall, they've figured out how to make a profit.

That's one of the reasons I don't buy a new car. I don't want to haggle with and negotiate with people (ahem, remember this story). Another reason is that I don't have about $40,000 jingling around in my pocket with nothing to do. No, "crinkling" around in my pocket.

In other news, I wonder what $40,000 would sound like in my pocket when I wander around town. Note to thieves: I will really just have $4 in my pocket and be pretending. :P

01 October 2009

Nooo! It's MINE! *I* Want to Wear it to Church!

Apparently this latest creation of D's makes the wearer look like "Bowser," and is very cool. This bracelet would also be ideal as homeschoolwear, except for the fact that Mom said "no." And Dad said to put it back on his leatherworking table and leave Dad's things alone, please.

*New* Holi-day.

"There's nothing wrong with God that a dose of reality won't cure," so maybe you'd like to celebrate Blasphemy Day with some friends? I'm thinking that you'll have plenty of time to do that in Hell if you don't repent purdy soon. Just using a little freedom of speech there, friend. While I still can.

I think it coincides with "National Be Offensive For Fun Day" as well as "People Who Are Too Chicken To Pull This Crap in Saudi Arabia Because Christians Are Really Pretty Tolerant But We Don't Want to Admit it Because it Makes Us Look Big And Bad to Fight the 'Power' Day."

It's a pretty busy day, I think.

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...