30 November 2009

Riff-Raff Homeschooling.

A "home education facilitator" reminisces that homeschooling used to be something to be proud of before all the riff-raff joined up and wrecked everything. I mean, they're so uncommitted these days. It took REAL "I know I might lose my kids and/or get sucked into the legal system for years" - type commitment to homeschool, so way back when only a few really brave and determined families tried it.

"Today, homeschooling is almost commonplace," yawns Dianne Dachyshyn. "It seems that everyone knows someone who homeschools, and unfortunately, it also seems as if all of us know someone who has homeschooled poorly. Stories abound of that one, odd homeschooling family that someone knew from someplace." You know... the kids in the STORIES.

The real kids, though? I'm thinking the nice social worker might have other things to worry about besides whether Janie learns her times tables at nine instead of seven... but... I have also read the HSLDA bulletins and maybe I need to freak out. And the freak-out dance would be because of STORIES of people like THIS nosing into other people's business and getting all "concerned."

"I hate to say it, but in some of the cases that I have seen in the past five to ten years, the kids would have been better off in public school," Dachyshyn sniffs. She promises to continue her "thoughts" about why she would "dare to speak such heresy" and purport to be a committed homeschooler in some other future article that I probably won't read.

This lady assists families with the review they must submit to the state twice a year in Alberta, Canada. In other words, she makes money because of the stringent requirements in that province. She also has very intimate access to educational testing results and the families themselves. I would have to wonder if she were able to interview public schooling families and look at THEIR portfolios and go through THEIR testing scores and talk about how THEY intend to meet educational goals in the next six months if she wouldn't be singing a different tune. (I'm not saying that would be fair to do to every public school family, either, but insert goose/gander analogy here.)

I can't say I've *never* met a kid that I didn't think might be "better off in the system," but I also realize that HELLO? Every system of education or method you would choose for your child has its advantages and disadvantages. Certainly if you're a lazy mom and would never get 'round to teaching your kid to read, homeschooling probably isn't for you. Certainly if your kid is constantly neglected by the teacher and bullied at school despite your raising concerns, public schooling probably isn't for you right now, either... BUT I DON'T SEE PEOPLE SNIPING AT THE PUBLIC SCHOOL MOM even though the child may be going through severe emotional hardship ... sigh.

But it isn't MY PLACE to decide what you do with your child. You raise your own kid, and I'll raise mine. Tolerance, yo, though I have to also say it drives me nutty bananas to see attitudes like this from people who should know better.

Beware Samurai Bearing Gifts

Many thanks to Sue for directing us to this neat tutorial on YouTube on how to make samurai kabuto (war helmet). Click here to see the craaazy picture she posted that inspired us to ask for help in making our own! And yes, this counts toward our Social Studies hours, mmmkay?

29 November 2009

Hoarders

I could *very* easily see us living this lifestyle to a lesser degree if I weren't prone to giving stuff away when we're all done with it. D likes to save Cool-Whip containers, pickle jars, peanut butter jars, empty pill jars and ... about everything you can think of because "we might need it" and it's "useful." I honest-to-goodness have found uses for about everything. Yes, we use ice cream buckets to separate toys, and we have bunches of them. It's helpful to organize our toys that way.

But now he's bringing recyclables home from work because it upsets him to see people just throw their lunch leftovers away. It's not being a good steward. Arg. We have a 60-gallon container we've stuck INTO the little recycling container the trash company gives us... and it's FULL each week. He collects hundreds of yogurt jars, each carefully washed, and expects me to find a good use for them. Ok. We use them to paint with ... but we don't paint quite so often that we can use hundreds... so I am left sending my children to school with these yogurt containers. They don't recycle them (I think they're number four and our recycling only does 1 and 2), so the preschool, junior high and high school are well-supplied with these. They ARE useful. But it just drives me nuts. We have to save every container AND its lid because... it might be useful.

I've also saved every outfit Patrick ever wore from babyhood on because... it WILL be useful. But there is a 15-year-gap between the oldest and youngest child... so stuff sits in storage for quite some time. Imagine having the entire childhood collection of two older teens, a nine and eight-year-old, and a soon to be three-year-old because it might be useful... imagine the boxes and boxes of things... arg.

And yet, no way I'm pitching it to buy new for each kid. I have the boxes stacked and organized and dive through each season. D says I lose things this way, and sometimes I do. Suppose this 3t is really more like a 5, so you store it with the 5s... but the next kid is skinnier and uses smaller sizes, or chubbier and needs longer sizes... or you have to go through three YEARS worth of stuff, including shoes, to patch together outfits for each of the four children twice a year. I save a lot, but I miss some things with any system I rig up as well.

But at least I can say there is a general purpose to the hoarding, and that when the "season" is over, I will be glad to give things away. We're done with the baby stage, so giving things away like the car seat and baby outfits is just a natural thing to do. D usually wants to save it and find someone specific to give it to. I might cull a few of the nice outfits out and mail them to friends or that sort of thing, but generally speaking? I need the space and the sanity more than I need to fill custom orders for friends who "might" find our old stuff "useful."

How about you? Is one person in your home the pack-rat, and the other the tosser? Do you live in cluttered spaces, happy medium or bare minimum? I'm kinda doubting most of my readers are folks who have **76** dead cats and literally tons of rotting food on their properties as in the video. You will love the videos I linked to above. They are really... amazing. I spent an entire afternoon watching this.

Updates.

Woodjie can say "No, thank youuu." Well, it sounds like, "No, ee-eu," which is clear enough. Want some of this malt vinegar Mom's eating? "No, ee-euuuuu." Diaper change time. "No, ee-eu." And tonight at 11:30 p.m., Woodjie woke up to tell me "No ee-eu ni-ni." (Sounds like a Hawaiian serenade, but hey, we'll take it!!!)

Elf was a bit exasperated with me tonight during book reading time because I can't say what I mean. I told Emperor that one of the villains in Pilgrim's Progress was killed, and that's just wrong of me. He was SLAIN. I got the word wrong. Another example of a word I frequently get wrong (he helpfully continued) was that I call a slough a "swamp." And I shouldn't do that.

Thanks, Elf. Next time I think someone is just "going around the world," I will be sure to say that they are "circumnavigating" instead, ok?

Emperor and Elf have been very busy colouring a new Dover book about samurai swordsmen. Somehow the mounted warriors have different names and each type must be carefully researched. I had to look up each kind so that all the little outfits have the proper colour on them. It just wouldn't do to make them historically inaccurate. Elf's warriors all have blue eyes. The drawings we had been looking at were unclear on this issue, go figure. Emperor likes to talk about the different kinds of warriors, whereas it would totally escape my notice what kind of outfit the guy is wearing. How can a kid who wants to wear pajamas to church notice the difference between warrior outfits?? Astounding. I'd let him wear his Spongebobs to church but D says not. :P

27 November 2009

New Lunchbox for the Homeschooling Dad!

We've been looking in thrift stores about *forever* for a new lunchbox for D. We refuse to pay the $20 for a new one, but just hadn't seen any adequately-sized lunchboxes in good condition... until now. D wasn't sure if he should get it or not. I told him he should get this $1.98 bargain, because it not only holds his work lunches, it's also *blogworthy.* :P

Yowie!

This is the sort of thing that I'd be afraid of happening if I brought my older kids home. No... not to that degree (LOL!) but the jumping right into geometry before figuring out the parameters of "this is schooltime" and "this is the time to eat cereal" that my younger children have down pretty naturally. I would imagine it would take quite a bit of working through those boundaries even in the best of circumstances. Patrick says it bothers him that all of our schoolbooks have "because God said so" or the like as the correct answer frequently and feature stories about nice little children who get oranges if they behave and lose their schoolbooks if they do not. And objectively? Yep. He's right. Conversely, he says that on his papers at public school, he just needs to "write something crazy and liberal" if he wants a good grade. Mind you, he was surprised to receive a C on a paper comparing public school to the Nazi death camps recently. And he wonders why this English teacher doesn't like him very much. Yeah. I'm thinking the "draw a political cartoon" assignment in which he depicted his teacher as a two-headed worm eating papers on one end and "producing" grades on the other, and forcing the children to drink Kool-Aid miiiiight just have something to do with it. I keep waiting for that phone call from school, but technically he completes all work as assigned. :P

26 November 2009

Teen Fun at the Mrs. C House

Whoever said that "life's a b*$$ and then you die" was wrong. The correct saying, my friends, is that "life is an autistic teenager and then you clean up the stupid pieces of the stuff he's breaking everywhere so no one cuts their feet open on the shards. Then you go and try to convince him that this is not ALL Mom and Dad's fault when HE was the one throwing it. And YES I mean to punish you even though it was your stuff that got broken! And JUST because Mom and/or Dad said something that made you angry, does NOT mean you have the right to act like a wompus-brain."

Well, ok. Maybe the first saying is a little more concise and universally applicable. Anyway... Thanksgiving (and for that matter, many days!) at our house look more like Stuart Smalley's descriptions of family life than normal everyday livin'. So say a prayer, would ya? G actually went to bed at 7:30 because causing a ruckus on a regular basis can get doggone exhausting. I'm up past 11 p.m. because living with a ruckus can set you on edge. I feel doggone exhausted in the morning, but the "nuggets are tough" as I tell my children when life doesn't go their way.

Now on to Patrick. We love Patrick. Momma's sweet little Patrick hurt his thumb terribly badly at school a few weeks back. I got a VERY concerned call from the high school school nurse. Now, how bad do things have to be for the high school nurse to see a male child in the office AND be allowed by said child to call his home? Pretty bad (if you didn't know the answer). We ran off to the doctor for x-rays and I was pretty worried. What does he MEAN, he's "not sure" how he hurt it? This could be serious, folks.

And in fact, it was just a sprain. But some young man was unable to do jobs properly for a couple weeks and was in some genuine pain. It troubled me that he had no clue how this happened.

Did you know Patrick has a blog? I'm not allowed to link to it, but you could probably figure it out if you click around diligenly enough and/or know his real first name. Anyway, it's mostly silly stuff such as how to draw smilies, yo mama jokes and some guy winning the Nobel Peace Prize:

"Warning: Any references to major political characters are completely unintentional, please do not be offended.

Warning: Coffee may be hot

Joebama sat and twiddled his fingers. He was forced to sit and watch another loser get the Glodal Peace Prize. He wanted to get back home and play video games. His favorite video game was, by far, World of Warcraft. He loved wrecking havoc on poor souls by declaring war. This also helped his career as Military Chief Assassin.

Just then, out of the blue, came a voice from heaven. "Purely for the sake of irony, I decree Joebama shall win the coveted Global Peace Prize."

Then, everyone applauded and bowed to the great and mighty Joebama. He strode to the stage where some old person gave him his prize.

"Thank You!" Joebama shouted to the microphone, "I deserve this award, you don't. The end. But I didn't do it alone. I would like to thank all those fools... uh... people who voted me supreme chancellor in time of war."

"Here is your money." the old guy said, trying to hand millions of dollars in small bills.

"You can keep it, sucker. I'm the president, I can just steal... uh... tax the people."And with that, he ran from the stage, out the doors, and to the White House, with his bodyguards still trying to catch up.

/end quote.

YES, this is the sort of humour we must deal with on a regular basis, and it knows no political or religious boundaries. Annnyway... he has a blog. And I see his friend, who also has a blog, is following his blog.

I am a stalker mom or something, because I trailed over to the friend's blog and watched allll the videos his buddy was posting. And...

THE HURT THUMB MYSTERY IS SOLVED! But not as I would have expected. Momma's sweet little Patrick-woozle, snuzzle muffin cuddle dude, was ON FILM bullying this other kid on several occasions. No kidding. It's a good thing the high school doesn't have this or he'd be suspended or something. The other kid? After many threats, just slammed his hand down onto the table. "OW MY THUMB!" is audible there somewhere.

I have half a mind to make the kid pay the medical bills and reimburse me for my time and trouble, taking his sorry butt to the doctor. But I'm more upset that he wasn't kind in the video. D says boys are all like that at that age.

(Do I still have a chance to raise Elf and Emperor better than this? Gracious, bad week for old Mom!)

In other news, "your face" is a big comeback among the teen set. For reallio. So. Say you're talking about chicken nuggets and how many are in a 10 piece chicken nugget meal.

"Chicken nuggets? Yo FACE is chicken nuggets!"

Now see how that really made you feel insulted and inferior? It's almost like the "your face" argument is an automatic verbal-boxing winner. Of course, I'm old-fashioned and am more partial to the "I'm rubber, you're glue" standby.

Chatting with Woodjie

(His sweet little comments are in blue.)

Here we are, ready for breakfast. Woodjie is all strapped in to his booster seat and is about to make his breakfast choice. I'm holding up the Coco-Roo cereal, the "ball" kind.

Woodjie, want ball? ball? Or Fruit Loop. doo-oop.

BALL? BALL?

Or LOOP. DOOP.

BALL??? BALL???

LOOP?? LOOP!!

Which ONE? ONE! Which one? ONE! (BIG happy smile. Woodjie starts to flap his arms and stim.)

You want the loop, right? right?

The ball kind? Ind?

You want BOTH? BOTH?

Ok, there ya go! GO! Yay!

25 November 2009

Assorted Education Post

... full of notes too small to be posted separately.

It's a Teacher!

Don't you just love all the little baby things at showers? Isn't it fun to plan gift ideas and see some of the silly games the hosts will come up with? I'm thinking giving a tiny prize to the random person with the "raisin" in her napkin diaper decoration is a whole lot more classy than the melted chocolate bar in the diaper/ taste it and guess what kind it is game. (Blech!)

Now here's a new and different idea. A shower for a new teacher! I'm thinking every new teacher should get one. Wouldn't it be fun if new teachers could register for supplies and other things they'll need as the year begins? Or that veteran teachers would be able to gift extra supplies and books they're no longer using? Well, it's a *fun* idea.

Homeschooling Older Children

Christine over at the Thinking Mother has an excellent post up about homeschooling older children. It sure seems that most of the homeschooling blogs are about little kids, have happy pictures and captions like, "YAY, we learned about birds today because we saw a nest!" Great... when your kid is five. No, really, that's great, and you'll find me jealous that *I* don't have a nest, too, when I see that cute kid of yours looking at those eggs. Or wow, you downloaded a worksheet about "blue," and found five things that are blue.

How does one structure an entire high school curriculum... one that others will take seriously... from that point? How to get from here to there? Whoo, I'm nowhere near that yet and assume it will be a bit clearer when I'm closer, but I do appreciate posts like this.

Myyy, Myyy.

What do you think of this comment, left on an education blog? I'm not sending any flaming arrows over to the blog author as he didn't write the comment, but am letting this little gem stand on its own:

"Never underestimate the power of a teacher. Each day of the 42 years that I taught, I entered my classroom at 7:15 a.m. and taught by myself until school was dismissed. Only rarely did another adult enter my classroom. One day I thought to myself, 'This is like being self-employed, only without the overhead.'"

"When a directive came from above, if I didn't agree with it, I had 1001 ways to be creatively non-compliant, and so I always did what I thought best. Like most teachers, I kept it to myself. When one principal requested that all teachers put their objectives on the board, I copied objectives out of a book and kept the same ones up for months, knowing that he'd never notice. I was right."

"Unless the 'reformers' can come up with the money to have an administrator in every classroom, teachers will continue to teach subversively. As Stanford professor Larry Cuban used to say, nothing will ever happen without the cooperation of the classroom teacher.
Are teachers involved in making decisions at the national level? No. Are they powerless? No. Once the classroom door is shut, teachers make 100% of all the decisions and will continue to do so. There will be no 'innovation' or 'reform' without them."

I think teachers should have reasonable control of their classes and how to teach them, but I'm thinking yikes on this one.

24 November 2009

A Pokemon Christmas

We've already decorated the tree, and we're using some "Pokemon" themed art made with iron-together beads the boys have been making throughout the year. After Christmas, they will still want to hang these in their room or in the kitchen window.

23 November 2009

Big Problem?

It doesn't sound like too much TV is the big problem some folks want to make it out to be in daycare centers.

Sure, Mom, you would PREFER the kid get personal, one-on-one attention from her caregiver, or at least be her favourite. You would PREFER that the caregiver make macaroni projects and play play-doh and mini trampoline all day with your child, except for that precisely scheduled nap between 12:40 and 2 p.m. Then it's time for a small cup of half-juice, half-water. We're concerned about sugars, you know.

Wake up.

Now. Pretend you're a low-income mom. You're spending $15 or so a day on daycare each day, maybe a bit more. You do NOT have the $290 weekly special super deluxe preschool fees (um, that's for the HALF-day program, ma'am?), so you'll send your kid to May's up the street. You deal with what you have. You know May leaves the TV on a bit too much. But she's cheap, reliable and she keeps your kid no problem. You have to work. That's the end of it. You do the best you can.

Do you notice that the article doesn't say that a big, big concern is child molestation? I'm sure it happens, and I'm not minimizing that. I've read articles about kids getting tied up in some of these places, too. THAT would be a huge, horrendous deal for me. But does two hours of TV per day qualify as something that should give American parents a "wake-up call" as the article suggests?

I'm thinking no.

I'm thinking, that's not the ideal situation, and I wouldn't be happy about that aspect of things, but then again, some of these parents are just doing the best they can to get by. Are the children clothed, fed and given appropriate opportunities for naps? Do the caregivers put the guns in a locked cabinet? Are the hunting knives out of reach?

Is America a great country or what that we can freak out and worry about TV time and not whether our children are eating? Praise God, wouldya?

22 November 2009

????

"Parents of autistic children have persuaded the federal government and private foundations to increase funding for research that in theory will find the cause of what is actually a number of different conditions; the habit of diagnosing a child as belonging to an 'autistic spectrum' implies, incorrectly, a single cause for a condition that varies in severity. This is not a wise strategy, and applying it to other disorders sounds absurd... oncologists do not use the concept 'cancer spectrum' because they have learned that, for example, leukemia, tumors of the colon, and breast cancer are caused by different genes and life experiences. " Article.

Sorry... this article is maddening in that it seems to imply that if only these children lived long ago, their parents would have whooped 'em but good and they'd not have all these fake symptoms. I mean, it's suggested bipolar disorder is diagnosed in part because of parents feel guilty because of their lax parenting:

"These symptoms can in part be the product of permissive socialization practices by parents who are reluctant to induce anxiety or guilt in children placed in surrogate care because both parents are working."

I'm sorry, that gets me. I don't think it's *ideal* to have two working parents but HELLOOO... talk about kicking someone when they're down... sometimes moms have to work...

Imagine feeling a little guilt about leaving Joey in daycare. Now he's autistic and it's all your fault! If ONLY you had been there for him! You bad mom! (Wow. I feel enough guilt, and I don't even work outside the home. I cannot imagine piledriving into another mom like that. Wow again.)

Let's see... does he kick any puppies during the writing of his post? Not that I can tell, but he does manage to take a few swipes at the poor and disadvantaged. They need to just clean their acts up, guys.

"Anxiety disorder, depression, criminality, and drug addiction are more frequent among youth and adults who grew up in poorer families with less-educated parents, whether in developed or less-well-developed societies. The fact that academic failure, conduct disorder, substance abuse, anxiety disorder, and depression are more strongly associated with the education and income of the family of rearing than with a particular gene implies that scientists have to balance their study of the genetic causes of illness with probes of the environmental contributions and clinicians should consider therapeutic strategies other than drugs."

Translation: You think your kid has problems? Suck it up and deal with it because it's all environmental. And it's your fault you don't have a college diploma and three million bucks, and YOU have made your child's environment really crappy. Go home and quit whining. Oh! And if you think that a drug might help your kid with a problem, maybe it's because you're poor, illeducated and stupid. Bet people like you can't even read a label.

Dang. This doctor's from Harvard? I think I'd rather have Supernanny in my home before taking advice from this dude. What do you make of it?

21 November 2009

What We Do With Socks.


Woodjie hasn't worn socks unless he also will be putting shoes on for several months. Rose thinks it is hilarious that he prefers to put blocks into his socks. "Sock! Shooooooooe.... Sock! Sock!" she'd try to explain to him. Yes, he knows. He just wants to do things his way.

20 November 2009

Lunch at the Happy Elf Homeschool

Mom got some trays at the thrift store. I have some children who are very happy that some foods are not touching other foods. Yeah. Woodjie had a bowl of leftover dry cereal and some pretzels and other non-milk-and-egg things. Elf says that the trays look like happy faces. :]

19 November 2009

Wordless.

I posted a bit ago about how I rather dislike the whole Christmas season as a secular package. The whole purchasing season and the obligations, I felt, can detract from the message.

Woodjie is teaching me something different. He loves the Christmas lights, even if he doesn't understand the "message." He LOVES the Christmas lights. HE LOVES THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS!!! He's jumping up and down, waving his arms about and screaming happy about the Christmas lights. I've just got to hold him sometimes and bring him over by the tree to feel him just shake head-to-toe with glee. His little smile. His bright blue eyes.

Did you know he wakes up giving kisses? Did anyone ever know *extreme* joy before he demonstrated it?

You know, I don't worry too much about teaching doctrine to this one yet. Even "Jesus loves me, this I know" might not be getting through. He has a "pray" PEC and he has learned to be silent for just a moment while the blessing is spoken. Is he really praying over his food? I highly doubt it. I used to worry a bit about how that would effect his "walk with God" until I realized... most of us aren't really praying, either. Not really.

I'm not sure how well-connected he's going to be with God as he grows. I know that it's hard enough to present the idea of "no" to him, and the whys behind it. Sin as a concept is a bit beyond that yet still. He's nowhere near understanding that. Is he going to be saved? Not saved? Is there any sort of doctrinal third category into which one heaps the assorted disabled people? Sort of like the "wheelchair" symbol. It's kinda sexless and nondescript. It could be anybody who doesn't fit the "male or female" model. The handicapped? They're almost like a third sex or a third classification of person, pictographically.

No, I don't think that about Woodjie. He's a boy. He's a toddler. He likes doing boy and toddler things. But sometimes I do understand why some organizations use the puzzle piece to symbolize the autistic person. Do they fit? Not fit? Do we say they fit, but they really don't fit? I find myself going back over the Bible and trying to figure out what God has to say about teaching this particular child.

And I'm really finding nothing.

I mean, yeah. Good precepts about "train up a child in the way he should go" and yeah yeah yeah lots of vague generalities. But nothing about "how to make God clear to a non-verbal person" or "how to integrate the people God chooses not to heal for the present moment into worship services." Or anything like that. Or even a MENTION of a non-verbal autistic type person. There were deaf and mute but not people who could hear perfectly well and still didn't speak. Nobody like Woodjie.

Our church has very kind volunteers who genuinely care for Woodjie. They are kind to him, even though he can be difficult to care for. At the same time... I'm reading through the church membership packet and realizing Woodjie will NEVER be a member. He cannot "declare" his faith in Christ. He doesn't even understand the words "faith" or "Christ." Guess he's doomed to Hell.

Crap, that is so not funny. That was me crying while I typed that, ok? And you know, browsing the denominational website, I see all kinds of things about the disabled being a part of the church and how it's important to incorporate them into our family. But Woodjie does not speak. He does not write. He will never be a member on paper, someone considered "one of us" on the church rolls.

Part of me really gets that differentiation. One fellow at the membership meeting quipped that God sure isn't going to be checking our membership cards at the door. And he's right! Then again, the church (you know, the ORGANIZATION, not necessarily the Church, the body of Christ... get a Venn diagram and see there are some that are both, some and/or) shouldn't open itself up to let anyone in to teach its children without some basic agreements on "this we believe." I see both sides of that argument.

But I'm left back where I started. I'm left with this "puzzle piece." I am realizing that it is not a piece at all, but a complete work of God, a reflection of His very image. A wordless reflection, given to me for a season to love and raise.

I am wordless myself, typing this.

Dick Cheney in 2012!

HolyCoast blog has some funnies in this post with slogans for Dick Cheney in 2012.

“I shoot my friends in the face with a shotgun. What do you think I’ll do to America’s enemies?”
“I’m what the Mayans predicted.”
“The only time I’ll bow before a foreign leader is in preparation for an uppercut.”
“I already control everything; let’s just make it official.”
“If I’m busy being president, I won’t have time to eat your children’s souls.”
“Probably not going to win a Nobel Peace Prize.”
“You don’t inaugurate me; you unleash me.”

Check out Rick's blog for insights into politics and life.

18 November 2009

In My Inbox: Merry Christmas, Ya NAZI!

AFA wrote me and a zillion other people an email quoting a Gap ad:

"Two, Four, Six, Eight, now's the time to liberate
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, Go Kwanza, Go Solstice.
Go classic tree, go plastic tree, go plant a tree, go add a tree,
You 86 the rules, you do what feels just right.
Happy do whatever you wanukkah, and to all a cheery night.
Go Christmas, Go Hanukkah, go whatever holiday you wanukkah."

"Did you notice it?" AFA President Tim Wildmon asks. "Gap compares Christmas to the pagan holiday called 'Solstice.' Solstice is celebrated by Wiccans who practice witchcraft!" Enclosed was a button for supposedly outraged people like me to click to return a "survey" to the organization. In closing, I was told about how very important it was for me to forward this email to ALL my family and friends. Nevermind that most of 'em are secular liberals who would probably laugh before hitting the "delete" button.

Though I've got to say that even the little quote from the Gap ad bothers me in that it implies that all holidays are the same. But I happ

Ohh, my word. I'm just stopping there. Everything I type after this point is just coloured by what I just got in an email... As I started typing this post... what should happen but I received another email linking the anti-Christmas crowd to the Nazis. No, really. Read it. It defies imagination. I'm going to tell D that maybe the money we've been giving these people should go elsewhere next year. I'm sorry to say that my funds (and, like, many other people's) helped produce this:

"The Nazis hated Christmas for one simple reason: it celebrates the birth of a Jew. By the way, this suggests a new tack in our discussion about Christmas. The left hates Christmas because it celebrates the birthday of the first Christian. But isn't there something faintly anti-Semitic about that?"

YOWIE!! So... GOD INCARNATE is a "Christian?" I thought a Christian was one who recognized that he's a sinner (Jesus, the sinner?) and has repented of such (Jesus, repented??) and turned to God's Son for forgiveness because of His atoning death on the cross (Ok, that would be soooo circular...) and etc. etc. You get my point. The doctrine there is so wonky that no way they can point fingers at the secular Gap company.

So anyway, if you don't like Christmas, you're not just a conscientious objector fellow Christian who doesn't think the season as celebrated is entirely Godly... YOU'RE A NAZI!! Wow. SOMEONE is gonna boot me in the comment section with a big goose step, but ohhh well. I don't mind glorifying God through the Christmas holidays because God OWNS ALL THE SEASONS, and I don't mind the lights and the trees, and I don't mind the presents, but let's not kid ourselves about the real "rea$on for the $ea$on" when shopkeepers run an ad. I mean, how many Ash Wednesday super-saver specials are there in YOUR local newspaper fliers each year?

I'm coming out of the closet on this one. Here's where the stones are really going to start flying: if it were completely up to me, there would not be any Christmas. I think it confuses people into thinking Jesus was born in December, and people get entirely too wrapped up in the present thing (ha ha). Not to mention that I have no clue about the proper etiquette and equivalent gift-giving and receiving. I'd rather just use Christmas as the "annual send out and receive a card" holiday and forget the expectations and the presents. Pressure off. D has put his foot down on that in the past, though. Yes, the children have to have presents and now, thanks to our generous neighbour, we have a tree and lights and everything. I think they might have thought us too poor to go buy a tree, and I didn't tell them the reason we never had more than a tabletop one was that I reallllly have some qualms about the whole thing. It's just so... worldly.

I'm going to try to think the best of the Gap people until I have evidence to believe otherwise, and I would *imagine* that they were trying to avoid exactly the kind of fight that AFA is picking. "Do whatever you want?" I would take that to mean that they don't care what you celebrate as long as you buy their stuff! They have families to support and care for, so go buy something. Hey, is your holiday in the list? "Whatever you wanukka" makes it a pretty broad list. They just want you to buy their stuff!

Now, what I was GOING to blog about was the fact that "do whatever you want" to ME is a very... um... ungodly sort of thing to start messing with with untold consequences, especially when you think of the interest on credit cards or what could happen if you did the wrong drug some night. Ok, back to holidays... I don't know that the Gap company is really advocating a hedonistic lifestyle. DO correct me if I'm wrong. I'm just of the opinion that maybe if we'd apply the same doctrinal tests to some of the crazy crap we sing on Sunday mornings in some churches that we'd have room to talk about a clothing store ad.

But NAZI??? If you don't like Christmas?? And... we Christians need to rigourously defend a Christianized Pagan holiday lest it get too... Pagan?? Am I crazy? Does this make ANY SENSE to you?

Man. I'm more than a little bewildered.

16 November 2009

Tinkle Time.

This is a serious issue! I'm not kidding.

Now, when you have a budget crisis and you close rest stops on the highway, you present motorists with a genuine problem. I have to admit it isn't a biggie if you close rest stops in the middle of a city. Just pull off to the nearest McDonald's, go potty, wash your hands with antibacterial soap, grumble that there are no towels, use the hair dryer thingies and maybe grab a soda and off ya go.

But in the boonies where exits can be 20 miles apart... and even then, there are difficulties finding a bathroom because the one store in town closes after midnight... well, it's just wrong to do. At least give folks a designated place to pull over and poop in their own cars. But if I'm not mistaken, there are laws against public nudity. Ladies wearing pants are NOT going to be able to pee without a blanket tied 'round their waist and even then... it can be most soggily unpleasant. And can you imagine stopping suddenly and having "slosh problems?" Not to be gross and crude, but I'm thinking it has to happen somewhere, sometime.

Then again... that's the least of our worries. Now imagine yourself in the boonies driving and SUDDENLY RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU is a guy peeing by the side of the road. Don't tell me this couldn't happen, or that you would *never ever* be in danger of hitting the fellow. To my mind, rest stops are a public health and safety concern just like having police officers on the street.

And further... do you not think that if there is an outbreak of something contagious that can be transmitted by bowel movements or urine, that having people throw their ziplock baggies in the nearest Wal-Mart trash can might not be a problem? Or mowers hitting an occasional roadside bomb might not be more than a disgusting nuisance? You don't think cleaning that stuff up might actually cost MORE than leaving the rest stops open in more rural areas?

I guess what I'm asking for is some consistency. If you don't want to keep rest stops open, fine. I will have to go *somewhere,* and if McDonald's isn't available and I'm far from home, a ziplock bag it is. And public nudity? My not being able to wash my hands after? Deal with it.

Now... where are the politicians who approved of these closings? I want to shake their hands.

15 November 2009

Thrift Store Finds.

D and I have been leaving children alone with Patrick and just going to thrift stores for fun a couple times a week. It gives Patrick a little extra money and it gives us a chance to *leave.* Everybody wins! Well, except G. G has been forced to come along on these incredibly boring excusions because we're jerks and unfair. The plus is that he can play his DS in the van to his heart's content, or he can come in and look around while we spend "hours and hours" looking at stuff.

I really should bring my camera on one of these outings. You wouldn't believe the stuff they're selling... which means you wouldn't believe the stuff people used to have in their homes until recently... Would you dress a four-year-old in a shirt with the words, "In your dreams..." on it? I might've if it had cute bears sleeping near puffy clouds or something, and not thought about the innuendo. But the glamour chick pictured on the T, complete with cleavage, and the shirt being one of those lace-up numbers... Well... What kinda sicko has "dreams" about a little kid??? I couldn't even see my way clear to donating such a thing if I received it as a gift for my child.

One really GREAT thing I found on my last trip was a pair of basketball shoes for G! Nikes, too. The pair we got seems to be an older version of this, because they don't sell the same kind any more. Product review also seems consistent, as the shoes are very heavy. I couldn't imagine running in them, but G was thrilled. They seem to be a bit more stylish than the stuff we usually buy for him at Kohl's or Wal-Mart. :] That was an outrageous $7.96, considering it's a thrift store. But ok. How often do you find really nice size 13s in decent colours and condition? So... there you go.

We also bought a pie plate that has a blueberry pie recipe and picture on it. D was surprised I spent a whole $3.48 on it. Yeah... that's not like me to spend that much. But I had been hoping to find something for pies for a long time. This is decorative, but you can bake in it as well. We made strawberry apple pie the next day in it (one can strawberry filling, mixed with one can apple). Emperor made a bit of a fuss about using the pie pan. "We're not making a blueberry pie!" he objected.

LOL. Emperor is not the most logical guy on the planet. He got Elf hesitant to use the pan as well. D came into the room later and said, "Why are you making that? That's not a blueberry pie!" Um... thanks a lot. Emperor talked to you, didn't he? No... and D also thinks that Emperor's objections to using the pie pan are perfectly logical.

Ah, well. The pie pan baked beautifully. Not a bit of pie burnt on the bottom or sides, but fully cooked. Who would get rid of a pie pan? Doesn't everyone use these almost weekly?

13 November 2009

Naboth's Vineyard Part I










Who Speaks For Autistic People?

My mind goes round and round on this one. The medical professionals, who by and large are NOT disabled themselves, get to cobble together the DSM that spells out which problems are considered conditions and which are not. And it bothers me that it's starting to look as though Asperger's is going to be eliminated from the next edition.

Call me paranoid, but what if we just eliminated all the well-adjusted and verbal schizophrenics or dyslexics from their little DSM categories and left ONLY the ones who couldn't advocate for themselves or others? What kind of advocacy would the "real" disabled people be able to cobble together? You see where I'm going with this.

Now, I *totally* and completely get this idea that one person might not be "as disabled" as another. Or that maybe the person on the more functional end of the spectrum oughtn't qualify for aid when dollars are tight and we need to concentrate on those who are more severely affected. But the truth is that being autistic does not HAVE to mean life in an institution. It can. It doesn't HAVE to mean being "disconnected" from others. It can.

But you see, not only are we dealing with disability, we're also dealing with personality mixed in with the disability. Doctors and others, in diagnosing, have to tease out how one may affect the other in deciding who gets what label. And hey! I get that autistic folks generally may be more introverted as a group and that there's a fine line between "introverted and weird" and "disabled."

I have several children who manifest their disabilities in different ways. I would LIKE funding for my oldest autistic child who is unable to keep his thoughts to himself and/or can lose his temper royally. It's so way far beyond the "just teach the child to mind" category that it isn't even fair to comment upon. Suffice to say we are doing all we can. This child, without special help, will likely bounce from one low-paying job to another and have difficulty with his relationships. Even with special help, he's got some troubles. I'm truly sorry. I'm doing all I can for him. But eliminate the PDDs from the DSMs and we have a MESs.

Elfie McMelfie will likely just need a bit of sheltering. Please, no jury duty, as just the very thought that someone else isn't a Christian is enough to shock him to tears. The eternal Hell that awaits them is too frightening! (IMO that doesn't make for an impartial juror. I love him, and it's nice that he cares about people so deeply... and maybe more of us should... but just saying.) Please, no big crowds. No rock concerts. No putting any book on top of the Bible. Even anther Bible, unless it's the King James Version with no typos in it. You've been warned. Elf should be ok if people understand his quirks and let him work with a small group of folks doing the same thing each day. He will be ok with just a bit of understanding; he really will.

But Woodjie. Poor little guy needs LOTS of help! This fellow is leading me down a path I have never travelled. I am not sure how to help him. I do know he needs lots of help to succeed. I know he would probably want other autistic people who know a bit better about what life is like for him to speak for him rather than a doctor who sees him for 15 minutes. For that matter, I know that little fellow well and would be the very best advocate I can be for him... but I'm still Mommy. Still see him with the Mommy heart. Certainly if other people with the "autistic" label are advocating for autistics in general, it would be better for Woodjie.

Then again, too bad we have to have labels. Too bad we can't have a number and say well, Woodjie's life skills are at a 10 out of 100 (100 being typical three-year-old, going potty but needing help with snaps sort of thing). Then we could more closely advocate between labelled groups. Certainly my child has things in common with a Downs Syndrome child, and things NOT in common. But yet we seem to rally people in our own organizations without looking to the commonalities between conditions.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. Just wanted to chat with you today about the fact that having the more "functional" people losing the label soon probably will not bode well for those remaining. Probably it will reinforce stereotypes about autistic people as well.

If you have any thoughts on this, I'd like to hear them unless your surname happens to be "Savage."

Japan

Please read Emperor and Elf's blogs about Japan. Don't forget to feed the comment nuts!

They were given a stack of children's books last week and just told to go learn about it. Sometimes I'm crazy like that. It's interesting sometimes the things they pick up. Notice that World War II is not mentioned. I went back and looked at the kids' books and... it really isn't covered AT ALL.

I'm going to have to clue them in about that, but it was a rather messy and horrible end to a war. And yet it had to end. I know it's a rather sorrowful subject, but I would *think* that it would at least bear a mentioning in a book about Japan. My children were left with the impression that there were still plenty of Samurai and they'd like to see one.

11 November 2009

Sometimes.

Sometimes I don't think I'm raising my older sons with a sense of seriousness and urgency about cleaning... let alone about cleaning to my satisfaction.

NEW Math Books!


I bought the sixth-grade Teaching Textbooks for use in our homeschool. It's a lot of fun! I would recommend getting the grade HIGHER than what you're starting now if you'd like to try it out (better yet, peruse the website, look at the tables of contents, allow your child to take a practice test and draw your own conclusions as to what is best for your child!). It says sixth grade on the cover, but I wouldn't get too excited about that part as much of the first quarter appears to be review. Place value and long division are re-covered in these first lessons. We have begun Singapore Math for our fifth grade studies, but I am using these Teaching Textbooks for our lesson about once a week. It slows us down a little bit, but I also figure that it's fun and it can't hurt to review on a weekly basis, or go over previously learned material in a new and different way.
I'd highly recommend getting this set, but I will warn you that it's a bit difficult to install. I finally had to resort to calling the company on my cell phone while I was at the computer doing this process. Hopefully, this review was helpful to someone thinking about purchasing math curriculum for a child. Teaching Textbooks are available through CBD as well as the company's own website for the *same* price, and shipping is included. I would advise against getting an extra workbook in the lower grades, however, as the answers to workbook pages are easily worked out on a scrap paper.

10 November 2009

It's NOT Ok.

Woodjie goes to preschool soon, and it's going to be so special. Too bad it has to be in this district, and too bad for me that I'm heavily invested in this house and didn't know back when I was house-hunting what I know now...

I went to get testing results yesterday. To my mind, testing results and IEP drafting are separate things. But I got a "draft IEP" foisted on me during this meeting and was told I *MUST* sign it within ten days. Well... I have a problem with this.

Then there's the fact that these IEP goals look like they've been written for someone else. Maybe because they HAVE! Someone else's child's name is on some places in this IEP! OH... and guess what? Childname was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. That's nice to know, because Woodjie does not have a formal diagnosis!! ... hmm...

This is an obvious cut and paste job, and not only that, it's an obvious violation of privacy for that other family! I've googled his unusual first name and can't find his folks. (Better believe I'd call his mom and tell her what's up if I found her!) I've googled the preschool and can't find a student directory. I know there is another boy with the same sorts of difficulties who would have started the same preschool this month. Bet you that's his IEP. How stinkin' convenient can it be to just put them both in the same therapies, work on the same goals, check off the same lists?

Crap. Not to be paranoid, but I think that's what's going on. You know, there's this idea floating out there in Educationland (somewhere near Happytown and Flowerville) that sometimes parents like to CONTRIBUTE to the IEP.

I don't like causing trouble, particularly since this preschool is the only nice bunch of people this side of middle school. But... I'm being pressured to sign an IEP that doesn't have special goals for Woodjie, that obviously isn't even written for him... to fulfill some sort of state timeline that I "have" to get done.

I'm feeling angry and stuck. I'm also feeling it's going to get worse as time goes on for my little fella. I'm also feeling sometimes I might have to plain old deal with things that are JUST PLAIN WRONG because Woodjie needs extra help. If Woodjie were an only child, I might be able to homeschool him now. I'd have TWO hands to grab him if he started to run in parking lots. He'd have total undivided attention all day. But he doesn't get that. It's just impossible.

I wish for the strength and energy to fight this... but more than that... I wish to know where to begin and what the potential consequences might be. You know, the ones that aren't written down.

Then again, am I a pessimist to think that it's all gonna go to crap later anyway, so I might as well get people angry now? I'd hate to do that. I was hoping to get along with these people and play nice for a couple years.

Why does parenting these kids have to be so hard? And no, I don't mean the special needs of the kid... I mean dealing with coordinating all the stuff the special needs kid ought to have and figuring out what's available, plusses and minuses, and then figuring out the best. And then knowing the best is never perfect. Knowing things will not always turn out well.

Ah, well. Maybe I should just be grateful they're not going to lock him in a closet and shut up already. Maybe I should just be grateful, period. But I feel let down this morning.

08 November 2009

Dear Teen Facebook Users

Your friend's MOM has access to your friend's account. Occasionally she logs on AS your friend, because that's the deal in your friend's house. Your friend's MOM checks on what is on the computer and what your friend is up to. That means unbeknownst to you, she is looking at your profile pictures. She reads your statuses. She finds out what YOU are up to on a Saturday night, because she wants to know all about who her kids are hanging out with and "friending."

She learns so much about teen life she never would have known just from asking your friend. Because usually? Your friend comes home and how was school? Fine. Did you have a good day? Yes. What did you do? Stuff... like... usual stuff.

Just so you know? Y'all are so tame compared to me as a teen. And that's a good thing. If I found a "past me" type getting friended, my kid would totally lose facebook for a month. That, or I would tell my kid something like, "You need to go tell lil Miss C that her attitude toward her mommy was ungodly, turn or burn, and repent right now. There's the comment box. Start typing."

But seriously. I appreciate that God has changed your 14-year-old life, that you like the JONAS BROTHERS AND JESUS VERY MUCH (whoever they are... well, ok, I sorta know who JESUS is...) and that you've achieved a level three in some aquarium world.

PS. Nice picture in that little aquarium! I'm glad you love playing with the aquarium and the FarmTown stuff. I'm a YoVille fan myself.

PPS. I also see that you and my son must have attended the same clses b/c u dont know hw 2 use eng. so gd. Sigh.

06 November 2009

Saying Goodbye

Our fourth-grade Singapore math books and some of our ABeka readers went into the homeschool storage box a bit ago. As excited as the children were at the prospect of receiving NEW books, they were sad to see the old ones go. But Mom is a bit picky about the pricey curriculum stuff. It goes back into storage so we don't lose it. Many of the regular books we read (such as the Wizard of Oz and the like) are still on the children's shelves. I will pick those out for Woodjie and Rose as there is interest later. I keep praying that Woodjie will need to use one of the math books that is now tucked away.

Local News

A young woman from a nearby suburb is assaulted, kidnapped, and killed. This is a town where almost nothing big ever happens. It has a Wal-Mart, a couple used clothing stores, and a few restaurants. Farms and bitty houses. Green Acres meets inner city. It's a way out from Kansas City, so it draws people who can't afford a house in the nicer suburbs, but don't want to live in the city. If you could imagine Farmer Joe's grandkids without the farm to work on, living in a rural slum, this would be the town.

The schools are dreadful. There is a big drug problem out that way.

I know one family that moved there from my suburb because the land was cheap. She said since she's homeschooling, she doesn't have to worry about the crummy schools. And since she takes her children to a church near my suburb, she doesn't have to worry about her kids getting the wrong friends, either. I have to say I understand this thinking as, although I live in a modest middle-class neighbourhood, we've had our share of hoods on the block. NO WAY my kids are hanging out with them. Things got better. Things can always change.

I'm just chatting with you. The news story is very vague on what the murdered woman was doing to "turn her life around." Turn it around from what? Just the mention that it happened in Excelsior Springs makes me think it's drugs. The mention of her being in her early 20's with two children that don't live with her, and her owing some guy $500, and her being attacked by three people and stuffed into a trunk? It's a strong possibility we're talking about drugs.

I know there has been a lot of death in the news of late, and stories of violence. When I read stories like this, I think we're not really fighting the war on drugs and terrorism like a real war. But then I think that maybe we are, and perhaps there are thousands of stories I'll never hear about brave men and women fighting against these things... but the editors somewhere think it isn't interesting enough to publish, or it cannot be published because the fight is ongoing.

Well... I just read the news, and I get sad sometimes.

04 November 2009

Why Are There No Pictures to This Post?

I usually start snipping near the head and work my way down to the tail. I don't know why, but I find things easier that way. The cat's fur is EXTREMELY overgrown. She's leaving furballs all over the house, and Patrick's bed is just covered with her fluffy hair. Just covered. And this cat has the long sort of hair that just sticks to everything. It can't just be brushed off; the blanket will have to be washed and dried, and I'll have to scoop hot fuzz out of the dryer later.

(Please... nobody pop on to my blog after googling "hot fuzz." Please.)

Mopsy's age must be somewhere between 16 and 17 years old. She walks with a hitch to her right back leg. The vet says it's arthritis in her hips, and to give her a baby asprin about once a week if we like. I'd rather not medicate her. Not because I'm concerned about the side effects of a medication so much. At nearly 17 human years of age, the object of the game at this point is to make her as comfortable as possible, risks be darned. You go ahead and treat me the same way when I'm 95 and hurting.

Have you ever tried giving pills to a cat? When we first got her about 13 years ago, she needed a pill for something or other. She was spry back in the day; my goodness. More than once we got bitten. I finally rigged up a plastic tampon applicator system to *pop* that puppy way into the back of her throat instead of using my finger. I told the vet about my brilliant (if disgusting) device later on, and he told me they had already invented it. It's called a "pill-pusher," and is considerably longer than a tampon applicator, and thinner, too. We got one to put in our whatnot drawer. If we were to die suddenly in a car wreck, it would be easier for my surviving children to explain to the relatives at the house than a tampon applicator with tooth marks on it, you betya.

The groomer costs about $45, and all they do is shave her and leave a little poof on the tip of her tail. It looks *good* when they are finished, but I just can't justify the expense. I use a comb and a pair of scissors. I comb a bit of hair and cut next to the comb. This way, I don't cut her loose skin. She's old, and she has a lot of loose skin, especially on her tummy. Let it not be said that when we get old and flabby, that it's because we had lots of kids. This cat was fixed.

The result of chopping her hair this way is that it looks... choppy. Chunky. I miss spots here and there as the cat mrreeows her objections and kinda growls. Oh, well. It's getting to be a hazard to human health, these furballs are. I keep the trash can to one side and dump chunks of fur in as I go. Between her skin rolls and thick fur, I really need to be careful as I am cutting. It's hard to even know what I'm holding onto sometimes, her fur is so thick.

After about 45 minutes, I'm making some progress. I'm down to the back end. Combing, cutting. Combing, cutting. I find a large cylindrical object, covered in fur. Smelly, too.

Yes, it was.

There is no telling how long it had been matted into her fur or what household objects she came into contact with. But suffice to say that as she's aged, she hasn't groomed herself so well as she might. As disgusting as this job was, I must declare that I'm justified in grooming all "personal areas" on my cat. She didn't appreciate that very much. She appreciated the bath and strategic soaping and kitchen sprayer washover even less.

She is currently hiding... somewhere. I have no plans to find her at the present moment to see what my chop job looks like after it's been washed and dried.

So, what was your accomplishment of the day? Do you have pictures? :]

02 November 2009

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent - Teacher conferences are mostly a waste of time. I think we all know that if the teacher has a genuine concern, likely her fingers aren't broken and she can pick up the phone. And most parents are able to send an email, make a phone call or schedule a meeting. What's the point of the parent-teacher conference?

I think it's to sell books at the book fair and give teachers an easy day off with pay later for this extra "work" they do that night, yapping with the parents about this or that. (Not a job I'd want, but hello? My husband is practically a slave and doesn't get paid "extra" for weekends or beeper duty. He doesn't suddenly get allergic and get a super comp day if he has to remain in the building for more than exactly 40 hours each week. But, see, that's because he isn't a member of a teachers' union. Somehow folks like him can't lobby, get great benefits and clean up to the tune of 40% of the state budget "for the kids." I'm thinking WE have kids, too, but that doesn't count...)

Tom Utley wrote a little piece for The Mail Online about these dopey conferences and how some teachers have the audacity to think that parents need to rearrange their schedules for the school, rather than the other way 'round. He had just received a "snotty" note demanding a good excuse for missing a mandatory conference.

"Well, I don't finish work until 9.30pm at the earliest. I wondered how this teacher would feel if I summoned her to my office on the other side of London at a time she couldn't manage - and then demanded a written explanation and apology."

"Besides, I've always found these evenings a complete waste of time for teachers and parents alike. Yes, I know that my boys are intelligent, and I know that they could work harder. Why should my wife and I have to queue for three hours to be told that, by one teacher after another?"

"Fizzing with indignation, therefore, I seized the reply slip - headed in bold type 'Non Attendance at Year 11 Parents Meeting' and beginning 'I/we were not able to attend the Year 11 Parents Meeting because. . .'. "

"I wrote: 'In these desperate times for job security in the private sector, I simply cannot afford to take time off in the middle of my working day to accommodate your desire to get home early and your unwillingness to hold parents' evenings at the weekend. I am disappointed that you seem unable to appreciate what is happening in the world beyond the school gates.'"

Bwa ha haaaa. Too bad he didn't actually send it. That would encourage parent-teacher dialogue for sure. REAL dialogue.

As an aside, I've been in contact with G's teacher and I flat-out told her that I wasn't going to rearrange my schedule to be there that night. Frankly, being told my kid is this or that in front of the other parents after rearranging my schedule, parking in the hinterlands and jostling about in a crowded gym isn't going to make me feel all friendly and welcome. Why do that?

Hopefully, I'm not in the "bad parent" file. If I am, at least I didn't expend too much energy to get there. :P

01 November 2009

Kaleem Caire

"If our school systems are producing such small numbers of graduates, what is the purpose of K—12 education for black males? Why are we allowing our children to languish in schools and school systems that produce far more failures than successes?" asks Kaleem Caire in this post.

Well, I was intrigued by Caire's viewpoint. He seems to be very pro-public school AND pro-school choice. Which... doesn't quite go together for me. It just doesn't make sense that Caire could come out so scathingly against public education as it regards the black male, and yet discuss the public education system so nicely as a valid parental choice in other places on the web. I've dug around a bit and can't quite pin down his ideas here. He must be one of those "moderates" I've read about. Maybe those are the people who really get along with everyone and get things done.

The founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Caire has been quoted as stating that there IS school choice out there... if you're rich. "Those of us with money can choose to live in a community that has a good public school," he explained. "We happen to believe that the economic status of a child's parents should not determine whether or not that child will receive a quality education. We have lost too many of our children already and we cannot afford to lose any more."

"How many public and private prisons are we willing to pay $38,000 annually per inmate to have black men imprint license plates and pick up debris on U.S. highways?" he wondered.

I've got to concede the fellow has a point. Here, we all seem very willing to incarcerate people without a second thought, but school choice? Oh, no! Someone from Virginia asked Caire about the children "left behind" in the icky schools with like, dysfunctional families and stuff because schools have to somehow make up for that. I mean, don't you care about the children?? How dare you presume to give ANY kid a good education if you can't wave your magic wand and make things ok for ALL the kids? (Rising boats of mediocrity or something... Maybe I read that wrong.) You can read the whole exchange here. It's old, but good reading anyway.

I always think this "left behind" question is the most telling... it proves everyone KNOWS that some schools are really bad, and somehow letting one or two families escape will result in their telling the others that they can escape as well, and then we're all in trouble and NO ONE will want to be in the icky public school and then the people who are left in the icky public school will have bad self-esteem... because their school is icky...

People that spout that kind of garbage are usually the ones who "happen" to be living in ritzy McMansion town, or "happen" to not have school-aged children in public school. They're NEVER the people who feel their children are stuck in a failing, squalid school, now, are they?? I didn't think so, either.

"We believe it is important for all parents to have the opportunity to choose a learning environment that is best for their children," he responded (much more tactfully than I would have). "In fact, we believe it is their right and their responsibility to do so. In regards to what happens to the children that are left behind, we cannot assume that every school a parent chooses is going to work for their child. So we have to be careful when we make the 'left behind' statement because it makes it seem as though children are automatically going to a better school because it is private. Our organization not only supports children attending private school, but also important public school reforms as well for this very reason."

Translation: I'm pretty sure that there are dodos for parents in some of the private schools as well if that makes you feel any better. And DUH, not every private school is the best just because you have to pay to attend. Get out of sit-com land. Not everything is slum school vs. richie-rich school, ok? And I think the Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire show ended 20 years ago and all of life is not that disparate. You dork.

OK, that was sort of a LOOSE translation, maybe more along the lines of what I would have said, but you get my point. In other news... I keep wondering why people don't want to hire me as a diplomat. I'd be awesome and cut negotiation time considerably, promise.

Time for Art!


We studied Georges Seurat today in art class. Why? Because I had some "Color Explosion" paper from Crayola, and the website gives all kinds of craft ideas. You can look up craft ideas based on the season or, in our case, we had a really cool supply that we wanted new ideas on how to use.

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...