31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

Here's a list, graciously provided by one of my sons today, of things I need to keep in mind. I think I'll post it on my fridge or my mirror, or better yet, my computer welcome screen, to help encourage me when I'm feeling down this coming year:

I am a bitch.
I am a jerk.
I hate my son.
I am mean to my son, and don't listen to his advice.
I need to shut up.
He will destroy the house because I have been so awful.
I need to go away.
I am fat.
No one loves me.
No one even likes me, I'm such a bitch.
No one wants me around.
Why am I still here? Didn't he just order me to go into the kitchen?

I got to hear all this (many times) while he was destroying some of my stuff, throwing things and slamming things. And why? I was in the process of making spaghetti for dinner and did not consult him as to what he would like to eat. Meanwhile I had other children downstairs crying for dinner and another teen watching them and hoping we don't have to call the police just as the garlic bread comes out of the oven. I mean, we wouldn't want our dinner to get cold again and everything.


For those of you self-righteously opining that you would "never put up with" that sort of crap, I wish you just had to deal with a tenth of it so that you could see what it's like, cumulatively, from the time this child was an INFANT. I wish you could see what dealing with a child with genuine mental issues is really like. He started out with difficulties... there is only so badly you can mess a kid up by feeding him his Gerber Green Beans instead of Gerber Carrots, or making the kid wear his CAR jammies instead of the BEARS. People who like to chastise me for my crummy parenting have no idea how long "all this" has been going on, and the extreme lengths we have been going through to try to stop it.

And guess what?

We can't just get rid of our family members when they are inconvenient or disrespectful. YES, we tried raising the kid to get a consequence when he was naughty throughout his childhood. This is soooo far beyond that that any advice like that... sigh. Even advice like that is hurtful. It presupposes that DUH we have no stinkin' clue that this is behaviour that is undesirable to live with and/or ought be curbed... or that we are too busy getting drunk or high to notice that maybe this isn't acceptable.

And ya know... it would be understandable if one of us parents started up a habit like that. We've been actively asking for help since the child could toddle and bang his head bloody. (He still does that, you know.) We haven't really gotten very far. Think the average parent would get sick-n-tired, maybe discouraged even, after about a DECADE AND A HALF of this stuff? Hm?

So, dear neighbour/ stranger around town, if you think you know it all and this would never happen to you, I'd like to see you try going through what we have. Or just pick it up from this week if you're so strong. Try calling the mental hospital and hear about how they don't deal with autism and/or your insurance, tough crap, goodbye. Or YES! They do, but what you've been through, since it's become the norm, isn't a good enough criteria for admission. The wooden baseball bat he threw? Well, that was just an accident. Oopsie.

"You just shut up. You are a bitch. Why don't you just go away? Nobody likes you." You start to hear that wherever you turn for help. It's sure convenient to blame the parents, folks... and insinuate that Mom just messed the kid up. It makes you feel better that this will never happen to you because YOU have done things "right." It's part of the social contract, or the Old Testament, or something. God rewards "good" people with well-behaved children, because the "good" people magically trained their kids right.

Or, oh! My favourite lame-o excuse for personhood (I won't mention names) once quipped that of course God wouldn't test him that way, because he couldn't handle it. God should test me instead because I'm such a strong and Godly person. Pat, pat, pat... now go off somewhere else. Wow, with friends like that at church to pray for me, I feel validated! I'm gonna be sure to show up every week for this treatment.

Maybe I just read too much into a simple "no, sorry, we can't help you" from professionals or "sorry, I have NO idea how to pray about that" from church acquaintances now. Maybe I am overly sensitive; however, it's rather hard to deal with extreme situations like this not only alone, but while enduring the scorn and disdain of the community around you.

Ohhh... and she went on to have more kids? Mm-hmm... another son is THREE and doesn't even talk. Cluck-cluck. Tsk tsk.

See, though, Mrs. C is a Christian and God commands me to forgive you. Thankfully He doesn't call me to like you, or to not pray for God to pimp-smack you into the next century and humble you a bit. (Because I'm praying that for your own good.) And He doesn't call for me not to get annoyed when my fellow Christians say I'm supposed to be all loving to people who are rotten to me. It makes for a great sermon even if it is impractical.

You know what? I have a hard enough time loving my family when they're rotten. No offense, but I JUST do not have the energy to be all loving to stupid people outside the family who are also rotten. I'm figuring that if I'm going to be nasty to someone, I might as well be that way to people I don't have to live with. That's why I'm posting to the blog instead of yelling in the living room. :)

But maybe the "love is patient, love is kind" thing only goes so far. YOU try being "patient and kind" when it happens day after day over stupid things. And you've lost sleep. And you wake up angry or crying, and it takes you a minute to figure out why as you shake the clouds out of your head. And you keep having to get root canals... wonder why you grind your teeth so hard they break in two...?

But no, it must be all my fault. I must enjoy that sort of lifestyle somehow. (Root canals are fun!) I read in a parenting magazine once about moms who secretly enjoy "drama," 'specially around the holidays. The answer is to be more pleasant to the kiddos and let little things slide. One recent day at the Mrs. C house, there was much screaming and throwing of dishes because I said "please" too many times in my requests. I only wish I were kidding... can you imagine having a temper that awful... getting mad because someone nearby is too nice?

Maybe there has to be some other way, something we haven't tried yet, that isn't in the parenting mags, the doctors' offices or a pill bottle... but God hasn't shown it to me yet. God is about all that is left.

I do know my other children are growing up scared. I do know I am scared. I am reaching out for help and not finding much of it. I do know that going through all this has taught me to be far less judgmental of other families who couldn't make things better for their kid, or whose kid has done wrong. Yes, we've done allergy testing. Yes, we've done drugs. Yes, we've altered diets. Yes, we're continuing therapy. No, we're not willing to do hyperbaric chambers, leeches, bungee jumping and/or chelation therapy. Yet.

Truly, there is only so much you can do. One day, your child must make his own decisions as to whom he will serve. It is beyond humbling. It is humiliating, sad, frightening and a test of any shred of faith one might have left.

It's a new year. I can always hope that the next year, the next pill, the next therapy, the next technique might bring some relief. I cannot imagine that my son is having a rockin' good time feeling this way, either.

But how sorrowful to know that this, the child you have raised... well... you have done the best you can for him and you are still not sure what will become of him or the rest of your family. I am not sure of what to think of faith, hope and love... knowing the greatest of these is love. I am not sure what to think of people who think that "love" is putting up with someone who had a grumpy morning and forgot to say "I love you." Maybe what I live isn't real life, and that's a genuine struggle for other people. Other people have it easy.

Love is really, really hard to live out. Love is no cuddle-bug. Love is dang mean-looking sometimes, and it doesn't come with a bow. Love is hanging on when the person you care for hates you, and the world hates you for not doing a better job after you have done all you could.

Love is forgiving. Love is getting up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day... and dealing with things again. Love probably also means I'll delete this post in a week, but here it is for now. Thanks for listening if you got this far.

30 December 2009

Questionable Parenting

I've been surfing stupid "welcome screen" news items. Yep. I swear to you that I would never know who most of the celebrities are without it or get to see the celebrity "fashion disasters" that I can safely laugh about. (Nevermind that I just wore 3x sweatpants, snowboots and a jammie top to Wal-Mart, mmmkay? I pride myself on the fact that I didn't spend thousands on the outfit and personal fashion designer. Bet you the fashion designer feels the same way. )

Here's a dandy item: it's child abuse to post embarrassing stuff about your kid on the web. If your kid gets stuck behind the couch and you get a video camera out and giggle at your three-year-old, you're just a child abuser. Oh, and it's pretty much the same thing if YOU post videos of your kid on YouTube... and if an ambulance EMT crew posts post-accident video, shot while they're snickering, during a rescue.

See, I don't think so. I didn't like the video. It realllly bothered me that here was this kid obviously upset, but the mom said she wouldn't save him until he went through what happened... and she's filming him?? And posting it??

I thought it was in poor taste and embarrassing to the child. It showed a lack of concern and empathy... but then again, we're just chatting about what I would feel would constitute a "safe" family culture. Other families I've known in the past call their kids "maggot" and "s -head" and that sort of thing and it doesn't seem to bother the kids. It just bothers me to hear it, so it must be *my* problem. Maybe your family is different, but I don't want to send my child off to live with you if that's the way you parent.

But child abuse? I don't know. I'm sure there is a line between just being mean or doing something rotten on a given day and being abusive... and I don't think it was crossed here. I'm sure we've all done stupid things in our parenting lifetimes, but just hadn't posted said stupid things to YouTube.

I don't think this is quite "child abuse" or I wouldn't post the link unless I somehow thought it would help the child and/or other children. I wouldn't just post it for entertainment, and it bothers me that these folks think it's child abuse but embed the video anyway. Hello, if the YouTube video were of a kid being molested or something, should you write an article about it and embed the video? I don't want to sound all judgmental and stuff, but if you think it's abuse and that the child is exploited, why are you linking? Maybe there is a good reason to show children being abused, such as to stop abuse from happening or to give a jury some evidence. I've posted "kids in a closet" type videos myself in discussing restraint and seclusion in public schools.

But it just seems wrong to me for them to do it in this instance... Your thoughts?

28 December 2009

Wasting Money.

I know... I have more dishes than I could possibly ever use. But I saw this set at the thrift store for $7.98 and had to have it. I think it's a fair few dishes for $8 in any event. My husband demands to know why I want to buy this ugly stuff... but I just love it and think it's pretty and happy-looking. I have no idea where I will put it or if it will get broken with use. But I want to keep it out even so... I'm one of those types who will actually USE the antiques at my house, and I like to use my possessions until they break or wear out before I throw 'em away or repurpose them. :) After I got it home, I did a little research. This stuff is (apparently) handmade in Poland and some of my pieces were made before 1996, and some after. When you examine it carefully, you'll see slight variations in colour from one piece to the next and even a little variation in the shape of the pottery itself. Do you just *love* it like me, or do you also think it's ugly, or maybe just "ok?" Update: D just came in, saw that I had taken photos for the blog, and related to me that it's ok... sometimes he's made stupid purchases in the past, too. Thanks, D... I think. Grant you, he did approve of the purchase because he saw how attached I was to those "ugly" dishes. :) Yay!

27 December 2009

Little Update.

Here's a pic of Elfie as a Samurai warrior. He tried very hard to be pretty authentic about it, complete with making the sword sound effects found in his Civilization game. Patrick was kind to him and told him the closest he would ever get to being a Samurai would be "hari-kari." Thanks, Patrick, for encouraging your little brother. So Elfie figured out that ethnically, the most suitable thing he could be is a Teutonic Knight, but he thinks it would be too hard to learn German. I guess that's the only thing really stopping him, right?Girlie had a wonderful Christmas. Here she is playing with her dad in the snow. She loved the snow, but didn't want her dad to let go of her hand. That would be wrong. By the way, check out Rose's new sidebar pic and caption. I snapped that shot while she was climbing up the couch. Again. She loves playing with her new little people house, but her dad has taught her that the daddy character can do anything he wants. He stands on the tables and gets into all kinds of mischief, and there is nothing the mommy character can do about it. Sigh.

23 December 2009

Christmas Preparations

Getting ready for Christmas at the Mrs. C house. I'm popping a few recent photos on this post. Rose is playing with a puzzle. I've tried to get her involved with making pies, but she tried eating the pie crust mix instead. (It isn't very good, apparently, before it's cooked.) Woodjie is stirring some sugar cookie mix in the other picture, but of course he can't eat the butter and eggs that go into the mix.
Lemon pudding (which surprisingly doesn't have milk) has become the standby for him when others are having donuts, cookies or ice cream. Although I must say even before he had a diagnosed allergy, Woodjie has HATED ice cream from day one.

We Don't Like Your Kind.

“What we want to avoid is to have people who don’t look like they belong in a neighborhood,” an office manager said recently for a news story. Yep. He was even quoted by name. And in the story, they specify the races they want their workers to be and everything. Apparently that's ok, though.

They're going to make sure that the people they pick "look" just right. We wouldn't want any scumballs of the wrong race or people with the wrong accent actually WORKING for us, they say. Because we all know that if you don't speak just like the customers in your area, that people aren't going to want to patronize your business. So it's OK to discriminate.


See... I'm thinking not. Especially since that quote above came from a CENSUS bureau office manager. If anyone should be hiring nicely and without prejudice, it should be the government. Incidentally, that's where I differ with some of my Christian brothers and sisters on this "Don't ask/ don't tell" silliness. Either the governmental agencies are able to hire all kinds of different kinds of people and DEAL WITH IT (yup, that means bunking with a gay guy on the battlefield, maybe. *Eeek.* Siiigh... I'm sure all the professional soldiers catch gay cooties that way. /sarcasm off... maybe...), or they should NOT expect other people to have to go to the same trouble in their own businesses. That's called "hypocrisy" in my book. Just saying.

But here's the deal: The census is given out every ten years. It should be in ENGLISH ONLY. Can't answer it? Find someone who can help you. Not my problem, or it shouldn't be.

Good grief; we have the tax forms out every year and don't worry whether the IRS man (or woman, or whatever) is of the same race and speaking the same dialect as the person he serves. And HELLO, how racist would I be for refusing to answer the census questions *just because* the worker sent to my door were black or Latino or "doesn't look like he belongs in my neighbourhood?" Horrid! Could you imagine how the conversation would go if I called the census bureau and complained?? Yeah, invent that dialogue in your head and see how far it gets you. But I guess it's ok to talk that way as long as the folks we are NOT hiring are white and speak English!

Should I be ABLE to specify that I want a Confederate-flag wavin' drawler with a coupla dogs in the back of his pickup truck (you know, under the gun rack...) so that I can feel all culturally comfortable answering the guy's questions when he comes to my 'hood? This is just stupid. Deal with the census, or don't deal with the census. If you don't, the penalties should be exactly the same for the people from Laos or Cambodia as they should be for me.

This really ticks me off. Especially since they're going to such great lengths to "count" people in predominantly illegal-immigrant communities so they can be "represented."

21 December 2009

Autism Rates Now 1:110

I'm not really sure about that. I'm thinking that based on my experience it's more like half of all kids are autistic. And if you want to spread that diagnosis out to just the "mildly" affected kids, we might just get up to five out of every six.

Could you imagine having a hundred and ten children, and only ONE of them being affected by autism? Ok, moms... just picture it. Just one. The other hundred and nine, I guess, are a piece of cake to raise. I mean, I see some of these blogs about poor Jonny having the old ADHD and thinking that these parents need to quit their whining. They're in a 4,000 square foot home, have two kids and a dog, but boo-hoo Jonny got into trouble again for sassing the teacher, and waah, life is so crazy and busy...

Whatever. I wish I had enough spare change to purchase some of these people a clue.

But if autism affects 1:110 kids... where are all the schools for autistic children? You would figure that in a school district like this one of about 10,000 kids that about 800-odd are autistic? But there are no schools for them here?

Another thing: The study based this on diagnosed eight-year-olds. Based on "more complete analysis of reports from 11 states." Let me tell you something: there are a good plenty of us who homeschool because the schools don't help, so they might not be in the statistics anyway... And there are also a good plenty of us who don't pursue a diagnosis because the kid is functioning just fine in his homeschool, thankyouverymuch.

Yep, my now-eight year old USED to have an ADHD diagnosis and we were told to come back later if he had trouble in school. Well, he was suspended twice in his first week of kindergarten. SO we pulled him out to homeschool him.

Now he has no trouble in school! WOW! It's like magic.

So he probably wouldn't qualify for any sort of a diagnosis now, despite what odd strangers say to me when I tell them I have several autistic children and they zero on Emperor as **THE ONE** absolutely fer sure right away. LOL, nope. *Just* because kids are socially odd, have no concept about personal space or the fact that we shouldn't spin and bounce off walls, doesn't mean that these kids are autistic. Necessarily.

Kids are autistic only with the special and very MAGICAL diagnosis from a trained professional.

Yes, I'm being sarcastic. Oddly enough, Elfie is having a hard time qualifying for special services because he functions SO WELL in his environment. You know, the environment in which he is homeschooled and rarely sees other children? That one? If we didn't have the magical diagnosis given to us by the trained professional, our kid "who acts so normal" would never get help at all.

Ok, I don't even know where to start with that one. Autism is a normal thing here. Everyone else is weird. *Shaking my head.*

20 December 2009

The Zhu Zhu Pets Are HERE!

When I log onto my email account, I get *plenty* of notices about the Zhu Zhu Something Whatever Pets. They are at such and such location at 6 a.m. Be there EARLY to be sure to have your opportunity to purchase one of 50 located in each store!! GO NOW!!!

Um, we don't need pets, real or otherwise. I had no clue there were even these "Zhu Zhu" pets in existence until the constant ALL CAPS emails screamed to me about my absolute need to get them for my children. They're what every kid wants for Christmas! What kind of bad Mom would I be if my children didn't have a "perfect" Christmas with these recycled Furby-looking things?

Elf and Emperor have never heard of Zhu Zhu, but I have been asked for a pony, a goat and a horse within the last month. Oh! And a Crusader outfit. You just can't play holy war properly with the paint stirrer sticks provided by Mom and Home Depot. One *must* have the Crusader outfit to rid the world of infidels/ jab our brothers in the ribs.

I don't think I'm going to tell them about this great new Zhu Zhu "need" they have when they already are not getting the pet chickens and Robin Hood bow and arrow sets on their list. They are getting Tinkertoys, some Pokemon cards and a couple of Spongebob books I found at the thrift store. I have also bought some paint and we will repaint their room. I am hoping someday to replace the furniture as well. I have some pennies aside and hopefully D will let us get something cool sometime.

The Zhu Zhu link provided in these emails makes the "pet" look like a small rock covered in fake fur with a couple of buttons for eyes. I don't know what a kid would do with a little non-living gerbil, but then again, I remember the "pet rocks" we used to have as kids. Since we lived in the Stone Age, we thought a rock with some glue-on google eyes and a doodled smile was an awesome pet. What's really hilarious? Our parents probably paid a lot of money for them. If we were really rich, our "pet" got carried in a basket and had some Easter straw for a bed.

By the way, I'm seeing a LOT of those Billy Bass Singing Fish things in the thrift stores now. Remember how clever everyone thought they were? And how they paid $19 for 'em? They're $1.98 now, boyo, but if you go on Sunday morning, the blue tag items are a quarter and you might just glue a little fake fur and a boa on there and pass one off on Christmas morning as Zsa Zsa, Zhu Zhu's outdated if flamboyant cousin.

They would be a real hit, dahling.

19 December 2009

Cue the "Evil" Music

The NEA bursts forth onto the national scene to remind us all that they're really, really GLAD that there is a proposed bill restricting the use of restraint and seclusion in schools. They're really, really glad. No, really. And they've been working a long time with disability groups and stuff and are heralding this great step forward blah blah blah and et cetera.

Have you puked yet? I'm kinda getting the angry dry heaves coming on here. When was the last time they have "advocated" for any teacher who slaps, restrains, secludes and/or otherwise abuses a student to be FIRED ON THE SPOT? Hmm? You just wow me with that overwhelming evidence *right now* and maybe we'll talk about how sincere this press release really is. Cue the "evil" music:

“We must work together to ensure the safety of all students and educators and create supports that provide proper training for school staff,” states NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.


Is this the same "working together" on common educational goals that the staff at my son's elementary wanted to do when they continually refused to provide a one-to-one aide, preferring instead to seclude him in a closet for his "manipulative" behaviour? I'm just wondering.

Maybe I need to stop being so cynical. Maybe we really DO need to work together. But I'd sure like a little more power on my side of the "bargaining" table when we're doing that. Is the union just giving in on this because it knows some of its members are abusers and need clear guidelines so they don't make the union look worse than it already does? I'm just trying to think of what it is about this bill that would make it in the teachers' union's best interest. More money for training/ higher pay for "qualified" disability teachers? That's a compromise I could certainly live with if it means that children's civil rights are respected.

What's your take? Am I just casting the NEA as the villain in every act of every play? Could they actually just get around to doing something right for a change, because they made a mistake and did something nice that would benefit a non-union member? (Gasp! LOL)

Or... wait. Wait. Don't tell me. It's political/liberal stuff, right? Is treating kids with respect a "liberal" thing now? "They" own that? Maybe that's it. Um... the more I think about it, the more I think probably that's it. At least on paper, "they" at least know we need to be nice to people. It's a pity more can't be said about conservative leaders who advocate swatting with belts as a logical consequence for common misbehaviours.

Um... and that's the moderate conservative. The extremists advocate absolute parental freedoms and all (you know, parents "free" to abuse their kids with no repercussions because God put 'em in the family, so God must like what's going on). These folks also think schoolteachers shouldn't do that, though... because there shouldn't BE any teachers outside Sunday School if y'all are being GOOD parents and homeschooling, right?? Though if it happens in Sunday School, that's ok because of some verse in Romans 13 about the powers that be being ordained by God, so shut up if the Sunday School teacher slaps your kid...

Siiiiiigh... Or worse yet, on another blog I read about how it is ALL YOUR FAULT, Mom, if your child is sexually abused in church because of some verse in Deuteronomy. And um, the verse means that you have to keep your kid with you at all times until she is married. If anything bad happens, you are 100% responsible (not the abuser; you've just placed "temptation" in his way with that hot 7-year-old of yours and her wily ways... *barf*) because you did not tomato-stake her properly.

I'm not going to link to the extreme stuff because it's so brainless and authoritarian that any good Christian should resist it. (Really. Read Galatians sometime. It's ok to think for yourself and figure out what the Pharisees don't want you to know about grace. And I am beginning to suspect that some legalism is a cover for very sinful behaviour; that of CONTROLLING OTHER PEOPLE, whether what they're advocating is right or not.

And MOST Christians don't buy it; they really don't. Please don't confuse "I agree with you that families are important" with "I agree that parents should be able to swat their kids with paddles until they bruise and gay people should be burnt at the stake." There's kind of a jump in logic that the simple questions of, "Do you support traditional marriage?" and "Do you think gay marriage is ok?" are not going to tease out... a jump in logic that differentiates most Christians from people like Fred Phelps.

Though maybe that is NOT a jump in logic if you find gay sex to be an absolute right akin to beating your kid senseless with a paddle. (!!??) Nothing really makes sense to me... no one's viewpoint really seems to be consistent on everything, including my own. That line between freedom and responsibility to others can be very tricky to draw indeed.

I tell you, the world is a topsy-turvy place sometimes. Sometimes, the people we think are evil don't turn out to be *wholly* evil... and the people we think are our allies? Well, you need to look out for them because you just never know, friend, what tomorrow may bring.

I am ready for the NEA to do something right. I'm ready for it to earn my admiration and respect, even. I'm going to try to keep an open mind on things.

But even as I tried to contact my congressman about this issue, I couldn't categorize it properly under "Civil Rights." The fellow had NO "Civil Rights" button, but there were about fourteen different words for "abortion" (pro-life, abortion, etc.) and tea party protest/ tax helps. I hope that doesn't mean that civil rights aren't important to him and that he wants five times as many comments about tax reform than education. Just an oversight? Will he listen?

I have a lot of questions about everything.

18 December 2009

On Australia.

How odd that I came across this story about the Australians' new idea for highways. We're doing a brief overview of "seaport cities" in our fourth-grade LIFEPACs, and right now, we're in Sydney.

So what do you think? Should the Australian government build speed bumps every 100 metres on the highways? It sure would cut down on high-speed accidents. I thought this story was for real at first because I had just been reading of another hare-brained idea in Veronica's blog that would entail zie government reviewing every website and see if it is safe for children. We want to keep the kiddies safe... so... the government will make sure that no bad ideas - I mean- porno websites enter the country. And anyone who doesn't agree with that must hate children.

I have to say that I didn't make any connections between the Clean Feed and that highway story until I read everything through and saw the web link. That's good satire, but I had just *assumed* the entire government had gone bonkers. :) But I have to tell you that this government censorship, on such a LARGE SCALE, is absolutely chilling. Though I do have to wonder if that sort of thing happens here, too, and we are just not told about it. No, I don't have any conspiracy theories. Just wondering aloud.

Back to our homeschool. One of our LIFEPAC review questions was along the lines of, "Name three ways you can tell Australia was founded by British people." Emperor said that you can NOT tell by their accents, because they do an "awful" imitation of a British accent. Umm... kid... it's a different accent. They're not trying to be British.

"But the question said..." Sigh. Nevermind. Elf?

So Elf comes up with ideas such as, "People speak English in Australia" and "Just look at the FLAG! It's obvious!" and "Because all Australians are white."

Thanks to the Wiggles, I thought, I'd be able to disprove this easily. But Elf and Emperor do not see the difference between Jeff and the other Wiggles. See, because they are all Australians, so he must be white. Actually, he is the PURPLE Wiggle.

I tell you, I deal with this logic EVERY DAY.

16 December 2009

A Thrift Store Education, Part II

Usually I'm a literary purist, but I *really* like this series of books. I started reading Oliver Twist and thought it was a faithful if simplified version of the original. The series does a great job of helping the younger student while maintaining the "voice" of the author. D and I began keeping an eye out for these at the thrift store about a year or so ago. Thankfully, the books are all pretty much the same size and have the same type, so they're easy to spot. Most of these were purchased for 50 cents each and yes, we have two copies of Oliver Twist and Heidi. When you have two children who enjoy reading at night together and following along, 50 more cents and an extra spot on the bookshelf isn't that big a deal. Robin Hood is in this series as well, but is currently hiding in a little box under Elf's bed.

A Thrift Store Education

Spending $25 on some books at the thrift store seems like a bit much, until you price these materials new. We have a full curriculum for sixth grade reading once I buy the workbooks. Even these would not be necessary, but greatly enhance the experience. I just love Bob Jones stuff, but it is usually very teacher intensive, so I don't use it in every subject. In the pile D purchased are also some ABeka books, pieces of various science sets, a social studies textbook and a health curriculum complete with teacher and test manuals and the test answer key. If I decide to use these, I just have to buy the workbook$ and away I go. I might just wait until next April or so and go to a homeschool convention and try to find them used. If I can't find them used, I can order from the ABeka booth and get free shipping. :)
I enjoy buying certain staple items new, but reading-wise, our entire collection is pretty well cobbled together thrift store finds, McGuffey readers and the good old King James bible. I also use www.crayola.com and print colouring pages for the flags of the countries we study in social studies. I also like the Dover sticker paper dolls and colouring books we used during our brief overview on Japan.

Layers of Story

Here, a pregnant woman shows up at the ER. As is quite common, she's pretty well ignored for hours. Yep, triage and go sit and wait over there. And wait. And wait. So, she gets tired of waiting next to all the flu patients, figures out that this "sit in the waiting room and hope someone gets 'round to me" isn't working, goes home and gives birth to a premature infant that dies.


Would the baby have died anyway? We'll never know. Not that that makes it ok to leave her in the waiting room forever. Should she have gone home? Was it a reasonable and advisable thing to do? Maybe not, but then again, I wasn't the one there dealing with the situation, pregnant and hurting with God-knows-who filtering into the ER room. Was she scared for her safety? Were the sick patients kept isolated?

Is this lady some big-money seeker looking to make a fast buck by suing? Well, if she is, she's going to some pretty extreme lengths for her cash. Most people don't start their day hoping their kid dies so they can get a few million. It bothers me when doctors' advocates make victims out to be cash-hungry crazies who sue at the drop of a hat. I remember once in eighth grade a peppy trial lawyer with a "power tie" came to talk to our health class. (Yeah, stuff like that was common where I lived. Really.)

"Who wants $250,000?" he energetically asked us. OOOOO, every hand was raised. "OK. Now, what would you say if I told you that in exchange for that $250,000, you had to lose the hand you're holding up right now?"

Stunned silence. I'm telling you, it made us think.

Also in the article: Good luck getting any cash out of the system. It's owned by the county. And maybe it's racist of me to assume, but "Roshunda?" Was she poor and black, maybe? Medicaid patient? Do providers ever roll their eyes at the Medicaid folks showing up at the ER? I'm just wondering aloud here, as I could be totally wrong and Roshunda could be the name of Paris Hilton's cousin, who happened to arrive by limousine. But I don't think she is. Then still again, maybe they would have treated Hilton's cousin the same way because they were dealing with many other serious issues at the moment.

Now, watch. We'll never hear of this story again, either because the parties settle or it gets forgotten. But sometimes I will think of stories like this years later and wonder how the folks involved are doing. My prayers go out to Roshunda Abney and her family.

14 December 2009

The Look.

Leather jacket for about $5 at the thrift store. It really looks *sharp* on G and he has gotten a lot of compliments at school. Yes, it is missing a button, but it's otherwise in excellent condition and is old enough to be back in fashion again. This leather is super-soft, too. D bought it to tear up and make little projects out of, but G is giving it some new life. I wish, with the negative temperatures out there, that he did not go out to the bus stop to wait just as you see him here. Apparently wearing a hat or jacket/ being sensible is very out of fashion.

13 December 2009

Homeschool Update

We got sidetracked a little bit in science. You'd think that reading a page in our LIFEPAC book that the children would memorize the information and move on.

But noooo. Thermometers usually have mercury in them, did you know that? Elf has the fantastic idea that they should use water instead because mercury is bad for you. I'm trying to tell the kid that NO WAY a water thermometer would work. Emperor demands to make a thermometer with water to prove me wrong. So, fine.

The temperature inside is marked with a line when we began. As it got warmer through the day in the house, the thermometer read the same. We put the thermometer outside. After a while, the temperature reading was "ice cube." We left it inside for a while and it returned to the previous line. After a few days, I had a hard time convincing the children that the temperature did not go down... the water is just evaporating.

I don't think that there is a great demand for Elf's idea, and because I'm not running to the patent office this minute, I suppose I should share it with you.

In other news, despite growing up as a relatively well-read child, I had never read Robin Hood. We started that adventure in our homeschool a couple of weeks ago. Emperor came across a passage discussing the beautiful forest and the gay dragonflies.

"GAY DRAGONFLIES? Who wrote this book??" Emperor yelled, turning to look at the cover.

"No, it's ok," Elfie assured him. "It's a word that used to mean happy."

"Yes, Elfie's right," I chimed in. "There are a lot of words like that that have changed meaning over the years."

"Like pussy," Elf said. Ok, I almost fainted when I heard that word from him...

In any event, I have to say Robin Hood is not the best example of godly manhood there is. This fellow is hiding out in the forest, drinking ale, swacking passers-by with his staff and stealing their money, and shooting arrows about just to show how awesome and full of testosterone he is. They've just recruited some drunken monk as chaplain. Apparently you can have a hundred or so guys hang out in the forest through English winters (brr!) and the authorities/townspeople are powerless to stop them.

Well, it's not my favourite book. And speaking of classics, when Patrick was reading Romeo and Juliet, I read it and found THAT disappointing as well. Romeo is in this rebound relationship with some 14-year-old chick in a dysfunctional family. And in true Springer style, the families just fight it out whenever they see each other in the street with knives and call each other names. The final answer to all your problems, though, is to just kill yourself when life doesn't work out well. Then everyone else has to feel sorry for THEIR mistakes. That'll teach 'em.

How messed-up is that? I'm not sure that I want to bother including that one in our high school literature pile when the children are older. Just because everyone else thinks it's great doesn't mean we have to read it.

12 December 2009

In the News

Yowzers. A charity wants to do a free medical clinic for a few days during January, but can't afford the estimated $77,000 fee the authorities would charge. Well, I suppose they have a right to charge something for the extra cleanup and etc. the event would necessitate... though $77,000 seems just a mite steep to me. But the newsguys, instead of including relevant facts about the fees or examples of other charity events and corresponding fees, made sure to interview some dude about whether doing medical charity is even a good idea at all:

"Many District residents have chronic conditions, Keane said. 'What they need is comprehensive care, and I think the worst thing you can do to a patient is diagnose his problem and then not be able to treat it over the long haul,' he said."

So... in other words... don't bother doing charity work for the poor. I mean, unless they can have "comprehensive" care provided by the government, just forget about diagnosing conditions because these folks will have a hard time with that follow-up care thing. Better just to let these folks NOT KNOW they have diabetes or a heart condition, since unless they can see the magical doctor-person and get some pills and an MRI? Diet and exercise are useless, and it's just not useful to know that you have a problem. Better to let things go on as they are.

And I'm thinking that by this reasoning, we need to stop giving bottled water to people after hurricanes. I mean, it's just unacceptable here in America that we don't have a "comprehensive water system" no matter what, so it's a bad idea to give that short-term help.

Know what? People like this would rather things got really crappy for poor folks so they could magically prove their "point" about comprehensive medical care. Let those kids suffer with the scarlet fever that's easily treated now, but could mean blindness or death in a few weeks. That'll show those politicians.

Ok, I just shake my head at that attitude. You know, I don't think that government health care is the "solution," but that doesn't mean I would get all happy about someone's kid dying because the parents delayed going to the ER because they "can't afford" it if it doesn't pass. Life isn't about scoring political points. Good grief...

I think a little charity in our thoughts as well as our deeds is warranted.

10 December 2009

Proposed Law!

Dare I hope? It ends restraint in public schools and gives guidelines limiting the use of seclusion rooms. Ange is currently in Washington, advocating. BIG hats off to her, because what she's doing is so important. I got the link to the legislation from her blog and want to pass the word on to you.

Will you pray? Will you call your senator when this gets up for a vote? This is big stuff, folks.

And dare I say it? The Obama administration is taking some steps we never saw under Bush. And Senator Dodd of CT, big thanks to him as well. I very much wish that we had some more conservative folks who would "get" that abuse in school is not ok.

09 December 2009

Truancy Sweeps

Not in question: education is important. Yay. Also not in question: I sure don't want bunches of unsupervised children hanging out around my neighbourhood. And likely these children ARE skipping classes and shouldn't be. But my question would be about the Constitutional rights of the PARENTS of the children who are carted off in a paddywagon, whether the kids are public-schooled or not. I also wonder about this "cooperation" between truancy officers, the cops and the schools. Does that not scare you a little bit? I'm *guessing* that a cell phone call to Mom might get a "truant" homeschooler out of trouble with the cops in Dayton as homeschoolers are actually registered with the schools in Ohio and they already have your info on file (shudder). And on a *somewhat* related note, our city and school district and local grocery store are working together on something called the "Mayor's Christmas Tree," which gives out presents and food to needy families. They've REALLY been pushing the older kids in public school to attend several events and bring canned goods and money for a "good cause." I am Scrooge in this house to the older children because I refuse to participate or give a dime. All recipients of these "free" gifts MUST have their children "enrolled in a (cityname) school" to receive help. IMO the help should go to the NEEDY families regardless of whether their children are enrolled in school. It is not the time or place to push your agenda while being "generous." Maybe I am pushing mine by not giving. I thank God that I am not in "need" of this kind of "help" this year... and while it's true most very financially needy families don't homeschool, I don't like this coersion.

08 December 2009


FOX News

FOX News is the bastion of conservative opinion... at least according to some of my liberal friends. It features, you know, articles that conservative people like to read. Articles like this one about people going to strip clubs. Did you know that watching strippers sets a woman's mind at ease and is a great bonding experience for couples?

I mean... even when I was an extreme "liberal" and atheist, I didn't go for this stuff. By any measure, this junk is degrading to women. So how is this smutty article, complete with a pic of the author trying to look sexy while eating eyewear, conservative stuff? 'Splain it to me, Lucy.

"Even if they don't like watching" their boorish love interests fawn over wiggling silicone, the article claims, "some women would rather know what their partners are doing than be left wondering. Accompanying him to a strip club makes her feel like she’s more on top of his sexual liaisons." (Barf!)

I guess if FOX News is "conservative," that I am not ready for what the "liberals" want me to read. This stuff is icky.

People of Wal-Mart

Well, I have to say when I first saw this website I was intrigued as to why my friend enjoyed it because many of the pictures don't look all that unusual. Certainly I don't get myself all gussied up for a trip down the shampoo aisle myself. But there's a certain appeal to people watching, and this site certainly has (in addition to the usual ALL-CAPS unkind commentary) some strange folks to look at.

Do you know what really intrigues me about the website? I keep wondering about the people who shot the pictures and how they got away with it.

07 December 2009

Woodjie's Day

Here's one of several pictures we took of sleepy Woodjie after he got off the bus. Judging from this form sent home, he must have eaten up a storm at school. I swear I feed him at home, but I know from experience at church that he likes to wander about and eat everyone else's food... so EVERYONE has to have milk and egg-free snacks. I like this sheet because it gives me a good idea of how he functioned at school without the teacher having to write an essay. I wrote her back on the other side of the paper. Woodjie fell asleep on the way home (look how tired he is in that top pic!), ate dinner half-awake, and was very grumpy/out of sorts. We put the tv on for him and got his fave pillow out. He seemed a bit better after the Monsters, Inc. movie. It is now 10:30 p.m. and do you think he is asleep yet? He is not. Nope.

Goodbye, Woodjie.

Woodjie's first day of preschool. Here he is waiting for the bus and getting on. I swear I have five other children, but this week, life is all about him. :] Can you tell it's starting to get cold outside?

05 December 2009

Woodjie's Reasoning Ability

He not only matches the proper colour tile to the shape below it, he is now substituting the blue square tile where two green triangles were together for a perfect match. He loves doing this matching tile set he got for his birthday. He has a little difficulty with the fine motor (see top pic) but with a little help, he can do all the boards in this Melissa and Doug set.

Happy Third Birthday, Woodjie!

No festivities yet. Napping with Dad. I have a sore throat and I'm not sure if I'll make him an egg/milk-free cake today. I might put it off and do it later this week. Look for more Woodjie posts this week as he starts preschool on Monday. Prayers appreciated. :]

03 December 2009

On Gratitude.

by Elf, Age 9:

I show gaditude by doing what mom says. My mom makes my home comeftubul. My mom lets us do fun things in school. She makes us happy all day. She gives us things we don't desurve. She lets us play with the babies. Thank you mom for what you have done for us! The way I show thaks for what she's done is that I help her. Obeying her. I wach the kids for her so she can eat. We do school so she can know that she is raising good childrin. We clean our room for her. That is how we show gratatude to her.

by Emperor, Age 8:

I show gratitude by whatching the kids. I Somtimes I mess up trying to show gratitude. The only thing I do when that happens is to be a minus not a plus. (Mom's note: I tell the children they must be a PLUS, or a helper, when we go out and not a MINUS, or a pain-in-the-butt. Mom needs helpers!) Mom takes us out for lunch or dinner sometimes. Mom sometimes takes Elf and I to Target or Walmart even. Showing gratitude is hard.

Thanks to Elf and Emperor for a sweet little assignment today. They were asked only for a few sentences on gratitude in their journals. By the way, their posts about hurricanes and storms can be found on their blogs:

Emperor's post

Elf's post

Thanks for reading!

02 December 2009

Pink Toys Are Sexist And Evil

...according to the Pinkstinks people. It's not ok to be marketing toys that perpetuate gender stereotypes. It's a way to keep the girls down and teach them that they're good for nothing but wiping baby bottoms! It has to end, folks. Boycott time.


First off, boycotts are danged overused and downright boring. If you don't like the pink toys, and your friends don't like the pink toys, how about... just not buying the pink toys and writing to the company in question about why YOU don't like them? Why does everyone have to get all organized and angry about it?

Now... I think a man can live in a pink house. I think he can cook in a pink kitchen with a pink pot. It's when he wears the princess high heels and the boa that I start to worry. I also think that men can occasionally have... female children. You know, baby girls. Said baby girls are usually pushed around in little pink strollers and wear little pink clothes and drink from pink bottles. Though the toymakers marketing almost ONLY EXCLUSIVELY pink things does send my sons the message that men don't belong at home with kids except on alternate weekends if they've paid their child support. But as long as they make money with the Pink Princess Plastic Palace and the purple glitter ponies made in China for super-cheap with toxic chemicals, I don't think the toymakers care.

Something else, though, bears mentioning. Dear toymakers, I know this may come as a surprise to you, but occasionally little girls marry MEN who insist on having the singing Billy Bass hung in the living room or who want to have their house painted a poop brown colour. (The nickname for the exact shade of our house is "Porta-Potty" brown, come to think of it.) It's also a simple fact that most of us living within our means don't buy entirely coordinated furniture and have a "theme" throughout the house. Can your playhouses reflect this fact, please?

And while I'm at it, I need to mention that occasionally... just occasionally... little girls grow up to be women who have SONS. They need to learn to push the BLUE stroller as well as the pink one. I'm not feeling that the gender role of my daughter is squashed by your marketing the pink kitchen and the pink-clad dolly, and I do buy some pink little dollies. But I buy boy dolls as well and can't find fun little "boy" accessories for them. A pack with a "boy"rattle, puzzle or outfit/blanket set would be nice.

While we're on the subject of gender roles and stereotypes, how 'bout this one? I'm thinking the truth is probably that the teacher is a liberal snit who wants to impose her values on everyone in the school and the dad is a jerk... who wants to impose his values on the everyone in the school. But... that's just from reading the article. The truth may be something so way different. Funny how that goes.

01 December 2009

Having "The Talk."

"Mom, I need to ask you something." Emperor is trotting after me as I clean the living room. "'Member how you said that scientists like to put everything into groups? And give them names?"

Mm-hmm. "Well, how do the scientists figure out which are the boy and girl hurricanes? And how do the hurricanes make new hurricanes?"

Awww, you're so cute, Emperor. Hurricanes aren't alive.

"They AREN'T?? But how do they give them names if they're not alive? And how do they get new ones then?" Sideways look. Mom must be holding out some important information.

Hmm... Well, here are some books on the subject. And if you have any questions, we can wikipedia about it or ask someone who knows more about it than I do. Or maybe you need to do your own research.

Be looking on Elf and Emperor's blogs in the next few days for a post about hurricanes. :]

Woodjie's Roller Dance Routine!

Only a few people were selected to perform their routines at a recent club fundraiser.  I went to upload this video and was pretty shocked...