31 July 2011

We're Home!

Well, hello! We're home again. Emperor and I had a great time, though I must say we're pretty disappointed that Emperor was only able to get one win. I don't get it... he beat some of these children handily in the practice games, and then lost to them in the tournament. And by the end of the three day tournament, I was able to beat him in a couple games.

That, friends, should never happen. So I'm thinking he's just taken a good tailspin on this and needs to just keep on studying tactics and work on concentration, really, more than anything else.

I'm going to admit we're doing it all wrong.

See, there's this kid named "Matlock." The kid seems like a nice, likeable young man. He was playing some practice games with Emperor and we were having a nice time.

Were. Having a nice time.

The mom comes in and squawks at the kid about guarding his back rank. WHAT about the checklist your coach went over with you?? You need to bla bla bla and she was just tearing that kid up. It either inspired him or un-nerved Emperor because he later lost to this kid in the tournament, after having won two practice games.

Oh, well. I think the worst part was that Matlock and his little sister were so likeable and Emperor kept trying to play with them, show them his game system, and all that. The mom kept GLARING at us as though we were the enemy. Good grief.

Next morning, she didn't let her kid eat what he wanted for breakfast. Protein only. She even had him listening to music before the tournaments so that he would be prepared properly. Actually that isn't a bad idea... but... she's just a little more than a little controlling. I guess it's the spirit of the whole thing rather than the substance.

Please tell me I will never wind up like that. Though I sure did scold Emperor that he ought notate his game and THINK THROUGH EACH MOVE. He'd beaten a player with a 1400 rating, and he shouldn't be losing - in 13 moves and 15 minutes - to someone lower-ranked than him. Not when you have a an hour and fifty-five minutes on your clock.

I think we've come away from the tournament with a LOT of advice from some of the higher-rated players. Most of the advice? Emperor is talented, tactics are good, uses combinations well, but JUST isn't studying the board and thinking about what the other player is trying to do. And that is gonna get him.

We couldn't find ANY post cards in the hotel, and as I arrived by cab, didn't get any nearby. So, folks who guessed where we were earlier who want a post card and a chance at receiving a small package, please email your address to happyelfhomeschool (at) gmail (dot) com. I will select a package winner on Wednesday morning. :)

30 July 2011

At The Kansas Open

Yes! We're at the Kansas Open in Overland Park. Stalkers and assorted cray-zee homeschool blog fans, you have a day and a half to find us and meet us in person at the Ramada Inn. lol EVERYONE who left a correct comment, I'll send you a postcard and a random guesser will get a small package. So, leave a comment on an old post or email happyelfhomeschool (at) gmail (dot) com.

Emperor was the youngest player last night in the quick tournament. Most of the players are adults. Poor guy lost every game.

It wouldn't be so bad if the few kids who were here were, you know, NICE. Or had nice parents. One mom screamed at her child in the middle of a practice game with Emperor about doing his checklist, why hasn't he practiced this afternoon, what did your chess coach say, look at your h-file bla bla bla queen out too early in the game. Whoo. I chalked it up to that individual family's rudeness until I met another family that wanted to introduce the child by USCF rating instead of... you know... his name.

What's odd is that the really superbly great players don't usually act quite like this. They are just sitting there, not showing off, and walk away with the plaque if you know what I mean. I sure don't mind Emperor losing; we knew this was an adult tournament going into it. I'm sad that the parents are behaving so boorishly. And yeah, when you let your kid laugh at other players, talk about how he's the highest rated bla whatever, and generally swagger about and roll eyes at the lower-rated players... it is beyond rude when you don't at least try to correct your child's behaviour. Kids are gonna be rude, plain and simple. We all have our moments. But wow.

I was chatting with one of the higher rated players and he said the scene I described sounded like something right out of Searching for Bobby Fischer. Well, it wasn't even as friendly as the pool scene in the movie. It's like every other kid is "the enemy" or something.

This morning one of the moms got on her kid and told him he had to eat protein only so he could do well in the tournament. Ok, so it's her kid but I'm sorry that this is his childhood, being trained like a chess show animal or something. Meh. I feel like such a slacker homeschool mom in comparison. And I don't mind being that way.

I tell you what: we're going to have a great day today and tomorrow. I think Emperor will be a stronger chess player for having gone, but that's not the sum total of his worth and value to me as a human being. He's getting to go off his diet to eat pizza for lunch. He'll be swimming (under close supervision) this afternoon. And he'll be watching Spongebob and playing his favourite game. Best vacation ever! :)

29 July 2011

We're Here!

Wherever that is... will be published tomorrow. Comments/guesses about where we are will be accepted through midnight tonight, Central Standard Time.

I think I can tell you, at least, that we are presently in a hotel. And that Emperor is lucky to be ok. He has some sort of weakness on his right side. Even when he was crawling, he'd drag his right leg like a polio victim (no, I'm not making fun of polio victims, just giving an analogy of the appearingly uselessness of that leg). He can now walk and doctors think he is just fine. But he doesn't write well. And no matter how hard we have tried, and many classes, he has never been able to swim.

Anyway. All that to say this: he could have drowned today. You know drowning really does look like just a little dip underwater. Some nearby girls rescued Emperor while I was about to dive in with my sneakers. They had to be all of maybe ten. Poor kid comes up gasping for breath etc. and is told to stay on the SHALLOW side and he readily agreed. Ok! I don't want that to happen again.

BUT it did. Again, the girls dragged the kid to the side of the pool. They were really quite amazing. Emperor felt sick from "gulping too much water" and had to lie down a bit. I was somewhere between mad and relieved. Just... whyy did you go in the deep end?? WHYY??

Well, he explained, the water wasn't any higher in the deep end, so I didn't know it was deeper there.

What, the kid thought the water would go uphill or something for his convenience?? I did make sure to thank the girls profusely AGAIN and also their mom when she arrived. I guess *this* mom can be assured her girls will be safe alone in a pool with no lifeguard. They have each other. I mean, I wouldn't do it... but then again, look what happens when I'm 20 feet away from my child. Only imagine if I were in another part of the hotel.

I did tell Emperor that really, the boys are supposed to rescue the pretty girls and not the other way around. I knowwww, he told me... but he was (at that point) too tired to argue much.

I have outlined now WHERE, exactly, he is allowed to wade in the pool. I don't get it. He is very smart, but he didn't read the depth posted at several points in the pool? I'm just glad he is ok and the girls helped him out so quickly. I have myself a feeling that is one proud mommy.

She should be! :)

28 July 2011

A Trip.

Emperor and I are leaving. Friendly contest time. Prize is probably a postcard or something small I get there, and you can send me your address later if you "win." Not sure what's available in the hotel shop so I don't want to promise anything specific.

So where are we going? That's the contest. You tell me. Annnnd you have to be exact. Let's see if you can do it. Closest wins. I get to decide which entry is closest. Ready?? Here are some hints:

sunflower state

not closed

OK!!! I've practically TOLD YOU where we're going, so you have to be exact in your comments. Feel free to google away and good luck!

PS. In the event of more than one correct guess, names will be written on scraps of paper and tossed into a room where Woodjie is playing. The one he picks up first is the *winner!*

26 July 2011

New Mascot: Annoying Orange?

Have you seen the Annoying Orange videos on youtube? Ehhhh... I know people like this, is what's sad. But he might be the new mascot for McDonald's the way things are going.

Now, they're going to start giving apples instead of french fries in my kid's Happy Meal. That is why I go to MickeyD's in the first place! The apples! Meanwhile, the McNuggets need absolutely no improvement. Everyone LOVES the taste of anti-foaming agents... mmm, MM! As the saying goes, I'm lovin' it. Well, in fairness, I'm not sure what to think of it, but "I have no clue what is in this so-called 'food'" doesn't make for a good slogan.

When Elf heard the news about McDonald's, he thought it was a bad joke that Mom was playing on the innocent little children. Mom is mean and doesn't let him search the internet by himself, so he is not sure he's going to believe this. He says that people go to McDonald's for the fries and that they will complain.

He might complain himself. He will need a powered wheelchair and a talk with the manager. The wheelchair will be there because no one respects children, but they'll listen to an old guy in a wheelchair. No word on how his sitting in a wheelchair would make him look old, but... ok.

I have to live with this reasoning every day.

25 July 2011

The Fried Liver Attack!

Have you ever been the victim of a fried liver attack?? Emperor pulled this move on me and I didn't even see it coming. I think what bothers me most about it is the incredulous, "MOM! You have to try to win!" and "WHY did you move that piece there?" and "That was an interesting move... but not a very intelligent one!" sorts of comments I get from him during our friendly games. As if I know each of the several hundred move series, each with its own name and history. Did you know that in an official USCF tournament you can't even say "check" or "checkmate?" Our chess coach explains that "that's just Hollywood" and they don't do that in real life. You'd just better figure out you are in check. Note how in the video, the narrator never explains when the king is in check, but simply states that the king moves. Emperor and Elf did well in their first USCF rated tournament on Saturday. Emperor won all of his games and Elf won two of three.

23 July 2011

What's His REAL Name?

"MIKE!! It on a wall!" screamed Rose, jumping and pointing. Woodjie came over to look at whatever "Mike" is. I'm in the middle of bagging poopie diapers (ugh), rounding up dirty laundry and reallllly looking forward to washing my hands. With soap. You just can't stop in the middle of a job like that. It would be too hard to get back into, you see...

"Ee MIKE!" Woodjie starts to scream. They both start hopping about and screaming. "Mike! Momma, Mike! MIKE! Mike Mike Mike Mike Mike! MIIIIKE! IT ON A WALLLLL!! WOOK!"

I'm thinking, great, they're naming spiders and I'm way too busy to kill them at the present moment. Bleh... poopies tossed into garage trash, clothes thrown next to washer two floors down, run upstairs and ahhhh water time. And grab a shoe.

"OK, where's this 'Mike?'"

"WOOK!" Woodjie points to a little green scratch on the brown wall. "MIKE!"

Siiigh. "His name is MARK, Woodjie. There is a Mark on the wall."

"Ee MIKE. Wight dere," Woodjie insisted. Well, ok. I have trouble remembering names, too. I guess he's Mike now.

20 July 2011

Weight Loss Wednesday!

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

Well, I *did* lose two pounds... but it took me two weeks to do it. I've been working awfully hard for not very much of a result. Now mind you, for the last three days I have not been able to do my walk. It may be another few still yet during the heatwave. I was able to do a little weed-pulling yesterday, but that was more so that my yard would look great... not so much me. If you're on track with me, how are YOU doing? Feel free to update in comments. :)

19 July 2011

Dinnertime With Patrick

Patrick is bugging me. I just got done telling him to quit acting like a smartie butt at the table. He began wondering about his butt's IQ and speculated that it was rather low. Um, ok, whatever, just quit acting like a smartie butt.

The only way to become a saint is 1. to be really really famous, or 2. to die in a church, he continued... .

"Did you know the Nazis hate juice?" he asked when I served fruit juice. Elf and Emperor had no clue that Patrick knew so much about the dietary habits of the Nazis. We're reading Maus and see, it never mentioned this factoid. "Yeah, they can't stand the juice," he told them. "You didn't read history, did you?"

The kid removes a plastic ring from the top of the cheez-ball container, places it atop his head and proclaims himself king. Everyone else must do his bidding. "No, no, you not a king!" Rose shrieks. Yes, I am... look at my crown/ No, no! NOT a king! goes on for a bit.

Bleh, just pour the cheez-balls already.

"Goodness gracious, great balls of cheese!" he exclaims as he pours bunches of cheese balls onto his plate. Not content with that joke, he acts all gangsta and says that this is gub'mint cheese. I told him it is not, either, any such thing and good grief I paid enough for those cheez balls.

Right now the children are holding cheeze balls and saying, "This is you." *crunch crunch* "I just ate you!"

Dinnertime with Patrick is always funnnn. He had some complications with his surgery called "dry socket," but he is feeling much better now. Back to his silly ol' self.

Update: Patrick observed I was writing a new blog post. I should NOT have told him it is all about him...

18 July 2011

A Change in Routine

We regret to inform you that we will no longer be arranging hairbows at breakfast time. However, our staff is happy to assist you with a brief detangling spritz and brushup service. Yours sincerely, The Management.

17 July 2011

Crazy Comment Monday!

What would you say to a teacher who objects to the fact that a parent doesn't give a consequence just as she feels would be best? A little first grader was kept in from the book fair for misbehaviour, but snuck off and got a book anyway.

Teacher calls mom. The mom says something along the lines of, she thought the book fair to be important, the other first graders were going, and please send the book he snuck out and got in his backpack tomorrow. The teacher then blogs that the parent, when the child is 16 and dragged to the front door by the cops because of drug use, will just blow the officers off because all the other kids are doing it.

Yeahhh. Allowing your kid to cave in to peer pressure and LOOK AT BOOKS is gonna lead to big trouble when he's older. You just wait and see, as this commenter suggests:

"Flash forward to when he's 40 & his mom says, 'Oh well, the other crazies told him he would be a loser if he didn't rape women & store their chopped up bodies in the chest freezer.' She needs to nip that in the bud right now!"

Another commenter commisserated, "Yikes, that would drive me CRAZY!!! I feel like I am constantly calling parents to tell them about what latest antic their child was up to, to which their response tends to be, 'I'll have a talk with him/her...' I always want to say, 'A talk?? I hope you'll actually DO SOMETHING!' Can be so frustrating..."

Ah, how right she is! Parents ought to outline the punishment(s) they plan to give to the child or better yet, *check* with the teacher to make sure the punishment is adequate and meets first grade state standards for character education.

Now see, it's lucky for her she didn't call me to back her up. You do NOT keep a kid in from the book fair or a field trip or a class party or anything of that nature unless something horrible is going on that warrants a phone call in the first place. That is just not right. It's manipulative and cruel. I won't back you up on this unless there is some very extreme circumstance.

I'd have told her that I wished she'd have called me before she kept my child in from the fair. I might have instilled some other relevant consequence at home, but it wouldn't be for her to know about or log down or what-have-you. Allow me to parent. I do parent. BUT... if you instill a consequence at school? I simply don't do the double jeopardy thing and punish someone twice for the same crime.

I could be reading this post entirely wrong, especially in light of the fact that I have no clue what the kiddo did. But my own history of dealing with angry closet-locking teachers, I think, has coloured me forever.

One commenter even wrote that we ought "bring back the paddle." And I'm sorry, but if this were my blog? I'd have quashed some of these commenters and said something along the lines of, "This post was a rant. I totally did not mean that this kid would be a druggie or that we oughtta beat the crap out of kids." And I would challenge my commenters to shut their freaking yaps or take it somewhere else.

Yes, I would. Hmm... I see I don't have quite as many commenters as she does... and that's ok by me. The ones I have are (aside from an occasional troll that needs to be kicked under the bridge) really nice people! :)

By the way... here's the post. I was reading through the archives and genuinely enjoying myself/thinking of following until I got to that one. Bummer.

School Supply List

The high school doesn't have a specific supply list. You'd better hit the ground running and have a zillion hours to run all over creation and fight the crowds during that first week of school - good luck to ya. But here's the supply list for the local sixth graders. The warning at the bottom states it may not be complete, but this is what every student needs:

1 three hole pocket folder
8 70 sheet spiral notebooks
1 three ring cloth zippered pouch for pencils
set of coloured pencils (minimum of 8)
24 pencils
1 small package of red pens
3 boxes of Kleenex (2 for core, 1 for encore)
10 glue sticks
Student agenda (to be purchased at Schoolname for $5.00)
Spanish: pocket folder with brads, spiral notebook, 4 packages 3 x 5 ruled index cards
Art: Pencil & eraser
Computers: flash drive
Gym clothes - white T-shirt, dark shorts, white socks and tennis shoes

Bear in mind that in terms of "gym clothes," there is actually a uniform you can buy through the local sports store. If you're a poor kid whose parents tried to do the white T-shirt and dark shorts option, and if the gym teacher doesn't like you, you can be written up several times in a year and even wind up with detentions.

I happen to have bought several uniforms for Patrick and G six years ago and Elf will wear the two old ones out of the whole lot that weren't lost or stolen. Trouble is, the school has re-districted and the "blue" type of bird emblazoned on his uniform is not the correct school mascot bird any more. This school now feeds into an "eagle" mascot type of high school. Well, we'll see what happens. The shirts have Elf's brothers' names on them anyway and they are obviously hand-me-downs.

Just seeing the supply list in the store already makes me nervous. No, it's not an unreasonable supply list at all. I'm just scared that little Elf will get lost or overwhelmed and I'm not looking forward to doing my part to iron out the inevitable kinks that will happen.

By the way, I'm not buying exactly 10 glue sticks. Past experience tells me that the kid will bring all ten in and they'll be lost or borrowed or otherwise gone by October. Same thing with the "small box of red pens." I will send him to school with a half-used glue stick, one new glue stick and some old but unused red pens. They're left over from five years ago... you really DON'T need an entire box. And I'll buy some new things for standby and put them in my supply drawer for later. Four packages of 3 x 5 cards? Take one, and when we need more later I'll give it to you. I find children tend to LOSE things during the first week or so of school, and it had better not be the violin! Lose the pens, kid. It's ok. :)

16 July 2011

Do You Back-to-School Shop?

I do... for my children who attend public school. Actually I'm trying to spend some money on Patrick and his horribly scarecrow-raggedy wardrobe, but he doesn't like change. And no, I am not allowed to "trade" his old shirts for new ones that are nicer. He has several nice shirts at the bottom of his shirt drawer that he never wears anyway, so maybe I shouldn't bother.

But still... I do spend on some things for everyone in the family that I would have had to break down and buy eventually anyway. New underwear and socks are just about a given (unless you are stubborn like Patrick) and so is one new pair of shoes. Might as well when stores lower prices to lure you in so that you will buy the Hannah Jessica Madonna Montana whatever extreme-decorated $7 notebooks and pencil cases.

One thing I do appreciate about the local mega-stores is that they helpfully provide supply lists for each school for the younger children. Though I must say I've gotten away from filling the "required" lists exactly and instead of buying the 240-page notebook for $6.50, I'll buy four 70-pagers for a dime each and tell the kid in question that if the teacher has a problem with it, he can deal with me. Usually it turns out that the teacher just wanted so and so much paper and gets tired of kids running out mid-year. Well. Lose the notebook on the third day of school and then where are we? Out a whole whopping dime and a few notes, that's where. Smart me.

Emperor is more than all settled for his school year. He has several snazzy "Happy Elf Home School" chess shirts that we bought from a local sports store. That's right. Just pay a small set-up fee and you can embroider almost anything you want on shirts from then on. When winter comes, I can order some "Happy Elf Home School" sweatshirts if I like. *zing* Now we have a school uniform. Emperor picked a dark purple similar to the Kearney Bulldogs sports team.

I've also bought little notebooks and workbooks here and there in addition to our regular curriculum. I think if I were to take a little time out each day to do some of these activities, it could stretch out for yearrrs. Sticker books. Crayola crafty stuff. Grow your own crystals. Needlepoint a puppy. And cooking... cooking, of course.

What I really need to do is make a LIST of all the stuff I want to get done this year! Have you ever found a book or school item you had put away and forgotten? Or started and figured out your child wasn't ready to do? I'd love to see your plans for the year and hear more about them no matter where your child is educated. :)

15 July 2011

Before... and After!

I know... lots of pictures coming at you this week. But I just had to share Miss Rose's new hairdo with you. Yes, I used the scissors on the kid and it turned out ok/not horrid. I am not sure when she wakes up and starts to live regular life if I put the part in the right place. To keep the hair out of her face, I have a knitted cap with a flower. She is very particular about having "hairbow" in the morning. She hates not having her hair up. It will be all new to her tomorrow. But she is enjoying the attention tonight. :)

Embarrassing Problem

My hair is even worse than my daughter's. But I'm thinking of having Rose's hair cut in the hopes that it won't pull at all on the many thin spots she has. I have gone to piggies and odd side-'dos to disguise it. And no, no one is pulling out her hair. It is just falling out. :(

14 July 2011

"See A?"

"I make it a A." Yes, Woodjie got a button for trying so hard to make his A based on my example. Often I had to "hold hand" at his request and show him how to form the letter several times before he'd even try on his own. Five velcro buttons on his token sheet means that he gets to play "DS!" (Really an old GameBoy Color, but he doesn't know that...)
It's been a long time since he has tried to write anything for me. So this is great progress! He used to know how to write all his letters, but for the past year or so has refused to do so. Now he will write a little for me BUT absolutely refuses to use the potty. "Oh no, oh CWAP!" Woodjie tells me to let me know when it's time for a change. Do you know how yucky it is to change a kid who is nearly five? We can be thankful he only *somehow* learnt how to say cwap, yes?
Other times when it's time to "work," I'll have him look at picture cards and tell me what he sees. The other day everything was "goat" and it was HILARIOUS. No, I wasn't laughing. He was. Every answer. "Goat." Then he'd mix up the answers on purpose and laugh about them. I finally got him to give me one good correct response to the "teddy bear" card. I made sure to praise him and tell him how much teddy bear loves him.
"No," he told me simply. "Ee dead." Um, that's not nice to say and OF COURSE the teddy is just fine and is going to give you a kiss. "No..." he said rather patronizingly, as though explaining to someone extreeemely stupid. "Ee DEAD. Ee no do wat." ("He doesn't do that.")
Poor little guy doesn't understand much and I'm not sure how to explain things to him. Honestly I'm sort of disturbed by this "dead teddy" idea, though it occurs to me that "Dead Teddy" might be an excellent name for a heavy metal band.

Not Sure

why people laugh at me sometimes. I find it very insulting.

12 July 2011

Poor Patrick...

Ok, so Patrick had surgery today to remove his wisdom teeth. He warned me quite sternly in the parking lot not to patronize him once we were inside.

I really tried not to, but once they put that guy on laughing gas, HE didn't laugh, but he had the most hilarious ways of phrasing things, so I admit I had to laugh. He was talking about all his senses being muddled and how he could taste with touch, it's really the same thing (or something very odd along those lines), and the nurse looked at me and told me that he wouldn't remember any of this stuff later. Suddenly Patrick asked, "Did you turn that down?" and sure enough she had turned the dosage way down because it had wayy too strong an effect on him. Heart rate way up and kinda scary ramblings actually, though if it were a different, less reserved person I wouldn't think too much of it.

Just seemed that my son suddenly changed personalities. It was shocking. Very talkative, reminded me of when he was little and actually had things to say to people.

They were NOT kidding when they said they'd be done in 20 minutes. I think they ran the IV and ripped the teeth out, sewed him up AND moved him to the "recovery room" (a chair in a nook in the hallway) in that time. Usually ol' Patrick is so reserved, but here he was noshing on his bloody gauze and using poor grammar at about a mile a minute (double negatives, even!). He talked of how he could do a handstand if he wanted BUT that his legs were too weak to try it at presently and perhaps he should get up and...

No, no, sit... getting the nurse...

The nurse came in and changed his gauze and he asked about the type of water they were using on the gauze and why it tasted different on each side of his mouth, whether the gauze contained IONIZED water or distilled water or just plain old stuff from the tap that contains all sorts of stuff and bla bla bla and if he shakes his head sideways he thinks he's crazy dizzy but if he nods up and down it's cool, cool, (*nod nod*).

I got him home and he started doing Tae Kwon Do moves in the living room and freaking his father and I out. Kid you not, he couldn't really walk straight, but he could do that spin and kick thing super-fast. D was most seriously displeased. I think Patrick went downstairs to watch Pokemon or Super Mario Rainbow something because he HEARD from "people who ought to know" that that is very cool when you are high, and this might be his only shot at it.

Well. Ok, then. He's had some Sprite and a pain pill and is probably sound asleep now. Hopefully he feels much better very soon. I'm glad his surgery is over and that he did so well, if a little loopy.

Feel free to comment and wish him a speedy recovery! :)

11 July 2011

MORE Crazy Comment Monday!

Don't be a bad parent. Be a good parent. But don't be TOO good a parent. That is BAD.

I'm telling ya, some people need to invent stuff to grouse about. Ahem. Let's pretend I had an attitude like this (I don't, the letter is fake, no fair unfriending me on facebook). Ready?

Dear Mom and Dad:

You were always there for me. You were always helping me with homework, or buying me new clothes, cheering for me when I went to soccer practice, and generally being nice people. You even FED me three times a day. I seriously blame the extra 20 pounds I had as a high school senior on YOU for indulging my pizza habit. I also blame you for the fact that I thought I was a pretty great person and had this "self-esteem" thing going on. You even paid for four years of college, my room and board and drinking- I mean spending- money, at a prestigious university.

In short, you were bad parents all around because you were too GOOD, you see. I am now in therapy to work out my issues... which are all your fault and all caused by you.

Happy Elf Mom.

Can you beee-lieeeeeve this stuff? Honestly, I think it comes from the fact that most of us are able to escape childhood diseases, are well-fed, and don't get sent out to work 13 hours a day right when we turn six. Because from my perspective, a too-good parent is still good enough, you know? Reality WILL smack you in the *whatever* soon enough. Might as well have some people around who really love you.

But this. This smacks of prejudice as well. The "spoiled only child" idea, culled from the comments section:

"I think smaller families are PART of the problem simply because there are fewer kids, and they get too much focus. I know one child, for example, who for four years was the only child in her family; she was an only child, and her parents’ siblings weren’t married. So at family gatherings, everyone was an adult but her. Parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents . . . and one center-of-attention child who was even bossing her own great-grandfather around, because it simply never occurred to anyone that she was the cutest person in the room but not the center of the universe. If there had been ten children and six teenagers in that room as well, children would have seemed less of a novelty. Plus, if she had had siblings she would have learned some things about sharing and negotiating; she wouldn’t have had full access to toys and attention."

May I gently say to you that this is not a "not enough children around" problem, but a DISCIPLINE problem? And um, if she's the only kid around, you have LOTS of time and energy to teach her good manners. I think siblings are excellent to have, but not everyone has them, and I don't like seeing only-kid families disparged any more than I like seeing families like mine sneered at as though we were rabbits. Plus, to be quite honest, it is much HARDER to teach manners to child #6 than kid #1 because you are that much older and have that many more things to do that MUST get done. Yes, the children must learn from siblings as well as parents because it's simply a different dynamic than in an only-child family.

10 July 2011

Playing a Grandmaster!

Elf and Emperor recently had an opportunity to listen to a lecture and play Grandmaster Akobian at the Kansas City Chess Club. Thanks to Tradebot Systems, Inc. for sponsoring this! GM Akobian put on an excellent presentation, and all the children were very attentive. And thanks to my friend Maria for sending me this picture and giving me permission to use it on the blog. :) Patrick came along as well and was glad he went. He just doesn't want his pic on the blog. Meh.

09 July 2011


...have watched this video. Seriously. And there is an entire series of "Nyan Cat" videos including "Captain Kirk Encounters Nyan Cat" and some Captain Picard ones, and even a Star Wars Nyan Cat. Millions upon millions of people are watching Nyan Cat. I just can't figure out what's so appealing about it. I don't hate it... but... 24 million people? Watching this? It must *mean* something very deep that I don't get. Your thoughts?

Crazy Comment Monday!

I know it's early, but I just have to share. Would you like to join the Obedient Wives Club? Wives promise to give their husbands whatever they want in the bedroom and aim to be "good whores" for them:

"Fauziah Ariffin, the Malaysian chapter's national director, said: 'When we said that husbands should treat their wives like first-class prostitutes, we were not putting wives on the same level with prostitutes.'"

"'We are talking about first-class elite types, not street hooker types … Ordinary prostitutes can only provide good sex, but not love and affection, which only a wife can provide,' she told the Malay Mail."

"'If we provide our husbands [with] more than a prostitute can give, then he will not go out looking for it.'" Article.

Ya know, what's scary is that this is not just a "Muslim thing." I'm daggone tired of Christian websites that extol the virtues of giving the husband regular sex and backing it up with Bible verses. The implication being that if the marriage is off-kilter or altogether bad that the wife at least had a good deal to do with it if not being entirely in the wrong. That the straying husband just didn't get what he "needed" at home and so wandered elsewhere.

I should imagine that taking the verses in CONTEXT that the Christian school of thought ought be one of consideration of others' needs and forgiveness in all areas of life. This is because we see that Christ considered us and forgave us and gave His entire life for us. He did NOT at any time (excepting the Cross, which had an explicit purpose forordained from the foundation of the world etc.) simply roll over and just allow Himself to be physically and emotionally abused.

I can't imagine He wants that lifestyle for any of His children. I saw this on facebook, and it was posted by a woman in a Muslim family. She said that she was "happy to see that women everywhere are outraged about this" Obedient Wives organization. Yep, they should be.

07 July 2011

Easy Canvas Prints Review!

Easy-to-order canvas prints of your very fave picture. Or you can order some of the premade art on their website. I was given a free 10 x 8 inch canvas print in exchange for an honest review on this blog. See, I won't lie to you about the product, because if I write a scathing review, I won't have to give my free stuff back. Bwa ha ha haaaa.


Seriously, I really had A LOT OF FUN doing this and I think it turned out ab-so-lutely gorgeous. I spent an entire afternoon posing all my Polish pottery this way and that way, taking pictures from odd angles, adding props, taking props away, loading pictures and finding tons of *glare* on the pottery, and so on. I even had Patrick come in and be a consultant. Red accents? His idea. I rummaged about and found a cloth napkin. Cranberries for some reason did NOT work with this picture. Neither did patterned curtains. It was tacky.


But finally, I had a picture I thought was something I'd really cherish. I wanted to go for a "formal but casual picnic look." Do you love it?


Here's the process I went through to order:


I downloaded the picture from my camera stick thing onto the computer. From there, I got onto the Easy Canvas Prints website, selected the size print I wanted, and downloaded the picture. It gives a preview, and you can choose to continue the picture down the sides of the frame or just choose a colour, or leave it blank. I chose a dark brown just because I thought it looked nice with the picture. I tried several colours and periwinkle I think looked the most horrid. You have to love the preview feature because it can save a lot of heartache later.


Even considering that I ordered before the Fourth of July weekend, I got my canvas within about a week. I took a picture of it from all sides so you can see how it arrives, all ready to hang. The first picture has a lot of glare because it is still in the plastic wrapping.


Because I took the original picture against my wooden panelling, and later hung the resulting canvas against the wooden panelling, it all just goes so perfectly. I would honestly recommend taking a look at the website if you are at all interested in hanging a personalized canvas. If you take a picture in the room in which you'll hang the canvas, it will match pretty closely.


Thank you, Easy Canvas Prints! :)

Miss Airport 2011

A friend sent me an entire pretend calendar with a different "pose" for each month. I think I'll stick with the cartoon one currently hanging from my cabinet door... I'm left wondering who thinks of these things, who poses for them, and whether the whole thing is a photoshop gag.

06 July 2011

Short Thoughts

1. Elf wants to know if in New York, they eat those "British muffins." I keep telling him it's "English muffins," but when he asks, I can't tell him why there would be any difference. I hate how I can't get the last word in when it comes to stuff like that.

2. Another thing I don't get: whyyy did the NEA endorse Obama so early in the election cycle? I don't even know who all the Republican candidates ARE yet, let alone what they think about public education.

I DO know, however, that Obama seems to get zero flak for sending his kids to private school and simultaneously working against school "choice" for the rest of us. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, though? Is criticised for sending his children to private school. I dunno; I'd be hesitant to send my kid to public school if the entire state's teachers' union is praying for my DEATH. Nevermind the politics a sec on that one. But yes, Mr. Christie, it IS relevant and it IS our business.

3. Yes, it's very sad that Caylee Anthony is dead. Sadder still? There are children being killed every day via abortion, and millions of other kids already born who are being abused and/or who don't have enough food to eat, and no one is making a big stink about them. Read Dianne's beautiful post and reflect a minute on that.

4. Emperor doesn't get a few things. He would like to know, is there a website that explains the jokes and stuff you see on TV or hear from other people? Because many of these things are a mystery to him and the clues have to be somewhere... Poor Emperor.

5. And poor Elf. I am explaining to him that "Have a nice night! I hope no one sabotaged your car while you were visiting!" is probably not an appropriate way to say good-bye to our guests.


6. We just got a membership to the Kansas City Zoo. Yes, I took all the children. Yes, we are all still alive. We'll have to go back several times this summer. The polar bear is probably the best part of the zoo. Most of the zoo is (sadly!) just the old-fashioned cement block display areas with bars in front. Maybe a cement-cast "stone" and a tree inside. Needs improvement, but still worth the visit.

05 July 2011

NOT Feeling Deprived

Yay! I lost ten pounds! Fer real! At least I think so... my scale likes to zigzag depending on the time of day, barometric pressure, whether I ate or drank anything and the humidity. So, I'm trying to just stick with morning weight already fer crying out loud. Even that fluctuates a bit.

But I'm not feeling deprived. Before, I ate pizza, ice cream, chocolate and just about anything I wanted. I ate too much of what I wanted and that's how I got into this mess. Now mind you, it is disgusting AND unfair that my older sons can eat anything and everything they want in about five Pig-at-the-State-Fair portions, three times a day and still stay a bit underweight. Oh. Plus snacks. They have snacks as well. Waah.

BUT I'm not feeling deprived. Now, my very favourite food is tofu with carrot slice pie. No crust, just carrot slices, unboiled with NO butter... and slimy tofu. I don't even WANT that terrible food that I used to eat. I'm positively *brimming* with happiness at my new very faaaavourite food choices. Unsweetened rice cakes are even better than movie theater popcorn! Mmm.

Slight sarcasm, that. Ok. It's not gonna kill me not to have the frosted cupcakes everyone ELSE got to celebrate the fourth. But I am feeling a bit left out. It is pretty unfair that fatties have to go foodless. At least *decent, American food* foodless.

Sigh. I know I'm an American and I have rights. Bummer those responsibilites that come with 'em though. I have learnt that if I have ONE slice of cake, and budget that into my weekly diet? That I won't just eat ONE slice of cake. Probably what has to happen next time I go to a party is that I have to wait until only one slice of cake is left so that seconds are not a possibility. OR, if the host is really awesome and understanding, she'll let me take one small slice home. Then seconds are not a possibility and I won't find myself sneaking back to the table, skipping the sliced fruits, and eating the cake.

Well, I'm learning. This is a lot of hard work and I don't look any different. Oh, well. Thanks for listening.

03 July 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Click to Mix and Solve
Happy Fourth of July! I've been a little addicted lately to playing puzzles on JigZone and I hope you enjoy this one... even though it doesn't have Alaska and Hawaii. Just pretend that Alaska is floating underneath California and Hawaii is located in a box in the Gulf of Mexico. I wonder how many children that sort of thing messes up, seriously. :)

02 July 2011

Product Review: Tajin!

I'm talking about Tajin (pronounced tah-heen) today because I think some of YOU might be interested in this product. I wasn't compensated for this review.

Tajin is a spice made with lime and chili peppers and tastes just a little salty. You can sprinkle it on fruit such as bananas or apples, and it really does give it a unique and new taste combination. At about $2 a bottle, you might just consider trying it and seeing if it's something you want to keep in your pantry regularly.

Rose's speech therapist J got us some bottles from her Wal-Mart across town. It's not available in our local store. I really MISSED the Tajin seasoning once our second bottle was gone... but I just wasn't able to make a trip across town for fruit seasoning. Enter La Tienda Chiquita near the Liberty Square. Like 'em on facebook and hear more about their specials if you're interested. For those of you not local to the KC area, I'd suggest looking in Wal-Mart first and then trying amazon.com or a local store that carries a large selection of Mexican foods.

I first learnt about Tajin from J. Rose had many difficulties in eating certain kinds of foods and still does show a strong *preference* for cereal and bread and cheese balls only, I think mostly because she had a weakness on one side of her mouth. Every couple of weeks, we would introduce a new food or taste and give her lots of encouragement. The food would be in tiny amounts on her plate about once a day. Rose had a bit of trouble eating mushy foods like bananas. J thought that we should try Tajin to "define" the fruit in her mouth. Bananas can be very mild and this gives it a little kick and texture.

Rose likes Tajin, but I will not pretend that it solved all her feeding difficulties. For us it has worked out using a bit of Tajin can help her take more than one bite of something, however.

*picture credit: wikipedia's Tajin (seasoning) page

01 July 2011

The Usual Small-Talk

Patrick is craning his neck and squinting to see inside the car going past us. "Ohhh... It's *them.* I know those guys," he remarked.

"Oh, that's nice," I told him.

"No, it isn't."

(What should I say to THAT?) "Well, do you know them from school or...?"

"I take NO responsibility for what they've done today," he stated emphatically.

"Well, you've been with me every hour today, except for one hour during which I left you with Emperor, and no way you'd get away with anything around him, so... I don't see why you are saying you won't take responsiblity for what they've done TODAY specifically."

"I also take no responsibility what. so. ever. for what they do on ANY day," he said.

Um, okayyy... how to recover this conversation... "What is it they do?"

"I do not have to answer that."

I participate in a large number of dead-end conversations along these lines.

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...