29 August 2011

Crazy Comment Monday!




Today it isn't so much a crazy comment so much as a crazy thing to do. Though the hosts seem to be making a good income having MILLIONS of people watch them microwave things like spray paint cans, video game systems, and the like. Patrick warned me not to watch it because there is a lot of swearing on the videos, and "they swear like men swear. Just so you know." I didn't see that on this video (one "God" that was pretty indiscernable in with the blowing up stuff commotion) but you're forewarned before clicking through the whole series. WHO WATCHES THIS STUFF?? Patrick says that he watches it so he doesn't feel he has to do the experiments himself. Well, ok then. I suppose that these guys are making millions of Americans safe. I wouldn't want to be working for their local fire department, and I wouldn't want to be their neighbours, though...

28 August 2011

Chess Preschool

Rose has expressed interest in playing chess for a good while. I was hoping we could learn the potty thing first, but ok. We start out learning how to place the pawns and the king on the board. Then we learn how the pawns advance on the board. When Rose gets a queen, our little game is over. Someday when she gets all the moves down, we will have to take her to the chess club. There aren't that many girls who play chess, but I figure that Rose is used to doing everything with lots of boys around and she'll be fine.

27 August 2011

Poor Woodjie.

He woke up showing me, "Wook. A pink. Ee URT!" Poor little guy. Took him to the bathroom and had a closer look. He couldn't tell me what happened because despite saying hello, goodbye, "need eat" and the like, he can't do the "What happened?" or "Why?" sorts of questions yet. He had his hand X-rayed and the doctor's opinion is that this is "allergic contact dermatitis," likely from a bug bite or a plant. The thing is, he was FINE when we put him to bed and we didn't hear him cry or move about all night. He just woke up this way. I wasn't sure if it were possible to break a finger in your sleep... his hand DOES look awful... and I couldn't figure out what on earth happened. The X-ray came back just fine. Am watching him carefully though the doctor didn't seem very worried about it. He has medication and at my insistence, the physician wrote a note that he was ok to go to school. I know I can chat with the school just fine and they are awesome people, but sometimes with things like this if *I* were the school nurse, I'd want a note from the doctor. Well... maybe I wouldn't if I had lots of medical training and were able to simply go, "Oh. That's just allergic contact dermatitis." :)

Dr. Burleson is Not Nuts!

He's just woefully careless, sending PEANUTS in mass mailings to people in my area! Only imagine if I had a severely anaphalactic reaction to peanuts and took special care to avoid them, only to have an entire package fall out into my hand as I opened the mail! Maybe I am over-reacting, but these little mini-packs CAN pop open in the mail, and people CAN die from touching peanuts. I might have thought the squirrel was cute, and considered using his office if our insurance would help cover it. We ARE looking into orthodontics for Emperor and we HAVE spent on orthodontics and dental surgery before. Let's just say that this is NOT the first impression I would want to leave on a prospective client.


26 August 2011

Please Read...

Please read this post and offer your support to Blondee. She's a good friend of mine and I'm worried about her. People need to know that this sort of stuff is going on. And there is a reason why people way out in the country cling to their guns and their religion. Rifles and God got my pal through today, kid you not. :)

25 August 2011

Elf Update

Elf has been very overwhelmed with his "tiresome" days at public school. His bus stop was half a mile away, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have locker troubles and have to carry ALL his books in his backpack. And bring his violin. I blogged a little earlier about how he was having a bit of difficulty this school year. I've met with his teachers and school counsellor this week to discuss Elf's adjustment. Elf has provided a list of things he wants the teachers to know about his troubles at school:

1. Lunch is too long. No one is allowed to get up and throw away trash or move from one table to another. I eat my lunch and then have to just sit and wait while everyone is talking. I don't know what they are talking about and I just want to leave.

2. I am listening, but not understanding the teachers when they talk. I am trying to do my work but it always winds up I DO THE WRONG THING and didn't do the directions right. Mom, it would be nice if you could be one of the teachers, but I won't ask because these people need jobs.

3. I don't understand my schedule. I am always going to the wrong classes and am going to be marked absent. Maybe I will be missing and no one will find me. I have an "A" day next week and have only had "C" days so far. I have a schedule but don't know how to follow it. I am going to get lost.

4. Lockers are impossible.

I brought up his concerns and here's what I got back:

1. This is the way lunches always work in our district. We're overcrowded and if everyone got up to throw away each scrap of trash and/or talk to friends, it would be mayhem. The children put all their trash in the middle of the table and then they are dismissed by tables at the end of lunch. They clean up and throw away trash at that time. (Ok. I find that a disgusting eating environment, but I guess you have to do what you have to do.)

2. What strategies did his other teachers use that might be helpful here? (Well. I was his only teacher until the very end of fifth grade. He got to ask as many questions as he wanted and I also picked out curriculum that is suited to his needs. I don't mean that your curriculum is bad, just that you have 150 kids that need to learn the same thing and I didn't have that. So... not sure how to help here except ask maybe that he sit near a good peer model if you assign seats and just keep his difficulty in mind, along with the 500 other things you also have to keep in mind while you teach.)

3. "Almost ALL the other kids are going through this, I promise!" The school counsellor said that at least four families just the previous day had a similar complaint. And if it helps, they haven't lost a kid yet. One of the teachers also showed me where she had organized Elf's binder and taped a handwritten/deciphered schedule to the cover. It also had a "Things I need for class each day" note because Elf WILL forget things. It was PERFECT. I just loved it. He forgets about everything except "bring the binder." Well, wow. It's like a checklist he can do as he prepares for class. He can do that.

4. His gym and orchestra locks were loaned to us over the weekend and now Elf can undo them like a pro. Turns out? The WRONG combination was listed on one of the locks. No wonder it was too hard!! There is a difference between a 2 and a 12, people...

After a bit of wrangling, I got Elf's bus stop changed to one about a block away. Not to be picky, but expecting someone with asthmatic symptoms that flare up in the winter to go that far and wait in the cold is too much. He had no trouble getting the bus but was very, very late yesterday afternoon. My, that bus was late. In comes a sweaty, sunburnt and exhausted Elf. "That's a long bus ride!" I told him. After he got hydrated a bit and expressed his extreme displeasure with the new bus schedule, he told me he got off at the wrong stop and walked well over two miles, much of it on the highway. I guess he doesn't recognize landmarks and will need to be very attentive on his ride today.

And why didn't you borrow someone else's cell phone and call? Oh, because HE DOESN'T KNOW HIS PHONE NUMBER. I can't tell you how long we've worked on this. He's lived in the same place all his life, and had the same phone number all his life. BUT. He can't remember it. Have sharpie-markered it inside his backpack. If he gets lost, he can find his phone number. Trust me, he'll remember where to look for the number, but he won't remember the number. No matter how many times we go over it.

I have *just* sent him off to the bus stop and asked him to 1. tell the bus driver what happened/ask for help knowing where his stop is, and 2. if you miss your stop, don't just get off the bus ANYWHERE. Let the bus loop back to the bus barn and give us a call. We'll be there as soon as we can. We might have to wait for the preschool bus to arrive before we leave, but we will not abandon you. You should not have to walk that sort of distance in the heat with a full backpack.

Well! We'll see how it goes today. I am very proud that he made it home and is able to express his concerns rather than freaking out (most of the time).

24 August 2011

Motivating Children to Learn.

Larry Ferlazzo blogged recently about how to "motivate" a student to learn in a classroom setting. There are some very interesting responses over that way, including 1) finding out WHY the student doesn't want to learn the material, and 2) not giving all the answers/making the student strive and accomplish on his own.

I watched the video and read through the other responses and it struck me that the fact that the student MUST be in that room and MUST take that class would set things off on the wrong foot, just to begin with. Just imagine if the state demanded that YOU learn high school chemistry every weekday for the next year, and "your future" depends on whether you do well. (Or so your parents/high school counsellor tell you.)

I'm not saying that in an anti-school or anti-teacher way, but really. What if that coercion happened to you for 12 years straight? And you copped an attitude? And the state's response is to keep you in school until you're 18? Several states are raising the dropout age and/or requiring a certain number of credits before leaving school is an option, you see.

What if that were you? Having a local school to go to where the teachers know advanced subject matter such as physics or calculus is a very precious thing. It just isn't going to feel that way if you are FORCED to go under duress. I think being forced to go is just going to make people resentful. It's going to make for unhappy teachers, too, because guess what? Unhappy and unwilling students are nowhere near as fun to teach as children who are eager and excited about the subject.

And then I had another thought: WHAT HAPPENED to those cute little kindergarteners who all thought they could do great things? What happened to them? They turned into these surly teens who think history sucks and Dad knows nothing. It can't be all hormonal, this unwillingness to learn, or new video games with boring instructions would not sell out. What we need is a really high-level maths game with kewl graphics and unlocked rooms and stuff. Give those out instead of textbooks. Tell the kid they MUST get to the Throne Room of the Amber Palace by June 1 or fail in their quest. Just a thought. What you teach in class, the student will go home and try to play! Better than homework or even the old Choose Your Own Adventure series classic. I always died in those or wound up becoming a possum or something. :)

Why Is This Controversial?

I don't know. Seems anything anyone wants to do is controversial.

Old lady wants to have "a shape," so she gets breast enlargements. She's 75. She says she's not fooling herself that she's all that like she was when she was young, but she doesn't want to look like a stick or an oatmeal box in her old age. I'm thinking that that is between you and your doctor. So long as I am not paying for it, I could care less HOW BIG your boobs are. Though seriously. Things like this raise the bar for the rest of us. Soon we will ALL need fake boobs as well as fake teeth. You watch! Even 20 years ago, no one "needed" a cell phone.

I guess the story itself isn't controversial (or shouldn't be), but I could not see myself talking about something like this in the news. Do you really want the little ones reading about Grandma's breast enlargement?


22 August 2011

Kitty Klink



(Apparently popping a hand mirror over Hello Kitty's eye turns her into Colonel Klink.) You have to admit, our Hello Kitty is a pretty snazzy dresser. We bought this magnet set at the bookstore and popped it on the fridge. The younger children love dressing Hello Kitty after their meals. We also have a LeapFrog "farm" on the fridge. Woodjie's latest thing to do is to match silly pairs of things together (for example, a pig front end and horse back end) and then listen to the "silly" song that comes on. Or, he'll make a match and say, "Wook! I diy-yit! Dance a mee!" :)

20 August 2011

Goodbye, PECS Book.



We got this beautiful PECS book when Woodjie was absolutely non-verbal and added to it over time. How it works is this: take several of these little velcro-backed pictures (called PECS) and pop them on the cover. I've organized them on different sheets: foods, toys, places to go, things to do (painting, play-doh), routine items (go to bed, eat, brush teeth). Woodjie can make a choice (for example, to play with bubbles!) and hand it to you. I know, you're saying to yourself, "If he can pick a choice from the board and hand it to you, shouldn't he be able to say the word?" and I'd have to answer, not necessarily. It's also useful to "show" the person you're communicating with what is going on.
*
Woodjie used this to make breakfast and lunch choices (sandwich or bagel? and so on) and communicate some of his needs for a long time. I was cleaning because Woodjie's preschool teacher was coming over and I wanted to pretend that the house is usually neat, and I got a bit overzealous: with Patrick's help, I cleaned out and COMPLETED ALL THE PUZZLES IN THE HOUSE. While I was finding odd pieces here and there in my cabinet, I came across this book. Still in new condition, all lost and forgotten.
*
I cried. You know... for so long, I thought this book or something like it would be a part of our lives forever. And it isn't. I took out the "go home" PECS with our house pictured and other personal items, and gave it away last week.
*
It was my privilege and honour to give it to someone who was instrumental in getting Woodjie to talk. Ms. "P" runs the "communication classroom" (code for: autism room) at the local public preschool. When Woodjie began school at age three, he knew three words: ball, no, and more. He can now say short sentences such as, "I see a animals." Hey, I never said his grammar was great. I just said he can talk. Every word is precious.
*
Because Ms. "P" works in a "communication classroom," she will be able to give it to a family that can REALLY use it. :)

Happy Birthday, Emperor!



For a little while, the cupcakes read, "Happy Birthday!" Everyone just seemed to get goofy with all the letters as the cupcakes were being eaten. Emperor had a lovely birthday and the cupcakes were a week late. He played chess at the club on his birthday and wore his new Spock shirt. I am guessing you are done with chess pictures for now, so I am (mercifully) sparing you for the present moment. You are welcome. Anyway, Emperor is now TEN! :)

18 August 2011

The First Day of School, According to Elf

A small Elf was very enthusiastically telling me about his "tiresome" school day yesterday. This is his story, with my notes in parentheses:

I was running to the bus stop (half a mile away!) and Patrick came after me and ripped the tag off my backpack. (Patrick is a senior, and they started school the following day.) We waited and waited for about 5 minutes and a bus came, but it was not my bus. The next bus was my bus! I got on but I couldn't sit all the way on the seat. I had to keep my foot out in the middle between all the seats so that I wouldn't fall over. It was very crowded and there were no window seats.

At school, I got out my inhaler. I went to the nurse's office. There were people in front of me. I waited. Then, I gave the medicines to the nurse. AND! Went to my locker.

I knew the combination, BUT! The locker did not work. SO! I went to the counsellor's office. Hmm, hmm, hmm, there were some people in line so I waited! THEN! They helped me with my locker. I put my backpack in. I put my lunch in. I got ready for my first class.

(Weren't you very late by then? No, Elf answered, I was just on time!)

Ok. THEN! I listened to a huuumungouslyyy longg lecture about school rules. After the first class, I stayed in the next class in the same room with Mrs. F but later realized I shouldn't have been there. I had some different class I never went to. I was not going to let that happen again, SO! I packed up ALL my stuff. I went out in the hallway. I looked down at my schedule. And the schedule said... I was supposed to be BACK in Mrs. F's class for third period. In the same room I just left.

SO. I went back in there and had that class. They went over the same lecture about school rules and all the things bad that will happen to you. I was bored like this (makes face) because I already heard this two times. Then I went to my fourth period and we were supposed to write things on index cards about ourselves, the teacher passes them around, and everyone has to guess who wrote what.

(So what did you write on your index card? I wrote, "I do not want to do this." The boy who got my card figured out right away it was mine. Because he saw me write it and laughed. What did the other children write? Well, one said, "I have a sister named Emily." Things like that, and they were hard to guess because how can I tell who has a sister named Emily?)

Next, I had PE. Mom, I am like in the Army. They want you to GET UNDRESSED there and wear the PE uniform. It is disgusting. But there are no girls that take PE in the same place. (Yeahhh, that makes sense.) They get a different place and don't do the same PE as us. BUT! You have to pass by the girls sometimes. Also? There are showers in there so somebody must be getting all naked.

Then it is LUNCH. They tell you when you can eat. Our class must sit at tables 15-17. (Who did you sit with at lunch? Some other kids were there. I ate my lunch. They talked about some other person who was not there I did not know.)

Next, health! I couldn't find the class and looked everywhere. I went in the sixth grade hallway. I looked around the corner. I went back to the gym. THEN! I went to the counsellor's office. He told me where the health room was. It was back near where I went to PE! I was (here he gets dramatic) running and going here and there and I had to pass *the girls doing PE.*

(Apparently this is embarrassing because "of what that looks like to them." So, are you their boyfriend if you walk by? NO! It just looks bad. It is embarrassing to pass by the girls.)

Up to health. The health teacher said I was in the wrong class! BUT! My schedule said health, SO! I went to the counsellor's office...

(Whew. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful but "tiresome." Guess what class he was supposed to be in just then? Something called "core skills." They teach you organizational skills, time management, that sort of thing. I sorta think he would benefit from that, but I'm SO PROUD of him for holding himself together the whole day and making it home alone etc.. A much smaller Elf used to run away and get very upset when things got hard.

PS. Another guess what? I think the counsellor is tired of seeing him and wants to see me soon to talk about his "adjustment" to public school and give me an "opportunity" to meet all the teachers. Ok.)

15 August 2011

Dat YOU, Mommy! You Bee-Afull.

Wow! Thanks, Rose! I'm Round and I'm PROUD! I love this picture, even if I am depicted as swinging a lasso in my loincloth. Moms do all sorts of things in a given day they didn't quite sign up for, you know...

Crazy Comment Monday!

THIS kind of crap reinforces my decision not to go to church. I still believe in God, don't get me wrong, but I reallllly think pastors need to teach their flocks better. This is hardly a one-time visitor who doesn't listen to sermons posting the following on facebook:

"Don't buy the new Pepsi coming out with pics of the Empire State building and the Pledge of Allegiance on them. Pepsi left out 2 little words in the pledge 'Under God.' Pepsi said they didn't want to offend anyone. So..if we don't buy them, they won't be offended when they don't receive our money with the words 'In God We Trust' on it. How fast can you repost this???Amen!!"

Person 1: Sorry but this is a hoax. Pepsi is not doing this.

Original Poster: It sounded interesting so I posted it. Did not care if it was true or not. It was stating something I believe strongly about. How America has become so dismissive of God. It won't effect how I personally view my Pepsi purchases. If anyone gets the wrong idea about Pepsi. Then they are over looking the importance of the message. Put God back in America again. I will love Pepsi no matter how they promote the product.

Me: ‎?? If you knew this to be untrue and posted it anyway, you're saying Truth doesn't matter if the message states something you believe strongly about. So I don't understand what you are saying you believe strongly about. Do you believe in Truth, or something else? I'm honest to goodness confused by your post and trying to figure it out. And... "put God back in America again?" You do see the silliness of thinking that anyone could possibly kick God out of any place He didn't feel like leaving in the first place. Take comfort in that, friend! He hasn't left you. :)

Original Poster: Whatever

Me: Whatever? TRUTH is "whatever?" O-kayyyy.

Original Poster: I believe in the truth. It was just a post about how sad it is that God is being left out of the picture. In my eyes, I did not research it on it being true or not is all. If ya don't like what I say then just de friend me. I have enough BS to put up with out your over powering idiotic ranting.

Me: You can defriend me yourself if you wish. As for idiocy and BS, that's what posting stuff like this looks like to most people. See, I don't think God needs either one of us to "defend" Him. God being left out of the picture in people's lives IS a sad thing. But would you like me to post lies about you to "prove" that? That's what you did to the Pepsi corporation. Real people out there have real jobs, and yes, they CAN get hurt by things like this. The least you could have done would be to look it up on Snopes, and they disproved this in **2002.**

Me: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/undergod.asp

Result: My comments *somehow* were deleted, I've been defriended and I'm not able to even view her page any more. I love how she wanted to throw in her personal life's difficulties as a reason I should never even question her. I'm sorry, but you shouldn't go off and post mean things - even about companies - unless they're at least *true.* People have lost their jobs because of false internet rumours. For the record, I've lost a lot of "friends" by being confrontational in this way. Maybe I just can't keep my mouth shut when people post stupid things... but actually? I would agree with her central premise that God is important. I guess she just didn't see how it's not the best idea to lie or spread false rumours to prove the point...

Seriously. Do I need to confine myself to puppy and kitten posts? Katharine Beals recently wrote that the art of argument has pretty much faded from our public lives. Maybe mine has and I oughtn't to have said it was "silly" that God could be removed from anything. But... it. is. so. silly. I couldn't help myself!! Maybe that's my problem.

14 August 2011

Snap Circuits!



I was somewhat reluctant to buy this product because let's face it: it's expensive and you just never know if it will become a favourite or "keep in the closet and give away later" sort of thing. This is a *favourite* and if you're at all thinking about getting some sort of fun science-y kit for your child this year, this would be the one. The box says 8 and up and I think that's about right. Our Snap Circuit set came with three books. Every experiment has an OBJECTIVE clearly spelled out, a description, and a very clear illustration. So you bet I'm counting the time Emperor rigs these things up with Elf as his homeschool time. We are on Experiment #7... out of 500 or so. Yes, once I decided to go ahead and GET a set, I wanted a set that would have pretty much everything I needed unless I got super-super into it years down the road. I learnt my lesson after buying a *little* Erector set. You can build the bitty truck and then... well... you can build the bitty truck again.




13 August 2011

Post-an-Accent Meme




Okayyyy. I thought I spoke like about everyone else here. Maybe I don't sound normal and unaccented like all the people on the video?? Missouri is pretty standard... I think I talk like these people... But I was talking with a friend I "met" through the blogs and had corresponded with for awhile for the first time today. She said I didn't speak as she thought I would. Later she told me I sounded a bit Southern, even. I thought that was strange and I told everyone so at dinner. My husband asked, "Well, where is she from?" and I told him New York. D said well, that figures, everyone is Southern to those people. "Unless we're talking about someone from Maine or Canada," piped in Patrick. G said that when he went to Ohio, people said his accent was Southern. Well, now, I don't reckon we speak like Sandy Cheeks, but for the rest of the meal? The children seemed to be in some sort of contest for "most outrageous and fake Southern accent." It wuz plum cray-zee, y'all. :) Or maybe YOU should post a representative video of "how people talk around here." Let's see what you post. Leave a link in the comments so others can visit!!

11 August 2011

The Most Important Subject

"Math is important, but it is secondary to language skills. In fact, math is dependent upon language skills. The math teacher teaches the concepts in words, and the mathematical symbols are used in place of words so they can be easily manipulated on paper. You can be pretty lousy at math but still be a truly educated person, because language skills are the measure of the educated person - one who can speak and write with clarity and has power over his native language, English." (Cheryl Lowe, "The Classical Teacher" magazine, Memoria Press. Summer 2011 p. 10)

Ummmkay. Suffice to say that I don't buy my math books from these people. Good grief, how bigoted of them. According to this logic, the most brilliant recently-arrived scientist from India is just some dopey boob because he can't "speak and write" English with clarity. And some very intelligent young men who can build complicated robotics equipment but not write beautiful prose... those people really aren't educated in the classical sense of the word (please sniff and put on your snooty voice whilst reading this line). I buy my Latin books from Memoria Press, and I really enjoy the textbooks and DVD that come with Prima Latina, but I don't agree with this logic. This same person goes on to imply that much of the ADHD "epidemic" is due to "our careless attitude toward written work" in an article about good handwriting (p. 33, same magazine). Which... of course... they sell kits for.

Know what? I have a child who does well in mathematics and chess. By no means am I ignoring the other subjects, but I **do** focus mostly on the subjects in which my son has shown aptitude. Other families may focus on areas of weakness in the hopes of helping their child become more well-rounded.

How about you? Your thoughts?


09 August 2011

Assorted Stuff Post.

Odds and ends that don't fit in a whole post alone... Be grateful if you are not a "real-life" friend because seriously... in real life... I MUST go through my lists of "things I want to tell my friend" every time I get together with people. If I even recognize my friends. Most of them are pretty ok and will find me, or tell me exactly where to meet them. I'll sort of go "hi!" noncommittally and see what sort of response I get. Ever do that when you don't know if you recognize someone? My whole life is like that. So here goes:

1. What is UP with this "Hogan's Heroes" show? I do NOT find it funny. My husband has bought the entire series and just howls with laughter at Colonel Klink. I'm thinking Nazi Germany isn't funny, but from the cackles I hear from everyone else you would think "Schultz" is a comedic genius. Ok, I *would* watch this before yet another Barney rerun. But only because they replaced the original Barney with someone who sounds even dopier (yeah, I know, I didn't think it possible, either).

2. Well. Today I told Emperor not to speak with his mouth full. Apparently he took it to mean that he could still talk with his mouth three-quarters full. Ew. Yes, I had to include that tidbit, sorry. It was on the list.

3. Filling out forms so G can play soccer. Schools throughout the state are now taking concussions more seriously after an athlete died in the spring.

A few years back, G fell backwards on some bleachers and was knocked out for a bit. When he came to, he was confused as to the day of the week and other basic information. I got the call from the school nurse that he ought to be seen in the ER.

School is across town, and takes me 15 mins. to get there. So the nurse had time to prepare me a note on school letterhead detailing the circumstances of the injury and the fact that it happened in PE class.

At the hospital, they spent valuable time taking him aside and making sure **I** didn't cause the injury. These stupid buffoons should have treated him and assigned someone to call the school if they were that suspicious. Still mad about that. And G is autistic. Ask him questions like, "Do you get enough to eat at home?" and he doesn't "get" where this is leading. He will tell you "no" if he is hungry right then. I think they interviewed him three different times. I thought he was going in for tests.

Anywayyy... here's hoping the HOSPITALS know what to do, because what's the point of knowing there is a problem if the hospital wastes valuable time like that??

4. Soccer expenses: $50 "pay to play" fee, just under $100 in equipment and probably another $50 for food and incidentals. When I was a kid, you got a pair of shinguards and a T-shirt. "Snacks" are one orange quarter per kid and a drink; none of this "deli sandwiches" stuff. And they put the boys and girls TOGETHER on teams. If you were a girl, you'd just better be better than the average boy. I wasn't. I dropped that sport in my second season or so. The team-mates nicknamed me "Grandma" and what's worse is the coach picked up on that and cheered me from the sidelines with that. Yay.

5. In other news, here is a realllly funny post written by my bloggy buddy Fi. Moms get it. :)

6/PS. Pray for the peace of the UK. Hopefully everything dies down mighty quick and my friend Mother of Shrek is safe. Thanks.

08 August 2011

Adoption Nightmare.

Three YEARS after adopting, you could lose your children. No, not because of some ruling in another state... because of some international organization called INTERPOL.

I'm *serious.* See, here I thought INTERPOL was some bogus warning that was always posted on the old VHS tapes to discourage copying. Apparently it's a real organization and they do take children away.

A nearby family has two months to say goodbye to the child they adopted. The story is that the birth parents in Guatemala let their two-year-old play outside in the front yard, and she got stolen. And not to locate the kid for several years? Suspicious. Several comments allude to the idea that the parents just sold her and then changed their minds.

I dunno. But I guess the courts in Guatemala seem to buy this story. I'm afraid to think about it. Maybe it is true and the commenters are just poo-poohing the story because it's too horrid to contemplate. Things must be awful if the cops can't find your kid for years on end and you have no idea whether your child is alive and what is happening to her.

I can understand that as a parent, you'd want your kid back. NOW. But honestly. Should adoptive parents have to worry throughout their kids' childhoods that they have a "stolen" kid they may have to return? Is there never a point at which the child is "theirs" and can't be taken away?

I don't know. It just seems wrong to send her back. And it also just seems wrong to keep her here.


07 August 2011

Patrick's Senior Photo.



Ok, here's a picture of a picture of Patrick's senior photo. No, we didn't go with those super-expensive "photographer poses you in the leaves/near a city building with hardly any clothes on and a weird look on your face" kinds of pictures I've seen advertized. Sorry to disappoint you. For fun, I've included a little picture of Percy Albert, Patrick's great-great grandfather, taken around 1890. Despite (or maybe because of) having a strange name like Percy, he grew up to be one of those types you don't want to mess with. But when I saw Patrick's picture, I told him he looks *just like* his grandfather at that age. He disagreed with me until he saw this picture. The similarities, Patrick says, are "creepy." Yep.



05 August 2011

School ID

It's basically a piece of plastic on a shoe string that has a small plastic buckle to one side. Do you feel safer knowing that G is positively identifiable in the photograph above? Apparently several students got similar IDs. I had to pay seven dollars for this "identification." It is a requirement that high schoolers wear their tags at all times. For safety and all. I told G that it was just his "emo" day when he had the picture taken. He is now more emo than the emo kids.

04 August 2011

Registration

I swear, weeks like this it would just be easier to homeschool everybody. Back-to-school stuff is just hell.

Ok, ok. The "supply list" is not so bad for high schoolers. I will probably be on the hook for calculators and that sort of thing in a bit when the teachers get 'round to telling the students what they need. But most of Patrick and G's school supplies are the result of my insistence they not throw away last year's notebooks. Just rip the used paper out and voila! a new, smaller notebook. Cheap is "green," ok?

Oh, and I made them clean out their entire closet while I was at it. I made some lame "we want things neat for back-to-school" excuse. Not sure if they bought that argument. Once I used the even more persuasive, "we want things neat for back-to-school and there will be no video games if you don't," somehow it got done in pretty good time.

But back to registration. Registration is the process in which parents have to stand in several different lines and pay lots of money. I marvel that children who are enrolled in a given school district should have to be re-registered each year. But if you don't, they'll tack fines on you and your kid will not get his diploma.

These schools DO NOT allow you to get things done in decent order. ONLY seniors can get their registration process done on one day. Wait in 10 different lines, pay "fees" (what a ripoff, after all the tax money they commandeered), take pictures, get lanyards and blah blah blah. Do the same thing the NEXT day for your junior. And at another time/place for your middle schooler. Yet another for the preschoolers.

And goody, on top of all that, after the first week of school? It's "back to school night" for each of the kids! Because you really had nothing else to do! And no, they can't get all this stuff done on one really long day. You must return to each school several times during the first few weeks classes are in session or you are a bad mom. On back-to-school nights, teachers tell you that they have 39 cents to spend all year on class supplies, so please grab a post-it apple from my wishing tree and buy me the stuff listed...

I wish I could just call the central office during this whole process and say, "Here's my credit card. Surprise me." Might as well. But no... the fee place wants checks, and you have to walk across the building and wait in another line to give the cafeteria people their checks. Nurse's station to update medical forms. Want to join the PTA? The "Diversity Club?" Buy a school T-shirt? Look into theatre? Bla? Bla? Wait on a separate line for each thing and ponder the fact that one needs a "Diversity Club." I don't get it. It's an oxymoron, right? Is there some deep symbolism I'm missing?

Patrick is taking pretty much all AP classes next year, except for some Honours Spanish Level 5 thing. Oh! And we just got a letter stating that he needs one more PE class to graduate. Does "Body Sculpting" sound like a dopey class to you? Guess if he has to take it, he'll take it. But the kid has the "body" of a six-foot tall stick bug. "Sculpt" too much more away, and he'll be skeletal.

The GOOD thing is, I think I'm done with the three older children. Yayyy... but... I still have to buy all kinds of stuff for Elf for middle school. Can you believe that TINY LITTLE ELF is going to be in middle school? Yes. And he has a locker. And he can open it himself. :)

School starts on August 17 here... how about where you live?

03 August 2011

Age Discrimination.

I think sometimes it's ok. I do not want an 80-year-old teaching kindergarten, even if she's sharp, brilliant and a great teacher. Not without an aide. Sorry.

High school? Fine. High schoolers can go potty by themselves and get out safely if there's a fire. The good majority of them also know what to do in an emergency, which is pretty daggone important if the only adult in the room is over 75 years of age.

I realize it's an unpopular position to take, but depending on the job, I don't see where a physical exam shouldn't be required. If I'm in a burning building, I reallllly don't wanna hear about how Mr. Firefighter shouldn't be discriminated against just because he's diabetic and lost his sight. There really needs to be a limit there somewhere for safety's sake. I'm not sure just where that limit is, but I think there needs to be one.

This lawsuit sounds a lot like bull poopy to me. Listen to her doddering interview. Hey, the first sentence or two sounds fine... but listen a while and tell me whether you think she's really able to teach small children to speak coherently and keep 25 squirmy kids in reasonable order.

You know, I clicked the link thinking that the school was probably unfair and that I really don't care WHAT age this lady is if she can do whatever she needs to do in her job. But then I saw her stumbling about with her cane and speaking poorly and I changed my mind. Maybe I would change it back again if it were about a lawsuit involving a very sprightly lady of 85 who speaks intelligently wanting to teach that classroom of five-year-olds.

Hey, if she can do it, more power to her.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure what my opinion is. I just watched the video and thought, "No way." And maybe that's a snap judgment. Your thoughts?

02 August 2011

Listening




A friend posted this online and I thought that it was an excellent demonstration of the principle of listening to students. Mind you, it's a demonstration and in no way am I advocating teachers feeling as though they need to subject themselves - and their students - to a big long string of cuss words constantly. I think the point the teacher was trying to get across was that when students feel respected, they are far less likely to cuss and act badly. There is cussing in the video, but I thought it was well-done and helpful. How often have I as a parent been focused on the disrespect I've received from a child rather than the actual complaint? Let's just say that I don't always employ the "listening nicely and respectfully" method. Sorry. But I would like to do it more often.

01 August 2011

Assorted Picture Post







1. I know you're looking at this top picture and going, "Can this lady PLEASE quit constantly posting about Polish pottery and chess?" Answer: not in this post, sorry. This is my new kitchen pottery arrangement. Going with a "less is more" look. Had tons of pottery out before and it looked like the Teacup Vikings were displaying their armour, it got so busy-looking. P.S. Taking pictures like this makes me appreciate the Polish pottery catalogues even more. Getting pictures that show the pattern but not a glossy glare are nearly impossible.


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2. Matlock and Emperor playing a practice game of chess. Not pictured: Matlock's mother. :)


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3. Elf and Emperor at Bo Ling's in Zona Rosa near the chess club. They had SUCH a good time after a recent chess tournament, goofing off and waiting for the food to arrive. This is the big moment where Elf finally gets to try the pork dumplings he ordered. I did not snap a picture of him literally vomiting at the table in revulsion after tasting one. Sorry, but you will have to just "picture the scene" for yourself.






Civil Rights.

Sure seems like schools want to keep the football team up-to-date with good equipment and dang straight they don't stop transporting the players to games. Gotta spend that money even if the economy is tanked. But disabled kids? Well, they don't perk up the "image" of the school, they rarely if ever go do anything noteworthy in life and really, it's just cheaper to lock them in a closet when they misbehave. I mean, who cares.

Those people don't really matter. Look at it this way: what choices do parents of severely disabled kids have? It's not like they're going anywhere else, and if they do, well, yay! Less money we have to spend. I mean, unless parents are rich and can afford an excellent private school that deals with the child's disability, they have to put up with what they can get from the school or give homeschooling a shot. And depending on the disability and the number of other kids at home, that's somewhere between difficult and impossible.

Yeah. I know I've said every parent can homeschool. And it's true. But get yourself oh, several different special needs all going on at once and honestly? You cannot homeschool *well.* You just can't. Sorry to bust that myth.

So, anyway. Captive audience there. Disabled kids are mostly stuck with whatever the school feeeels like doing. And if you try to sue 'em? Oh, you have to exhaust all "administrative remedies" before you can sue a district.

Translation: you have to beg these people. Document. Call lawyers. Spend YEARS allowing your child to be abused. And hope to hell you win. Otherwise? Nothing. Basically, your kid is nothing but a pawn in the game between parents and districts.

I know one mom who sued b/c her child was placed in the wrong program. He's autistic and they wanted to send him to a "behaviour" program. Um, exactly what the same district tried to pull with Elf. AT THE SAME TIME, we were both going through our own personal hells on the opposite ends of the same town. I guess it's cheaper just to lock the kid in the closet and nevermind a new program, even if more than one child would attend. This child is the same age as Elf. They might just be going to school together next year. I mean, the parallels are incredible.

His mom sued... and it took years... but they finally won, plus lawyer fees. Doesn't stop the district from pulling the same crap with the next parent. And the next parent. Not every mom has tens of thousands of dollars to spend on "free" education like this family. This child had to go to school for YEARS while all this was going on.

I couldn't do it. I just pulled my kid and homeschooled him. Maybe that is what they wanted. But it was all about what was best for Elf. Well... what was best for Elf THAT I COULD AFFORD.

And I look at stories like this and go, what on earth are we going to be saying about stuff like this 40 years from now. Really. What are we going to say?

Star Trek Roller Skating!

Woodjie LOVES the audience.  I made these little outfits for the children and they danced to the Star Trek: Next Generation theme...