29 September 2011

Rickets!




G's pretend phone number. 
Patrick spent the morning telling me (and everyone) that he had rickets.  No argument will convince him that it is, in fact, impossible for him to have rickets.  The guy is almost 6 ft 2 inches tall!  Who has rickets at that height??  "Rrrrrricketss," he would reply to every reasonable thing I had to say to him.  "I'm just going to say rrrrickets."

Okayy.  Well.  The dude is driving me nutty.  I keep telling him that he ought to apply for college.  That if he wants help filling out the handy-dandy-super FAFSA forms (you know, required if you don't have about $555,000 cash onhand to go to college?) that he needs to give me a bit of notice and I can do that.  In fact, no way he can do it on his own because he has no access to our financial stuff.

Now he's back to saying that he doesn't really want to go to college.  Dude.  You need a full-time job.  With benefits.  You cannot live at home and stay in the basement until you are nearly 50 like "Uncle Ben." (Ok, I made that name up.  Sounds rice-y.  But based on a true story.)  Oh, how unfortunate, he tells me.

But when pressed for more salient details about post-high school plans, Patrick told me that he is really working hard on getting a great job.  He is filling out an application for work at a local burger joint.  What is SAD is that he is dead-on serious.  These are his post-secondary plans, folks.  At least he hasn't mentioned the tent living or the idea that he would rake in $2,000 a week after holding a cardboard sign on the corner (lately).  And honestly?  He's been all over town several times dropping off his social security number, birthdate and address at random businesses.  You couldn't paper this town with his personal information better unless you air-dropped it or something.  Still no job. 

I wish Patrick would just *GAH!* do something.  He says I just want him to fit my "paradigm" but see?  The paradigm here is "we have bills."  Whoaaa, that's so deep, maaan, but I'm thinking he's not getting the grooviness of it all yet.

In other news, I found G had written "his" cell phone number under mine on the dry erase board.  D and I were quite worried there for a bit.  See, he has about $3 to his name and has a tendency to impulse buy.  No way he should be able to get a cell phone, and I sure don't wanna be liable for the $300/month texting fee he'll get.  So I asked him about it.

He smiled.  Well, he told me, he REALLY wants a cell phone.  He wants to have his own phone number.  So, he made one up and put it on the board under mine. 

That is just doggone cute.  You can't really call it when you want to chat with G, but it is doggone cute.  Do you like my shopping list?  I blurred out real numbers but left it up for your perusal.  :)

27 September 2011

Hello!

Had a root canal done on Monday, which has really thrown me for a bit of a loop. This week I've relied heavily on English worksheets, Snap Circuit sets and chesskid.com to teach Emperor. He's doing just fine, but I have just given him work that doesn't require a lot of hand-holding this week. It is a very good thing that if I give him a list of "things to do," he's motivated to finishing the list.

Every morning, Emperor does either the lecture and the first ten problems in his Algebra, or he finishes the lesson from the day before. He sharpens his pencils before going to bed. I stack the books he'll be using, and off he goes after breakfast to work.

He watches videos about chess, practices his tactics and plays online chess games for about two hours each day. He spends about an hour on mathematics. Science varies depending on how much stuff I assign him. He loves science. Latin? Not his favourite, but he can memorize prayers in Latin and recite 'em back. Don't know that he is getting any very deep instruction in the subject yet, but he's in an elementary-level course.

English is one of those funny subjects, though, that can take a very short time or practically forever depending on how fuzzily the work is worded. It's hard to explain, but I'll try. Emperor has trouble with relating why a character might feel a certain way or what might happen next in the story, but not much trouble finding the verb in a sentence or even diagramming sentences.

Emperor has been working through Critical Thinking's Reading Detective A1 workbook. It is very difficult for him, but he has been getting a bit better at getting this done. One thing I like about it is that it numbers or letters various paragraphs and sentences so that when the exercises are being completed, instead of writing a huuuuge essay about why Cindy doesn't want to go to the zoo, Emperor could just write the sentence number that shows why Cindy doesn't want to go to the zoo. He would have to find the specific sentence that would back up what he's saying. Often I've been able to show him a sentence that would be a better fit to a question.

I actually got the Reading Detective workbook from Andrea because she had a contest and I was the fabulous prize winner. I'm surprised what a great fit it's been for Emperor learning-wise this year. I would definitely consider buying other things from the Critical Thinking company after seeing how well it's worked for Emperor. And no... I don't get any kickbacks for recommending it or anything like that. Bummer. :)

26 September 2011

Do You Teach Geography?

A college professor friend of mine posted this link on facebook along with the comment, "This is why I don't give geography tests..."

Do YOU teach geography to your children? Do you think it is important to know all the locations of states in your country as well as the names of all the capitals? Um, this was a LOT easier for me to learn when I lived in Australia. I am still not clear on many of the capitals but to my mind, that's what the internet is for. But I do want my children to have some sort of clue where all the states are.

"if you’re not sure about a US state capital, try 'Springfield.' you’ll be right at least a couple times," someone snarks in the comment section. Response: "Ugh, try once. And only if you’re guessing Illinois."

One commenter says she's pretty good at this guessing game but often mixes up East and West Virginia. Another says, "Meh, most of those states are useless anyway."

Well. How terribly interesting. I use the "free rice" website and while it doesn't guarantee geography-literate citizens, it does teach countries and their locations.

24 September 2011

Church or Jail?

Want to avoid jail time? In Alabama, you can go to church instead!

I haven't been a big fan of "church" of late, but there are some very positive things about being a part of a faith community. I don't see the harm in the judge, in a misdemeanor case, offering one year's church attendance as an alternative to the jail time/community service route... with some caveats:

1. Is it really voluntary? If the new parolee happens to be Catholic, and is going to go to the church up the street, this is great. But what if he's an atheist? Can he go to an atheist discussion group each week and would it count? And agostics? I'm thinking they are confused enough that they'd have to make the rounds of every faith-based building in town over the course of the following year. Paperwork nightmare, is what that is. But I would disagree with the ACLU that this would violate the establishment clause of the Constitution if it is really voluntary, and if there are alternatives for every faith (or lack of faith).

2. Make sure they're actually going. If you agree to go, you'd better go or else. There had better be some real punishment for NOT keeping this promise and it needs to be followed up on. If the program is entirely voluntary, no fair squealing that the judge threw you in the slammer for not going to church later.

3. Let the person be able to change churches twice during the year. It would really be hard to go to a church you hate for a whole year, but letting people hop around each week is also a paperwork nightmare. Giving the person the option of changing twice during the year is a fair compromise.

4. Umm... how to put this nicely. Are the churches really ready for these people? Has the pastor talked to everyone about what to expect?

Honestly and bluntly, though, this whole idea that church attendance is going to change these people somehow is a bit paternalistic. Gimme a break. I suppose it's about as effective as jail or an expensive "detox" program (like the stars get! only they serve bologna instead of organic veggies!) but there you go.

The church I attended had problems with trespassers and vandals. Once an expensive piece of electronics was stolen and the teen involved tried to resell it... to a Christian school. Ha ha! Ok, that didn't work. The pastor decided not to press charges in exchange for church attendance. He came one whopping time.

Not that church attendance woulda changed him a whole lot. His daddy was a Pentecostal preacher, and I guess he'd rather attend his own church... wouldn't want Dad's flock to wonder why the kid wasn't sitting in the front row each week, eh? Yeah.

21 September 2011

Notice to Homeschooling Parent:

Just because I APPEAR to be busy with my mathematics does not mean that you can take my picture. Yes, I ruined every one of your shots. Put the camera away and leave me alone. Go blog about something else. Thank youuuu.

20 September 2011

Happy Birthday to Patrick!

Click to Mix and Solve
Patrick is now an adult. He's going to register to vote and for the draft very soon. First thing he mentioned this morning...

17 September 2011

Maybe Some DO, Though...

Someone's missing a pen because I found this dandy in the dryer. It's from the high school and it's a reminder that most (School Name) High School students do not binge drink. I think we all needed that reminder. Most (School Name) HS students also do not go on to ivy league schools after graduation. Most also do not kill squirrels and eat their entrails. Most also are not actors. Most are also not millionaires. Most are also not left-handed. Well... I could go on and on. There is probably a whole series of pens out with clever sayings along these lines, and one of my older children just happened to pick up the one about binge drinking. Not sure why the school is giving away pens about boozing it up, but ok. It's a free pen.

16 September 2011

Homeschool Resource Meme!

I've been tagged - thanks, Tammy! Ready? Here goes:

1. One homeschooling book you have enjoyed: Since I can name only one (did a REAL homeschooler make up this meme? who picks just one??), I guess I'll go with Augustus Caesar's World. I haven't even assigned it to Emperor yet; he's still working through the Story of the World to get an overview of ancient history. Then we'll be concentrating on Ancient Rome as that's what Emperor wants to study this year. And he especially wants to learn about Augustus Caesar. He will love Augustus Caesar's World, too. :)

2. One resource you wouldn't be without: a computer. If we didn't have a computer, I would have to do ALL THE MATH TEACHING MYSELF. And that is a crime. I can do the math, and I go over corrections with Emperor, but I keep going off on odd tangents and trying to explain why the people in the word problems have such odd lives. We just can't have that because I find myself getting all into their lifestyles and being judge-y about it. These people just plain old need to keep better records instead of making ME figure it all out for them. Lazy.

See? I'm getting all judge-y already!

3. One resource you wish you had never bought: some second grade teachers' books. Unless it's a subject in which you know absolutely nothing, you do not need these. I can't say they're a total waste of money, just not needed at $50 each. Mind you, maybe they were worth every penny. You know how it is when you first start this homeschooling thing and you want to be sure you are doing everything "right" and have everything you "need." Someone made a lot of money on my insecurity.

4. One resource you enjoyed last year: Dover colouring books! These are not baby colouring books, but finely detailed outlines of art with stories, Samurais or mythological creatures.

5. One resource you will be using this year: Story of the World (Ancient Times) and Story of the World (Middle Ages). Not sure if we will finish the Middle Ages book this year because of the other studies of Ancient Rome we'll do, but it's a nice set and it will be done eventually.

6. One resource you would like to buy: Actually? Right now I don't want to buy anything. I would feel more pressured to get stuff done, just having it in the house. Sorry.

7. One resource you wish existed: books that were not too *soft* because Emperor goes nuts if the books don't have just the right texture! All books of the "wrong" texture should be banned! And napkins! Can we talk about napkins for a minute! They BURN his skin, he tells me, and send horrid crinkles up his spine. He'll do anything but bring you a napkin. Anything.

8. One homeschool catalog you enjoy reading: Rainbow Resource. This catalog has literally everything you could ever want in it and things you never knew you NEEDED. I spent a good three weeks with mine this year.

9. One homeschool website you use regularly : ChessKid! Challenge A-Gust-of-Wind to a game sometime, willya?? He also hangs out on youtube and found a very exciting video he'd like to share with you. I'll post that in a minute.

10. Tag six other homeschoolers: Oh argg, I just can't do it. I can think of a dozen whose answers to these questions I would LOVE to read, but I just can't tag people because I keep forgetting who-all gets upset about tags, who loves them, and who I tagged last and I want to be fair to everyone... would way rather EVERYONE reading who even remotely wants to do this meme just say, "Hey, come over and read my stuff!" and I will hop over and say hi back!

15 September 2011

Good Story?

An autistic child named Joshua presents difficult behaviours, lack of understanding about danger and frequently runs off. Imagine you're his dad. You have no family and friends and you and your wife need to move out of your home. Need. Foreclosure is hell, and it's gonna BE hell for poor Joshua.

But on to the immediate worry. Furniture doesn't lift itself and guess what? You don't have $50,000 in the bank to hire a mover, sorry. SO, you tether your son in the back yard to keep him safe while you lift the heavy stuff. The last thing you want is that kid running away or tripping you when you are shuffling downstairs and straining your back in the first place. Things are hard enough for you right now.

Ok. Maybe not the best way to handle it. Better than letting him go off into the street, but maybe not the best way to handle it. I wasn't there, so I couldn't tell you. Maybe these folks should have some specially-trained autism specialist or case manager come to their home to HELP them rig it so it's more safe for their son and ohhh, I dunno, maybe get some respite hours so their situation is difficult but not IMPOSSIBLE. Hey, with a two-year-old? Move the furniture out of his room first, leave a few toys in there and pop a safety gate on. You are in and out all the time and kiddo will be ok. What do you do when your child is as big as a small adult, though? Really... besides offering impossible and maddening suggestions like "find someone to help" or (my favourite) "don't have disabled kids," what would you suggest?

The state just took the kid after they found out. Aaand, of course as always happens with these foster kids, they're forced to go to public school. The child is tethered in public school when they change classrooms. For his safety. It isn't abusive when THEY do it, you know, like those awful parents. I mean, the school is GOOD! Here, they let him wander about on the playground freely and -

Hey, wait. Where did he go?

So little Joshua escapes from school and wanders off. They find him off in the wilderness far away... much later. Looks like they drew the poor kid in with... the sound of his father's voice.

Telling you, this story made me want to cry.

I don't know all the particulars of the case, but I sure feel for the parents and for Joshua. All you moms of severely disabled children KNOW THE FEELING. You are just one phone call, one bowel movement or one sickness away from disaster. These children don't understand and they NEED us in a way that other kids never, never do. One moment of inattention and they are outtie. NO FAIR LEAVING ALLCAPS COMMENTS ABOUT 'YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN LOOKING.' You have no idea how much work it is, how it never ends unless something bad happens. Zee-ro.

I love my Woodjie. A lot. And while I don't tether him, I *do* keep him in a gate system like a baby. Go ahead and say I'm infantilizing him, but it keeps order in my house and defines his area for him. I'm going to take a guess and say the tether did the same for this family. Temporarily. So they could get the furniture out.

Now, yes. Maybe there are other ways of dealing with this. Maybe there are not. Seems the school is using some similar system. I just read this story and instead of thinking of what a "miracle" all this is I wanna go, "Doggone it. He needs more support in school and they need help at home. This story never should have happened." Why does stuff like this have to happen?

13 September 2011

At the Club

Emperor is not so happy about having his game interrupted by me. But Rose? Rose is THRILLED to be allowed to go to the Kansas City Chess Club for the first time. Not to mention, she LOVES having her photo taken. She did participate in most of the exercises (with help... lots of help). The only thing she wasn't even slightly interested in doing properly were the pencil and paper tactics exercises. In those, random chess pieces were circled and, instead of a line and arrow indicating the "best pin," she drew lines that would seem to indicate that they wandered off the page and went AWOL.

12 September 2011

Dinner



Patrick is reallllly tired of my making peanut butter sandwiches or frozen foods for dinner. I told him fine, you can make dinner if you like, but you have to clean dirty pans and that sort of thing. Here is his creation: fritos, strawberries and bananas. For non-allergic children, a covering of cheddar cheese and the dish is heated in the microwave. Ok. Verdict: this food is amazing.

The Playdate

Well. Elf had an actual friend over all day Sunday. It was the weirdest thing. Apparently they have a lot in common because they have lockers RIGHT NEXT TO EACH OTHER. It's almost fated that they would be friends.

I went to pick him up and Elf and I saw that his subdivision is entirely Civil War-themed. Jackson, Stuart, McClellan, all those guys and many more as we're driving over. Elf's very favourite Civil War guy is Stonewall Jackson. We asked the friend what his was when he got into the car.

The answer we got was oh, he didn't wear regular pants but cargo pants because he needed some pockets. Also, he is getting "a bit wider" and needed more room.

Ha ha ha! Wellll, at least I thought that it was interesting that the streets were named for historical people...

"Mom," Elf chided. "If I were (friend), I would think you were being very rude right now. He's talking about his pants and you totally ignored that."

The whole afternoon went rather similarly. You could *sort of* see where this kid made the jump in conversation. And he fit right in because the conversation almost invariably popped back to Pokemon characters and related whatevers. Though there was a bit of an argument over Parcheesi. Actually, it wasn't the Parcheesi. It was over "may the best man win," and they all had a fight over who was the best. And whose foot was the biggest and smelliest.

I settled it. First off, feet off my table and all of my children who were in this "contest" are going to de-stinky-fy their feet sometime before bed. And I let them know none of them were men, so you can't be the best at something you're not.

I left for a bit but thennn I could hear them discussing who was the best preteen and trying to exclude poor little Emperor because Emperor is not a preteen, what with his being only ten. I hopped right back in there and settled it.

Um, "pre" means "before" so Emperor is just as much a preteen as you are. By the way, I am the best "post-teen," just so you know.

That shut them up! Well, not really. Elf made some whispered comments as I left the room about just go along with it because she's getting us Oreos and if we say something NOW...

Took him back home at the end of our visit. Elf INSISTED that he MUST see his friend's house. The friend took him on a tour and explained the linen closet in very great detail. Elf listened attentively and asked specific questions. Then they looked at the cabinets in the kitchen. Well, ok then. :)

09 September 2011

How We Act in School

Mrs. F:

Elf has had a *revelation* yesterday. He has been informed that attending school is a privilege, that the right to an education is not outlined in the Constitution, and that he is to do his best work at school out of respect for himself, his family, his teachers, and the taxpayer. (And so on and so on. The Mom lecture.)

I understand that he received a 70 on a recent math exam. If he did his best and tried to make up the work and/or do additional work and strive to understand the concepts, I would have to be ok with this even though it is a poor grade. But he has gotten the idea that a 60 is passing, that anything over 60 is good enough, and he didn't bother to take the scheduled makeup. That's his fault and I'm not writing to ask for another. I'm writing to tell you that I can't "fix" every problem behaviour or poor grade my son may have, but I certainly am not going to neglect to have some consequences at home if I'm made aware that this is a continuing problem. He's been told if something bad like this happens again, he will miss his fun activities for a whole week. We do our best work or we find there is no playtime.

Oh, you will love this part. He said he'd like to homeschool again because he'd love to have a break. I told him great but that if he came home, that he would just study everything little brother is doing. You should have seen his face crumple up because Emperor studies chess for two hours a day and Latin and grammar are regular parts of his life. Ha ha ha! Suddenly, he is *quite* motivated to do things your way. Isn't that nice? He's also been told that I would be emailing you (and I am cc'ing Mrs. G and Mrs. P so they are in on this!) so that you would feel free to drop me a note any time you feel there is a concern. He cringed a little, hearing that one. Making his life hard should be a team effort! :)

Hopefully he's left with the idea that we'll be communicating with each other and he's not going to get away with being a slacker.

Happy Elf Mom

08 September 2011

Another Whole School Year

Elf has made tremendous progress in the friendship area!! He has been having conversations with a classmate and would like to have him over to the house some weekend. This is great! Just get his phone number and maybe I can talk to his mom and we can work something out.

He brought home a phone number last night! Isn't that awesome?? Now, if we only knew this boy's NAME, I might be able to call and arrange a get-together...

I know. He was sooo excited to talk with someone AND get the phone number, too...

Elf is studying where all the continents and oceans are located in history class. They are also studying Ancient Greece. If I remember correctly this is about the time age-wise I got a phone call from Patrick's school because Patrick had a religious objection to looking at Greek art because of boobies. I settled it in the school's favour by telling Patrick to look but not loooooook. He can handle it.

Emperor is also blogging about school and Ancient Greece in his post titled, "Another Whole School Year." Yep, I snagged it as a title for MY post. Willya click on over there and leave him a comment? He would appreciate followers as well. Promise it won't be too much trouble because he doesn't post very frequently. Thanks. :)

07 September 2011

Rose Update!

Rose can now set up the board if you remind her that the queen goes on her colour and king goes on the e square. Here are the chess pieces and how they apparently move:

Knight: Just take a guess and then let Mom show me.

Bissip: goes diagonally, but I lose track of where I'm going.

Ponn: hops forward. Takes diagonally! I'm starting to get this one.

Qwweeeeen: Queen does whatever she wants. Do not touch my queen.

Keeng: hops one spot.

Wook: I want to move this piece out early in the game, but Mom will not let me. I wind up moving my Knight. At the end of the game, Mom helps me with Wook to make "ladder checkmate." I always win!! :)

06 September 2011

Ideas Welcome

SO many posts that never got published. I think I deleted about 47 drafts today. They include such never-to-be-seen classics as "The Water Buffalo" and "The Sexy." Well, they're lost, lost, lost forever. And that's a good thing. But I've also been peeking over my search results to find out more about what YOU would like to read. I'm reasoning that the most-searched stuff is the stuff you most want to read about, right?? Here are some of the searches that bring new readers to my blog:

vision forum secret underwear
pumpkin plant flowers
used boys' underware
maggots in hair

Is this what you-all are here for? Eee, well, sorry about not entertaining you more.

Ok. So, I'm open to ideas for blog posts. I can't say I'll do them all (esp. if you want to read "The Sexy." I'm sorry, it's just *gone.* Deleted. No more Sexy.) but it would be interesting to see what you-all are curious about.

Oh, what do *I* like reading on other blogs? It depends on the blog, but mostly I like people who can blog snarky but not mean, people who can show me part of their lives (whatever they're doing) and I also like places with lotsa comments, but not so many that I feel I'd better not disagree with the "host" or I will be eaten alive. Oh yeahhh. I thought I'd send you over to Tracey's to read a blog post just because I thought this was a good 'un. :)

05 September 2011

Bad Parents' Reading List.

Under the department of, "What were they thinking when they wrote this, and why didn't these characters lose their children or get arrested?" I'd like to chat about some odd stories. Feel free to add your own analysis or additional titles in the comments.

1. Green Eggs and Ham. Is it just me, or is Sam-I-Am harassing this poor unnamed chap? And does the dude get Stockholm Syndrome at the end or what? Although he was quite sure at the beginning of the book that he wouldn't like green eggs and ham in any location you could name, he suddenly LOVES them and thanks his stalker dude for going to all this trouble. It is out of control. Stockholm, I'm telling you. The Sam-I-Am guy runs over people with cars and presents mice and goats to him as suitable tablemates. Fer real.

2. The Clifford series. They let their grossly oversized dog roam all over the neighbourhood, causing havoc. Why is the dog-catcher or the National Guard not doing something about this dangerous animal? Just its poop alone is enough to cause a neighbourhood nuisance, nevermind what would happen if the animal got overzealous and rolled over onto someone. This is not a normal family, folks. This is some sick animal husbandry sponsored by Monsanto or something. I dunno.

3. No list would be complete without the Cat in the Hat series. WHY is Mother out and what is up with the strange guy in the outlandish hat? Every time I read this, I keep thinking the Mother should NOT be leaving her children alone and where is CPS at a time like this?

I suppose from a Freudian perspective, Mother is the absentee parent who only vaguely figures into the story (as in, "What would Mother say?"). It is also notable that the father's conspicuously absent, although he has $10 shoes just lying around in the closet. $10 was a lot of money back in the days this was written, but somehow? They couldn't afford a babysitter.

The fish. The fish is the superego, right??

Apparently, though - thanks, google - there are a whole series of lessons on how The Cat in the Hat incorporates the themes of id, ego and superego. Really. I got something like 10 pages of search results. Maybe the fish really is the superego.)

4. There are probably about 50 others. The plotline of We're Going on a Bear Hunt book Rose brought home from the children's library at the preschool demonstrates extremely poor parental judgment throughout. Just imagine taking an infant and a toddler on a bear hunt with no rifle, and traipsing through the river, the mud and the snow without appropriate protective gear. The incompetence is astounding.

But anyway, there are probably a good 50 more books out there with wackadoodle parenting. I don't get why many of the truly funny and cute books for little children seem to be so... emm - twisted? - when you think about them. I'm sure there is some psychoanalytic website that covers the "howcome," but I guess I didn't type in the right search words.

04 September 2011

You Get Nothing.

"Disinheritance hurts.

"My father never visited the grave of his father, I have never been to my father’s grave . . . and my sister’s children have not yet been to their mother’s grave. It’s nearly impossible to 'pay your respects' to someone whose last message to you is, 'I didn’t love you or value you.'" Article.

On the one hand, it's just stuff. Stuff doesn't matter in the big scheme of things and often not getting the stuff we think we deserve can bring up the feelings of jealousy and pain we shouldn't even have.

Your stuff belongs to you, and when you die, you are not obligated to give me one little penny in your will. Now mind you, it would be NICE if we're good friends or family that you leave me a small something, a momento, a wish-you-well parting gift just because you can't take it with you. I would appreciate that, but I don't think it's my *right* to receive it. How about this: use up every penny except burial expenses. Then there is nothing left to fight about. Sounds good to me.

I'm sure the parents had their reasons for giving all their stuff to one particular child or skipping certain people. I don't know every blogger and advice column writer personally, so I can't say that the "reason" is necessarily vindictiveness. It might be. Most people aren't like that, though.

"When our mother died, my sister and I never had a harsh word. My mother had been cared for by my sister. My mother had asked me if I would be upset if she left the house to my sister. Now, this was not the trump tower, but I shared with her that I thought that was the caring thing for her to do. My sister had spent many hours taking my mother to the medical center, doctor's offices, and many nights returning to relight the furnace. When my sister and I were cleaning out mother's house, we had a really good time. It was just the two of us... I am sure our mother was aware of us and appreciated our respect. My sister has since died, and I still think of that night." (readsalot212, from the article)

Waah!

Presently, our will is set up in such a way that each of our living children will receive equal shares of whatever we have. It may be that in the future that we will have to amend that. Some of our children are handicapped and may get more or less depending on the tax law or whatever when we get closer to the time... you know. For now, the "custody" base is covered: all minor children will be shipped off to New York to live in a three-bedroom house with my brother and his wife and the several cousins they don't know. I'm sure it would drive everyone crazy, but it's the best plan I can make on my budget, so my husband and I had better not die any time soon.

03 September 2011

The Style. The Look.

Patrick loves these pants. Actually he has about six pairs of pants. They are all the same size, same brand, same colour. Seriously. His dad is the same way, but ol' Dad needs to buy new pants for work (same brand, same colour) when his old ones show signs of extreme wear. I got tired of Patrick putting mailing tape all over his pants at school and having people feel sorry for him. He must have come up with some odd story to tell his teachers that they would have sympathy for him and give him an entire roll of mailing tape AND a bit of masking tape so that he could make a smiley face on top of his knee.
*
I SWEAR I asked him if he would like some new pants and shirts before the beginning of the school year. He said no, reasoning (correctly!) that I would take the old and ratty ones and throw them in the trash. Well. He didn't quite phrase it that way, but still. As you can see, I at least don't want him walking about with gaping holes over the winter and patched these up as best I could. Who thinks Patrick should ask his mom for three new pairs of pants? I mean, Mom orders these things on the internet, just type in the same size as always and *zing* order complete. Would YOU go to school like this to save your mom $25?

02 September 2011

Yet More School Stories.

Elf isn't doing so badly. I'm letting him flounder and figure it out for himself. It looks like every now and then, though, he might need a little hint about what to say and do.

I've been asking him to do things like tell me the names of two other students this week, and tell me what people are talking about in the lunchroom, and tell me about what you are saying in class, and all sorts of things like that. It worked very well in Mr. McC's class last year. He eventually learnt the names of six other children and was able to even tell me a little bit about a few of them. This year, not so well.

At least he does seem to want to talk to me about things. But he's making more than a few social mistakes. One of the teachers had an "icebreaker" sort of conversation a bit ago and went around the room asking each of the children what they were doing over the weekend. Elf's response? "None of your business."

Yeahhh, he has been coached that next time, "I'd prefer not to talk about it," or "Can I please skip my turn?" would have been better answers. The teacher also had a "discussion" about "respectful behaviour" as well.

Or this. Elf has figured out that table "18" has the best conversations. They don't have very interesting chats at 15, Elf told me. It got pretty boring there, and Elf wanted to (I guess??) talk about something else.

"Could you please spice this conversation up a little bit?" he asked them. "My mom wants to know alll about the things we talk about here, and I don't want to have to give her a bad report."

Can you believe this approach didn't work?? Can you? Things just don't work out for this kid and he's trying to figure out why. So. He can go to "table 18" on W days or something like that. They have the best conversations. One of the things they do is play some sort of "pass the expired milk carton" game and another is to discuss which food is the nastiest and plan a large "last day of school" food fight. I'm now cluing Elf in to the fact that the last day of school is NOT a good day to sit with the people at "table 18."

Patrick is trying to teach him to say "Yo Mama said so" at the table as a good way to socialize. I dunno, I guess that's what the high school kids do, so maybe it will be avant-garde at the middle school. I remember hearing this "Your mama" thing in college. One fellow from the 'hood just threw, "Yo mama so fat she breaks chairs" or somesuch into the conversation. MYYYY, was I insulted. I told him he didn't know my mother, and how dare he? He thought this was all HILARIOUS and started in on other Mama being fat jokes. I told him for his information that my mother lost QUITE A BIT OF WEIGHT on Nutri/System, so that just shows how much he knows.

Rolling, he was.

Watch Your Kid.

Sarita Holzmann made an offhand remark on extracurricular activities at a homeschooling convention. One listener felt freed.

"She explained that she had just come from another session where the speaker said she should never put her children in extracurricular activities. He had said that good homeschool moms keep their children with them at all times."

"I know that different approaches work for different families. And many do well with no outside activities. But when I had my kids at home, a select few extracurricular activities provided a great blessing to my family and those around us."

Umm... Sarita is too kind to the other speaker. Or maybe this is why *I* am not a speaker at these things. I'da said that barring some unusual circumstance, this whole idea of never letting your kid out of your sight is really wack after he turns about 3 or 4. "Good homeschool moms keep their children with them at all times??" Do those words jump off the page to anyone else but me? Nevermind the extracurricular activity thing a sec.

I'm not saying that leaving your kid in day care 50 hours a week when he turns six weeks old is a great idea if you can help it, either, but wow. This is not normal, folks. It almost sounds like someone is afraid the child will get away and start talking, really talking, about what is going on at home. I mean, read this. Imagine yourself as a child in a family where all the children have to be in the room with Mom and she spanks your siblings when they misbehave. You also get spanked when you are naughty right in front of everyone. Notice there is no time limit on this little session or guidelines on when to stop slapping. Well, let me correct that. I guess this torture session goes on and on until the kid learns to mind. (I hope not!)

And maybe the home discussed here is a very nice one and things never get truly awful. Maybe the people who write these things have generally more compliant children and things never got out of control. I don't know... I just think to myself that encouraging someone to 1. keep her children with her at all times, no matter how frustrated she is; and 2. administer corporal punishment for misbehaviour, is practically begging for someone, somewhere, to snap. I think having friends to call on to take your child when you're about to lose it is a good thing. I think having someone your child could build a relationship with outside your family is a good thing.

Not that our family has any of those things and I am speaking down to anyone else who can't find it. When Elf began public school, he was locked in a closet by staff. Don't tell me it's homeschool parents who are abusive; it can be anyone. I homeschooled Elf for several years and he is now attending a different school that we trust. I also stopped allowing my children to go to Sunday School not because I want to "tomato stake" or anything like that, but because the children's pastor restrained my son. This pastor then refused to sit down with me and make a plan about what to do or take any training whatsoever. People like that do not get my child and I don't care what spiritual title they have.

So, I do understand keeping your child with you always if you have to or if no one wants to have compassion on your family. I do. But like Sarita, I think it's a good idea to let your children out of your sight every now and then if you can reasonably trust the adult in charge. I would love for my children to have friends they can visit with or even activities that don't always involve *Mom.* Why not??

01 September 2011

Monroi



Emperor's new Monroi! This handy-dandy (and $400) device replaces the old pen and paper "notation sheet." On the Monroi, you tap the pieces and enter the moves. You can see in the top picture that on this game, we're on move number 5 in which white moves a pawn to the d3 square, and black moves bishop to g4. We don't quite have the hang of it yet, but it will eventually make notating so much easier. No need to get the board out, move the pieces around and *try* to decipher what Emperor has written. It will make his private coaching minutes ($$) more effective because going over his games will be much faster.

More School Tales

Here's a story Elf told me, pretty much verbatim:

Something exciting happened at school yesterday. It was awesome. In Communication Arts (English), Mrs. P is really really scared of SPIDERS. And guess what? There was a big egg sac under her cabinet and we got to see all the spiders come out of the eggs! It was AMAZING. And Mrs. P got upset because there were HUNDREDS of tiny li'l baby spiders and they all crawl everywhere, all ways at once and under things. Some of them went into her desk and lots went around the room and into our desks and some were going into her supply closet and getting into the books.

Mrs. P gave everyone paper towels and rulers and told them to squash the spiders instead of reading today. We didn't see any mommies and daddies spiders but these spiders were light brown. (Listening to the story, they sound like poisonous BROWN RECLUSE spiders.) Mrs. P called the custodian RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS and he moved projectors and other things around. They found lots of dead mommy and daddy spiders and they were brown, the big kind you are scared of. (Brown recluse? Oh yayy.)

I know Mrs. P had a bad day but it was SO FUN to watch all the spiders hatch and then go hunting for them in class.

(Here I asked him about the bus.)

On the bus, I know I am the last stop. The bus driver told me when to get off after I got lost that first time. I am listening to all the words everyone says because I want to hear *swear words.* So far what I hear is a lot of yelling and someone said "crap." They're yelling about something I don't get. They are also talking about things I don't know about. I sit in the front and the bus driver talks to me a lot but I don't understand what he is talking about. I am trying to be polite and listen carefully but everything is confusing.

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...