26 February 2012

The Magic Pudding and Other Tales

Once upon a time, this vanilla pudding was new from Sam's Club.  As we were bringing it home, however, it was dropped and dented.  That was about seven years ago.  Since then, we've been using it as a door stopper.  Recently, good nutrition and safe food preparation was discussed in Elf's cooking class.  The children were (I kid you not!) told to go home and find the OLDEST, most expired food they could find.  Ok, so it was a fishing expedition.  I sent Elf in with a whopper of a fish, didn't I?  He won some sort of prize for having the most expired food.  Seriously.  I think they gave him a school lunch or something for it.  D got upset that his pudding can was not returned to him and so I made Elf go retrieve it.  I think they were planning on actually THROWING IT AWAY after the "Expired Food Museum" display was dismantled.  Nope.  We need that back.  Elf tells me he "forgot" to mention that we use it as a door stopper.  And in answer to your question, YES, our membership is current with HSLDA.
About a year ago, I purchased a large collection of what I would call "1980's girl going to church" hairbows in a ziplock bag from a local thrift store.  I washed them and dried them and put them away for about six months.  Now, Rose wears them all the time.  I didn't realize how HIDEOUSLY TACKY these things really were.  But she loves them.  To her, they are "princess" bows.

I pack all Elf's expired food into this lunch box before I send him to school.  Nom nom nom.  Ok, seriously?  He is having trouble talking with the other children during lunch in middle school.  It seems conversation must revolve around Lady Gaga or how awful Mrs. D and the other teachers are.  Elf says he really likes Mrs. D!  And so he has nothing to talk about.  Also?  Other kids say things like, "My dad is an alcoholic!" or "My mom is a lesbian!"  I thought surely not.  I asked a teacher about it (he is starting a "social skills" group soon as specified in his IEP and I was asked about specific social difficulties at school) and she said that yes, this is a normal conversation topic.  Incidentally, Elf learnt a new "greeting" involving his middle finger.  Some random kid taught him this, other kids got concerned and told.  Random kid got into trouble.  The vice-principal also (bless her!) talked to Elf a little bit about the "that's not a proper greeting" aspect of the bird.  Elf needs to learn social skills, I guess.  And plus, Elf's IEP mentions that he didn't have opportunity for many of these um, social learning experiences because of his homeschooling.  Sorry about that, society.

Yes!  It's me!  I finally figured out how to take a picture of myself AND make sure the mirror is clean AND make sure the flash is off!  Yay!  Please ignore the fact that I am taking photos of myself in the bathroom and then blogging about it.

22 February 2012

Tolerance and Acceptance.

You probably know by now about the huuuuge stink Dana Goldstein caused by blogging that liberals ought send their children to public school.  She's been (I think rightfully) smacked down by her fellow liberals in just about every corner of the internet I've come across. 

It's really strange, though.  Not that I believe for one minute that Dana Goldstein or anybody else should be telling people where they need to send their children to school.  But it's very strange that people who work in public education aren't backing her up.  I don't mean "teachers as an entire group" or "the NEA" or anything like that.  I mean the usual bunch of yokel edubloggers who are always out criticising homeschooling, or rolling their eyes at some "homophobe" who doesn't want their kid taking sex ed, or some parent who wants Creation reflected in the curriculum.  Seems like they abandoned one of their own and just left her to twist in the wind.

Kinda sad for her, huh?  It wasn't that long ago that Goldstein's thoughts reflected the majority of public opinion.

But it means now homeschooling just means "not going to a conventional school" because the demographics are changing.  You see, more liberals homeschooling is a good thing.  It unshackles kids from "the man" and "the system" and allows for free thinking.  But when conservatives do it, it's indoctrination.  Just so you know.

One thing I'd really like to see?  An acceptance of mediocrity.  I don't mean that in a bad way.  I mean... how about accepting that most homeschoolers are just sort of boring and average?  Average intelligence, average abilities, nothing really remarkable or unusual.  Do we all have to raise champion spellers or early readers to be accepted out there?  It's something that's been on my mind.

It seems that people are accepting of the super-genius kid who stays home because his local school won't offer Calculus for six-year-olds, and they're OK with a Mom who homeschools her child with Down Syndrome because he keeps getting sick when he's exposed to large crowds... but otherwise?  Seems like people still want to know what's weird about you that you are homeschooling.  Are you religious or what?

I'm actually OK with people stating they think that ideally, a child should homeschool because (reason) or go to school because (reason).  Just don't expect that one blog piece saying that homeschooling isn't a liberal thing to do is going to make me hightail it over to the enrollment office with Emperor.  Actually, it makes me feel better that I'm not one of *those* sanctimonious idealists she was blogging about.  Yay for me! :)

21 February 2012

Woodjie @ The Kansas City Chess School

He needed a lot of help with his moves.  He tried to go to the bathroom in a closet but couldn't find the potty.  He wasn't quite up for a tournament-level game.  But hey.  He went and he had a nice time.

19 February 2012

Child Killer and Enough

A guest post by Blondee.

There is no relationship that lasts longer in this world than the relationship of siblings. God's gift of best friends to us in life. Meet Lauren Belius and her twin sister Erica. Beautiful baby girls, aren't they?

The girls were inseparable, Lauren being the brave 'older' sister, and Erica being the shy little sister.

Older brother Nolan didn't just have to share the spotlight with one cute little sister, but two! These three joined our Taekwondo studio last spring. Busy little kids that we all got a kick out of watching as they learned their counters, kicks and kata's.

Lauren and Erica- blessings beyond words, beautiful memories made of first birthdays, milestones, holiday mornings and their sweet personalities.
Until one horrific morning in July of 2011.
David Trebilcock stabbed Lauren to death in her own bed as her twin sat inches from her in the very same bed, horrified and screaming for help. David had been plotting her murder, going as far as to lock the family dog in the garage and barricade the bedroom door with a dresser before approaching these amazing girls, naked- to fulfill his plan of killing a child.

By God's grace, Lauren and Erica's mom was able to break into the room and attacked David, incapacitating him so she could get her girls out of his evil clutches. Lauren succumbed to her injuries, tragically the little girl with the big grin left her family that day and went to Heaven where she would feel no pain, have no fear, and never be harmed again.

Now a little sister who was shy and dependent on her older, brave sister would be left to navigate the world alone. Her twin, her other half, torn from her right in front of her, torn from us all.

David Trebilcock admitted to murdering Lauren Belius. He did not take the stand in his own defense, instead pleaded not guilty by defense of insanity. He then requested a bench trial instead of a jury of his peers and last week was found NOT GUILTY of killing Lauren.

Our community has been devastated by the murder of this sweet girl, a family broken forever, and a mom has been left to look over her shoulder the rest of her life for a man who made statements that make us all concerned that her other children may be in grave danger when he is released. This man had the foresight to lock a family dog away from the girls it would have fought to protect. He shoved a dresser in front of a door that would have allowed these girls to escape. This man is not an insane man, he's a cold, calculating murderer who just worked our system and has been freed of all charges by Judge Dwyer of Oneida County.

Our laws need to be changed!

There should be NO plea of insanity if you murder a child, and there certainly should be no bench trial demanded by the murderer!
David Trebilcock can be out in the world amongst you and me in 12 months!! A man who admitted he had intercourse with a 12 year old child. A man who admitted to having drug problems in the past. A man who hid his past from others and left other states when he knew he was in trouble. The very same man who murdered Lauren in cold blood.
Allison, Lauren's Mom is asking for help in spreading the word of this injustice. PLEASE, I am asking all of my readers to help me spread the word! Repost this on your own blog. Make every community aware of what our laws really do. Help us gain national exposure to get the ball rolling and make it so David Trebilcock and other child killers can not get away with this!
Please do not just link to this blog...too many readers ignore links. Please cut and paste! Right click to copy the photos.

I thank you for your help.
Lauren's Mommy thanks you for your help!


18 February 2012

Work-Dodging Roundup

"I'm an American and I refuse to be treated this way" sorts of reactions are as uncommon here as they are unwelcomed.

We're talking about a really bad neighbourhood of Kansas City, Missouri.  Too many of its local employees are skipping work.  What'll happen is, usually the worker will bring his briefcase and his mocha latte with him when he leaves the front door in the morning.

Then he sneaks off and goes to hang out with friends. 

The economy is really suffering already.  Production being down because of absenteeism sure isn't helping, so employers in this area have teamed up with the Kansas City Police Department to do something about it.  The patrol cars are on the move...

Look.  Here are three guys on the corner yukking it up, discussing sports teams and the warm weather.  Into the back of the paddywagon they go.  The cops bring them to a central holding station and call their families to come and get them.

Family members we interviewed were very grateful for the help.  "We don't want my daddy being tempted to cause trouble," James Barson, Jr. told a reporter, noting that there was a sports bar around the corner that runs ESPN all day.   "No telling how long Daddy woulda missed work if he knew about Double Drink Thursdays."

Due to excessive amounts of cash lying around with nothing to do in this city, the employers and the police also provided counsellors.  Families magically realize how important work is because somebody clucked at them from behind a desk.  Excessive amounts of cash with nothing to do lying around in this city will also provide for three days' worth of in-cubicle suspension for work skippers.  Yep.  That means nothing but solitaire on the company laptop. 

Ok, I'm kidding.  But only just.  Remember, these are American citizens we're talking about being treated this way.  Somehow when the children are black and living in a high-crime area, I guess that matters very little.  Get the kids off the street and into school for their own good. 

My suburb is a short highway drive from the 'hood, but they sure don't pull the paddywagon crap around here.  And I don't see it happening in the near future.

17 February 2012


I sure wouldn't appreciate if YOU took my picture while I was sleeping and posted it on the internet.  Somehow, though, the cuteness factor makes it all morally OK.  Miss Rose no longer falls asleep on the couch downstairs with Woodjie and has Dad carry her up around 11:30 pm.  Mom insisted:  new room, new routine.  (Bad enough Woodjie has such horrific troubles with bedtime; we had gotten into the habit of letting Rose do what Woodjie does.)  But now, we brush her teeth, read a book, and then Rose is free to read books in her own bed and turn out the light herself when she is ready.  :)

16 February 2012

The New, New Math*

*Just a forwarded joke but thought you might enjoy it.  Obviously I wayyy too young to have been in school in the 1960's.  :)

1. Teaching Math In 1960's (when I was in school)

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit ?

2. Teaching Math In 1970's

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Math In 1980's
A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit ? Yes or No

4. Teaching Math In 1990's

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Math In 2000's

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, and if you feel like crying, it's ok).

6. Teaching Math In 2010

Un hachero vende una carretada de maderapara $100. El costo de la producciones es $80. Cuanto dinero ha hecho?

ANSWER: His profit was $375,000 because his logging business is just a front for his pot farm.

14 February 2012

An Assorted Post

I thought I'd share with you this little dandy a friend posted on facebook.  It's about how to unschool, but I think it really does speak to parenting in general as well.  Do you like it?  I just found it sweet and comforting.

In my internet travels today I spent some time finding out about lamingtons.  Looks more like poundcake with Hershey syrup, coconut sprinkled on top.  Which would be really great were it not for the fact that I hate coconut. 
For no apparent reason at all, I am including this recent picture of Woodjie EATING RICE AND CORN.  Yes.  It's on a plate.  Yes.  His knees are up on the table and he is almost always sitting oddly.  But he is eating the rice and corn.  It deserved a photograph!  :)

Ok, here's a link about unschooling.  It involves some chick's ex-coworker friend's sister's son, so you know right there it's a really totally like absolutely scientific post right there.   :/

Rose's Room Makeover!

She's four now.  For her birthday, I'd looked in all kinds of stores and even on amazon for something she would like but doesn't already have.  And honestly.  She doesn't need another puzzle or another book or another toy.  So I just began making her room a "big girl" room.  I thought it would be fun to doodle and paint a tree.  Not too babyish, but still whimsical, I think.   Because I can't lift over 40 pounds any more, I did have others remove the old area rug from this room and I got a much smaller new one.  Plain brown.  I didn't want bunches of other patterns to compete with my creation, though I did buy Rose a tall decorative horse at Pier1 (my new favourite place to shop for stuff I don't need).  G moved the furniture around to my liking and I've brought some books up and gotten her a silky window treatment.  I'm including the heart-tree photo today because it's Valentine's Day.  Ok, I'm not.  I just was finally able to finish the painting last night and so am including it in today's post.  Rose is enjoying her new room very much.  :)

10 February 2012

Pathology in the 100-Acre Wood

"It is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists that these are in fact stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet DSM-IV criteria for significant disorders."

You know these folks at the Canadian Medical Association had a lot of fun diagnosing story-book characters from the past, as demonstrated by their abstract.  I can't imagine what the full paper was like; somebody had a lot of time on his hands while he was keeping the real patients waiting eight months for an initial eval. (Just sayin'.)

Pooh-bear isn't just a cuddly and absent-minded little bear who goes bumbling about the woods in the imagination of AA Milne.  Oh, no.  His "perseveration on food and his repetitive counting behaviours raise the diagnostic possibility of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)."  He has ADHD fer sure and needs drugs right now.  Now.

Tigger?  Reckless, socially intrusive, out of control.  The team has NO idea where to start with this boy, he is so messed-up.

They're most worried about Roo because Kanga is a single parent.  Seriously?  Kanga, Roo and Rabbit are the only normal ones in the bunch.  (Rabbit's a little anal, but LOOK at the people around him and you'll see why!  If he didn't organize a bit overly much, his whole world would be chaos.)  I guess Christopher Robin is pretty normal, too, but the team notes that he has little to no parental supervision and it's a shame the characters didn't all organize an "Expotition" to a Child Development Clinic.

08 February 2012

Closing the Deal on Public Ed.

Is it wrong to push your product to try to make a sale?  What if it's your local school district, pushing public education?

I don't think realtors or car salespeople are all crooked.  Most of them would really like for you to be happy with your purchase, want do their job well, and go home with some cash at the end of the week.  Reasonably satisfied customers might mean referrals down the road.

But their primary goal on the job is probably not your happiness.  It's the commission, which may or may not be tied to your happiness...

"What's it going to take for a sale?" is sometimes a fair question. 

"I want an acre of land in Town X with a three-bedroom or larger house for under $450,000," might be the reply.  The realtor is going to scramble and find a listing or three that meets your needs or *bing* realize that right now, a sale isn't possible.  Nothing wrong with that.  Find out what the customer wants and then try to sell it.

Custer School District of South Dakota recently asked what it would take to bring homeschoolers back to classes.  They sent a survey to homeschooling families asking what sorts of concerns or problems they've had with the school district in the past.  And what kind of struggles do you have with homeschooling... is there a particular subject that gives you trouble?

I think it's awesome, simply awesome, that the district is treating homeschoolers like CUSTOMERS instead of a CAPTIVE MARKET.  I find that really exciting.  HSLDA apparently doesn't.  I don't know if it's because they have had bad dealings with Custer before or if it's on ideological grounds ("families should homeschool"). 

I would ignore the "difficulty" type questions because if everyone answered something along the lines of, "I have tuf time follwing homescool law an teechng my kid 2 read," that might get school officials a little too "concerned."

But I would tell them why I homeschool.  And I would tell them I'd like an Algebra I class for my 10-year-old.  Presently?  I've been told that if I want to enroll Emperor in public school here, he would be a FOURTH GRADER.  The kid is seriously doing high-school level algebra work.  They would just pop him in the "fourth grade" box because of his age.  Seriously.  The school coulda had a math "sale" there but has chosen not to cater to the customer.  I'm simply not in the market for fourth grade mathematics.

07 February 2012

Too Much Sex Out There.

Kids are exposed to wayyy too many "sexy" images, airbrushed photographs, and Bratz dolls.  It's not good enough if parents to ban this stuff in their homes.  In fact, nothing parents do is gonna be good enough.

A columnist informs us that a couple of nine-year-olds were showing off their hot bootays in tight clothes and makeup at the local mall recently near Washington DC.  It follows that as a nation, we all need to be really concerned for every young girl.  The schools should teach these kids better because their parents obviously aren't gonna.  Somehow it's our business as a society that hot young things get something called "corrective education," starting in kindergarten.

Is it just me, or does "corrective education" sound spank-y and jumped-up sick?  Am I the only one who gets creeped out that people like to talk about sex with children who aren't theirs, and/or are "concerned" about the healthy sexual development of children?  As in, whyyy are you so interested in my kids' sexuality?  Are you a pervert or something that you wanna know all about it?  Because it grosses me out that some old man might even speak words like "ejaculation" near my kids.  It gets me heebie-jeebie grossed out. 

It's no-one's business anyway what I teach my kids about sex, or even IF I do anyway.  Or what I let my kids wear.  So what if I ever choose to let my FOUR-year-old out wearing lipstick and a miniskirt?  If she's not turning tricks on the corner it is none of your flipping business.  It seems someone is always hating on parents for letting their girls dress too strumpety or constraining them to wearing prairie dresses.

Have you noticed the objectionable clothing is always on a GIRL?  Never a boy.  I never hear people complaining about boys being too sexy or having their personal identities crushed because their parents made them dress too modestly.

I don't know what point I was making with that last bit, but that's all I had to say.  I would like to hear what you think.

05 February 2012

My Weekend Project

One of the larger Hobbits of the house loves his new cloak.  I simply extended the pattern about four inches in the sleeves, a foot in length, and one inch all 'round the sides and it fit together just fine.  This Hobbit is almost 6ft 4 inches tall and with a bit of tweaking, McCall's pattern 2854 in a new colour gives him a more... forboding look than the small children are able to present in their getups.  :)

04 February 2012

More to the Story

So a 17-year-old has to be hospitalized for apparent exhaustion and malnutrition after consuming a diet almost entirely consisting of Chicken McNuggets since age 2.   I think there simply has to be more to the story.

You might think that the mom in this case has boodles of money to spend on the nuggets and you might be wrong.  I do know of parents of autistic children who DO NOT have tons of money to burn who have to order from restaurant x every night or the child WILL NOT EAT.  I mean will not eat for days.  Average parents might assume that by not going back to the restaurant, the kid will get over it and everything will be ok. 

Not so in some cases!  I have a very good friend and excellent, excellent parent whose child eats ONLY peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  They are working very, very hard with therapists to get her to so much as TOUCH other food.  You do not know what other families go through sometimes if you think that's weird.  It's unfortunately not very weird or unusual at all in the autism community.

In fact, I think that this is an area of autism that isn't studied very well.  Parents don't want to open up about the fact that their child eats only microwaved pretzels and pop-tarts with cashews (ahem) and another barrier to studying this problem?  There are so many more pressing things to research, such as learning speech and toileting.  Even 'social skills' seem more important to researchers.

I'm not way on the bandwagon with the idea that if you just eat "right," perfect health will follow.  But can we please not fool ourselves that it has no effect?  There should be some research and help in this area, and when help arrives please let it be coverable by major insurances.  (Nutrition advice and other help is not covered by my or most other major plans.  They would rather pay the cost of care for diabetes and heart disease.  Shameful.) 

It just seems to me that when *I* go to the doctor, I get told about what to eat and the fact that I am eating too much (ok, true).  When I take Woodjie, the doctor recommends a multivitamin.  Maybe.  Or just tells me to keep working on it and that I am doing a good job.

I DO like hearing that I am doing a good job.  I appreciate that.  I wish there were more we could do to help our children.  By the way, I thought I would head the "just take three bites" kinds of comments off at the pass.  I have had children vomit at the table when I've done that.  You would not believe what some parents go through, and I know several.  It is almost as though certain foods that are not favourite (read: about all foods on the planet) are a trauma to these people.  And I get that eating right is important.  So is the child's emotional health if he is sincerely distressed, vomiting, panicked, and all that.

I can tell you also that for a time, I went through the "I am a happy homemaker who can feed her family on $3 a day" phase.  You know the kind.  Casseroles.  Homemade breads.  Noodle dishes.  Elf lost TEN pounds as a kindergartener.  He was very, very sickly.  The doctor saw that as the emergency it was and said just go ahead and feed him his peanut butter sandwiches.  Peanut butter is actually something doctors swear by to put on weight.  I still feel sad that I was not able to feed my family properly.  Sometimes when I get out the pop-tarts and microwave pretzels I wish for better things, but... I just can't have my children lose weight and get sick like that.

You might think you know the family's situation in the article, but you might just not.  I'm concerned for her because of how chicken nuggets are made if for no other reason. 

03 February 2012

Stuff. From Pier One.

Recently I went shopping with my friend Melissa at Pier One.  I bought these knobs for $4 each.  D must like them a lot but just not know it yet because he says he doesn't hate them.  He says well, at least with your Polish pottery you could claim it has some retail value!  Ha ha!  Here's a picture of the upper knob "before."  I had to run out and get a very special metric backing for the upper knobs because the wood is so thick they didn't go all the way through. 
Ta-da!  Finished.  C'est magnifique!  PS.  They let me open a charge account.  If I spend $9,000 I get $20 off my next purchase!  Ok, I only got that so I could have more than one credit card.  What-ever.  :)  And PPS. In case you are wondering the wood is "cherry wood" and ages strangely.  When I bought it new it was much lighter actually.

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...