27 February 2013

G's Food Stamp Challenge!

You've heard of the Food Stamp Challenge:  everyone from big-city mayors to large family bloggers have tried it at one time or another.  G is reaching adulthood and wants to make some of his own food choices.  Food stamps here are about $150/month per person, so we gave him $20 and told him it had to last four days.  Long enough for him to get a taste of what life would be like on a budget, but not so long that we'd starve the kid. 

G was able to eat one bowl of our cereal each morning, but that was it.  Other than that, he's on his own until Friday morning.

So here's what he bought:

$1.28  loaf of bread
$2.00  bologna
$1.88 six-pack small applesauce
$1.38 baby carrots
$2.56 small peanut butter/jelly combo jar
$2.48 large strawberry yogurt
$1.98 half-gallon lowfat milk
$.68 macaroni and cheese box (bought 2)
$1.98 chips
$.86 tax

TOTAL:  $17.76

G had to "buy" margarine from us to make his macaroni and cheese.  We could have just let him suffer for his own poor planning, but we didn't.  We're also seeing that soda is an expensive habit as we are charging him 40 cents a can (pretty much our cost) until the experiment is over.

What we've seen:

G is much more appreciative of the fact that his parents make him eat less expensive food sometimes for a reason.  We simply do not have the money to buy him a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake at every meal.  G has one more day to go and he is finding that the food is starting to run out. It won't kill him to eat bologna slices right out of the package tomorrow if the bread is gone, but I'm hopeful that he will be more understanding in the future when we run out of a favourite food.

Have you tried giving your children a similar challenge, or did they learn these things in college?

25 February 2013

Household Happenings.

Here's what it looks like outside right now.  That could change in a little while as we are expecting another big snowstorm.  We have stocked the fridge and are (I hope) well-prepared.  I'm hoping this will be the last snowstorm as state chess tournament comes up in March and right after that?  Another stupid hernia surgery for me.  My third.  It was a relief to hear that, actually, because my regular doctor thought I had a huuuuge tumour for a little while there.  No worries.  Just my guts falling out again.  :/
In homeschooling, Emperor has just read through Silas Marner and Conrad's Heart of Darkness.  I think he enjoyed Silas Marner much more and found the other book a bit disturbing.  His new math curriculum is all graded on the computer (sample lessons here!).  Here I am teaching him by doing absolutely nothing.  He ran into a bit of a problem because he forgot how to multiply fractions.  So then he spent today reviewing with Khan Academy.  There is no excuse not to homeschool because you don't know all the answers when the internet is out there, right?  Changing the subject, I bought this little house at the thrift store; I don't know why.  I just like it.  It is a "handpainted Delft."  I think it is a salt shaker because of the little holes in the chimney, but it sits on my windowsill.

Rose can read simple words and do matching games and easy games like Candyland.  She also helps out around the house frequently.  I found this little girl looking over my shoulder while I was watching Hoarders the other day.  She would like you all to know that garbage goes in a bag.  Poopies go in the potty!  And as she watched, she wondered, "Why is she doing that?  That's disgusting.  We don't throw trash on the ground!"
When Woodjie has the sniffles or is just not feeling himself, I will give him a "hairbow" so he can look like a little unicorn.  He will lie down with his blankie and twist his hair for a little while.  He is starting to use full sentences most of the time and can count up to 42.  He is just so cute, isn't he?

22 February 2013


A black kindergartener is auctioned off in front of his classroom friends.  It's history, it's hands-on, what's not to like?   I mean, unless you have a sense of decency or something odd like that.

I am amazed and astounded that this sort of thing is going on.  What is next, preschool mock rape and torture?

History is really nasty stuff.  It's a hard subject, no doubt about that.  It is hard to teach to little children because what you're really doing is introducing them to the idea that the world is not a nice place.  You are breaking their innocence.  We don't need to traumatize them in the process, do we?

15 February 2013

Homeschool Personality

This kid is deathly allergic to milk and peanuts, so instead of fighting and taking away everyone's peanuts and being jerks about it, the school spends a little money and lets him come every day as a robot. 

Yep.  It's pretty neat, actually.  Only thing that really bugs me?  Is the article's statement that "Devon is outgoing and energetic, a jokester whose personality better suits him to the school experience rather than home-schooling."

My homeschooler must therefore be... what? What is the best personality for homeschoolers?   And if we find that personality amongst the public school population, can we charge the school district for a robot to bring these virtual children home?  It would be reallllly, realllly weird for shy public schoolers to be virtually scooting about their kitchens while actually sitting in the school cafeteria because the school was concerned about their missing home comforts and the influence of their siblings...


Truant Homeschoolers.

It's imperative that the kids are in school.  Even if the children are doing schoolwork at home, it's imperative that they be at school.  Which is why I propose we mandate parents report attendance records so that those homeschoolers don't get all truant-y with it by staying um, home from school.  Which is at home.  Because homeschools are part of the Michigan public education system and reporting homeschool attendance records somehow helps public schools "give the proper attention" to these students so they can "succeed throughout their lives," master 21st century skills and get their own unicorns.

I swear I cannot make this crap up.  Ok, I made up the unicorn part.  But otherwise it's all true.

14 February 2013

Dear Catholic Friends...

I just thought I'd let you know that eating alligator is OK for Lent.  Alligator being a kind of fish and all according to the Archbishop in New Orleans.  Also, I want to make sure you know that chicken is OK for lent as long as it's in butter sauce and served with boiled carrots.  And biiiig ol' greasy cheezburgers with a bit of bacon are OK for Lent.  Chocolate pudding and movie popcorn are also explicitly and theologically OK.  In fact, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that you have my personal permission to eat whatever you want during Lent.   I think the Archbishop would prefer you call the "whatever you want" by the title "seafood," however.

13 February 2013

The Secret Parallel World Of Homeschoolers

Learning about how gears work.
Remember the Mirror, Mirror episode in the original Star Trek series?  Captain Kirk and the landing party are somehow transported to an Enterprise in which all the people are sadistically mean and wear pirate-y/sexy uniforms. It doesn't take long for the Spock to realize that these people don't belong because they are from a "parallel universe" in which the people he knows look much the same on the outside, but are actually radically different in their worldview.

Making "gears" out of Tinkertoys
The Ponies are watching Rose work on Letter D worksheets!
And so it is with homeschooling.  We're either a buncha weirdos jumper-dressing our girls or hanging out in our jammies all day and getting away with it because of some loophole in the law.  Steve Rose wrote recently of his encounter with the parallel universe and wrote a pretty decent article about it.  

Who Are You?

Emperor has been recruited to be on a homeschool chess team based out of St. Joseph, about an hour and 15 minutes away.  Of course we knew he'd encounter plenty of people he knows already, but there are about 50-odd people in this unfamiliar place.  One very pretty teen girl came by to say hello to Emperor.

PT:  Hi, Emperor!!

Emperor: (awkward silence) I am not sure who you are, but you know my name and so you must be familiar to me.

PT is bewildered.  Emperor has seen her a good plenty of times!  And he doesn't look too open to the hug she was about to give.

Me:  It's the hat.

PT:  (removes hat)  Do you know who I am?

Emperor:  Yes!  You are (Name).  I have played chess with you before!

PT: (puts hat on)  How about now.

Emperor:  I cannot tell it is you.

PT: (removes hat)

Emperor:  Now I know it is you again.

PT:  (puts hat on) YESSSS!  This is the perfect disguise!  (walks away)

10 February 2013

New Flu Vaccine

Recently, all kinds of crazy stories about toilet-dwelling spiders that bite your butt and make you die were circulating on facebook.  (Thank you, snopes, for clearing up.  I don't need to be afraid of Olive Garden restaurant.)  So initially, when I read this story, I rolled my eyes a bit. 

There is a new flu vaccine made with insect virus!  Why is this not in the news?  It's creepy and disgusting that they are genetically modifying crap, popping it into vaccines, and passing it off on the American people!  And they are mandating these vaccines in some places.  Mandating. 

I know it's hard to believe.  I didn't believe it myself until I googled about and found it on the FDA's own website.  OK.  I get that the flu is not just nothing.  I mean, I'm watching Downton Abbey and I see people do actually die from it sometimes.  Young people, even.  I don't especially want to die either, just for the record.

I just don't know that putting genetically engineered bug gunk into our bodies is going to bode well for the human race long-term. 

09 February 2013

Congrats to Emperor!

See this?  Emperor is looking forward to not having to do these proofs every day.  He is now finished with all the graded lessons in high school Geometry and moves on to Algebra 2 on Wednesday.  I will just do a review lesson on Monday and give him Tuesday off.  He got a 90 for the first half of the year and an 89.4 for the second half, which pained me very much to round down to an 89, or a B.  It is what it is, right?  :)

08 February 2013

Love = Buy Scholastic Books

Dear Parents:  buying books from our book fair will improve your child's vocabulary and make him more likely to go to college.  Not buying our books means that you hate your kid and are a terrible parent.  You are under no obligation to buy any books whatsoever, but we've used class time to take your child through the fair so we could prepare this wish list.

Dear East Coast Friends...

I hope you have all the supplies you need to weather the storm and that you are staying safe.  :)

05 February 2013


We maxed out G's dental insurance for the whole year and ran up an additional $425 in charges today, all within about fifteen minutes.  Wisdom teeth are now out.  I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but they are HUGE teeth, nearly twice as big as mine.  G has been pretty much in bed all day, which is not like him.  Hopefully tomorrow he will be able to eat something besides a small bowl of yogurt and a Sprite.

Drug Testing in High School

Rockhurst High School, an all-boy Jesuit school in Kansas City, MO, has rolled out a new policy.  It's going to drug test hair next school year.  They'll take a chunk of hair and let a private company analyse it.  Students who flunk the drug test have 90 days to get clean (or else what?  I don't know).

The news report about it seemed to make a big deal about a few things:

1.  Administration won't know.  Yeah, right.

2.  The results go into a counseling file, which is destroyed upon graduation.  Well.  What if the student transfers schools?  It goes, too, doesn't it?  And having a positive drug test on your file is not a good thing, thanks.  I'm sure the school could say parents have to give permission for the file to be transferred.  I'm also sure schools can refuse any student who does not.

Which would make this school pretty much the default choice after a positive drug test, and it

3.  Costs over $12,000 a year to attend.  And there are fees for about a billion things.  You would think for that kind of cash that parents would speak up for the rights of their children.

I don't know why anyone thinks this is OK.  Sure, if a kid shows up all drugged-out, search his locker and refer his parents to counselling or something.  But really?  At that kind of price?  I should imagine that if it is not happening during school hours it is not even happening if you know what I mean.

I've been to Rockhurst recently for a chess tournament.  It's in Missouri technically but it is on State Line Road so if you cross the street, you're in Kansas.  It's a nice, large school that is reasonably well kept-up.  My son's friend hopes to go there to play football someday.

They didn't seem like evil people when I went there, which is why this news story is so perplexing.  The chess kids I met from Rockhurst actually struck me as kinda nerdy and hardly the binge-drugging kind.  Maybe these rich people need to invent things to worry about. 

04 February 2013

Who's on Welfare?

If you go to the county database, you can look up my name and my husband's and see if we owe any taxes.  It's a matter of public record if you have a mortgage,  and how much you owe.  So should the public know who's on welfare and what they're buying at the grocery store?

Apparently several states including New York have released this information to the public.  I can't imagine that some of these welfare recipients are using their money wisely at strip clubs and liquor shops, but there you go.  Iowa is blocking the release of this information, claiming that the state only has an interest in determining who is eligible, not where they buy their goods and what those particular goods are.  And they're not going to pass that info on to you.

Should you get to find out if a neighbour is taking state money? 

03 February 2013

All About Woodjie.

It's NO fun around this house when Woodjie is ill.  The kid still  doesn't blow or wipe his nose properly.  And he is so, so crabby.  But he won't go to sleep.

It's time to run all over the house!  And jump on the furniture and run some more and run.  It feels as though we're constantly redirecting him and finally?  It's just time for a time-out. 

He runs around some more, and we have to redirect him to take the stupid time-out already.  Woodjie was very crabby and snuffly and said he doesn't want to be with this family any more, he'd like to live at school with Miss Flower where they are nice to him.  Dad is mean.

Oh good grief.  Ordinarily it's hard to get three words out of him, but we just got an entire monologue.  I had no idea he even knew the word "family."  It is still time-out time, though.  D asked him if he were going to take that time out Dad's way, or the hard way.

"No!" he protested.  "The 'I rule the world' way!"  He sat down with his arms folded and kept a big scowl on his face.  But he did it.

I sure hope I don't have another crabby day from this kid tomorrow.  It wouldn't be so bad if he didn't have so much grumpy *energy* but would just mope on the couch like a regular person...

02 February 2013

Dirty Fortune Cookie.

Patrick got this "fortune" from our local Chinese restaurant.  He was shocked and laughing at the same time when he read it.

01 February 2013

Dinner Pics

 Ahhh, dinner at our house.  The children go to dinner right after their after-school baths.  Woodjie did a great job getting all his smileys in school today, so he got some pudding (see it on his face?  Lemon.) and is able to play his LeapFrog games tonight.

I gave him this Pop-Tart Hat of Happiness because... well, I'm going to recycle it anyway and he looks pretty cute in it.

Rose came home and got mad that her dad wasn't giving her her bath quickly enough (he was finishing Woodjie's at the time) and she called him a stupid, stupid dad and said she didn't love him any more.

So much for her game time tonight!  Here she is after much crying and gentle coersion to the table.  She said she doesn't love anyone, ever again.  We all told her we were sorry to hear that but we still loved her.

"NO!  Not," she pouted.  Ok then.  Later I gave her some pudding anyway and told her telling Mommy she is stupid and "no love you" hurts her feelings but she did a good job calming down.  Rose apologized and she got some kisses too.

I was just chatting with a friend today about making mealtimes pleasant and here all poopie-land broke out tonight.  Ha ha!

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...