29 June 2013

Cash Prize Chess Tournament!

Here's Rose, acting like a monkey before her first round at the Kansas City Chess Club.  It was her first USCF-rated tournament, and it lasted all afternoon.  She lost against two children and an adult, but she did manage to stalemate a high-school sophomore.  I call that good enough, especially as we skipped the morning "youth" section and played against the big boys.  Guess who coaches her...

Yep.  Here he is!  The winner of the "Reserve" section demonstrates a Karate Kid move with his winnings.  He and another player split the $75 cash prize.  Which was awesome because these two players are an even match.  They drew when they played during the first round. 

28 June 2013


Woodjie actually beat my score!  It's because the bumpers are up and his ball ricochets.  I'm sticking with that.  :)

Fun times!

Little Rose is so happy, she's flapping like a hummingbird.

Here she is taking a turn!  I think about twice per game, we have to ask the attendant to fish the bowling ball out of the middle of the lane.  Rose just doesn't roll it with all that much force.  She's working on it, but a seven-pound ball being thrown by a 40-pound person just doesn't get that far.

25 June 2013

Bullying Anniversary

It's been a year since we saw her, taunted and crying, on youtube.  Now New York bus monitor Karen Klein has retired and, with the money that poured in from sympathetic viewers, begun her own anti-bullying foundation.  Here's a follow-up article about her life and efforts.

I wish her well.  The original video is hard to watch.  I felt the students felt more and more emboldened as there were no consequences for the first bit of teasing... and they plunged further and further into cruelty.  I wonder what the students in the video are up to now; the article doesn't say.

24 June 2013

We Made Cookies This Weekend!

Woodjie was not able to eat any of the sugar cookie "gingerbread mans" he helped to make because he has egg and milk allergies.  He was very anxious to see how his sister liked them, though, and was content with some Oreos at lunch instead. 

23 June 2013

The Social Story

Emperor's always been a little strange.  So, I'm trying to chat with him every now and then about "going to school" because we're planning to send him half-days next school year. 

Sadly, the fact that Emperor will be going into sixth grade means we had to have the "drug" talk.  What should you do if you see people using near you? 
Here, he re-enacts exactly how he would approach this strange smoking kid.  Ohmygosh, he's so deadpan that even the "nerds" in Hollywood movies cannot beat this acting.

"I'd just go up to him and act all gangsta and cool about it and go, 'Hey, Bub, I see you are smoking merry-wana.  Can I have your name, please?' And then I will tell a teacher his name."

Ohhh boy.  So now?  We've also chatted about "just stay away from those people."  Hopefully if it ever comes up, he'll remember our little talk.

Emperor has now styled his hair so that he looks "cool."
He's just so cute and sweet, but sometimes I worry about whether we are doing the right thing in sending him.  D has expressed concern that "he's gonna get his ass kicked."  I'm concerned that Emperor will get lost or take the wrong bus or that the other kids at school won't understand him.  I know I have to let him go and give this a shot, but of course I worry, too.  He's different, but not so different that he's going to get an IEP or anything like that.  :/

18 June 2013

Sesame Street: Dads in Prison

"P is for Prison," quips Info Wars.  Sesame Street now has a character whose dad is in jail.  Do YOU want your three-year-old learning about gang-banging baby daddies and the word "incarceration?"

I was all ready to slam this as an obvious normalisation of thuggery until I perused the videos at the PBS website.  Sure, they're a little syrupy and gloss over the "adult rules" the parents broke to get stuck in the pokey entirely.  But the clips deal with helping preschoolers sort out their feelings, and are not meant to be taken as treatises on the faulty self-actualisation of today's American parent.

To my understanding, these videos are not meant for the regular Sesame Street audience.  And if that's the case, I don't see why people shouldn't be applauding their efforts to help these little children and their families.  Children can't help what their parents have done, and kids with that kind of heartache deserve all the help we can give them.

17 June 2013

Social Studies Curriculum

I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because it's easier to get criticism from a computer than a person.  Imagine your spell-checker grew a brain and pointed out problem areas in your writing.  That's Grammarly. 

Nothing can replace a trained copy editor, but if I were learning the language or had trouble writing, it's definitely something I'd spend the money on for our homeschool.   Take a look at the comments after a news story sometime.  Spell a word wrong, and people focus on that instead of  the perfectly reasoned argument you just wrote.  Unfortunate but true.

So here's what we're using for social studies next school year:  Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World Volume 3:  Early Modern Times.  Emperor has already done Volumes 1 and 2.  The first volume begins in ancient times and is written more simply.  Each volume becomes more detailed and is written for a more advanced student.  Emperor will be a sixth grader next year, and I think this is written at a level that he can read, digest and understand.

Sometimes single questions take up an entire page of the test booklet.  I'd rather write those in and save paper and ink.
I got the Test and Answer Key with it, and I also bought the Activity Book.  Neither one of those purchases were necessary, really, if I were pinching pennies.  But they are very nice to have.  The tests are a fair review of each chapter.  I don't use them as tests but worksheets to review each chapter.  The Activity Book could easily provide the backbone of an entire year's worth of reading, art and science curriculum.  There are so many things to do it is genuinely impossible for every family to do them all.  So I take it as an idea book, filled with reproduceable drawings, patterns, maps and the like.

The Activity Book is not needed, but I feel it adds some depth to a child's studies.

02 June 2013


I told Woodjie that a present was coming in the mail for him.  In a box.  And it is something he could use every day!  He guessed a puppy.  He loves his new Apollo style Polish pottery plate.  These things are very, very heavy.  They last almost forever, too.  This is Woodjie's very own.

Another view.

D was trimming a bush in our front yard today and he began to hear cheeping.  Can you see the baby cardinals inside the nest?  They are the children of the birds that keep pooping on our cars!  But D didn't have the heart to kill them.  Their eyes aren't even open yet.
G did some yard work with me today as well.  I weeded this area out and G planted the little red Knockout Rose near the mailbox.  Do you see how nicely the pink one I bought has grown over the years?

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...