30 October 2015

Irish Twins!

Modelling their new jammies from Hanna Andersson.  I love their stuff but my goodness are they expensive when you consider they actually charge tax and shipping (hey, I'm spoilt!).  They also use some weird metric system for sizing so you almost have to have some of their clothing to make a good guess as to what size to order next time.  Rose is this bitty little thing, but she is wearing size 140 and it barely fits.  According to their size chart, Woodjie is wearing something that would fit a 13-year-old.  He's eight. 

Bleach "Miracle" Cure Seller Convicted.

It's amazing that some parents actually make their kids drink bleach in the hopes of curing their autism.  I've seen the pictures of bits of intestine these little children have passed with their fecal matter.  It's horrifying.  So there is some good news released today by the Justice Department that at least one person marketing this crap has been convicted for selling "Miracle Mineral Solution" using false claims:

"The government presented evidence that (Louis Daniel) Smith instructed consumers to combine MMS with citric acid to create chlorine dioxide, add water and drink the resulting mixture.  Chlorine dioxide is a potent agent used to bleach textiles, among other industrial applications.  Chlorine dioxide is a severe respiratory and eye irritant that can cause nausea, diarrhea and dehydration.  Smith provided instructions for use of his product including that nausea, diarrhea and vomiting were all signs that the miracle cure was working."

Hopefully former consumers of this product are getting the help they need.

29 October 2015

Virtual Charter Students Learn Less!

A new Stanford study says so!

Yeah, right.

Ok, first off?  You can't measure "learning" by the state test.  And then?  You can't compare some hypothetically average student (made by comparing all state scores into some weird amalgam "average") to a kid in the charter.  You'd need to compare that student to the students in the public school which he'd attend ordinarily.

Also?  I could have a freaking brilliant teen who hates school and is ready to drop out.  Let's pretend hypothetically for a moment that he "learns less" in the charter.  The charter is still in my opinion a wild success if it keeps the child from becoming a hobo without a degree.  My little hobo?  Will have a degree, darnit!

Lies, damn lies and statistics.  Responses on the Joanne Jacobs blog were pretty skeptical as well.  Interestingly, Jay P. Greene has come out with an article showing that virtual schools in Arizona far outperform traditional brick and mortar schools in that particular state.  That's at least closer to comparing apples to apples.

My scientific conclusion:  just do what works for your kid.  Caveat emptor and all that.

28 October 2015

Maybe it Isn't You. Maybe the Questions are Messed-Up.

Virginia public school worksheet question posted on facebook.  Used with permission.

Wiggledy word problems don't do anything to help children reason and learn.  It isn't even really a math problem. 

So. There are 34 students in a given class.  Twenty of them do track and 18 jump rope.  How many do both?

I'm guessing 18 do both because 14 students don't feel like doing any work at all.

Additional questions in my head:

1.  Why is Tom even introduced?  Is he a gym teacher?  A child?  Who is Tom?

2.  Don't these people know anything?  One oughtn't begin a sentence with a number if it's at all avoidable.

3.  How many of the possible right answers are acceptable to the real teacher grading this assignment?


Royals Fever!

Royals Fans are Losing It for these Knitted *Ugly Christmas Baseball Sweaters* These will SELL OUT Early like they did...

Posted by Royals Fans on Friday, October 23, 2015

The pic above is some random ad that appeared on my facebook page. I thought it was... ugly.  I live just outside Kansas City and most people around town are now dressed in... stuff not much different from this. 

26 October 2015

Jesse James Farm!

Today we went to the Jesse James Farm and Museum in Kearney, Missouri.  This is Jesse James' boyhood home.  The museum features all sorts of James family items from the time period.  They also show a 20-minute movie about his life as part of the tour.  Guides bring small groups through the house itself, although we were unable to take pictures in the house or in the museum.

A view from the side of the house, with a cutaway showing some of the original construction.

A reconstruction of a nearby slave cabin on the farm.  There is no way to survive a hard winter in this structure; they would have had to have been in the house on the worst days.  The tour guide did say that both small family and slave children would sleep together in the loft in the upstairs part of the main house.

D being a goof and pretending to be "caught" in the reconstructed outhouse.

A large tree outside the farmhouse.  We thought it was interesting, so we took a picture of it.

The Frost Bible

Clearly, the publisher is trying to milk the hysteria surrounding the Frozen movie.  It's a Bible, folks.  No witches with super-frosty magical powers here!  I haven't run across Elsa and her little snowman friend, or anything even vaguely wintry in this book.  In fact, I don't think it snowed anywhere in the Bible at all.  Lemme know if you find a passage; that would be useful to look at during Christmas time because why not?

So that aside, it is a beautiful Bible for all the scripturally unrelated hype.  And if you have a little girl who likes snowflakes and wintry stuff and might like a Bible for Christmas?  This is your book, right here.

It's the International Children's Bible, a full 1312 pages and a hardcover book at that.  Hefty.  The suggested age range is from seven to ten, but I find it would be suitable for anyone who can read well, perhaps third grade and up.

I think calling it a "children's Bible" is not really a fair description.  It's true that some passages are explained or simplified, and there is a useful timeline included, but it truly is a Bible worthy of study and contemplation.  I found a little about this translation here if you are interested in reading more about it.

Aside from some glossy inserts instructing children how to pray and so forth, it's just an ordinary medium-sized Bible.  It comes with a cute little tote as well.  If you go to church with your Bible all the time, you know the Bible cover can cost as much as the Bible itself!  This tote is a handy (and free, really, since it comes with the book) solution to that problem. 

It comes wrapped up like this.
Perfect for toting to church!
 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

HUMAN DNA Found in Hot Dogs!

According to a USA Today report, it's in a "very small percentage" of hot dogs.  I'm not sure what that means.  Human DNA could be on my cheeseburger because someone touched the bun to pop it on the burger, or sliced my tomato.  How much DNA are we talking about?  If ground-up Chinese political prisoners turn out to be an integral part of the doggie, of course that's pretty barftastic.  If it's like, five skin cells from the factory worker on the assembly line, I have lots of other stuff to worry about.

23 October 2015

Dollarydoos: New Australian Currency!

"Due to global commodity prices plummeting, the Australian economy is struggling. That's why we need something to stimulate the Australian economy and that something is changing the name of the Australian currency to 'Dollarydoos'. This will make millions of people around the world want to get their hands on some Australian currency due to the real life Simpsons reference, driving up the value of the Australian currency." -- Petition on Change.org

It's actually gathered over 60,000 signatures!  Is yours next?


22 October 2015

Homeschooling Update!

I am too cheap to buy a textbook for each child to keep.  Woodjie reads all left-hand pages aloud, and Rose reads all pages on the right.
Emperor is plowing through his First Form Latin.  He has a list of 50 commonly used Latin verbs from the teacher at the local high school, and instructions to finish First Form Latin and a good deal of our Second Form Latin before entering high school as a freshman next year.  If he gets the four verb forms she wants finished, and does well on his NLE exam this year, no reason he can't begin a year ahead in Latin II as a full-time public high school student.  But it's a lot of work.  Emperor is taking it very seriously.

We multiplied fractions so we could mix pancake batter.
Woodjie and Rose have really been working hard on our spelling, but you wouldn't know it.  For some reason, both children are allergic to putting two m's in "hammer" or spelling "people" correctly.  We've been on the same word list for a month but I don't feel ok about moving on until it's mastered, ya know? 

We're also reading Farmer Boy as part of our studies.  Today, the little children got to hear about sheep-shearing.

We're working on finishing their History curriculum, and we'll probably be finished next week.  Yes, it's a bit early in the school year but 1. we work all summer and 2. I just let Science totally go.  I can only rotate so many subjects in a day and... pff, forget it.  We'll do Science studies after we finish our History, have a field trip and an end-of-subject party.  We finished one of our ten LIFEPACs ages ago.  Only nine more to go! 

Fingers crossed we get round to taking a fun field trip and can share pics with you soon.  :)

21 October 2015

Only Selfish People Would Skip Church.

Because obviously, there can't be another reason.

Articles like this are rathermuch like a thin person writing, "Fat people are just selfish and eat too much!" Well, maybe a good number are and do. But maybe it's a little more complex than that for a large minority of obese folks. People would do well to know more about someone before making a pronouncement like that. 

 I think I'd rather be called selfish than hang out with a blowhard like the writer. That saves me two hours every Sunday and Wednesday I could be doing other things.  I'm thinking cleaning the mould out of the crevices of my shower brings more glory to God, thanks.  :)

20 October 2015

Buy Now!

Source:  Homeschool Snark Shark.

My New Low-Carb Diet

If you have diabetes, pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, not only is what you eat important, but how much and when.  The goal is to get your blood sugar manageable and with as few large spikes as possible throughout the day.  So that means that starving all day and eating a pizza at night with your buddies, even if you are staying under your total daily allowances?  Is a bad, bad idea.  Long-term, you're going to hurt yourself like that.

So.  It's a real lifestyle change because you're eating smaller meals, not the big ol' sit-down, "let's talk for three hours over dinner" type of dining. And you must take a break from your work routine to eat at regular intervals, even if it seems other things around you are far more important or urgent at that moment.  That's way harder than it sounds, and I stay home all day and do "nothing," ok? But smaller meals spaced throughout the day, along with an overall diet low in carbohydrates is going to help you stay healthy long-term.

My endocrinologist would like me to eat 40 - 45 grams of carbohydrates per meal.  I use the fatsecret.com website to enter in foods and it keeps track of carbs for me.  I do this before I eat or in the planning stages at this point.  I am still new at this and am not a good estimator of what is an acceptable meal.

So I'll give just one example, with my heaviest meal:  a cup of coffee with cocoa mixed in, and two eggs and two slices of cheese in a tortilla is 650 calories and 50 g of carbs.  A mite over the goal, but still pretty good.  For a snack later on, I might have a yogurt with 13 g of carbs and about 100 calories.   Steaks and that sort of thing are lower in carbs.  Any sort of really yummy foods like frosting, pizza, bakery breads and the like are super-high in carbs.

It's almost a good rule of thumb that if it's something you really like, it's got a buncha carbs in it.  Though sometimes reading the calorie and carb content of some foods will send you into shock.  Before I was diagnosed as insulin resistant, I had been drinking all these juice smoothies and going, "Why am I so tired and unable to lose weight?"  Ok, bingo.  Now we know.  That "healthy" fruit stuff is bad for me in large quantities.
1/10 of this measly cake mix - without the frosting - has 35 stinkin' grams of carbs.  Fuhgettaboutit. 
My whole life is different now.  And not in a good way.  Or a bad way.  It's a really mixed bag, this new medication and diet routine.  On the one hand, I don't like counting all my foods and measuring things - it takes out so much spontaneity.  But then again?  I'm finally losing weight, and eating about the same amount as before.  I'm just choosing foods with fewer carbs.

Later this week, I will share an "as seen on TV" product I ordered online to help me do this diet and give a review.  'Till next time, if you have a great low-carb food that works for you, pop it in the comments!  Or just pop me a comment.  I'd love to hear from you.

Disclaimer:  I'm not a doctor, and if you are relying on a homeschool blog for medical advice you are officially a sad, sorry person.  I say lots of interesting stuff, but go chat with your physician about it, willya?  Thanks.

19 October 2015

Don't Eat That.

Whenever I would ask about my doctors and other specialists about my high "normal" fasting blood sugar, I'd get a pat on the head and an, "it's normal, buh-bye!" sort of response.  My new endocrinologist does not play that.  I've now been diagnosed with "insulin resistance" and been prescribed metformin and a low-carb diet.

Which, those are nasty, fish-smelling horse pills, but I'm doing this.

I'm juuuust a smidge in the "normal" range but very close to being diagnosed as a prediabetic.  Of course further up the scale is the diabetic.  You know, where you get to prick your finger and squeeze blood everywhere 88 times a day, give yourself shots like a crazy junkie, and have to listen to ads by Wilford Brimley.  Not where I want to wind up.

Previously, I gained insane amounts of weight on a diet.  Apparently having hypothyroidism and insulin resistance will do that to you.  Now?  I have finally, finally lost 10 pounds.  Looking forward to losing the next 40 so I can be in the normal range.  Honestly, I don't know if that will ever happen.  When I was younger and walked six miles and ate 1500 calories a day, I was still one pound in the overweight category.  Doctors told me not to worry about it.  But they still logged me down as overweight.  Rules or something.

I hate those BMI charts!  I am still obese.  Another seven pounds?  And I will just be "overweight."  Like the rest of America! 

SO sometime later, I'll post on eating a low-carb diet.  It is not the crazy Atkins thing you're thinking where people go into total renal failure and die or anything like that.  It's still pretty hard, though.  You can't just save up all your calories and snarf a pizza at the end of the day.  Bummer, it just doesn't work that way.


18 October 2015

The Beginner's Bible: A Christmas Celebration

When this book came up for review, I snapped it up right away.  I also bought an extra copy because I knew from reviewing this ZonderKidz series in the past that it was going to be a good one, and I wanted to be sure both of my smallest children had their own.  The Christmas Celebration Sticker and Activity Book didn't disappoint.

It's a fun gift you'll want to put into little hands this Christmas season, or for the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I could easily see this sticker book occupying a small child during a Christmas service.  

The same sort of happy, simple pictures your children have come to appreciate in the other activity books is in this one as well.  It features activities such as "helping" the shepherds find the Baby Jesus, find the difference, colouring and place the sticker where it belongs games.  It's 16 pages long and super-glossy.

It's definitely a religious text.  You won't find Christmas trees or Santa or anything like that.  Doctrinally, I don't know of any female angels, but I can't say there aren't any God didn't bother to tell us about.  I also seriously doubt Mary was eating Swiss cheese at the time the angel came to call on her, but ok.  (When it comes to Bible stuff,  I get a little more picky.  Sorry.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

14 October 2015

Crazytown Chronicles: Bullying is Good for Autistic Children!

Crayyy-zee.
It's a perk, even.  It increases your child's "life skills," encourages creative problem solving, helps build healthy relationships... the list just goes on and on! 

"With your help, your child can take a negative force and turn it into a positive experience!" writes Karen Kabaki-Sisto.  Her article proudly states that she's been "helping" her clients for well over 20 years!  Yippee!

Next week, maybe she can discuss how torture is pretty doggone great.  I mean, think of all the lessons in perseverance and good character one can learn from all that.

Go to the Carnival!

Here's one of the longest-standing homeschool blog carnivals on the internet.  This month my buddy A. Hermitt has set up the rides and is running the cotton candy booth, so you'll want to pop on over and check out all the posts!  Meet new people!  Read new ideas!  That sort of thing. 

Do you want one of your posts published in the next carnival?  Directions for submissions are right here.

12 October 2015

Men in Women's Bathrooms


What's your thoughts on this? #prop1 #vote
Posted by Majic 102.1 on Friday, October 9, 2015


Actually, I don't have a problem with it.  Do you know how hard it is to have an older autistic child who cannot go into the bathroom with you?  And yet, he's independent to the point where taking him to one of those single-toilet-and-sink "family" restrooms is too much of an invasion of his privacy (and mine, if I need to go).

What I do have a problem with is stalker, rapist-y men hiding out in the women's bathroom, and then pretending they're suddenly having an identity crisis if and when they're confronted.

In my opinion, the whole "let transgender people use the restroom of the gender they identify with" argument isn't even about transgender people.  Because guess what.  Truly transgender people make a pretty big effort to pass and you're probably not going to know.  It's not a lifestyle I agree with, but I'm just saying.

I think it's more about expectations of privacy and decorum.  Our culture may be changing, but many of us are uncomfortable enough trying to poop when there is a one-inch gap between the partitions in the stalls, and about a foot and a half near everyone's feet.  It's hard enough to try to get "stuff done" when toddlers peeping under the stall can see you.  We'll all hold it in and die if actual regular guys could see us dispose of our used sanitary products (thanks for the image? you're welcome).

So.  If we're changing things, how can we assure people they have a reasonable expectation of privacy and safety?  Because 1. I don't think transgender people are going away, and 2. I don't think it's unreasonable that we feel safe and have at least a reasonable amount of privacy in the bathroom.

11 October 2015

Outdoor Time!

My three youngest with a woolly caterpillar they found.
This is the time of year we take plenty of field trips and spend time out of doors.  Pretty soon, it will be too cold to do so comfortably.

The children have hunted up little bugs and worms in the yard and they're patiently waiting for the leaves to turn.  (It hasn't happened yet!)

We're also making liberal use of the Nerf guns I got for super-cheap on one of those Amazon flash sales.  Loaded up on foam bullets as well.  I keep them all in a large plastic Cheez-Ball container by the front door near the bubbles.  This way when it's time to play, we can grab stuff and go! 




05 October 2015

Homeschooling Woodjie.

Woodjie will be nine in about two months and he's autistic.  If he were in public school, he would be in third grade.  I'm showing you some of his best, most neat work.  He really works hard in homeschool.  I accept his best job, certainly, and I do try going over the answers with him and doing corrections.  I always want to encourage him.

It bothers his little sister Rose a bit that she has to do harder work, and more of it.  But I make a great effort to give them assignments that would take about the same amount of time.  Often I will have one child do Reading or English while the other plays Timez Attack or chess on the computer.


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...