29 January 2016

Rights of Religious Minorities

Muslim leaders from all over the world gathered together recently in Marrakech, Morocco, for a historic declaration on promoting the rights of religious minorities in Muslim countries.  Text

28 January 2016

Happy Birthday, Rose!

The little old lady is eight now!

Parents Blame Lack of School for Messy House

I swear I can't make stuff like this up.  Parents are whining that school being called off due to "Snowzilla" somehow resulted in kids making huge messes that they didn't clean.  Pictures are included with the article.

Sheesh.  Kids make messes.  Houses are messy when there are more than four people and their snow gear about.  Mittens, hats and scarves need to be out constantly, drying.  That's just life with snow. 

But calling doing a bit of house tidying after the kids you failed to inspire to help a "Herculean" task?  Oh, please.

Speak American... ish.

There are sooo many dopey videos out there, but I just. can't. stop. laughing. at this one!  Just lookit the fella's face as he's listening to her talk!  I'm dying here!


What are these American kids learning in school 󾌴󾌴󾌴󾌴󾌴󾌴󾌴

Posted by The Wall of Comedy on Sunday, December 6, 2015


27 January 2016

Schools to Investigate Students, Assign Case Managers

 

A school social worker "would communicate with everyone... from the soccer coach and the pediatrician to the youth minister, to develop a complete picture of the student’s needs" under a Connecticut proposal to extensively evaluate all special needs and prospective homeschool students. Newtown School Superintendent Joseph Erardi expressed hope that this extensive data-collection and reporting system be implemented nationwide.
 
My take on it:

School officials are worried about another horrific shooting happening again.  I have older children in public schools and I worry, too! 

But they failed with Adam Lanza, not the homeschool community*.  I won't say that if the school did everything right, that 27 innocent people would not have died.  I'm not saying that.  I'm just saying they failed.  They admit as much when they get 'round to being honest.  We never will know what would've/ could've happened if everyone did things differently.  But what I am saying is that the answer isn't to investigate everyone with a mental health or special needs diagnosis, as well as all homeschoolers.

Why?

Well, first off, people have rights.  It should be obvious, but people forget after something like this happens.  If we're talking of students who haven't been suspended on multiple occasions for violent offenses, or who have not brought deadly weapons to school, it's simply not a reasonable jump to investigate their private lives uninvited. 

And second, how much is this really going to cost?  Calculate how much the paperwork and the investigations would cost with staff time, building costs and computer systems and updates.  It isn't "free" as the article implies.  Even if one were to surmise that they had the staff anyway, that's staff time that could be used on other projects or eliminated to save taxpayer funds.  

The "if it saves just one child" argument can be stretched too far, and has been here.

I think a better course of action would be to propose to offer certain services to families whose children have been suspended for violence or who meet certain worrisome criteria.  Pass a budget that will actually fund real help, not some data tracking system with family and community interviews.  Families often ask for help when they need it.  Nancy Lanza begged for help and the school failed her and every person who died in that shooting.  Is the school going to provide real help next time, or will they be too busy collecting data for their computer system to listen?












*Public schools do not award diplomas to homeschoolers.  Adam Lanza was not even a homeschooler.  He did public school at home.  It shouldn't matter but right now, politically, it does.

24 January 2016

Crazy Comment Monday!

"The Illuminati is a group of massive successful entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, politicians and other high-ranking social place-holders. We are taking over the world in the near future. Imagine being able to alter your world in the areas of Love, Money, Career, Sexual Intimacy, Bad Karma, HIV cure, and Will Power! Imagine being able to bring back lost lovers, make someone sexually attracted to you, bring good luck to others, lose weight, stop smoking, get a promotion or raise, or simply come into big money... Become a full Multi-billionaires by joining the Great Illuminati.  Benefits $100,000 weekly and $500,000 monthly as membership blessing for becoming a member of the great Illuminati. With this all your dreams and your heart desire can be fully accomplish.  For more information on how to become a member add me up or inbox me!"

Ooops.  Somehow I'm not including his/her name and linking back.  You will never be able to earn $500,000 monthly and it's all my stinkin' fault.  I wonder how many people really answer?  I found this one in the comments section of a comparison of political candidates' polling numbers.

23 January 2016

Is Being a Pain in the Butt a Constitutional Right?

Apparently.  Going up to people's private homes, interrupting their family time and launching into some cult-y spiel is a protected religious activity.  The obnoxious Seventh-Day Adventists are suing the city of White Hall, Arkansas.  They claim having to pay a small registration fee for a permit before soliciting "levees an unfair tax" on the group.

Know what?  I'd like for cities to pass rules that unless you have an established relationship with the homeowner or you're delivering the mail?  You should stay away.  I don't want to buy anything from some weirdo I don't know, and I'm certainly not gonna change my religious allegiance because of a rehearsed speech given by a 20-year-old new convert who showed up at my house uninvited.

But my real concern, honestly?  Is people casing the house.  Once some guy came over and started asking obnoxious questions about how many children lived here and how old they were.  I told him to get the hell off my property and as he's leaving he's marking down that he sees a trike on my porch.

I'm sorry, but that's creepy!

Hey, I'm all for free speech.  And even for obnoxious speech (as these Adventists and the Mormons are wont to do).  Just not at my house, uninvited.  Go away, get off my lawn, and all that.



Jesus Today: Devotions for Kids

"I am in control and I am Good.  These two wonderful truths tell you who I AM.  When you look at the world and all its troubles, it is sometimes hard to believe that both of these things can be true at the same time."

Goodness, hard times, cultivating a life of prayer and keeping hope in God - just a few of the real-life issues tackled by Sarah Young in Jesus Today.  It's a daily Bible study for children with numbered entries, so kids can start any day of the year, or miss a day and not feel "behind."  Each devotion gives a small blurb about God's character and often several corresponding Bible verses. 

It's a solid introduction to God's character that would go well with regular and more systematic Bible-reading.  It's a mini-book sized hardcover with glossy pages and nice type.  I'd recommend it for children ages 7- 10.

I've read through the whole book on my own and now Woodjie, Rose and I are starting to read an entry before schoolwork each weekday.  It would make a cute gift for birthdays or a baptism present for a smaller child.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this set 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.”

15 January 2016

Buying a Class Ring!

So.  Elf is a high school sophomore and it's time to buy a class ring.  The folks at Josten's sent  home packet complete with ring sizers and glossy brochures and stuff like that.  The deal we've had with our children is that we will pay for the most basic model and if they want something different, they can pay whatever difference in cost there would be.

Wittenberg, class of 1992!
Ehm... prices even on the basic stuff have more than doubled since we bought rings for Patrick and G.  We're talking rings that are made out of stuff no more precious than an aluminum can and a bit of glass going for $250.  If you want the most basic model in 14K gold, we're talking over $1500 with tax.

Here's a link to a high school ring website so you can see what's out there.  For privacy purposes, I'm not linking my son's public high school.  This is the high school I attended about 100 years ago.  Anyway, go "build" a ring and have fun on the website.  Actually, I have two class rings from Josten's and they're still great years and years later.  I spent $550 on this one from Wittenberg University.  My mother about fainted when she saw what I paid for it.  Today, a ring with those customizations is closer to $2,000 - something I certainly can't afford today.  The kids should have hit me up when I was in college.

Elf took a look at Patrick's basic model high school ring and decided silver wasn't really worth the extra $130 it would take to upgrade.  Just to compare things, we decided to go look at Wal-Mart and Elf wound up getting a ring from them with an engraving for about half the cost.  I hope it winds up looking nice and that Elf is happy with it.

13 January 2016

Building a Better Student

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."  Proverbs 22:6

Used to be "eyes on the teacher" was good enough and if you could get away with passing notes and that sort of thing during class?  You felt quite clever indeed. But the computer doesn't turn around to write on the board or help another student. The computer can now track everything about your kid with new technology and webcams. All the resulting data is kept somewhere.

Education Week mentions that there are privacy concerns, but fails to interview anyone about them except some school administrator who (God bless him!) would probably sell the kids and their data up the river for a nickel if it improved test scores.

The science on electronics and instruction is evolving, however.  Recently, NPR came out with an article claiming that some so-called "educational" toys could be counter-productive for younger children.  It would be interesting to see an independent study about the effects of computers and learning for older elementary students and/ or teens.


12 January 2016

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

(Your book won't be as nicely decorated when it arrives.)

The children have times where they read aloud, but I read Farmer Boy aloud to them.  Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote this book about her husband Almanzo's childhood in the 1860's, and Memoria Press has compiled a lovely companion workbook that helps children retain what they're hearing and learning about in the story.

We're going through the story rather slowly and spending a fair bit of time on some of the concepts, so you might get through this book much more quickly.  It's meant to be done at a third grade level, but I'd say it's more an "end of third grade/ start of fourth" sort of book.

Most of the workbook simply encourages the child to find the answer (or a reasonably good guess) in the text; I wouldn't recommend getting a teacher guide for this, although they sell one.
Woodjie's work.  Colouring is what they call a "non-preferred activity" for him, but he was pretty inspired!  Looking at this page makes me so, so proud.  Not just for the work's sake, but that he was excited about the story.

Rose would like to show you her penmanship.  She will be eight in two weeks.

What Would Jesus Post?

"You only get one hat online. Make sure it’s one you want to be seen wearing." -  Brian D. Wassom

 

What Would Jesus Post is no smarmy oversweet lecture from Gramma about keeping your cleavage tucked in when you take a selfie (which... you should!).  If I had to sum it all up, it'd be about thinking before posting.  Simple as.

But what Wassom is doing in this book by WestBow Press is giving you tools to do just that.  Think about what sort of person you want to be like online.  Consider the impact of your words and whether you're posting something that's really "you."  His seven principles for healthy internet living are far more specifically useful than "be nice and remember Jesus is watching."

Consider your political posts.  Consider the effect what you say has on your audience.  In short, "we should always talk to people like we want them to come to heaven with us."

The e-book version is only a few bucks on Amazon and I'd recommend it if it's an area in which you find yourself struggling.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this set 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.”




NIV Beautiful Word Bible

Definitely a girly Bible for someone who loves to doodle or take notes!  It has super-wide lined margins interspersed with illustrated verses.  It's pretty interesting, too, because they're not always the happy verses you'd expect to be illustrated.  Some of the more sad or sorrowful verses are also detailed.  The artwork is really very lovely and adds interest without distracting from the text.  The folks at Zondervan did a great job!

It's a bit smaller than I expected.  I've popped a triple-weight tournament king on the book to show you.  The book is very portable, so this is definitely easy to take to church or out and about on vacation and so forth.  I do wish they'd make Bible posters in the same style for teen girls and young adults, because the verses are done in such a creative and fun way.  I'd almost say whimsical, but we're talking of Bibles here and "whimsy" probably doesn't go well.

If you prefer writing to drawing, you could take sermon notes in the margins and just not take a church bulletin each week.  Is it just me, or do those seem like a tremendous waste of paper?  Do announcements and post everything on the church website, people!  Save a tree.

There is also a King James and New King James version available from the same publisher.  Expensive, but I'd rate it five stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this set 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.”


10 January 2016

Sometimes

I might be a little overly enthusiastic about my pottery.  Here's a recent "I just left for work but I made sure to put this right where I knew you'd find it" note from my husband...

Singapore Primary Mathematics, Grade Four

Woodjie loves Pokemon! 
Woodjie and Rose have just begun Singapore Mathematics Grade 4!  We have the US Edition, which is not aligned with the Common Core standards.  (Because why do that to a child if you're bothering to homeschool?)

Singapore Math comes with a semester-long textbook and a workbook for each student.  Right now, they're beginning Singapore Math 4A and when they are finished with that, it'll be time for 4B.  It will take us a fair while to get through the books because most of it is not busywork.  It's teacher-intensive and often needs a bit of explaining and classroom practice to be done well.

Usually I'll teach the concept from the textbook and go over the problems in the text with the children (using my dry erase board and bad drawings), and then allow them to do the workbook exercise on their own. 


 Often Singapore Math will encourage you to work differently with your child.  For example, in our lesson on place value, we actually got Post-It notes out and broke down the number 68,974 into 60,000 and 8,000 and so on.  I stuck the numbers on top of one another so the children could see that the "7" is really "70."  That's what the exercise is about; recognising that each part of a number has its own value.

I'd highly recommend this curriculum for parents who want to actively teach their children each lesson themselves.  If you're interested, I've reviewed it in a bit more detail previously when I used it to teach Emperor and Elf.

Wow, that was ages ago...

07 January 2016

Just a Quickie News Story

Now people can "lobby" politicians in all sorts of disgusting ways if a proposed Missouri state law passes.  Yep, sex with politicians in order to convince them to vote on your pet project will be okie-dokie as long as said "gift" is disclosed to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

Only thing is, politicians will need a receipt for... you know, proof and stuff.

Unfortunately for every comedian in the free world, said gifts do not need a dollar amount specified.

I'm so glad that our state doesn't have any other problems like unemployment, terrible roads, homelessness or drug addiction to be addressed, and we can worry about who's doing what to whom and whether they get a receipt for it.

Yay for MO state legislators!  Representing us in... interesting ways I suppose.  (You clicked the link because you thought I made this up, didn't you?)

04 January 2016

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries



So cute!  Imagine Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice story set in modern times and vlogged by Lizzie Bennet. 

Fun Stuff!

 It's half-price Christmas candy time!  I bought a bunch of candy canes and softened them in the microwave on parchment paper.  Then the children shaped them, waited for them to harden, and gobbled them up with lunch.

We found that 23 seconds worked the best for us.  Too little, and the canes will break when you go to bend them.  Too long, and the candy canes will be nothing but liquid.  We also tried doing this in the stove (disaster). 

It's also time to make mega-batches of Christmas cookies!  I know what you're saying.  "Why now?  Why not at... Christmas?"  Well?  Woodjie had a cold and I get pickety about germy kids touching food everyone's going to be eating.  


02 January 2016

Checkmate (Novel)

I don't want to give the entire plot away, but Joseph Sheridan LeFanu's novel, Checkmate, will have you on edge after you get into the story.  

I don't think you'll know for sure what's going on until the very end, at which point you'll kick yourself. And that is the point at which you will realise why this book was never made into a movie - you are reading this book as a modern reader THROUGH the eyes of someone of the times in which the novel is set. 

A modern movie viewer would see right through it, but reading as though one were part of the story, it's hard to discern what's going on.  I found myself very drawn to these characters, as they are described so well.

It's free on Amazon if you have a kindle, and if you don't?  You can set up an Amazon account and download an app for your PC and read it on your computer.

Thinking of Homeschooling? A Teacher Prep List.

There are sooo many posts out there about what sort of curriculum to buy or what to say to the neighbour's cousin's best friend when she makes snippy remarks.  But I haven't seen many about what the homeschool teacher (that's YOU!) should do before embarking on this adventure.  So here goes:

MYTH:

"You're a mommy and somehow that means God is going to give you everything you need to be the super-dee-dooper best teacher everrrr!"

FACT:

It's a big step, even to think seriously about homeschooling.  It does take time and it does take work if you want to do this well.  No teacher is ever going to love your child as you do, so therefore with effort there is no reason you can't do a great job (assuming basic literacy and all that, but then... you're reading this).

Here's my list of ideas for homeschool parent training/ preparation:

1.  Ounce of Preparation.  Bla bla bla.


Do you hate teaching or doing your kid's homework with him?  Does the sight of a reading log made you want to scream?

Good!  This is a good sign.  I promise.  The homework the public school sends home is total and utter crap, taught in the most back-assward manner possible.  That you hate it?  Means there is hope for you.  Rejoice!

Find something you like at your kid's level, that you want to teach?  And you are pretty much ready right there.

2.  Phone a friend.  Get a mentor.


Take a look at the blogs of public school teachers.  Do they have bad days or weeks?  Ohhh, you betya.  And you can see their friends commenting with some encouraging thoughts or ideas on how to handle things next time.  Having friends and mentors keeps you balanced and either helps you get the perspective that this, too, shall pass... or inspires you to do things differently.

3.  Teacher Training!  


So you can't attend the same workshops as the teacher at the school up the road.  (That is probably a good thing, but that's another post.)  But you can go to a workshop at a homeschool convention, or you could watch a youtube video about a given concept.  Caveat:  not all of these are of good quality.  I've never personally gone to the "how to be godly while doing laundry" sorts of workshops near me.

4.  Pitch What's Not Working.


Sometimes there's much to be said for following through with commitments, sticking to a curriculum and learning from it even if it isn't your fave, and so on.  But you know when that line's been crossed a while ago.  Trust yourself.

5.  Love your job. 


Kids in public school can tell which teachers were just a few years from retirement, who's the alcoholic that calls in "sick" or needs a "personal day," and who just doesn't flipping care.  Yeah.  I'm looking at you, "Mrs. Perry" of 11th grade English.  We all knew your need for water during class time was a total joke.  How you kept your job when you reeked of booze is beyond me.

Anyway, if you want your children to be as excited about learning in fifth grade as they were in Kindergarten?  Much of that is up to you.

Happy teaching!

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...