30 June 2008

My Cat's Home Hair-Do


The cat kept leaving big, matted snarls about the house. She kept barfing up fur-balls. Once she even got poop caught in her fur, which we discovered after she rolled all over everything. She's older and doesn't groom herself as well as she used to. See my flip-flops on the floor? I can't bend down and pick them up without injuring myself. Usually I am very picky about the shoes going into the bins the SECOND they are removed. I like my floors clean. Do you like the job D did on the cat? He has officially saved us $45 by using our home haircut system (retail: $17) on our cat. We've saved boodles of money by doing the boys' hair with this system as well. Yup, all the cat fur and boy hair is all mixed up and done with the same kit. It isn't as gross as you think, because right after their haircuts, of course the boys will shower and/or bathe. No-one wants little hairs sticking to themselves, be they the cat or human variety. My kitchen is still a little fluffy and will need another going over in a moment after the fur settles.

Introducing... News and Etc.!

www.newsnetc.blogspot.com

OK, I finally got around to posting a news entry on this blog I had kicking around forever. For "family" and "homeschool" news, stick around here. For strange interpretations of news events and political discourse, pop on over to the news blog.

Woodjie Pumpkin


Little Woodjie Pumpkin has been pretty well ignored this past week. Well, I shouldn't say "ignored." More like, not taken out to play much. (I can't lift him to put him anywhere if he runs away or gets into trouble, etc.) Not given time with his therapists. His signing practice hasn't been attended to very well. We were concentrating on keeping everyone alive and in good health over the last week, and probably the next. He is still not talking. Am I going to chronicle every photo I put of this child on the blog with "he is still not talking?" I don't want to give up and not mention it any more. I don't want it to be the only thing I think about him. But it is important to me. He wants to be understood. I am sorry I can't do more to help him.

Prayer

Elf, Emperor and I were playing the "Trouble" game the other night. Elf was losing badly and started to pray to God, to please, PLEASE help him win! I, being a supportive and loving parent, cackled wildly at the idea and then had a discussion with him about how we save prayer for important things. Elf did NOT understand and redoubled his efforts, complete with his arms lifted in worship and praised God quietly with some extra pleaseplease pleeeeease added for extra effect. He told me the game was really important to him.

He lost anyway, though.

I guess I should be praying a prayer of thankfulness that the most pressing thing in this child's life at the moment was whether he'd win this game. He doesn't realize how his mom could have died had we put off this surgery too long (it was only after I was "out" that they realized how terribly bad things were!!) or how some children didn't get to eat that night. He doesn't get it.

29 June 2008

No More Babies?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29Birth-t.html?ex=1215403200&en=e59465d5cf651905&ei=5070&emc=eta1

I'm starting to think with this surgery and various other (thankfully non-life-threatening) problems that the baby factory might just be shutting down. I find myself completely OK in giving baby stuff away. Mind you, if I were to turn up pregnant tomorrow, aside from my husband asking a few very detailed questions (like WHO, because with surgery it hasn't happened this "month") I'm sure we'd all do just fine with another child and the kid would be well-loved. We're just not planning on another. We're not doing anything drastic, but we're not planning on another.

So it is with great interest that I am reading about "small" families around the world. You know, compared to all my friends on the MOMYs board, I have a medium to small-size family. Compared to the folks in some parts of Europe, it looks like I have an alarmingly large rabbit-warren for a house. 'Tis all relative.

But apparently there are social and demographic factors that make women "decide" to have more or fewer children. Now, 300 years ago, you were (usually!) married and then you could "decide" to have the children you became pregnant with or decide to go for a risky abortion, infanticide or adoption. Today, we get to "decide" if we want to bother becoming parents at all!

It sure sounds like the glamourous life; both "partners" working with plenty of money to spend at the theatre and on L'Oreal makeup. No children to demand time off from the workforce or money for braces. Uninterrupted dinners. Trips on a whim. A small vehicle. A clean vehicle. No smelly poopie diapers, ever.

But what if lots and lots of other people made the same decision? On the plus side, restaurants and travel companies make a lot more money. Ditto jewelry-makers and artists. Orchestra players. Brillo pad makers (rich people don't re-use Brillo pads; did you know that?). On the minus side economically, fewer public school teachers and diaper sales.

Fast forward fifty years. Who's paying the taxes that supports these high-livin' people in the nursing homes when the jet-setting stops, the money runs out, and they qualify for aid? That's what Europe is facing.

I s'pose that the Europeans could fling open the doors to their neighbours and let lots of immigrants in. Trouble is, most of these immigrants are going to have several children and jobs that don't lend themselves to big money rolling in to the state coffers. That little tidbit wasn't really gone into in any great detail in the article, though it's true. Here in America, I'm against illegal immigration not only for cultural and law-abiding reasons, but for the simple fact that most of these folks arriving are willing to accept low wages and change the "going rate" for certain jobs. From the article:

The issue of immigration is related to “lowest low” [fertility rate per woman] as well. The fears on the right are of a continent-wide takeover by third-world hordes — mostly Muslim — who have yet to be infected by the modern malady called family planning and who threaten to transform, if not completely delete, the storied, cherished cultures of Western Europe. And to venture into even-deeper waters, no one knows how Europe’s birthrate might play out globally: whether it will contribute to the diminishing of Western influence and Western values; whether, as Steyn’s book title suggests, America will have to go it alone in this regard.

YIKES! The idea of being inundated by Hispanic immigrants and their strange food preferences seems like a welcome thought in comparison. I have learned to say "taco" over the last several years. I have also figured out what a "burrito" and "nachos" are. Also that there is a difference between a "burro" and a "burrito."

OK, so these folks are Catholic, and they talk a little funny, but they're not quite as threatening as the thought of having my kiddo being friends with the likes of "Jihad." Yes, "Jihad" was really the name of one of the kids at Emperor's preschool. D forbade me from naming my next two kids "Crusader" to counteract this atrocity, however. Live and let live and all that, but "Jihad" is kinda a bit much.

Annnyway...

So some of the "solutions" to a baby shortage would be immigration and incentives. I know that personally, we had each and every one of our children only for the tax incentives. We know that all of Daddy's little deductions of a whopping $1,000 each pay way more than what we spend on each child. (*snort*) But can you imagine living in Norway with incentives like this...?

"The state guarantees about 54 weeks of maternity leave, as well as 6 weeks of paternity leave. With the birth of a child comes a government payment of about 4,000 euros. State-subsidized day care is standard. The cost of living is high, but then again it’s assumed that both parents will work; indeed, during maternity leave a woman is paid 80 percent of her salary. "

Wow. So... I just need to get a job. Have a kid. Work for a little bit. Next kid... I mean, think how wealthy I could be if I were like the Duggars??

I do understand the notion that I ought to generally stay out of your life and you ought to stay out of mine. But I do wonder at this whole notion that you can socially engineer a good society, whether it be with welfare for single moms or big kickbacks for babies born in a certain year.

The article also talks about how if a woman works, the man involved is MORE LIKELY to help out with childcare. The authors are emerging from some sort of drug trip, because that is NOT what I see going on here in the US. I can't imagine that men in Europe are wired much differently, can you? Sure, I can see where a working dad might be more likely to pick up his kid at school if Mom is working, but most of the housework -- let's not kid ourselves -- is going to be Mom's deal whether she works or not. And I know plenty of passive-aggressive men who "help" with the housework so inadequately that they can say they did it... but... they didn't, and then the Mom has to go redo everything... You know what I mean.

(BTW I am NOT talking about my husband, just to let you know. So happens his standards of cleanliness are a little lower than mine, but his standards of what constitutes a good meal for children are higher. It all evens out somewhere. I think we're a pretty good team most of the time when I'm not sitting on my bottom blogging because it hurts to stand and walk.)

I've talked enough. What do you think about the article? If you've stopped having children, is it for some reason other than menopause? Do you think the whole fertility thing is a "none of your business" area along the lines of how much money you make? Just askin'.

Childcare in Church.

A little bit ago on Cajunchick's blog, we were talking about "Children's Church" or the issue of nursery and childcare in church. I'm wondering why this has to be developing into such a big issue among more conservative Christians. I can think of 20 really GOOD, important things to fight about, should I be so inclined today.

*shrug*

Last I checked, your kid is your kid. Unless you're dropping your children off with known child molesters and sex pervs, how 'bout we lay off the criticism? Um, that goes both ways. When I feel I want my kids with me in church that should be OK. When I feel I want them to enjoy Childrens' Church, that should be OK as well. It's, like, what Childrens' Church is for.

In our particular situation, this is pretty well the ONLY time our children see other kids. So if they go off for a couple hours twice a week to play with other children, I feel overall that's a good thing. I was reading on another blog where a very upset woman wrote that because God gave the family sole care and responsibility for their children, it would be ALL THEIR FAULT if the kids got molested in church childcare. And is that two hours of "free" time in church worth it?

Think about that one.

I've heard similar arguments against sending kids to public school as well. (I'd be way more concerned about the liklihood of my kids being "converted" to secular humanism than being molested, though.) I'm not saying that I wouldn't struggle mightily with guilt if one or more of my children were molested in church childcare. I sure would! But if I NEVER let my kids out of my sight until they were 18 or so, I'd be making the social handicaps they have even worse than they already have to be.

Now, that's just my opinion. You go ahead and do whatever with your own kids and I promise (within reason) not to judge you for it.

For a Bit of Visual Interest


You can go to Obama's website and upload your very own gay pride button! It's perfect for everyone's blog!

Celebrity Endorsement Time!

OK, we've been hearing in the news about how McCain's former prison guard is now endorsing McCain. And this is relevant... how? Does it not bother you that this is being reported in the media? God forbid Hillary Clinton is raped, but later interviewing her rapist for a political endorsement is kinda more than disgusting. Do we need to know the opinions of people who torture Americans? And do we really need tons of celebrity and near-celebrity endorsements every day?

How 'bout we get Britney Spears to be the next "Obama girl?" She can flash the crowds and do a little singing, crash a car or two and smooch some guy and shave her head. Oh, wait. That actually might help Obama get elected. No telling.

I really NEED to know which candidate Benji the dog and Morris the cat are endorsing this election. How about some celebrity mag put out a special edition with graphic pull-out "shopping in Monte Carlo" and "embarrassing wedgie" pictures, and a little write-up on each one telling us who we ought to vote for?

I got a call from "candidate Mike CARTERRRRR" on Friday. A recording telling me that "Missouri teachers are OVERWORRRKED and UNDERRRPAAAAID. A VOTE for CARTERRRRR" will assure this situation gets rectified and fast! Yay! Now I know who *not* to vote for. First, for buggin' me at home. Second, for giving me a buncha hoooey when we all know that public education takes a minimum of 25% of the state's budget. The money is there if all y'all politicians and their cronies stop stealing and/or wasting it.

Are there any celebrity endorsements you really WANT to know about? Here's my genuine list:

James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh - strategy, please?
Ron Paul
Leaders of Islamic countries - who do you like best so I can be sure NOT to vote for 'em?
LaRaza - same reason
NEA - same reason
Minutemen
Tony Blair

Um, I think that's everyone.

28 June 2008

Bzzz izzz izz zzizzz ZZizzz... zzBzzzizzz ZZ!




All day, I've been hearing this zzizz zzz bzzz izzz zzizzing. I thought maybe a bug was hanging out near the window. It was pretty constant. I kept waiting for the bug to just die or whatever. It's an older house, so we have lots of places where spiders and bugs congregate between the storm windows. It's nearly impossible to clean these windows properly and so in true American form, I just quit trying. Just pull those blinds shut and ignore that mess over there. Cuts out a decently nice view, though. D finally wondered what on earth that sound was and I told him. We pulled the blinds back and found a HUGE wasp nest and about a zillion wasps all buzzing about at the same time! Yikes! Then D sprayed while my job was to tap on the window and see if anything moved. Do you see the wasp nest in the upper left corner of the first picture?

Cute Girly Blog

http://www.shedoeshair.blogspot.com

Hairbows and other things to do with little girls' hair. S has two-inch long hair on top. Must peruse for more ideas besides "Pebbles" hairdo.

Thoughts on Spelling and Standardisation.

I'm watching a Drive Thru History video on Noah Webster. I've always found it readily apparent that when Americans way back when discussed things like Politicks and Historie, they could spell it any which way they wanted and no-one thought the worse of them. Today, however, thanks to the standardization of spelling, you can't write things however you want and expect People to think that you are well-educated.

Actually, it bothers me. It has for some time. Catherine asked me a while back why I sometimes write words like "labour, colour" and other words with obviously English spelling. Yet I don't write "gaol," nor yet "programme and centre" as the spelling of choice with these words. Part of the time it's because I like the English spelling of some words better than others. Part of the time it's because I like the American spelling of some words better than others. Part of the time it's because I've thought a fair bit on this issue and think that life oughtn't be dictated by the AP Stylebook or the MLA methods of documentation or what-have-you. And who died and made these folks God? Yes, I had a reasonably high GPA at an expensive liberal arts college, yet I deliberately "misspell" words.

I don't find myself to be a conspiracy theorist, but I do wonder why we all of us seem to be colluding together on the spelling issue. Were I an employer reviewing a business application with very poor spelling, I'm sure it would colour my judgement. Isn't that wrong of me? And yet, it could be a real spelling Maverrick who has carefully crafted his resume to reflect that he would be a Value-able member of our creative business community.

Do you home-schoolers, home schoolers or homeschoolers teach your children spelling? I do. Elf commonly writes things like "dozz" for "does" in his free writing, and yet Emperor usually instinctively correctly spells words like "trachea." Elf is a creative and innovative writer when he wishes, and I wouldn't want his spelling to hold others back from taking him seriously.

27 June 2008

Package From New Zealand!




Everyone dove in on the goodies. I also got a kiwi tea towel and a wooden NZ magnet. Elf and Emperor ran away happily with a book and some "bugs" before I snapped this picture. We got postcards, a keychain, a puzzle, some books, little notebooks and bookmarks, candies and a baby bumblebee for the little ones. Thanks to the H family! It's strange timing indeed because I've been thinking of Chris all afternoon. She's had a routine surgery that went bad and is currently in the ICU. Chris and family, all our prayers are with you and your precious family today.

Patrick


OK, this picture is just a little old. It was taken in 1995 when he was almost three.

Cultural Relativism, Sex, and a Whole Lotta Other Thoughts.

So...

Here I am, after taking two Tylenol and half a wine cooler for pain (whooo... partyyy), thinking some odd thoughts. You know how that is. I've been reading on Eileen's blog about a marriage and subsequent divorce of a little girl:

http://elementaryteacher.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/how-could-this-child-marriage-have-happened-nujood-ali-10-year-old-yemeni-girl-who-got-a-divorce

She was eight when she was married. Apparently in some Middle Eastern countries, girls can commonly get married when they're young and have sex with their husbands when they are older:

"There is a a great MISPERCEPTION in the West that Middle Eastern men are pedophiles. This is not true for the great majority of Middle Eastern men, any more than it is in the West. Generally speaking, in the past, when some girls were married off at really young ages (like four or six), this did not mean they were living as a “wife.” They were growing up in that household, and sometime after puberty took up wifely duties."

The early age of marriage prevents a girl from getting into trouble on her own and losing her honour. It also helps the parents to be able to care for the other siblings in the home as having the daughter married off means one fewer mouth to feed. Apparently, usually these young girls are just brought up in the home of the fellow and are expected to have sex when they are older. Their relationship together would necessarily be unequal, with the man having a degree of authority and headship unusual to us here in the West.

Eileen also goes into a little about the protracted adolesences of the Middle Eastern male in her post about why young girls marry older men as well:

http://elementaryteacher.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/why-young-girls-marry-older-men-in-the-arab-world-and-in-other-traditional-societies/

I'd highly recommend reading her blog on a regular basis. Eileen is an American living overseas and I think able to "translate" some of the more unusual customs into terms you and I can understand. Mind you, that doesn't mean I AGREE with these customs. Please don't think that for even a milli-vanilli second. Just more that I can see some logic behind it.

And I see some logic behind it when I look at the absolute depraved CRAZINESS here in our own country. Oh, my word, what do you think men in the Middle East are thinking when they pick up their papers and read about pregnancy pacts, stars showing off their privates for little or no financial incentive and/or having babies as fashion accessories, and the general dress of women in our society?

I'm scared to death of ladies in the full-0ut burquas. I admit it. They kind of glide along like the Grim Reaper without the sickle and I want to literally scream and hide. I'm sure they dress that way to scare the crap out of innocent bystanders, because everyone knows that good old-fashioned "modesty" means covering your legs while your boobs are pushed up and made to hang out of a low-cut, tight dress with a corset. But in any event, it would be nice to see more modesty by almost any standard. It would be nice to see fewer American 13-year-olds getting pregnant and/or being offered birth control at their local school. There is a connection, you know. And by that I don't mean that "birth control" prevents pregnancies.

But anyway (what was I talking about? oh, yeah..), we like to get hepped up about news stories like this:

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=68074

Sex at nine? It's just fiiine because Mohammed said so. Plus it gives those young girls something to do besides cook dinner.

OK, a little wack. But with a bit of cultural relativism, it's something you'll be accepting and soon. We can accept little girls dressing like harlots, little girls being married at extremely young ages, and men sexually preying on little girls. Somehow we need to accept everything and anything and we're culturally biased if we don't. Um, and that includes some of the outrageous stuff going on in our own backyards as well. Live and let live, judge not and all.

But the fact of the matter remains that girls do grow up. What do we expect of them as they do, and what parameters are we REALLY placing on their behaviour and that of those who interact with them?

26 June 2008

Elf's Birthday Gift


I'm very glad that every year, my parents and D's just send me a check in the mail to select their gift. The children never get a gift they already have this way, and it saves on postage. This year I spent D's parents' money on a set of Spongebob books on sale at our grocery store. It was $20 for a set of about 15 books. They're very nice, hardcover books that the boys love reading over and over. I also bought two Spongebob Grammar wipe-off sets for less than one would cost at the local Office Max with my own money as well. It's actually an excellent treatment of the basic grammar concepts, with a Spongebob theme. The books I selected on his grandparents' behalf are actually well-written synopses of the cartoon episodes, complete with glossy pictures. Spongebob of late seems to be hit-or-miss, and we have missed the Spongebob movie altogether after a bad review in Plugged In Online. I'd recommend this set of books, though!

Update

Surgeon told me to quit taking everything but over-the-counter Tylenol. I'm in a fair bit of pain (worse when I try to sleep/roll over!!!) but I have managed to get that visit done as well as a mammogram. Advice: Get your mammograms done right after gut surgery when you have no pain medicine. The boob squashin' is just NOTHING on your other pain and in fact you'll hardly notice how they can contort your body in the evil breast vice. Let's see... what other bothersome things can I get done while I have all this "time off" with nothing to do and I'm in pain anyway? Dental surgery? Eyebrow tweezing? Ideas? Limited time only; the surgeon tells me I will feel better in "only" six weeks.

Playing


Every day, it seems Elf and Emperor MUST get out every toy they own. Then they must play with all the toys at once on the floor. They will incorporate drawings they've made into their play. They don't keep the little warrior men separate from the linking stars. It all goes together and whole worlds are created and put away each day.

Browsing

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2008/06/do-not-mock-oba.html#comment-120081424

I'm in a lot of pain. It's 3:30 in the morning and I've gone ahead and taken one of Patrick's old pills from his appendectomy. The surgeon (same surgeon for both operations)'s office told me I could take ONE. Yayy. Patrick weighs less than half what I weigh and HE got two. But I'm not going to dicker. At least I get 1/4 of what I ought to be able to have to control pain. Maybe they are more concerned I will be unable to go to the bathroom and have to be catheterized again? I'm having a very hard time, and in more pain than when I first woke up after the operation.

So my insights won't be loopy because of the drugs. I'm just in so much pain that it's hard to concentrate. Those sorts of mistakes aren't as funny as the loopy druggy ones. :] OK, at least to me, because I'm not wincing while typing the loopy ones.

Annnyway...

I was reading about the Obama smear site posting a fake birth certificate for Obama's birth. Personally I would have NO WAY of telling a fake from a real certificate, so I'll leave that for everyone else to argue over. I don't like him, but that also doesn't mean that I believe everything he says is a lie, either. Though the birth certificate thing might be true. You know what, though? John McCain is so old that I'd hate for his to show up online, signed by some old lady on a yellow sheet with a calligraphy pen and all.

Ok annnnyway... Some of the comments were amusing. Here's a limerick for Obama written by "Peter UK:"

There was a young man named Obama,
a smooth political charmer,
but if you cause any fuss
it is under the bus
be you Pastor or Daddy or Grandma.

And the Ten Commandments of Obama, contributed by MarkJ:


I am Obama your Messiah.

You shall vote for no other candidates but me.

You shall not worship graven idols...unless it is my "presidential seal."

You shall not make fun of the name of your Messiah.

Remember Election Day and keep it holy.

Honor your Mama and Papa...unless they get in the way.

You shall not murder...but, if you do, blame it on George Bush.

You shall not commit adultery...but, if you do, blame "The White She-Devil."

You shall not steal...but, if you do, give the money to My Campaign.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor...unless you can keep it off YouTube.

You shall not covet your neighbor's house...especially if they are a minority and facing foreclosure.

You shall not speak ill of My Wife...otherwise you're a racist.

25 June 2008

Giant Snake Found


D took this picture of a giant earthworm in our front yard.

Never Talk to the Police

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/2870

My bloggy friend Abrianna at Yankee Cowgirl (http://yankeecowgirl.wordpress.com/) posted this link. You should never talk to the police, the video shows, because it can never be of benefit to you to do so. In any event, the videos are fascinating viewing and I'd highly recommend them.

Complications

Had to go to the ER today. Unable to go to the bathroom, so they put a catheter in. AND an IV and gave me a stupid CT scan. And interviewed me at length on what I'm eating and everything else.

Turns out that I can't take pain medicine or it messes up my bladder. That's right. Just go live without it, have a nice day. How 'bout some over-the-counter Motrin, that might help?

Ow. Haven't had any pain meds since 5 p.m. last night. Two days is not enough time to get well after surgery. I guess I'll be taking Motrin. Sigh. AND having to follow up with the surgeon again. AND our van just broke down. :[

Hard day here. Just listen to me grumble and complain.

24 June 2008

The Odd Couple.

Got this You Tube link from American Family Association. It's a Heinz ad currently running in England and shows two homosexuals kissing. I hardly noticed the Heinz product. It just looked to me more like Felix and Oscar setting up house with a couple kids. I guess I was too perplexed to be outraged. Maybe I should be outraged? But perhaps it's me just all slow and loopy on the drugs that this was my thought while watching it: "?? Did I see that correctly?"

The Girly.


Isn't she cute!? D is in charge now and does her hair Bert-style. He hates hair bows. He doesn't put frilly things on her, although there is a small bow in the front of her outfit. Nail polish, bows and girl jewelry will probably be banished from the house if he has anything to say about it. But she'll be a pretty girl anyway. See her trying to crawl? She is the only child I know with fat rolls AND dimples on her knees. Cute.

For Anonymous, On Homeschool.

Anonymous, thank you for your comment enquiring about a curriculum for sensory integration disorder at the kindergarten level. I'm not an education "expert," just a parent, and I'll offer advice based on what works for me. If it doesn't work for you and your kids, I'm not offended if you pitch the advice. We're all in this together to make home education work for our children! And I'm blessed to try to help.

Emperor came home to homeschool with us after being suspended 2 or 3 times in his first WEEK of school. He's touchy. He doesn't seem to know his limits or other people's personal space. It was a difficult situation because on the one hand, I ABSOLUTELY want him to respect others and their limits. However, "consequences" like suspension is not going to teach him to do better. It isn't that I don't believe in consequences. Sigh. All very hard to explain as I'm sure you undertand.

Emperor was technically a kindergarten student when he came home. He came from a special-needs preschool and did not test well. I've come to the conclusion later that he is smart enough but can't seem to "attend." When you're not paying attention, you're not learning. When I began homeschooling Elf, he was in first grade and Emperor was in preschool. Emperor had the option of sitting with us and doing "homeschool," or playing in his room. Really, I hadn't had in mind to teach Emperor anything. I kinda threw worksheets and colour pages at him to keep him busy while I worked with Elf. Looking back, he learned a lot of things from these. He is always asking questions to the point of being extremely annoying. We love him, but imagine during church worship, the kid is asking, "Who is the 'God of Jacob?' Why didn't they just say 'God?'" and "consecrate means what?" in the middle of preaching. Shhh shh. But he learns that way.

Does your child bug you to teach him things? That's what I'd teach him while he was in preschool and maybe what you'd like to start teaching your child. "When's lunch when's lunch when's lunch?" constantly forced me to teach him that "noon" was both hands clapping together at the top of the clock. Then I could apply different times to different things, and finally, after he memorized several "times" on the clock, I taught him to count by fives for the time. I do think Emperor has a very mathematical mind which made this possible, because not every child is ready to learn this before kindergarten. But you'd be surprised when there's an interest expressed that it's that much easier to teach the subject.

Elf learned multidigit addition, so Emperor wanted in on the secret. Elf was doing science and Bible time, and Emperor wanted to learn as well. I had enrolled Emperor into kindergarten in public school. Emperor was technically a special-needs child, so of course I'm not qualified to teach him at home. (sarcasm)

Emperor technically skipped kindergarten because when we brought him home, Elf was in second grade. I'm too lazy to teach two classes, so I just stuck Emperor into Elf's class. Emperor loves mathematics and was doing *most* of the same things Elf could do, just because he expressed an interest. We took two months to review all the math concepts Emperor missed, and it was good for Elf to have that do-over time anyway. I don't think it held him back too badly, and it enabled me to get them both even-up to start our schooling on the right foot. Elf continued to read ahead in his readers while Emperor began the first reader. They are still a year apart in readers, but I don't think that is necessarily indicative of their abilities. It's just what they've read up to.

Ok, where was I....? Oh. In preschool, Emperor wanted to read, and it was easier to teach him to read with the Dick and Jane books where you just memorize what the words say rather than sounding out. He reads quite well, but phonics didn't work for him. Yet that was how Elf learned to read. (Even children in the same family can be so different!) So on that, you just find what you think works for your child.

What's different with Emperor that is not different from your usual child is that I allow him to jump while reciting Bible verses, or he has to climb the stairs constantly to sharpen pencils. He is the one I call on to pull baby J off the couch constantly. We also do a dance when we're done with a particularly hard problem. Another thing I would recommend is a "wiggle seat." These are little M and M shaped disks that you can buy in Target. They are about a foot around and squishy and used for aerobics. One side is bumpy and the other smooth. Put the bumpy side up on his chair and he can wiggle-wiggle while he does his problems. This gets him the sensory input he needs and helps him concentrate. (I am assuming it's a him because most SI kids are, but not all.)

We do cooking usually on Tuesdays. He gets up and stirs and that fixing food thing gets him moving. It also helps with following directions, a key for these kids. Small, fun crafts with directions are also great. We made a pencil holder with a Mason jar and just glued papers and buttons on it. We collected leaves and tried to identify them. Small outings mean a lot to these little ones.

Play money is also a big thing for little kids. I even had a pile of coins and we counted them.

Hope that helps!

Update on Me

Skip this post if you don't want to hear boring medical details.

I was dropped off at the hospital yesterday at about 6:30 a.m. and got my paperwork done. Waited around for a bit in a waiting room full of people coughing without covering their mouths. And someone I recognized from another church openly gossiping LOUDLY about one of the parishoners. Ughh. I wanted to walk over to the entranceway and stand, but standing was very difficult. I could feel my guts falling out and it's a very scary/awful feeling. So I just stayed. I tried to read my Bible and not listen and just pray over the situation. Then I found myself praying that I never do that because we are all fallible like that when we think no one is looking.

The nurse who got me was very kind. Her name was Robin. She helped me get everything ready and even made sure when I asked to get me someone who could get my IV in on the FIRST TRY. (I had them write her name in my paperwork so I can send a compliment card later! This is helpful to them on their employment records.) This is a very big thing for me as usually I will be poked 5 or 6 times, they'll wiggle the needle round and then blame ME that THEY can't do their job. And I'm crying and traumatized by the time it's over. This time I was pleasantly surprised to find they warmed my arm, gave me numbing medicine, and slipped that needle right in. I can't emphasize enough what a big deal that was to me. I was treated with a lot of compassion by these nurses, which was NOT my experience in the ER department on numerous occasions. I guess the ER nurses are too hurried to be kind (shame!).

Everything was explained to me nicely. The only thing that kinda scares me is they kept asking my name and the procedure that is to be done. My mom told me on the phone a few days ago not to worry about this; they just want to make sure constantly that they have the right person and that I understand what is going on. But I'm concerned about saying oh, I need a belly button thing done... and waking up with a piercing or something. I have no medical training and don't want to say the wrong thing. I always confirmed before I told them that THEY already knew the answer but were just double-checking with me. Ok, then.

I was alone and kinda scared. D had to drop me off and go back with the children. It wouldn't do to have six children, all screaming and squirming in the OR area. And D is a bit stubborn and refuses help. The folks at church have been more than helpful in volunteering any help I needed but D is a bit (maybe too) independent and stayed home. It was a tremendous blessing to me to see that Mrs. K is a nurse there. She visited me for a moment and prayed with me. I wasn't so scared then. I felt very much loved that God would send her to come help me. I really felt that He knew how I was feeling and then sent her or arranged things somehow. I don't know what to say about those times where God DOESN'T arrange things or "come through" like that, but it's a big blessing when He does and I was very grateful.

When they were almost ready to wheel me back and I was starting to get nervous again, Mrs. G our pastor's wife arrived! And she prayed with me, too! This was SUPPOSED to be their day off, and she took that time out to leave all her children and come see me. *sniffle* Then I felt really loved and prayed for.

I was wheeled back to the OR and was being introduced to everyone there when -

I don't know what happened!!

I vaguely sort of woke up in a room and then I woke up again... and then again as the nurses were talking about me taking a long time waking up. I'm funny like that I guess and I took unusually long to not be sick/amazingly sleepy. So I was wheeled back to the OR prep area to be kept an eye on, and all their plans to kick me out on time didn't work. I should have been able to leave around 12, but it was closer to 3 as I was absolutely unable to use the restroom, eat or drink or anything! Even when I left I didn't feel quite ready.

I am apparently pretty stupid and doped and don't make much sense. I speak slowly, even though I feel I'm chat-chat-chatting really fast, almost manic. So if my post doesn't make much sense, that's why. I'm going to read it over a couple times before I publish, but you never know.

I am feeling much better today, though I am sleeping a lot. I feel a little ill from the meds, but not too bad. I was expecting much worse today. But I have asked for only one pill instead of two. I'm also surprised that I have almost no pain on my incision unless I press on it (to cough, etc. I must use a pillow), but it hurts on my sides where my muscles must have been pulled back. Now, if I push just above my belly button I can feel muscles under the fat. Before, there was NOTHING there. Looking back that just doesn't sound right, but it is true that you could literally push on my intestines/stomach.

I'm feeling very grateful for all my friends at church. Right now, it seems I can not be a "giver" in any way. I am a "taker." I am taking up ministry time, and can't help in the nursery for a long time. I am sending my children to children's church and the youth and to services, but don't help in any of these areas. God has, over these last couple years, been teaching me to accept that I cannot do and be everything, but it is a very humbling lesson to learn. I want to at least look like I have it all together. I want to help and be a genuine part of my church community. And yet, I feel like I want to make yet another prayer request for my family while not doing a thing there for anyone.

Jesus said that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I am finding the hard way that it can be a blessing to receive as well, even if it isn't as big a blessing as giving. I'm still in awe that Mrs. B gave me such nice clothes that I wear every day. And her children invited Elf and Emperor to their party and really wanted them to come. They hadn't been to a party since preschool. We went a couple weekends ago, and the party was actually at Harvesters helping package food to feed the needy. It was great, and what a testimony that that little boy "I" wanted to feed others on his birthday. Bless ya all today and here's hoping I make sense!

Islamic Dress?




Maybe it isn't always what you think. I've been browsing this post and I'd like to share it with you. It's about a wedding and how people dress in an Islamic country. Not all Muslims (obviously) wear the full-length black burqua, but these dresses look modest and showy (it's a wedding, showy's ok!) and beautiful. Not something I could afford to wear, but the bright colours and looseness almost remind me of an Indian sari. BTW, did you know that a sari is not really a dress? It looks like a dress, but it's really just one HUGE cloth that you wrap around yourself just-so. I know this because when we lived in Australia the vice-consulate's family lived across the street from us. They were always having parties and serving yummy foods, and I got to come to some of them because I was best friends with their daughter. Some of the foods I could not eat because they were TOO spicy. But there was never any meat in them. Yet the children were well-nourished and the foods appeared well-balanced. The news stories about vegetarians and what-not starving their children ... well, it doesn't have to be that way if you know what you're doing. Anyway, I enjoy looking at this blog and others and am learning about other people in faraway places.

22 June 2008

Bargain!


D picked up all the books you see here for $5 at a local thrift store. They're all from Bob Jones, too, so you know it's good stuff. I looked online and was able to order a workbook for the grades 11 and 12 English; the other stuff is of a previous version and I'd probably have to hunt around for it used somewhere. Still, even if I never find the accompanying workbooks, the texts are still a very good resource. The teachers' manuals retail for over $50 new. D was able to get them for 50 cents each, and the hardcover "World Studies" book for $2. I've looked at several (but by no means ALL) brands of curriculum and I have to say that the Bob Jones stuff is laid out in the most easy-to-teach format. And the answers are right in the teachers' manual with the lesson being taught. So you could teach from page 47 with the answers in front of you while the children follow along in their own texts. I think the hardest to teach at home is the Everyday Math stuff; you'll literally be jumping back and forth between three books just to do the teaching. Then each student gets his own notebook AND you have to xerox worksheets for the children to boot! No wonder public school teachers have so much busywork; their curriculum is very unfriendly to the teacher.

21 June 2008

I'm Voting Republican!

Hat Tip: The Constitution Club (http://constitutionclub.wordpress.com/)

Egg Art


I told you I was cheap! The boys are still playing with some Easter eggs they got from the church egg hunt. They decided that the "Girly needs flowers" this morning and so they made this for her. Poor S doesn't really have a name. Everyone just calls her "the Girly." (Even her dad has momentary lapses where he FORGETS her name because she's "Girly.") I'm pretty sure she'll grow out of it before she's ten, but I'm not sure how. D decided to name her the SAME NAME we gave to Elf, only the girl version. So if we say the short form of Elf's name, we would probably have two children answer in a couple years. What can I say; guess we're not creative with the names. But they're all "normal," easy to spell names with the exception of Emperor. I even had a stranger once ask me why I "saddled such a young boy with such a long name." Well... what would you say to that? And it was at church, too, right in front of the boy after he introduced himself! Yes, I was nice about it. My mouth was hanging open too wide to make a reply in keeping with my godly personality.

20 June 2008

Look What He's Doing!


This thief is stealing all my camera time. He's getting too close to me and making funny faces during MY picture time. I really resent that. I'm also very upset that Patrick took my cookie the other night and then laughed at the look of "sheer disbelief and terror" on my face. He said my eyeballs nearly popped right out of my head just then, I was so upset. Everyone is taking advantage of me because I can't talk. Mom keeps telling everyone to quit antagonizing me, but I'm going to write about this when I get older. No one will pretend not to understand what I'm talking about then, and I will make rounds on all the talk shows! You have been warned!

Want to Know Your Options?

Hey, we can help you off yourself under Oregon's health plan. It's a whole lot cheaper than doing all that expensive experimental stuff for a chance at life. How 'bout it?

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=67565

What? You're insulted that we're laying out all the options available to you medically? Well, we're sorry you're so upset about it. There, there. We never meant to offend you. We're just being professionals by making sure that you were aware of allll the choices out there. Then you, the patient, get to decide. See, we're trying to enable you to select high-quality medical care, not get you all upset. Whoopsie.

Next patient.

Oh, sonogram isn't going as planned. How about we give you all your options on that child you're carrying? He has a debilitating illness or condition that wouldn't really enable him to have a life outside the womb. In fact, he may be stillborn! This isn't what you want. We can help you end the child's suffering. Hang on while I get Dr. Tiller's business card. Now. You just look him up and he will be the best option for you. You don't want your child traumatized at birth, not being in control and dying a short while after. (God help us, but no one does. I'm not making light of the horrible time this family went through!!)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24844532/

“But that didn’t seem like it was best for him,” Vargas says. “I can’t imagine that I would choose to be born into bright lights and alarms and not being able to breathe, even with my mother holding me.”

Better to extract the poor child feet-first, piece by piece. Then the baby doesn't have to suffer, the parents are told. These poor parents are being sold a lie. They are in a horrible, devastating circumstance and they're being sold a lie. I'm not going to sit in judgment on these parents who are upset, confused and are doing what the doctors are telling them is best.

But I do think some "options" in healthcare should not even be on the table. Call me a loonie. I appreciate the idea of weighing all my options in this surgery coming up on Monday. I have the choice to stay home and take my chances. Not a really great choice, but I could do it. I can choose to have the surgery and I take chances that way, too, though probably not as many. I'm all for weighing options but... it just seems when I have a sick child the option shouldn't be to kill him. Even the idea of an immediate danger to the mom (ectopic pregnancy etc.) is hard for me to fathom intentionally killing the baby. I do understand there are a few extreme circumstances out there. But goodness.

My New Vehicle!



Well, if gas prices keep going up, D and I could probably each fit half our bodies into the front seat and hang on tight. Then two kids to a seat in the back and away we go! We'll need some optional roof container for groceries and a lot of tolerance for being wet and cold in inclement weather.

19 June 2008

A Peek Inside My Teacher's Book




Grades for each child go in the very front section. Next, I have my "log book" area. In it I keep a running tally at the top of each page of the required hours I've done "so far" to the state-required total of 1000 hours with 600 being "core" hours in Math, English, etc. Then once a month or so, I take some time out to think about where we're headed for the *next* month or so. Sometimes we get way more than I had planned, all finished. Other times, a peek back at my goals for the month will spur me into doing more work in a particular subject. The log book in the second page is pretty blank because the school year does not begin until July 1.

Sea Cucumber

If you've ever seen a sea cucumber, you know they can throw up their guts when they feel threatened. That's what I'm like. My guts are popping out, and the surgeon showed me about how big the gap is. Just under the size of a tennis ball. He wants the surgery right away, but D is very busy tomorrow and it must wait until Monday. From what I'm hearing, it sure shouldn't be an "outpatient" surgery, given what they have to do. And fevers are "normal?" Oozing stuff out of your guts, also normal? Horrible bruising and swelling, normal?

And how am I going to not lift anything heavier than a milk jug for TWO WEEKS?? If I hadn't been reallly thinking about my spiritual life, I'd have been cussing about now. How's this all going to happen? Oh, and D is working this weekend so a lot of the last-minute shopping and cleaning just isn't going to happen. It just isn't.

I'm very nervous and upset about this, but I am trying to be all spritual and focus on the fact that God is in control. You know, if I die on the table it'll be ok. Same if I come home and everyone eats pop-tarts for two weeks and someone finds out we're eating nothing but pop-tarts and they take the children away for living in an unkempt house and I never see them again and they all wind up heathen, unsaved and going to hell it's gonna be ok.

I'm not worried about it! Ok, I'm really worried about it, but it's still true that God is in control. Please pray that I make it until Monday ok because I gather it's a rather largish gap and my bowel is stuck which is not a good thing. It would be an emergency if it couldn't be periodically unstuck by punching my gut just-so. So I am very grateful that we're catching this before it is a dire emergency and I would have no time to find childcare. D will stay home part of the time and I guess Patrick will not be able to tutor when D has to go back to work.

18 June 2008

I'm Voting For Obama!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25251529/

Ack! No! I mean it! I'll really consider it!

Abortion is MURDER and it's WRONG, but by golly, you can wipe out MILLIONS of people with some nuclear disaster at a reactor! I can't believe I'm even reading this! Cheap fuel is not worth it!!

Please say this was a lead balloon in the media. Please. Go ahead and comment and tell me it's just a joke. Because I'm not excited about McCain to begin with. This might just drive me over the edge! Fetal life is important, but doggone it, so are my children's lives!

Gimme Some Love

I just got done reading a post in Terry's blog (click my title to get there!) about the extremes that seem to be happening in "the church" today. I've also noticed the dueling ideas/churches that cater to their own clientele. It's almost as if we can now brand our Christianity, because drinking branded bottled water is oh-so-passe. (Next year it will be something else.) You can either do whatever you want, wear whatever you want, say and go wherever you want in this church or circle of friends... or (I just read this one on another blog) maybe you're a murderer and not a good Christian if you allow doctors to remove a tubal pregnancy before you show signs of about-to-die. From Terry:

I am a woman of strong convictions. Any one who reads this blog knows that. I am frequently alarmed by what I believe is a spirit of heresy being propagated by many Christians in the name of being “led” by the Spirit. The discarding of sound Biblical doctrine and the embracing of cheap grace has produced a generation of Christians with no power, no witness, no salt and dim lights. And all of this spiritual anarchy is excused because our God loves us and we are free in Christ. Free apparently to walk, look, and act like the world, storing up for ourselves treasures on earth rather than in heaven with no concern for making disciples. I see it and it makes me sad.

I am equally concerned by the growing faction of Christians who rightly have rebelled against this new “if it feels good do it "form of Christianity. The problem is that in our effort to distance ourselves from one form of heresy, we must be careful not to produce another. The idea that the only way to be a godly Christian woman is to stay in the house, never work under any circumstances, have 10 kids, wear long dresses, and homeschool said large brood of kids. Anything else is seen as embracing the world and makes you unfit to call yourself a godly woman. As if we can do anything in our own power to make ourselves acceptable to God. Can you see the problem here, too?

**

Well, I don't know if I see a problem or not, so long as I fit the criteria and am able to look down on those who can't hack it. (kidding.) But I do have 6/10 of a full house by that measure, I homeschool half of the school-age ones, wear the long dresses sometimes and stay home all the time. Guess I'm halfway Christian then. I tried, but I didn't quite make heaven! Terry forgot to mention the perfect housekeeping, farming large stock animals, and home baking from scratch. Add that to the mix and I'm a total heathen. I might as well go out and have a good time with my pagan friends if I'm not makin' it anyway...

I've been thinking a lot about this issue of late because as I blogged before, my intestines are literally starting to pop out! This might just be the end of the road in terms of babies. I don't know that I'd want major abdominal surgery and then go have a couple more kids to test out how well I've been put back together. Maybe other people have more "faith" than I do in that department, and maybe it will turn out that the surgeon will tell me tomorrow that I'm faking it and send me home (never know... God could decide to heal me in the waiting room... pleasepleaseplease pleeeeease make me look like a fake, God! I can take it.). But here... let me tell you something else. I can't even go to the park because I literally have to go to the bathroom every five minutes. I have... problems. My children want to play outside and I say... no... I'm too busy with something or other... some other day... Then when I'm finally brave enough to go, I hope no one notices that I have problems. I'm afraid to ask the doctor about it because the answer to everything seems to be one of three things: 1. You're old. 2. You're fat. 3. You have too many kids/need birth control.

Anyway, I said all that to say this: I'm having trouble keeping up with the kids I have. If I were going to have ten, I should have started at age 18 or so. On the other side of it, it drives me NUTS to see dual-income families talking about their quivers being full with two kids. Give me a break. When I call the doctor's office to make an appointment and give my last name, I shouldn't be remembered by the receptionist as "the lady with all the kids." I have only six! It seems to me *everyone else* I link to or on the MOMYs board has more than that, and I have a small family. I'm on the lower end of normal. Right??

But then, that's what happens when we look around and judge ourselves by what others are doing. Maybe those people with the two kids, two incomes and a mansion in the 'burbs are living exactly as God instructed them to live. Judge not and all that. I have some sort of circling thought in my brain on this, though... along the lines of, well, if EVERYONE had two incomes and two kids, and put their kids in daycare and NO ONE homeschooled, then... what would the church be like? What would tomorrow's kids be like as adults? Ok, I get that I can't judge your individual situation, and I can't even make a blanket statement that homeschool is better than public school for all Christians at all times... but... too much tolerance is going to make us a wishy-washy sort of people. I think it's better to offend others with your statements sometimes, put your hedges wayyyy back from "the edge," but then recognize that there are exceptions to the rule you just made up.

But I don't know what they are. I guess it's like pornography and ya know it when ya see it. Then again, if we don't discern God's intentions in our home, where are we? We do need to work out our own salvation in our daily lives, not be judgmental of others (but make sound judgments! good luck!), and have meekness of spirit.

Personally, in my housekeeping with God, I've been working on meekness of spirit. You would probably think I'm a really not-nice person if you knew me in "real life." Most of you readers would dislike me. Not only am I old and ugly, but I also have a disposition that tends toward the ungracious. I take things very personally and will feel your criticism of "the thing I said or did" to be "criticism of me, my parenting, my social class and whatever else I'm sensitive about today."

This is what I'm working on. How 'bout you?

17 June 2008

More Mommy Decorating Style!


See how all the breakables are just out of a certain toddler's reach? Look carefully to see how else you can tell right away that it's "Mommy Decorating Style" in action. Then click on the comments to see if you noticed the same things I did.

WTF? DMV ZZZ. LOL!

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1107923.html

It seems that WTF is yet another letter combination that cannot be on license plates, and is recalled along with XXX and other questionable combinations. Eventually, perhaps, we will have much larger license plates so that we have room for our surnames and the last four digits of our Social Security numbers. That's when I'm going to change my last name to Gregoria-Armhurst-McFarland-Fitzgerald-Murphy-Zimmermann-Smythe. Legally. ARG.

16 June 2008

I Love Thesock Obama!



Hat tip to Rick Moore of the Holy Coast blog (www.holycoast.blogspot.com) for this story.
http://www.abc4.com/mostpopular/story.aspx?content_id=48791911-3673-46e2-9749-70831f930937 He is just so doggone cute! Cuddly-looking, even. This image makes me want one to tuck in my front pocket and bring him places. It wouldn't have occurred to me that this was a "racist" thing if there weren't such a stink. Look at that friendly little smile and those pinchable ears. Sweet!

Are we being a little oversensitive? Why is it that George W. Bush has been portrayed incessantly as a monkey with really big ears and a grotesque scowl in political cartoons, but somehow, when some Utah company makes a cute little sock puppet out of Barack Obama, it's racist? Or why does everyone have to make fun of Bush's middle name in almost every political commentary, but when someone says something about Barack Hussein Obama's, it's racist? And why is it that 'most often in common speech, people can say things like, "That boy needs to get a life!" when they're talking about Ted Kennedy and his ilk, but if they do it to Obama, it's racist?

Sure, I get the idea that sometimes we need to look out for others and be sensitive to the fact that there's a "history" on some of these things. But you don't see me flipping my lid, yelling and screaming about the racism on me box o' Lucky Charms! They're magically delicious, the ad claims, but I don't feel threatened by that silly depiction in the same way that I'd be offended by someone in the public eye offering a genuine opinion that all of us Irish-Americans are drunkards who like shamrocks and potatoes. You know... like Bill Clinton did several years ago.

It just seems to me that on the one hand, we should be treating every politician with the same respect -- or lack thereof -- no matter their race and gender. Politics is not for the sensitive, and people are going to make comments about your wife, your kids, the clothes you wear and the car you drive. It's a nasty sort of game out there, and if people are going to draw their white politicians as animals like pigs or dogs or whatever, should we be surprised when a black politician gets the same treatment? It doesn't go over well when I hear people ask us to leave his wife alone. To my mind, the person he married is a reflection of his beliefs because he has selected her as his bride. (By the way, for what it's worth, I dislike Dick Cheney and think his daughter's behaviour is disgusting! Just so you know!)

I don't really know the inner motives of the people making this sock puppet. Maybe they really are racist... but... I think we can give people the benefit of the doubt. Meanwhile, I'm sure they're cashing in on the controversy and have no bias against the colour green.

15 June 2008

EHhhhAAAA!

Translation: Stop doing obnoxious things like smooching my cheeks to "help me eat." Stop kissing me all over and tickling me and then telling me that I need to learn how to say, "Stop!" And quit pretending that you don't know what I'm talking about when I sign for my fifth cookie.

14 June 2008

What Do You Need to Learn?

We haven't chatted about the book Smarting Us Up: The Un-dumbing of America by Luz Shosie and Ned Vare in a while. How about we do that? The authors allowed their son Cassidy to grow up "unschooling."

"Unschooling" is simply student-directed learning. Now, exactly how much input the student gets into what and when, where, how and why he learns I think varies from one unschooling family to the next. But I think the general principle this style of homeschooling assumes is that children are born ready to learn, they want to learn, and they will learn all the things that are relevant to their becoming functional adults naturally and without specialized instruction. Generally speaking, I'd agree with this premise to a point. Given a loving and nurturing environment, most of us (except, I guess, me) don't need to hire speech therapists to help our children learn to talk. You speak to the child and expose the child to language, and the child wants to learn and picks these things up pretty much as a matter of course.

But as I read the book, I was struck by how intelligent Cassidy was. Of course, I'm sure he was given a nurturing environment and plenty of good educational materials from which he directed his own course of study. However, it's my opinion -- NOT based on any statistics, just my experience in life, which of course can be a bit skewed -- that almost every child is not going to be as determined and goal-oriented as Cassidy. My own Patrick is a rather bright bulb but prefers to be taught by others. He wants to remain in public school. Maybe it's because we allowed him to remain in public school for so long that he is used to having knowledge spoon-fed to him in small doses, but I think that it's just part of the larger picture.

I think Patrick isn't really sure what he wants to do in life. I think were he left in total charge of his education that he would, at least initially, be rather aimless about things. He might be unsure of where to begin or what sorts of things he'd like to study.

I don't want to paint with too broad a brush because unschoolers come in a wide range of varieties. I don't unschool and wouldn't want to misrepresent what they're about. But I have to say that the following excerpt from the book disturbed me. I did cut a fair bit out but I was true to the general gist of the passage, which opens with Laura soliciting the authors' advice:

***

We've been homeschooling for going on six years... Family members are starting to say, "All he does is watch tv and play video games," and I don't know what to say to them! My son is almost 14 and can barely multiply, let alone divide. Should I worry? Any reassurance and/or ideas will be greatly appreciated! Laura


We answered: Dear Laura,

Whether we should or shouldn't worry, I don't know. But most parents sure spend a lot of time doing it. And I think we would worry no matter what choices we make...

"Doing nothing" is a judgement -- it usually means "you're not doing what I think you should be doing." Actually, it's just about impossible to "do nothing" -- try it sometime...

And those family members? Tell them to get a life, too. (121-122)

***

I really like Ned and his blog. I think he's very intelligent. But if this letter looking for advice crossed my desk, I'd start screaming for a good talk and tell them it's high time for him to get tested. Patrick is fourteen, and I treat him almost like an adult. He has to abide by "house rules" since we're paying the bills, but I give him quite a bit of leeway in his course selection and what he does in his own free time. If this were my son, I'd sit him down and find some general "path" he wants to take career-wise. If he already knows that he wants to dig a ditch for a living or some other "unskilled" job, I'd be ok with it if that is the way my child is bent. (Patrick is more the sarcastic college professor type and would be unsuited to the ditch-digging.) I'd explain to him that in five more years, he'll either be in college or full-time work because the Nintendo doesn't pay the bills. To get your own apartment or just generally not get swindled out of the 20 cents you'll earn each hour digging those ditches, you need to learn how to do basic math. And as soon as we rule out learning problems, it looks like we have four years to get crackin' on it.

Test him with the free curriculum tests, buy tests through a homeschool company or even get free testing for learning difficulties through your local school district if you must, but get him tested! Rule out a learning problem first. Then pick a math curriculum at his level and start some sort of directed learning. You've been letting him do things on his own for six years in the math department. You didn't mention how English and Social Studies were going; maybe he's fine in these areas. But you don't have much time left before the birdie has to fly the coop or get a job or *something.* Surely Laura doesn't want this kid to have all his friends flop over and eat pizza when the "boy" and his friends are 43 years old.

Now watch me wheedle like a politician:

But I don't think that even Laura or other parents who are "too lax" with their children in the education department should be regulated. Once you do that, you have to set up an authority to determine when someone's good enough... and as we covered earlier, that presents a whole new set of problems.

One thing I like about living in Missouri is that there are no standards my curriculum must follow. Yes, there are certain subjects I must teach, but if necessary I could teach G with Elf and Emperor in the same class. That's actually what we do during summertimes. G has a lot of trouble with reading and yet somehow magically tests at the fifth-grade level in public school. However, he has difficulty with readers that six-year-old Emperor is using and he hates reading. I can tell that he wants to be the "big brother" so bad in our homeschool, and it doesn't work out as Elf can read circles around him and winds up teaching him how to do the math problem or make a small "k."

So what should we teach our children?

Ah, I've purposely not answered the question! Weasly me. I would teach Elf and Emperor the same things at the same level I'd teach G despite the six-year difference between them. I would not teach G and Patrick the same things despite their being very close in age. I think it really depends on the child, your vision for the child and what you feel the job market or the "world" is going to have in terms of opportunities when your child comes of age.

Personally, I'm no unschooler. Imagine public schools about 50 years ago, and then imagine those teachings in my house and us in our jammies and you've pretty well got what we do right there. I'm very much a curriculum in a box person, but the problem is that I buy lots of different things and try to get them all done. We did not one but THREE FULL math curriculums last year. Yes, we did. It was a lot of worksheets. But we wound up knowing those concepts up, down and sideways. It took more than a full year. This year we are only doing TWO full curriculums, but we will skip a few pages in one. This way the children don't get too used to being asked their math questions a certain way and will better be able to (I think) think more creatively mathematically.

I have a reading, grammar and spelling curriculum for English. Is it any wonder we're not out of the "second grade" stuff when we're stopping constantly and writing letters and reports?

But that's Elf and Emperor. Maybe I would do things differently if I were homeschooling yet another child. I want little Woodjie Pumpkin Onion McCheesy-doodle Bitsy Boy Cuddles to start talking and his "schooling" is very much directed with that in mind.

Thoughts?

Mother Sent to Jail!

http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080610/BREAKING01/80610037&s=d&page=1#pluckcomments

She's listed in the article as being the Missouri mother of a "truant" son, although she has been homeschooling for some time. Thanks to the Corn and Oil blog (http://eduwrit.com/blog) for the link.

What do you think about parents who use homeschool law as a cover for "truancy?" And do you think there is truancy in this case? Sounds like the mom is *probably* not doing the most amazing, perfect job of homeschooling this rebellious child given that there are other children with absence issues from public school. That being said, I'd like to know how you can mandate learning. It's my opinion that you can have perfect attendance at your public, private or home-school and be determined not to learn what's on the teacher's agenda.

Should there be "compulsory education?" You might think that an educated citizenry is essential to a good funcitoning democracy. Then we'd have to determine what would consist a good education and who would determine the ideology behind it. There always is one, you know. Does the ideology we want mean children are learning the importance of eugenics for the good of the Fatherland? Whoops, just thought I would mention that public, state-run education systems might just maybe sometimes have an agenda parents reading my blog disagree with? But onward...

Another issue that Susan brought up on the blog was the fact that there are "pushouts" out there. Pushouts are students who are encouraged to drop out, or students who face a hostile environment at school in some way and whose parents are encouraged to "homeschool" when conflict arises. Not everyone is ready to homeschool their child at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately in our country, we've accepted the mindset that it's someone else's job to educate our own children, and some of these parents fall down on the job. Some of these parents also have no support in homeschooling and/or no idea how to begin, or have special-needs children the school was doing a crummy job educating to begin with. Special-needs kids don't always show improvement one year to the next. I'm relatively sure I could pull out G's 5th grade work and his work today and not see much difference. So who decides what's good enough? Another issue with pushouts is that these tend to be older children who have already developed a terrible attitude toward learning and anything even remotely resembling schoolwork.

I know there's much talk of the No Child Left Behind holding schools "accountable" for low scores. (Hang on while I snort loudly.) This "accountability," however, does not mean that my autistic son G is going to get the BEST education possible, or that the local special ed. teacher's job is on the line if he does not do well on his fill-in-the-dots. On the contrary, it's my feeling that because we're white, suburban, and don't get a free lunch that we're going to be overlooked as not one of the important target groups of people who matter to administrator-types.

But back to the article. How's jail going to help this situation? How's the requirement that the child be enrolled in public school going to help? If it were me, I'd quietly move out of state and/or instruct ALL my children to sabotage the all-important MAP test and get EVERY. SINGLE. ANSWER. WRONG. That'll teach 'em. Oh - and another tactic would be to drop out of school on the first day the child is of legal age to do so. Then, you could homeschool at your own pace without any of those pesky state oversights, AND you get the benefit of making the school district look really bad on paper.

But I'm bad that way.

In a future post, we're going to chat about what we should make our children learn and how we measure whether it's good enough. Bless you all!

G's Writing Assignment


G joins our homeschool when he is home with Elf and Emperor. He will be going into public school eighth grade. Next year his focus will be on starting every sentence with a capital letter, using punctuation, and learning his lower-case letters. It's on his IEP, but we're working on it at home anyway. I'm thinking that if G magically masters something on his IEP, we can always get a new goal because there is much to be learned. G worked very hard on this document. If you embiggen it, you can see he has revised himself in the second entry.

Religion of Peace?

Are men really superior to women as the Qur'an says? Are women intellectually inferior as Muhammad taught? Does propagating material (the Qur'an) that openly curses people of other religions amidst random calls to violence really improve the health of our societies? Is it right to keep women as sex slaves, merely because the Qur'an explicitly allows it in multiple places? Should atheists and homosexuals have to choose between the noose and an outward profession of faith in Allah?

Yes, there are Muslims who take issue with these aspects of Islamic theology, but it doesn't change what Islam is. Don't confuse the ideology with the individual. Don't draw conclusions about Islam based on the Muslims that you know, be they terrorists or humanitarians. Islam must be understood on the basis of what it is, as presented by the Qur'an the Hadith and Sira (biography of Muhammad).

By the same token, don't draw conclusions about the Muslims in your life based on the true nature of Islam. Like any other group, not all Muslims think alike.

Above quote from:

http://www.thereligionofpeace.com

I find it an interesting website in that this section of it, the one differentiating Muslims from Islam, sounds politically correct as to be almost sickening, but the rest of the website seems very inflammatory on purpose.

I'm still a bit confused as to what a Muslim IS. I hear you can just make a statement like, Allah is God and Muhammad is his prophet, and ta-da! you're a Muslim.

Did I just become a Muslim? OK, I unconverted really quick just now, then. No fair smearing me if I run for political office that I used to be a practicing Muslim. Can I just give an aside and say the "Muslim" thing is not fair to Obama? Of course, he ought to just come out and admit that he used to be one because truth is more important than political death. If you're going to go into the mosque with your dad and PRAY TO ALLAH there, who do you think you are fooling that you were never a Muslim? And he studied the Koran as a kid, but we're expected to believe these studies had no effect? (Well, maybe they didn't. I don't see too many Islamics clamouring for abortion and gay rights. )

But I believe people can change, how about you? If he made some generic statement like, "Allah does not exist and Muhammad is no prophet," I think all of us Christians ought to be satisfied with that. Give it a rest! There are so many other things wrong with this fellow's candidacy, and he can't help who his father is! I think we can see by Obama's ideology that he is no Wahabi Muslim, nor yet a Dobson Christian. Where he is spiritually, I cannot tell, but I know I'm not voting for him. It's not my place to judge his standing with God, but I *do* feel called to make character and values judgments when I vote for someone.

And do you know what? Sometimes I'm wrong.

13 June 2008

I'm Signing MORE. Where Is It??




What???? You're saying "No more cake?" Wait a second. I just used my sign! You're supposed to give me what I asked for RIGHT AWAY! Didn't you hear that speech therapist about "reinforcing" my signs!?? I'm signing "MORE." I don't care that I've eaten three pieces. I just used the sign. You are absolutely obligated to provide another treat until *I* decide I'm done. Waah!

Falling Apart.

I must visit a surgeon next Thursday because my intestines are popping out! It seems that my belly button never became an "innie" after S was born. It hurts. Every now and then I get sharp pains in my gut. I saw the general practitioner and he said it was time to "refer."

I'm kind of scared, mostly because I know the recovery time from surgeries like this can be pretty lengthy, which isn't a problem for most people. Just tell the kids to pick up the laundry basket themselves, or leave everything in the sink 'till Dad comes home and let Dad do the shopping. But I have a 35 pound toddler and a 20 pound infant. They don't change themselves, and are getting active enough to where it would be difficult for my 14-year-old to do it. I do thank God that these problems are coming up during the summer, when I would at least have Patrick at home like I did last year.

It was a miserable summer last year.

I was on bedrest with S, and I had promised the children allll through the month of June that we'd do really fun things in July... but... toward the end of June I was put on strict bedrest. S is worth it! I'm so glad every day that I have her. But it was a tough summer, full of worry over S (well, we thought "he" was Benjamin) and a lot of extra work for D and the children. And me, grumpy and sitting on the couch all day, being no help but wanting to do something. Well, I got an afghan crocheted out of the deal. I almost NEVER have time to sit and crochet. Even though it's a mauve colour, D has claimed it as his own and sleeps with it every night. Of course you could buy an afghan for a couple bucks somewhere, but it's special to have made something useful.

I like to be of use. I've been going over some of my old posts and wondering what kind of person I'd be remembered as if I were to die on the table. Morbid. But necessary. Would you remember me as someone petty and gossiping? Or bringing light into a dark world? I look at my speech and general decorum and see a bit of both. And friends, such things should not be.

I have been doing a bit of housekeeping with God this week. More likely than not, I'll be just fine. But I'm realizing that some spiritual rooms in my mind are getting a bit dusty. I think when God forbade Adam from eating of the tree of life that he may live forever in his sinful state, he did us all a favour. Imagine never having to examine your life and reflecting upon the fact that it is NOT forever. How horrible our long lives would be!

Hug somebody you love today and God bless ya! Really, things are fine, but I figured I'd share some thoughts with you.

12 June 2008

Homeschooling Hows and Whys - Part Three

Do you have to be given any kind of 'test' in order to homeschool your kids?

In the state of Missouri, no. Theoretically, I could be totally illiterate, but so long as I "provide instruction" in the core areas of reading, science, communication arts (that's English, all you old folks!), mathematics and social studies, and keep a record book and portfolio of my child's progress, it would be totally legal.

Though how to do all those things without at least a functionally literate friend involved in the process would be tricky.

I know you are not dumb, but what if some really dumb person wants to homeschool their kids? Then their spelling and maths etc. is hopeless too!

I don't want to misconstrue what Tracey is asking, because it's a good question. Why shouldn't there be some minimum standard to teach a child? Surely teaching a child is a very important undertaking. But I'm also of the opinion that parents, even very illiterate and/or unintelligent parents, for the most part have their child's best interest at heart. And most people know when they're in over their heads.

I need to hop on a little rabbit trail for a minute... bear with me and hop along, too...

Speaking comes quite naturally to most children. I can speak in full sentences, and my oldest child learned to speak well enough so that we were unconcerned about his speech. I didn't need to get an expert with a degree in speech therapy to help me. However, even though I'm an experienced parent, with my fifth child baby J, I'm calling in some help. J is almost 19 months now and does not even imitate sounds. Even though I'm "smart," I do not feel comfortable any longer doing this on my own without at least a little assistance and guidance from someone with some highly specific training on how to help children who are slow to speak.

The speech therapist doesn't come over and take over my parenting for eight to ten hours a day, but she does pop by once a week and help us learn a new sign or two and works with J a bit on signing. I think it's an unusual circumstance, however, that children are unable to function on a basic and age-appropriate level without specialists involved in their education. Usually Mom or Dad fits the bill just fine.

Ok, we're hopping back...

I suppose I have to flip the question upside-down in my mind as well. WHO is going to decide when I'm good enough? And why would they have that authority? Anytime I hear questions about my qualifications or lack thereof, I don't take it personally for myself. I'm college-educated and can turn a phrase reasonably well. People generally don't cackle at my typos and lack of good grammar. I'd probably be able to pass any test they could throw at me.

But what about other parents? There are plenty of very good parents raising their children who may not be able to express themselves as well, but who deserve every chance with their children. And it's my firm belief that we've sneered too much at the vocational-type student or the janitors and grocery-clerking jobs. There are vast numbers of folks working these jobs that keep our economy going and *deserve* to be proud of the work they do. And learning physics and reading Antigone in the original Greek are not qualifications for that work. Maybe we need to let up a little. It's a big world out there, and I'm not going to say that the mom who is raising her daughter to know very little about math but much about sewing is doing her a disservice.

I guess I'm just all for toleration of others, even while knowing that such toleration means that some parents really *will* do a crummy job. Some parents who send their kids to public schools do a crummy job, too, but I think that point may be immaterial to the matter at hand. I suppose I see the encroachment of the state into every area of my life, and I'd like my children's minds to be free.

Of course, I say that, and then I send my older two kids on the yellow school bus because I'm a hypocrite. *shrug* See? I need to be tolerant because I'm not perfect myself. ;]

Homeschooling Hows and Whys - Part Two

Do you ever think, "I can't do this!"?

Sometimes. Usually when I have both a toddler and an infant crying at the same time and one of the other children wants help on a math problem or needs me to explain something. I'm pretty sure public school teachers think the same thing, but instead of crying infants, they face administrative rules, angry parents, and a class full of gifted, average AND slow children. She (or he) is expected to teach them all from the same curriculum, not allow the gifted kids to get too bored or the slower to learn children driven too hard. Oh, but it all has to get done that year regardless, and there are no unit do-overs even if she discovers a quarter of her class didn't understand the concept when she graded their tests. She also has to maintain order and justify every consequence she gives to the child, parents and sometimes principal. She also has lunch duty.

Do you find it intimidating or do you enjoy it or both?

Do you know what I find intimidating? Teachers, principals and special ed folks at the schools who use teacherese to show they know more about your child than you do. I have a BA in English from a prestigious university (no, not Ivy League, more like ... one of the places people who can't get into the Ivy Leagues wind up), but I still don't understand eduspeak. I have figured out over time that, "Elf made some bad choices today" really means, "Lady, your kid sure acted bratty! You need to fix this and fast!" Otherwise, I'm nowhere close to bilingual on that one.

I like homeschooling most of the time. I especially like that I don't have to deal with snotty special ed teachers and principals, phone calls about my son's "bad choices," and homework. You'd think homeschooling is really homework, but it's the absolute opposite. Homework is when the teacher is basically telling YOU what to do with your evening. Homeschooling is you deciding what your kiddo learns, when and how. I no longer have to do mathematics in some strange convoluted way by adding left to right. I can teach my children right to left just as I was taught, and as long as we get the right answer, it's all good.

Happy Birthday, Elf!


Elf is eight years old today. This is his cake.

Bracelet Removal


Elf has been wearing this bracelet for years. It has his name and birthday on it and warns medical providers in an emergency that he has asthma. He hasn't used his asthma medication in several months. He has not had to go to the hospital all winter for asthma symptoms. The bracelet came off today. He will be surprised when he gets bigger that it used to be so large on him.

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...