31 August 2008

I Am A Hypocrite.

I just thought I'd get that out of the way right now. Often on more secular blogs, I'll see some pretty self-righteous atheist point to the likes of Larry Craig and go, "See? The ones that squawk the loudest about God and righteousness are just the ones that are the most hypocritical."

And you know, they're right.

I think knowing how righteous God is and how holy and perfect He is would make us look more and more grimy as we try to clean up our own act. Sure, there are some playacting Christians out there, but as Jesus said about the Pharisees, "They have their reward." Most of the time, though, the Christians I know try to please God. We just wind up failing pretty often, even though we have the Holy Spirit. See, we have bodies of flesh as well.

And you know, people like me enjoy being rational creatures. Several other blogs have turned the discussion to immunizations and the collective health. I think it's interesting that people are so SURE that immunizations reduce the risk of contracting certain diseases. In fact, the only way to know would be to expose the immunized people to the disease itself and then see how they fare. Without a lot of disease "out there," you just never know. Bonus for vaccine companies. I was immunized against the measles and still contracted it. How do I know my polio vaccine works?

I DON'T.

Sorry. I'm not telling everyone to quit vaccinating and I'm not even saying that I'm against vaccination per se. More that, what seems missing from any discussion is the obvious "sick people make other people sick." It isn't "unvaccinated children make other people sick." That's kind of a jump because the unvaccinated child has to be exposed to the germ AND get sick from it first.

I don't follow this "herd immunity" argument so well that's supposed to be so scientific. Please show me that it's true that X shot prevents mumps 95 % of the time by exposing 1000 immunized people to 5 billion mumps germs overnight and watching for the next month to see that only 50 get sick. Otherwise, where's the science? You can't just go by documented cases in a hospital and extrapolate the general population's health based on who shows up at the ER door. Sorry. Not everyone goes to the hospital even if they're very sick. And why is it that when I tell my story about contracting the measles, that I'm brushed off as an "unusual case," but when an UNVACCINATED couple of kids get the measles, it's front page news? Unfair. Both cases, strictly speaking, are "unusual."

At least right now. See, we've opted out of the MMR vaccine because the "rubella" part was developed with aborted fetal cells. But if a huge mumps outbreak happens and an estimated (see? estimated) 10 percent of the local population comes down with it, watch us be hypocrites and try to get our kids vaccinated anyway. Told you I was a hypocrite.

Well, more that I figure there is a time when standing up for something isn't worth it. I hear the stories of the mad gunman going round and asking people, "Are you a Christian?" and the people who say "yes" being killed. I have six children. Is that moment of acknowledging Jesus to an obviously deranged person worth losing my life and leaving them motherless? True, my pastor would be able to talk me up as a martyr and I *suppose* some people might come to know Jesus as a result. But to my mind, it's not worth it. I either acknowledge Jesus in my life every day or I don't. It doesn't come down to one "yes or no" moment, though I suppose it can in some cases. Maybe you just know it when you're in the middle of it, what to say.

Are you boycotting McDonald's? I am. And my dh has asked me not to go to Walgreen's. I forget why. But I went last night as I was very ill with the shakes and the fever and this is the only place in town with an all-night pharmacy. Yes, I have strep throat AGAIN. But I just thought I'd tell you how hypocritical I really am. There you go.

30 August 2008

"Look What Evil Bert Made Me Do!!"


D came up the stairs, showing his latest creation for baby S. A spiked bracelet, just what all the babies on the block want. I'm drawing the line at letting her go to sleep with it, though.

Bert is Evil.

Looks like someone out there has a "W" phobia. Still a cute video.

Mmmm-MM!

Hot dogs aren't too bad for you, and your risk of colon cancer is only "slightly" higher if you eat them frequently as an adult. And "contrary to legend, they do not contain animal eyeballs, hooves or genitals, according to the Hot Dog Council's Janet Riley. But the government does allow them to contain pig snouts and stomachs, cow lips and livers, goat gullets and lamb spleens."

Glad we got that cleared up. Happy Labour Day weekend!

Discrimination.

Emperor is a tender-hearted sort of person and wants everyone to be treated fairly. He was pretty upset about the bathroom door signs depicting "men" and "women." I asked him why expecting the usual sort of "why does the girl HAVE to wear the dress" sort of inquiry.

Instead I got, "Why does this store only give the woman ONE LEG but the man gets TWO? That isn't right! She should get two legs, too."

Yes, the world is indeed an unfair place. The girl, kiddo, has to stand with her feet together because she's wearing a skirt. You wouldn't understand.

29 August 2008

Pumpkin.


It looks more orange now, but not round like you'd expect. More like an orange and green pepper. The children water it frequently when they water themselves in the front yard during the week. I have some pics of this I will share later.

Yes, For Elf.


He really *does* think he is an elf. I can't explain it. Maybe it's the autism or maybe he's just quirky. But he will tell you that he IS AN ELF. He works at the Keebler factory every night and every grocery trip we MUST BUY one of "his" products that he worked so hard on. No, I am *not* kidding. Whenever a certain sibling wants to tease him and get him *really upset,* he just needs to matter-of-factly keep telling him that he is not an elf because elves aren't real. Elf gets very upset because that's just his brother's way of saying that HE is not real and doesn't matter. (pout)

My Older Child.

Patrick lately has been really picking on me. I'm genuinely upset and have cried alone about this many times. Just the way I MOVE in public will inspire him to harshly criticise me in front of everyone. At church on Wednesday, I made some sort of gesture while talking (I honestly don't remember what!!) and Patrick saw it through the window and loudly questioned me IN PUBLIC a moment later as to whether I was doing some "Hallelujah" move to impress my Pentecostal friends.

When I try to lay down the law and make him quit being so disrespectful, I get this "Oh, but I have no clue what I did wrong and I was just wondering" kind of thing. I think I would rather he just come out on the WAY to church and say he hates being where we are and would rather go to the Baptist church again. Then I could tell him that it's tough crap, go deal with it until you get your own car and now we're getting near the door so please pretend to be all holy n stuff. Well, I only half- kid here. I honestly don't mind if he's more of a Presbyterian sort of a fellow, so long as he doesn't give gobs of money to the denomination we used to go to that now supports un-Christian lifestyles. To each their own, honestly.

Or yesterday. We were literally walking up the steps to get into his school for an "open house" thing and he tells me that we pulled Elf out of school too quickly and that we lacked wisdom from God.

!!

Oh, and while I was about fuming and not knowing what to say, he added that if *only* I had stuck things out with Elf, he wouldn't learn that he'll get his way and can quit school and stay home with mom. And I should have waited for a summer break.

Oh, my word. I'm sure there are a lot of teachers and parents wondering why I was on the steps of a public school giving my son a run-down on the evils of the local elementary and telling him he had SOME NERVE to even THINK that we just pulled our son out of school as some sort of knee-jerk reaction to "not getting our way."

I mean, yeah, "kid-locked-in-a-closet-regularly" DOES EQUAL "not getting our way." So we should have stayed? And it was a knee-jerk reaction when I'd been bugging his dad FOR MONTHS to pull the kid? And I have a chip on my shoulder regarding public education? Damn straight, I do. (Yeah... sigh. Now I'm cussing.) Thanks for pointing it out and getting me all fumed RIGHT BEFORE meeting all the ps educators!! By the way, I happen to LIKE all the teachers I've met that are working with Patrick and G. I think I said several nice things about the teachers and staff but made one comment about the mazelike building during the two hours we were there and got trounced again by Patrick. The boy infuriates me.

The building is actually a real firetrap. Full of stairs up, down and sideways. I won't tell you where we are exactly, but it was actually the setting of a famous horror film, ok? I never saw the film, but I'm sure the film had lots of running in the narrow, twisting, windowless corridors and up and down those stairs. This feature is too scary to leave OUT of the film. I'm thinking axe or chainsaw and a chase scene would be ideal... In any event, just last year a child fell down the stairs and broke his ankle and I can easily see how that happened. Easily. Add to that the fact that the building has been added to and that the bottom stair isn't always the bottom stair (it can be two inches off the ground and you think it's level - too late!) and some literally HILLY floors in the 100-year-old building and you can at least see where I'm coming from. One of the teachers joked with me that the children wanted to hide cheese for the parents tonight, it's such a mouse-maze.

Usually, when someone bugs me, I just stay away from that person or place. If I fight with my husband, well, he works all day AND most weekends. So we're ok. And if I fight with G, he has a terrible grasp on "how to win a verbal fight" and I can effortlessly run circles around him in that department. If only he weren't so loud and screaming the same two tired insults, I would win every time. And the younger kids still listen to Mom occasionally.

I alternate between praying for Patrick and wanting to pop him on the head with his schoolpapers. Probably just my displaced anger at the school district coming out. My bad.

Censorship in the Kingdom.

American Bedu was recommended by a dear online friend of mine. I read it, but usually get too steamed to comment. (And you thought that wasn't possible...) The comments are perhaps more enlightening than the blog, and in the past have included remarks about how the Saudis are RIGHT in outlawing the Bible because those obnoxious Christians keep going on and on about that Hellfire and damnation thing and stirring up trouble in our land... so it's a security issue, not a religious freedom one, because the people will start to get all upset...

Well, anyway.

It's an informative blog, complete with pictures. Some of the latest are copies of Glamour and the like all doctored up so that cleavage doesn't show. To which I have to say, well, that's censorship for ya, but not something I wanted to look at anyway... but toward the end of this post, some censor has marked out Piglet so as not to offend Muslim sensibilities. I keep thinking that it must be a fun job to run around town with a black marker and deface property... and get paid for it. What do you think?

28 August 2008

Knockout Roses.


We've lived here 11 years. In that time, I haven't found ANYTHING that will grow right in front of my house except for the occasional weed. Except for these "knockout roses." They're quite expensive even for a tiny pot, and this plant is over two years old. But they do very nicely and add some interest to my front door. I wish I had a lot more of them, or that they could grow much more quickly than my weeds.

Please Help Me.

I don't pretend to be any sort of an expert on racial matters. The few times I see people speaking "non-standard English" I literally *cannot* understand them. Literally. There are very few black, Hispanic or "other" races among my very small circle of acquaintance. So when someone says something about black "culture" or whatever, I feel I have nothing of import to say.

What I *feel* like saying is that all these people are Americans just like me and should be treated exactly alike... that we need to quit making a big deal about who is what colour for EVERYONE's sake. But then again, I see such very differing opinions on this matter, and I cannot disparge someone on another side of the affirmative action argument on a personal level. They have their reasons for feeling it's a good idea.

Anyway, a comment was left on my blog about the various races, and I'm in a quandry. I feel that God created Adam and Eve and all the people came from these two people. Therefore, it's impossible for there to be an inferior or superior race. Yet, it would be rather asinine of me to assume there is no difference. Obviously one group is more likely to get sickle cell anemia and the other is more likely to have skin cancer. So there are BIOLOGICAL differences between the races.

You *do* see where I am going with this...

I can't say we're all the same. More that, do we need to belabour the point that there ARE differences? I think we should all be treated equally and let the chips fall where they may. Though, I'd like everyone to stop keeping track of where the chips are falling. Everybody quit counting chips, please. If God is God, there should be enough chips for everyone.

Perhaps I have put off having a discussion on this issue with my middle children because I don't know what to say. It never came up with the big kids! But gracious if right in the middle of Doctor Dolittle, it doesn't mention "niggers" and "red" people. They're outright spoken of as "stupid" people, and yet here Bumpo the Prince is going to Oxford? (Um, ok.)

I don't want to get sickly multicultural on my children JUST for the sake of being "nice" that way. To me, that would be paternalistic or self-destructive (you pick) to give the idea that all cultures are of equal standing in the world. But I do want to be fair and even-handed in my own criticisms and commendations. I've pointed out, even within the book, about the distrust the animals and the Africans feel about the people from the "Land of the White Man" because they are very greedy and don't respect the land. Doctor Dolittle seems to be the exception.

The children would like to know why people are different colours. I have no clue what to say. I used to be able to say things like, well, because his ancestors came from Europe, or Africa, or whatever... But on this issue, I can't see an explanation in the Bible, and to me, Darwin is totally out. I guess I just have gone through life *not thinking* about where all the people came from, but the children don't seem to forget. They keep asking. I guess I have run out of ways to evade the question! I want to give a fair explanation, but so far, the ones I've run across haven't been God-honouring and/or written on a level I can understand.

Suggestions?

27 August 2008

Johnny Can't Read... Because Schools Don't Teach BOYS?

I sure didn't say it. This FOX NEWS article did. What do you think of the premise that schools are not teaching boys well and are more geared toward female learning styles? The gap widens as the children age:

"Many boys are disengaging from school," Kleinfeld says. "The U.S. Department of Education’s surveys of student commitment show that boys are far less likely than girls to do homework or to come to school with the supplies they need."

Um, OK. So... the kids are in school for eight hours daily already. Cut out the homework. They forget their stuff and are disorganized? Help them out and keep the supplies at school. I'm not advocating a lack of responsibility for boys. I'm just saying that if HALF your student body has a problem with something, it's time to change it and do a little accomodating, don't you think? And really, most BUSINESSES have things like pens and paper at the desks. Do we need to get all anal about which kid brings a pen to which class? If we have significant achievement gaps, I'm thinking we have other things to worry about, you know, besides a stupid pen.

*IF* it's true that boys lag a little developmentally (which I doubt; I think they simply develop differently), then perhaps gearing classes more toward what they need would be helpful. It's great that girls do well in school as a whole. But we can do so much better with our young men. Why are they feeling disenfranchised in public schools? Quote:

In separate research that Kleinfeld is also preparing for publication, she has possibly gotten to the root of the problem. "Here's a fascinating fact," she said. "There is no literacy gap in home-schooled boys and girls."

"Why? In school, teachers emphasize reading literature and talking about character and feelings," she said. "This way of teaching reading does not turn boys on. Boys prefer reading nonfiction, such as history and adventure books. When they are taught at home, parents are more likely to let them follow their interests."

My thoughts: then it's time to figure out what the boys are interested in. Right now we're reading Doctor Dolittle. This is great stuff. Even my son who just turned seven can read this and understand it with minimal help. They're going on voyages and discovering new places. Or even "girl" books like Pippi Longstocking have an adventurous twist. No reason girls have to feel excluded from literature. Certainly there are enough great classics out there to enrapture all young readers.

In any event, my point was that when something isn't working for a LARGE percentage of your students like that in the long-term, it's time to re-evaluate what's going on and how it needs fixing.

Raising Ungodly Horseradishes.

Contrary to popular wisdom, I do not "tomato stake" my children, but let them run about town doing whatever they want. If only I were a better parent!! I've missed my chance. What you need to do to be a great mom in some philosophies is get a medium sized blanket when the child is small. When he starts to leave the blanket, tell him firmly, "no" one time. Next time? Wallop.

Next time? Wallop.

Next time? Wallop.

Next time? Wallop.

..."accompany it with a gentle, but firm tap on the diaper. Repeat, with reasonable pauses, until your baby listens. Do not let him do anything else until he obeys."

Doggone it, but I'm a lazy, lax ol' mom and I just strip rooms bare and gate the crawlers inside with me. Then we watch tv and eat cheerios off a small carpet sample mat together. I rotate toys. I send children into the area to play horsey or ring-a-rosy while I clean the kitchen or whatever. I just don't go to all the necessary work I'd have to do to make the children mind me perfectly next to knives or knick-nacks... I confine them to safety-gated rooms or spend time in other rooms with the younger ones only when I have the energy to run after them constantly.

Confession over. I imagine I'm not the only one who can't be bothered training children properly. Thanks for listening!

Just Because I Feel Like Posting It.

Does the state have the right to make medical decisions? Interesting question, regardless of your opinion on childhood vaccines, their efficacy and their safety:

"Mandates have a profound effect on medical practice. Once a vaccine is mandated for children, the manufacturer and the physician administering the vaccine are substantially relieved of liability for adverse effects.(3) The relationship of patient and physician is shattered: in administering the vaccine, the physician is serving as the agent of the state. To the extent that the physician simply complies, without making an independent evaluation of the appropriateness of the vaccine for each patient, he is abdicating his responsibility under the Oath of Hippocrates to "prescribe regimen for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone." Instead, he is applying the new population-based ethic in which the interests of the individual patient may be sacrificed to the "needs of society."

If a physician advises against a mandated vaccine, he faces increased legal liability if the patient is infected with the disease. In addition, he may risk his very livelihood if he is dependent upon income from "health plans" that use vaccine compliance as a measure of "quality.""

The above is just a short excerpt from a lengthy article, and the website has several interesting little nooks. Enjoy!

Muslims = Cheaters?

Eileen posts from an Islamic country somewhere overseas and has been my blog friend for some time. She did this post for me because I heard about a philosophy that it's "ok" to cheat a non-Muslim. I think it's an enlightening read and you might want to visit and say hi. A short quote from her post:

"What this is all about is that the person in question (doing the cheating) is already WANTING to cheat, is a dishonest person. He is looking for an excuse. This isn’t about religion; it’s about who’s in the IN group, and who’s in the OUT group. The person is essentially looking for a reason to rip someone off, and is rationalizing it by saying to himself, 'This person is not one of us, so it’s OK.'

...Islam does NOT say it is OK to lie; but SOME Muslims have the idea that saying your prayers washes out all your sins (kind of like “confession” in Catholicism). We had a maid who used to pilfer constantly, yet she was always praying! My fifteen-year-old Muslim daughter pointed out to me, 'Mom, if she wants it, she takes it. That’s all. She just thinks that if she prays, it takes away all her sins!'"

26 August 2008

Elf Will Never Sleep Again.

I made the mistake of telling him just before his bedtime that if *only* he could think of a machine that could get to the bottom of the ocean and get all the sunken treasure, that he would be rich beyond his wildest imaginings.

So far, we have calculated a $300,000 "tithe" to the church based on money he hasn't even gotten yet. He's flapping his hands and *shaking* all over and planning his world tour of "Kenya" and China as well as Africa. (Was he thinking "Kenya" was somewhere besides Africa?) He is going to buy a new Lego set. He is going to the zoo. Both in the same day. "Oh... I'm so excited!" he said.

Now he is singing upstairs and his brother has just told him that not only could he buy a Lego set, he can buy TWO LEGO SETS with the money.

Elf will never sleep again. All he has to do is just think of this invention, and he's set. Small detail, that.

Homeschool Interview

Sunniemom has alerted me to a blogging meme over at Raising Explorers, where a parent is informally gathering information to try to decide if homeschooling is right for her family. Click on over if you want to be part of the self-interview. My answers are in red.

Q1: Have you home studied (whether unschool or home school) from the beginning or after removing your child from public or private school? If the latter, go to Q2. If always home study, go to Q3. We removed Elf from public school after we came to the point where we realized the school wasn't really working in our child's best interests. For background on this, please see the post on why we homeschool on my sidebar.

Q2: Did you remove your child from public or private school during the school term, or during the summer break? Please describe the transition period. Did you and your child(ren) require a long transition before becoming comfortable in your decision and new lifestyle? We had many problems with the school being unable to handle Elf and his needs because of his autism. He only attended school for three hours a day, and most of his classwork was being sent home anyway. I reasoned that with all the trouble we were having, that we could get the work done on our own timetable and in our own manner by homeschooling. When my husband finally agreed after a particularly stressful meeting at our school, I had printed up a sheet simply stating that I was withdrawing my son from the school rolls. I presented this paper an hour after our decision was made to the principal and told Elf to go get his stuff because he wasn't coming back.

This is not a method I would recommend for the average homeschooler. I need to emphasize that this wasn't a spur of the moment decision, but one that had been looming on the horizon for quite some time. When my husband finally gave the OK, I wanted to be sure to start right away. I was ready.

Poor Elf on several occasions before this happened had been begging for me to "take me out of this horrible place" and had expressed his unhappiness on several occasions. He was sad to leave his "friends," but he enjoys being able to cook and do field trips he wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Q3: Which method of home study has your family chosen to follow? Home school, unschool, or something completely different? We use the curriculum-in-a-box, mostly from Bob Jones. We also use the public school curriculum, but an older edition of what the school is currently using. (They were updating their texts and so I got these for free. At least in this subject, I can be sure that we are comparing apples to apples.) We also add in field trips and study extra things sometimes as my children show interest. Instead of just moving on to the next thing, sometimes we study a subject more in depth or do, say, a short unit study on a sea creature or tree before going to the next chapter.

Q4: I can see many benefits to making the change, though I am sure I am unaware of all of them. It’s more difficult for me to see possible negative effects this may have. Can you list any negative effects that removing the child(ren) from school has had on your family, in any way? I think the biggest negative would be the perception of others who don't homeschool, especially in the beginning. I mean, here I am just getting used to how to do this whole thing, and then being asked things like "how you do it" and that sort of thing gets a little unnerving. Now that I'm less nervous about other people's perceptions about things, this isn't so bad. Another negative, I think, is the idea that other children get that my children are socially weird because they homeschool. They're in fact socially weird because at least two of them are autistic. Growing up with autistic siblings or being autistic yourself doesn't quite make you the most astute creature in this area. I think as the children grow up, they may miss many lower-cost opportunities public school children get such as orchestra and after-school clubs.

Has home study had any unexpected positive effects? If yes, please list a couple. Aaah... doing all the work and teaching things MY WAY instead of the school's way is very refreshing. I'm teaching the public school math, but I teach addition and subtraction from right to left with borrowing and carrying. Public schools now teach it from left to right, and with little lattices and other unwieldy methods. It's very difficult to switch gears and do things the "school's way" when I've already learned it another way. Perhaps this is just a preference on my part.

Q5: What is the most difficult aspect, in your opinion, of your home study method (home school or unschool). The most difficult aspect is actually keeping my cool when the infants are pooping and screaming during key teaching times. It is very unnerving. But that's my individual circumstance and I don't know if you find that information helpful.

Q6. Did you make the decision to home study with your child(ren)’s input about their schooling preference or did you decide to do this without your child(ren)’s opinion about public/private schooling? Why did you decide to include or exclude your child(ren)’s opinion in this matter? Elf was six and felt school was horrible, but he was at an age I wouldn't consider his opinion as being of equal importance to my own. I certainly did understand that school was a bad experience for him, which is WHY we considered this option seriously in the first place.

Q7. Do you ever have the feeling that maybe you’re not living up to the standard, in education, you wish for your child? Why or why not? Oh, sure. That's just good parenting. I have older children in public school and occasionally I feel sad I didn't home educate them because I see several gaps in their schooling. Sometimes I see gaps in my younger homeschooled kids and wish there was time to fill in all of those. There simply are going to be "gaps" in anyone's education. The important things such as reading, writing and being able to balance a checkbook are paramount, but beyond that, my public school children and homeschooled children are more apples n oranges. I hope they both enter the world prepared for its challenges.

Q8. How does your family supplement social interaction (with other children) in your home study method? Not very well. My children are in fact socially odd. They were odd when they attended public school as well, in all fairness.

Q9. Are there any subjects or topics, common in public school curriculum, that you either refuse to teach your child or believe and teach very differently from public school curriculum - or believe to be inappropriate for the age which it is introduced in public school? For example, first grade public school introduces slavery, which I believe to be inappropriate for the age of my son. Oh, boy. I made the mistake of trying to teach about slavery to my son and he went and asked the black lady at Hy-Vee if her boss knew she was away from the farm. Thankfully he was SIX and wath mithhhing hith front teefffth and wasn't very well understood. You're wise to skip this topic until the child doesn't get nightmares about it (yep). Actually, I'm not all that averse to what is being taught in the public schools at this age, but I might wind up teaching something different -- say, on plants rather than the water cycle for now and do the water cycle later. Since I buy my curriculum pre-packaged, I for the most part follow the lessons and add a few of my own.

Q10. Has your child ever shown interest in something that you just don’t know anything about - and would take a long time for you to learn? What was it and what was your solution for aiding them in learning about it? For example, if your child wanted to play an instrument that you do not know - it’s very expensive to get lessons (I would not be able to afford this), where as it is free, outside of instrument cost, in public school. I suppose in theory, I could enroll my children part-time, but *right now* there are many things to learn about that I do feel capable of teaching. This is something I've thought about and would deal with in different ways depending on the situation and how expensive it would be to contract out.

I hope my questions and answers are helpful to you and other readers.







Against Public Education?

No, I'm really not. In theory. But danged if I don't feel that way when I read stories about abuse in schools, tax money being wasted, and children not only being left behind, but being written off entirely.

(... brief aside... Just *think* about the barely above-poverty white people and the treatment they get. They do NOT MATTER, my friend. Sorry. Please note that NCLB *never* would compare whites to Asians or Indians (from India!) in mathematics or engineering, or care about whites making progress in schools... now my aside is over... back to the post... )

Then when I read stories like this about the NEA organizing and giving $50 million to Obama I just go over the top. The subheadline? "Educators organize to help voters make best choices for children."

Thanks, NEA. I'm so glad when things make you look bad, you want to "concentrate" on educating children... but other times when the heat isn't on, you'd like to tell me and my children what and how to think. They're so wise and respected, you see:

"No one is better positioned to influence their neighbors on wise political choices than educators, who are among the most respected messengers in America. In every poll that rates the most influential Americans, educators-our members-are at the top."

Yeah, bayybee. Educators, take note: this sort of pandering and "I'm better than you" tone taken by organizations that REPRESENT YOU is but one of the reasons people don't respect teachers as they did in the "old days." My apologies to those of you trying to make a difference in public education. Hat tip: Darren.

Thanks, Jack and Annie!


Jack and Annie in Australia have sent us back our Flat Stanleys after their adventures. They enclosed a note and a gift of an Australia puzzle, some Vegemite, and some "footy" cards. I'm sure you'll love the Vegemite videos, but let's just say that we enjoy the footy cards and the puzzles a bit more LOL!

Emperor Eating Vegemite

Emperor has been going on and on for MONTHS about how he's going to move to Australia. About how when the Vegemite arrives, he'll prove he is a natural Australian. Yum! The poor fellow literally vomited about four times after this video was made. I'm sorry, but I don't think he's booking a flight anytime soon. There are many other nice things about Australia, though.

G Eating Vegemite

Elf Eating Vegemite.

25 August 2008

No Trustpassing.


Please do not trustpass into Elf and Emperor's room. You've been worned.

Progress

I'm guessing no one else in America had this as an educational goal, but Elf and Emperor have finally, after nearly two years of practice, learned to crack eggs without getting chunks of shell into the bowl. The egg no longer goes slimy-flying across the room, either.

Today I am celebrating this fact by having the boys make a double batch of brownies and doing the messy eggs themselves. I will help only by throwing whatever it is they make into the oven. Wish them the best!

Ideal School?

If you couldn't homeschool or send your child to private school, what would the ideal school be like?

I'd like school to be year-round with lots of little breaks rather than have children go crazy for months on end, only to later find themselves dragging in monotony later in the year. I'd also have school cover academic subjects only, and last only through fifth grade.

I'm really racking my brain, but I honestly think I haven't used any of the education I received much after the fifth grade. Sure, I learned several other things and I can use that information, but what I mean is that the major processes of learning are in place around then. I know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. I can read a map tolerably well. I can read and construct a sentence.

Since I'm not a physicist, I don't need the specialized science and math training. Ditto for dog trainer knowledge while we're at it. But I think in addition to saving lots of money, it would be nice if schools ended 'round about fifth grade or further subdivided into specialty schools. It pains me to see my autistic son, G, who is in special ed, struggle in classes that he really is never going to use later on. The schools seem to be required to squeeze every child into some college prep class. G can fool himself for now, but that's not for him... it just isn't. He can't even read my blog posts with encouragement, I'm sorry to say.

It would have been far more helpful to teach the child a little about finance charges, checkbooks and the like. G's particular manifestation of autism makes it difficult for *me* to teach him at this late stage as the differences between mom and teacher are solidified in his brain.

I've noticed a real trend toward technology as well in the public schools, and it's a trend I'm not sure I support. D, who is a computer programmer, does. But you know, he only began to use computers in college and turned out just fine. Do kindergarteners really need to click on "A" for apple? I'm thinking a stick and some dirt, just like I learned to write. And it was good enough for Jesus, you know? Hey, that's another thing. I've noticed in Christian circles a real trend toward finding out how things were in Bible times and then trying to do that. The thing I don't get about that is that the Pharisees were the educated ones and are we really trying to emulate them? Just wondering.

24 August 2008

Games My Homeschoolers Play.

Yes, it's true that our homeschoolers are a little socially strange. So happens my students fit the stereotype in that respect, perhaps because Elf is autistic. Or perhaps it's just because we're socially strange. I'll have to admit further that homeschooling these children has led to a number of strange "games" Elf and Emperor have made up and played with each other:

Charybidis and assorted strange games. Not content to simply pretend to be Odysseus and fight monsters, suitors and the gods themselves, we must do odd things like place a duck in the bathtub, pull the plug and see if Charybidis will suck Odysseus and his ship into the vortex. Squeals of glee as the poor duck swirls about and gurgles to the draintop.

The Pushmi-Pullyu game. Link arms and try to be a two-headed Pushmi-Pullyu, just like in the Doctor Dolittle book. Act surprised when something gets broken. Give a pretend demonstration detailing how the animal pees.

The Nathan Hale game. Sneak around the house spying like Nathan Hale. Take turns being the British who decide to have lotsa fun taking his "but one life," complete with sound effects. Sigh.

The Octopus Jet-Propel game. Octopi have a special valve that helps them propel in the water. Wonder why Mom insists the children go outside if they must be jet-propelled octopi careening at full speed ahead!

Sydney funnel-web spider game. Nothing says fun like "the deadliest spider in the world" attacking unsuspecting passers-by. Kill spiders in your room with your plastic light saber while making battle noises and accidentally hitting each other. Claim to have killed several dozen of these non-native menaces. Keep a shoe in your room for just-in-case as well. Argue loudly while Mom is eating lunch about whether "it's dead yet" and, "No, YOU pick it up and see..." followed by loud screams when they figure out it isn't quite as dead as they'd figured...

23 August 2008

House Arrest, No Ho-Hos.

I'm thinking this lady needs to be put on house arrest at her own expense. It really miffs me to see people with "specialized medical needs" getting medical care for free on my dime. I mean, by that logic, if you have cancer or some other expensive disease, you should continue to shoplift gum packets until they put you away for a few years. Then when you're all better and the cancer treatment is over, you can be released and still own your own home. Yayy.

On the other hand, these arguments of being "too pretty" or "too fat" for jail really miff me, too. If this woman is truly guilty of child murder, she needs the full penalty of the law just like anyone else. I'm really, really fat, but the thing I don't understand about people who are even MORE really, really fat than me is how they can get INTO their houses and get really big to the point where they can't leave the front door.

WHO IS STUPID ENOUGH to feed this woman so much food that she can't leave her own house?? I mean, everyone deserves to eat, but surely *someone's* feeding her a bit more than 1,500 calories a day doncha think? Would *you* be a "friend" to someone who lies on her bed all day and requests, say, 10 buckets of KFC extra crispy for dinner and bring it to her? I think I'd pretend to start lovin' alfalfa sprouts and bring her something with wheat bread. I mean, what's she going to do, come to my house and see me eating ice cream and being a hypocrite?

I need to quit reading the news. I leave with more questions about humanity than is probably right for me to even ask.

Photo by G


I lent G the camera to take some pics for his blog, and he took this pic of baby J with his new haircut. He says I can post this pic on my blog. J can sign "cereal" now, so giving him food he doesn't like isn't an option anymore if I like this thing called "quiet meals." Further, since the child can say "ball," he can specify that he wants the super sugary chocolate ball cereal with marshmallow bits included. I think D got that kind because the regular chocolate cereal didn't have enough sugar in it, and he was concerned about his childrens' growth being stunted without an adequate daily sugar intake (or ADSI for you science people who like to abbreviate stuff).

Public School Students Must Wear GPS Monitor

"Students and parents must understand that attending school is not optional," [Judge] Penn said. "When they fail to attend school, they are breaking the law."

According to this FOX NEWS article, the "law" allows for so-called "truant" students to be tracked by a non-removable GPS monitor. Their every move will be tracked, but only for their own good.

I'm *sure* that forcing children to school in this fashion will make for excellent students who are the pride of their schools. These students will be diligent in their studies and their deportment will be one the teachers look forward to witnessing on a daily basis.

I'm sorry for the teachers and students who have to share a classroom with these children.

I understand the concept of a "free and appropriate education," but honestly, I think after about 14, students should be able to drop out or attend as they and their parents wish. And as much as I hate the stupidity of the rules of large institutions like public schools, there DO need to be some rules for all the students to follow. In my opinion, the court-ordering of older children to attend school and the methods used for enforcement will not make for citizens who respect or obey the law. Further, the costs associated with enforcement could be used on other things.

22 August 2008

Reasons I'm Not Buying Sonlight.

I've been following Luke and his story for some time now. He's an expectant adoptive dad and a real nut for Sonlight Curriculum. He posts a lot about it on his blog. I mean, here he doesn't even have children yet and he has plans that THIS is going to be the educational method they'd use. Sounded pretty interesting to me, so I went to check out the Sonlight website and see what it was like. I don't remember seeing Sonlight for sale through CBD (where I get all my other homeschool stuff) and have heard of some of the ladies on the MOMYs board using it with mixed reviews. (FYI, usually the people who don't like it seem to have several children of very different ages and they like the "Tapestry of Grace" stuff.) Well, I like browsing through the CBD website before buying anything because usually I can see a "sample" of what the curriculum is like.

In any event, I browsed the Sonlight website so I could see their samples and it *looked* like some of the outlines in the material was comparable to Bob Jones. But I appreciated the disclaimer:

"Sonlight Curriculum is not for everyone. We have never pretended it could be.
If a Sonlight Core program is inappropriate for you, we believe you will be far happier to discover that now, while you’re reading our catalog, rather than later, after you have become frustrated and wasted time trying to use a program that’s not 'you.'"

And reading through some of the reasons it might not be "for me," I realized that this would be a purchase I don't want to make. I'll stick with the Bob Jones stuff because I like having my scripts. I also like everything only presented from a conservative Christian worldview, at least when teaching this age group. I also came away thinking that if I had a friend who was just curious about how to do homeschool, that this would be one of several sites I'd send her way to investigate.

Hey, I really appreciated the heads-up!! I almost thought of emailing them a thank-you, but then thought the better of it. Who wants to know that the website convinced a potential customer NOT to buy their stuff? They really seem consumer-friendly on their website, though. They even have a little clickable "bug" so that you can tell them if something on their site "bugs" you LOL!

I wish all schools and school programs would do that. Or imagine the local public schools having to REALLY compete with homeschool and other programs and advertise? Wouldn't that be fun to read those "send your kid to our school" ads mixed in with your other homeschool fliers?

21 August 2008

After the Rain.


After a rainshower or a good watering, the pumpkin grows. Look at how big it is getting! This is growing in our front yard from seeds obtained from LAST year's pumpkin. It's fun to see it change as the weeks go by.

Biblical Submission.

Hopefully these are very hypothetical questions, but let's pretend so I can find your take on these issues. Ready?

1. The major presidential candidates are Uzziah Smith and Jesse Jones. You really like Uzziah Smith. But your husband tells you to vote for Jones for president instead of Smith. You think some of what Mr. Jones talks about isn't biblical, but your husband points out that Smith isn't perfect, either. Somehow you think that though Smith has his faults, he's a better candidate than Jones. Your vote?

2. Your husband is a devout churchgoer with you, but lately a famous evangelist has appeared at your church and has asked for money. He talks about obedience to the "man of God" being the same as obeying "what the man of God said to do" and he backs it up scripturally with some verses you think are taken out of context ... but now the "spirit of God" has just told your husband that your life savings is to go into the ministry so that you can trust God better. He's quoting Jesus and his words to the rich man and saying God "spoke to him" today on this during his private prayer time. Your husband would like your signature on this form remortgaging the house, please. He has already made up his mind and said that your trying to give "input" at this point is outright disobedience and a spirit of witchcraft in his home. So, are you going to do what God told your husband you should do or not?

3. Your husband is a wonderful man... when he's sober. He keeps saying he's not using, but you know better. Now the house is in foreclosure and he's a mess. Stay with him at the homeless shelter and give him one more chance, or bring the kids and move in with your mom? Your mom has made it very clear your deadbeat husband ain't coming.

Ok, no fair posting about what a wonderful husband you have or are yourself. Please pretend this is a real situation that is happening to you and your husband is NOT amenable to discussion. Let's hear it.

20 August 2008

Bad Hair Day!


Every day! My mom carefully does my hair in a little pony in the morning. I look so cute before 8 a.m. Then my brother tries to steal my hair doodle and EAT IT! It isn't fair that all my fashion accessories are drooled upon!

19 August 2008

Legal Child Abuse?

The following quote (with my notes in red) comes from our local school's "student handbook" on page 11. I'm not going to link to it, but those of you who know what school district I live in (same as "city name, state") can access the handbook online by doing a search for the district and finding it. It concerns "recovery rooms," which is eduspeak for "locking a child in a closet as punishment." Read for yourself:

If the student is too angry or disruptive in the Buddy Room (another classroom to which the teacher sends the child who has "disruptive behaviour...),
they will be sent to the Recovery Room where they will be
allowed time to calm down and time to develop other methods
of handling their behavior with the assistance of the Recovery
Room Staff (Um, I have lived in this district 11 years and have never seen specially assigned "Recovery Room Staff." Usually it's just the teacher or, if she's busy teaching a class, whichever administrator or other staff member who feels like taking on this task or has the misfortune of being in the hallway at that moment). Occasionally, a student will be sent directly to
the Recovery Room if the sending teacher believes the
student is indicating it is the safest place for the student to be.
A plan will be written by the Recovery Room supervisor and
the student (Yeah, I'm sure the student will agree to anything, and in WRITING, to get out of the flippin' locked closet, thanks...) and discussed with the sending teacher.
Processing must take place before the student can return to
class. (And do you know what "processing" is? The handbook makes it clear that that's when the student "takes responsibility" for his actions and has written a "Think Sheet" detailing the problem and how it will "look better next time." I'm not saying sometimes these students don't need to take ownership of their behaviour, but the way it's written is so dictatorial as to be amazing. Confess and you'll be released... even prisoners get better treatment in America.)

From the Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services pdf on "recovery rooms:"

/Such disciplinary methods should never be used as punishment. Restraint and seclusion are last-resort methods and should be treated as such.

"I’m afraid that these methods are used more than a lot of people realize, and they are harmful to the students who experience them -- not just physically, but mentally too," says Byron Koster, a Senior Advocate with Missouri Protection and Advocacy, who has been receiving reports from parents whose children have been subjected to inappropriate restraint or unnecessary seclusion./

Preach it, Mr. Koster. I'll sit in the Amen corner and wave the hanky.

OK, But If EVERYONE Did It...

Let's pretend you're a bigoted jerk. Suppose you had an awful experience playing Super Mario Kart Dash as a child and now you have a real problem working with Italian people. Let's say you run a business and you don't hire any. Probably, unless you live in a mostly Italian neighbourhood, no one's going to notice. And hey, I'm all for a great workplace environment, and if I were Italian, I wouldn't want to work with an idiot like you, anyway.

But suppose EVERYONE has similar opinions on Italians. Where are they going to work and live?

Same thing with colleges. I'm reading about how colleges want to select graduates of high schools offering those classes they feel prepare students for courses at the college level. Sounds great, until you figure out that most universities dislike Christian coursework because it discourages individual thought and the like. Extremely conservative Christians can go rot, because they can accept a few Unitarians and call themselves a free and diverse campus :].

Housing? What if you don't want to sell to a former child molester? Or a totally legally practicing abortionist? Should there be these equal housing laws in place to make sure you're "fair" to all purchasers? Or maybe you're just a plain ol' bigot and don't like Mexicans. What then? Should we be of the opinion that it's your house and you can be a closed-minded pig if you want to hold out for a white purchaser?

I really hate the government getting all involved in every aspect of our lives, but it does bother me that people can get away with being nasty. I can understand a law stating that you don't have to rent to illegal immigrants and other criminals. And I can understand if you're looking to SHARE an apartment that you should be able to discriminate against gay folks or people who make you uncomfortable, because you'll be sharing a bathroom. But I don't understand Christians who say they wouldn't rent an apartment to a gay couple. That it's enabling their lifestyle. Maybe. But would they turn them away from getting their weekly staples at the local Safeway, too? Because nothing enables someone to keep on livin' like food. Where's the love? It doesn't mean you think what they're doing is the right thing if you were to rent them an apartment. Sigh.

OK, so I see both sides of this debate. It bothers me when people are supposed to be professional in a certain area, and then they act bigoted, though.

Our family physician informed us by registered mail that we were NOT to come back to his office ever again, except for emergencies. The office was kind to give us ONLY 30 days of this "grace" for emergencies, too. Oh, and we can transfer our medical records to someone else to the tune of $2 a page. Let's see, with six children and about 20-25 pages each, you figure out who's being treated badly. I think it's because we refused a vaccination on several occasions, but they also refused to give us the REASON for our dismissal. Nice.

So, what if ALL our local doctors on our insurance plan refused to accept patients who refused this vaccination? What would we do then? I can understand the physician having the right to his personal judgment and dismissing patients who don't follow his advice. But wow, if EVERYONE does stuff like that, my kids will be on the curb with bronchitis unless I want to visit the emergency room for every boo-boo. And know what? This attitude really doesn't make me want to get the other shots I *was* accepting before for my kids anyway. Who wins? I guess the answer is, the physician who takes bonuses from MY INSURANCE COMPANY for having great vaccination rates. Kick out the people who don't obey and you look great on paper. Yay.

We've found a physician who just doesn't vaccinate at *all* and we're happy with him. One of my very favourite things is that he doesn't ask stupid questions of my children and interrogate them during visits about how they get along with friends. He doesn't ask a lot of non-medical questions to me, either. They're all friendly there, but don't ask how many bottles J is getting and how much TV he watches, you know? I don't know what I'll do when he retires, because he's quite old. We'll enjoy this office while we can.

:]

18 August 2008

Our Day At Public School


















***** *** **** Today, Elf and Emperor went to public school. Well, we pretended. First, we packed our lunches and put them into our backpacks. Then we waited outside at the "bus stop" while Mom drove around the block before picking up the children. (Much work would need to be done on staying in one spot, not running and chasing each other during "bus stop time," and waiting for the bus to stop before running pell-mell into the street if the younger children were going to ps this year!) We rode a "real" school bus at the local Sears. G pretended to be hit by the school bus ... sigh... When we got home, we ate the lunches and discovered that during the day, sandwiches get squished at school.

17 August 2008

PE Uniforms

My older boys attend public school and are to wear a PE uniform during gym class. I don't have a problem with this as we don't want kids with chains dangling from their pockets ruining the equipment, or having zippers catch onto things they shouldn't, or *whatever.* I bought Patrick and G each two uniforms three years ago, and now it's time to buy new again. But I don't want to go to the special "sports" store where the stuff is sold during the week with the babies and middle children... you know, with EVERYONE tagging along. And yesterday I spent on weeding and D mowed the lawn.

So, today I called the sports store to see if it were open and got an answering machine. I hung up, figuring it isn't open on Sundays.

Off I went to organize some homeschooling items when the phone rang. D answered and called from across the room, "It's the sports store. They hit the re-call button and want to know what you want."

"Oh, well, I was calling to see if they were open Sundays.. " Curious that I hit *67 but they were still able to track my number, though...

"You open Sundays? (pause)"

"Ask them if they have PE uniforms!"

"Do you have P uniforms?"

"P-E- Uniforms! PE!"

"Yes, that's right. PEEE. As in URINE. Yooooo- rinnn..."

"D (full name!) I can't believe you! You stop that!!"

(Cackling and howling)

Turns out that he surreptitiously called our number on his cell phone and made up the whole conversation. Dork.

Exploit the Earth or Die.

I was browsing on another blog and came across this handy button and this handy website. I'm not sure what to think. I don't belong with the hippie group that places more value on the life of a squirrel than people, but then again, I can't imagine some really rich dude from China or Saudi Arabia buying up a bunch of our national parks and filling them with toxic waste for profit being OK either. Maybe I am a wishy-washy environmentalist because I believe God's going to start over with a new heavens and earth later, but meanwhile we have dominion over the earth. We should be responsible to God with what choices we make in ALL areas of our lives. I'm just not ready to do the cloth diaper thing, though. We tried that with Patrick and bought diapers and pins and they'd always leak! Then you'd have to rinse doo-doos in the toilet! IwwwwWWWW. Never again. And if you go places and the kiddo poops, you have to carry the poop around with you for hours and smell bad. All-righty. Go ahead and gimme a comment and tell me what you think. I'm curious.

16 August 2008

Sweeping




Stop Having Children!

You can buy this T-shirt and proclaim that you have "No Baby On Board" and that you'd like everyone to "Stop having children!" Teachers, wear this to the next parent-teacher conference and I'm *sure* it will inspire a thought-provoking and intelligent response from parents and administrators alike!

I found this T-shirt while browsing a blog called Child-Free By Choice, obviously a place not applicable to me, but found during an interesting discussion on Catherine's blog. Is it out of line NOT to have children? Biblically unacceptable to purposely prevent not just "too many" children, but any at all from joining your family?

Well...

First off, most people really aren't looking to line their lives up with the Bible. They just aren't. We might as well forget that one unless the culture changes. That doesn't mean that we have to just shut up if we feel "children are a blessing" or that we shouldn't *try* to influence the culture. A good culture, my friend, would be the ideal cradle for Christendom to spread, wouldn't you think? I'd imagine a given person would be far more likely to become a Christian in a Christian environment than in an atheist or agnostic one. But I digress.

I think a good plenty of people, even people who believe in the Bible, may wish to prevent having children for various reasons. Mind you, I won't address "prevention" taking the form of abortions and the like... I'm just talking about perhaps sterilzation by choice and what-not. Some folks had a hard childhood and don't want to make the same mistakes with their kids. Others may be committed to missionary or other work and feel that they ought not have children. The Apostle Paul, we must remember, was not toting his seven children about in a minivan and breaking out the cheese and crackers mid-sermon for a squalling kid. So, I'm not going to even try to judge that because that's totally between *those couples* and God.

Barring medical problems and personal conviction, the general pattern of life, we must agree, involves children. How difficult it must be, if you've made the choice to remain childless, to hear questions about your family and fertility (or perceived lack thereof) everywhere you go? I want to vomit three times during every Mothers' Day sermon; I've no doubt that childless women want to vomit five and run screaming from the room at the same time. Not a pretty picture, folks.

I can't really get into someone else's mind and question their judgment on why they're not going to have children. And I can totally get why "childfree" couples would want a haven from some of the ignorance others display toward their choice. But I think the shirt goes a bit far. Please note that in the interests of common decency and decorum, I have NOT linked to the "Un-Family Values" male thong underwear. Nor will I conjecture what the underwear is trying to "say" and whether the statement is "sexy." Nope. Not gonna do it.

More Sex Ed = More Sex?

Mr. Teacher wrote awhile back about a proposal to teach FOUR-year-olds about sex in Great Britain as a means to prevent abortion, pregnancy and disease:

"This has been a contentious issue in education for a long time and it is one that I have strong feelings about. I agree that more needs to be done in order to cut our relatively very high abortion rate as well as our relatively very high number of STD's among teenagers. I do not agree, however, with the idea of placing the onus of resolving this problem entirely on to schools and teachers.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis will already know that I am angered and frustrated by the growing number of selfish, incompetent parents who view their children as an inconvenience and who do not equip them with the requisite behavioural and social skills to be able to cope well at school, or indeed any public environment, and thereafter contribute positively to society as well-mannered, successful adults. And when I say parents, I am not so out of touch with present reality as to assume that every child is living with a mother and a father. I am very much aware of the varied dynamics of the houses - not always homes - that many of my students come out of in the morning. This certainly makes things complicated and more difficult- not impossible.

Making it compulsory for schools to deliver sex education to students at such a young age would serve only to further shift the responsibility away from parents, many of whom are already failing to properly fulfil their roles. I do agree that some level of sex, sexual health and relationship education should be a part of the school curriculum. However, I also believe that the majority of the input and information - the core guidance - should come from the home. "

Mr. Teacher teaches students near London, but we have the same sorts of problems with parents here in America. MORE sex education isn't really the answer, just as feeding low-income children breakfast at public schools isn't going to help these families parent more effectively. MORE options at public schools for "latchkey" children isn't going to help families become stronger; it's going to foster dependence on the system. And it's going to reinforce the notion in EVERYONE'S mind that such things are the school's job.

I suppose schools are responding to market forces. Parents want the latchkey care and there's a large clamour, so the schools provide it. Parents want their children to have an opportunity to have a nutritious breakfast AND lunch, so the schools provide it. I knew folks who had very little money who were struggling but making it before schools provided breakfast years and years ago. But once programs like this are in place, it's very difficult to take away "from the children." I could very easily see the same families freak out if they HAD free breakfasts for their children, and then it were "taken" from them.

It's also becoming increasingly difficult to enforce parental rights in schools with this sort of attitude. I homeschool my middle two boys, but I also have two older boys in Junior High and High School. I have yet to receive a form asking my PERMISSION to talk to my sons about condoms, homosexuality and contraception. The school simply assumes permission is given and as the parent, I have to opt my children out of such teaching EVERY semester with EVERY individual teacher. The school refuses blanket opt-out forms and assumes you're ok with whatever is on the curriculum. Now, you know as much as I love my boys, I can't research and read EVERY book that they'll be studying. I know to look in the "health" department for problem areas, and I peruse some of the literature selections. I'm probably not the most effective parent in this regard, but apparently I'm the ONLY one that opts her children out of the portions of health class dealing with "sexuality."

But it's difficult. Do you think I like emailing Mr. R or Mr. S and writing the word "sex" to him personally and emailing it? It's one thing for me to talk about such things in general terms on my blog to a general "y'all." It's another to send a *personal* letter to a *man* and use the word "sex" inside it. OK, I'm squeamish about the whole thing. At first, I called, but it's even MORE difficult to SAY the word "sex" to a man alone on the phone than it is to type it. I want to hide.

But anyway... my kids, my responsibility. So I type the word, cringe, and hit "send." Welcome back to a new school year!

15 August 2008

Emperor is Seven.

Yes, the young man had a birthday on Sunday. He can't wait until he's eighteen so that he can marry "lotsa pretty womens."

You can't do that, Emperor. You have to pick just one.

"Um, SCUSE ME, when I'm eighteen I can do whatever I want and you can't make me not."

Scuse you, but it's illegal and you can't do that.

"Yes, I can."

Can't. You'll go to jail for that. Or you have to divorce one before you marry another, and God says divorce is bad. You wouldn't want to do that would you?

"Oh, NO! I wouldn't."

OK, then.

"But it isn't fair..."

Why not?

"What if I get married to the very prettiest woman I can find, and then I see a prettier one? Then that's not fair!" Pout.

Hmm...

(I probably should have told him he has a lot of growing up to do, but unfortunately, there are men of seventy with less sense than this.)

Not Yummy.


None of the usual health benefits associated with bread are in this bag. We save hot dog bags, grocery bags and newspaper bags, but bread bags are perfect. It almost looks all loaf-y when you go to throw the last "item" in the bag away. I only throw the bag away when my house suddenly contains an item belonging inside that smells terribly. Guesses? We'll see how long it takes for someone to get this. :]

Here We Go Again!!

This news article briefly discusses those horrible parents who take an autistic kid out and then expect everyone to bend over backwards for him. (Yeah...) Jason Goldtrap thinks his brother ought to put his child away and he's not afraid to tell the national media as much:

“I certainly sympathize with all the families who are in this situation,” Goldtrap said. “But when we got away from the concept of institutionalization in America, we lost an important element of trying to maintain civility. There is a place for mental institutions.”

Gotcha.

OK, we should institutionalize people, never so that they can get specialized help or because they lack understanding about cars and the like and are therefore dangerous etc., but rather so that we can be a *civil* society? Maybe we should sterilize them while we're at it and make that train of thought pull into the appropriate depot. Toot-toot!

Heaven forbid the fellow shoppers at TJ Maxx have to see some guy walking all funny and making weird sounds in the men's department. What's wrong with this picture that the fellow came off saying such a thing??? No one says that about Down Syndrome kids anymore... but it's ok when we're dealing with autism? I'll disregard for the moment that all "institutions" are not the same and some probably don't deserve the label that smacks of ... you know, "institutions," but do you think this fellow should be quoted as a news source? How did that get past the editor's desk? Please tell me his comments were taken way out of context or that he was misquoted. I'll feel truly sorry for him if he were!

There's a nut in every bunch. Plenty of parents of neurotypical kids let their children act like brats in the grocery store. Imagine yourself with a child five times as difficult to "control," but having half the energy of most parents because your kid is sleep-disordered, too. What does that grocery trip look like now??

But *MOST* people who have autistic children or children with other difficulties are not overeager to foist them onto the world and hear all the "positive feedback" they're sure is forthcoming. (LOL) It's just that every now and then, the groceries need to be bought or the children should be unlocked from the dungeon and brought outside.

(kidding)

I haven't had my children lick 60 Oreos on a table at church as one woman in the article related her son did, but I HAVE opted my children out of things like VBS in the past because that would be "too much." Or I'd realize that the "contemporary" service at a large church is too much. Rock music AND a crowd? Oh, we'll skip that one. Library storytime is one of those things that was hit or miss, but now the older children are a bit too old for it. Movie theatres? Don't go the first day the movie comes out; try for a matinee. Common-sense stuff like that is not always easy, though.

I do think the needs of others need to be considered. But I also think most times, parents are doing the best they can, you know? I find it especially interesting that in the news lately it seems that "dangerous" behaviours are also lumped in with disgusting or inconvenient ones. Looking for feedback from other parents on what you think of this trend in the news... or did I miss something altogether different?

14 August 2008

Pumpkin


Our pumpkin is growing in our front yard by the dying apple tree. D says it's all my fault the apple tree is dying because I planted the pumpkin too close. In honour of his birthday, I'm posting this picture. Happy birthday, D!!

Balanced Consideration?

Spunky Homeschool points out that California colleges don't have to accept students whose academic training has even a hint of yucky ol' religion in it. Bob Jones and Abeka stuff, referenced in the pdf of a court decision as being of inferior quality when compared to the illustrious and advanced stuff in most public high schools, has a regular place in our homeschool.

I've attended an elite public high school and graduated from a reasonably good (but not Ivies) college with a BA in English. This semi-lowbrow finds the English, Social Studies and Bible courses offered through BJU Press to be of superior quality and I'd imagine that a homeschooled student continuing his homeschool education with curriculum from this publisher would do well, all else being equal. In all fairness, my children are doing second- and third- grade work and I can't judge the high school courses.

The Abeka readers contain classic Christian and American poems and short stories. If Dick and Jane grew up and appeared in a third-grade reader, this would be it. Very white and suburban. Very Evangelical, emphasizing the Colonial past as a golden era with few problems only very briefly mentioned. Granted, the Abekas polish history to their liking, but I haven't found any outright LIES in the texts. A slanted emphasis, perhaps, to which I do *not* object in the younger grades. Must a six-year-old be introduced to the concept that Jefferson *may* have bedded his slave?

I know that colleges can't just set aside academic standards in favour of students whose entire training in the field of science consists of the Genesis account of Creation, but neither should they discount students who learn that the Bible is the starting point of all knowledge. What would the consequences be if every college accepted only those students who have been trained in the proper worldview (secular)? Would Christians become second-class citizens who can't attend? Or would homeschoolers have to amend their curriculum to make the colleges happy... you know... teach that Darwin was a great scientist and that Creation Science is an oxymoron? Just wondering. Spunky raises some good points in her blog and she's worth a visit. :]

13 August 2008

Must... Squeeze... Into... Dress!

Our very favourite, favourite, favourite outfit was sent to us by Casdok when S was just two months old. S has been wearing it straight from the laundry after her baths. It's getting hard to squeeze the girl in now. Her dad pays special attention to her when she wears it, and bet you even at this age she feels pretty in it. I've looked all over for a dress nearly so special. It seems that all the little, tiny girl dresses are cute, and then when you get to a 2T size, the skirts only go down to the upper thigh and spaghetti-straps are the order of the day. I'll be very sad the day we can no longer bend S's chubby little arm into the sleeves LOL! Meanwhile, we're enjoying every minute of the soft frills.

12 August 2008

J Talking. Post 1 of 501,000,283.

Caught!


I snuck up on G. He's happily watching Patrick play some sort of battle scene on the computer. I tried to take other pictures but they are nothing but hands. Sometimes my hand pushing his hand away from his face so I can get a photo. I know that hand-flapping is supposed to be an "autistic" behaviour, but it's awfully cute, too. I think G has grown, and we have just bought him size *13* shoes at the store. Wow.

What's Your Objection to Registering?

We've just gotten Patrick and G's papers lined up for school. The way they present you with next year's schedule is by having everyone show up en masse at the school about a week before classes. This minimizes any chance to change your classes if they aren't what you need. But what bothers me *most* about registering the children for school is the utter lack of regard for the children's personal information.

They print each kid's student number, locker number and combination at the top of the paper they hand out with the child's schedule. This wouldn't be so bad if they took the time and trouble to put it into an envelope with only the child's name on the front. But no, when you walk up to the table surrounded by others on line, they THUMB THROUGH everyone's info to hand you yours. Worse still, at the table where you must "update" your information, the papers clearly print your SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER, birthdate and race in large print. Call me paranoid, but anyone with a cell camera and a little time would have a great bonus coming soon.

Thankfully, since my children are older, the usual "go to the classroom and meet the teacher" thing isn't happening. Otherwise, I'd have to see they've seated G at the back of the room *yet again* when his IEP calls for special seating. I'd have to see my kids stuck in a class with 30 other children and still be expected to learn while bumping elbows and sharing desks. Sigh. I think, since the children are older, I back off quite a bit. I don't really know if it's laziness on my part or just my reasoning that since Patrick is a freshman and G is in 8th grade, that there aren't many years left before the boys must make their own way in the world. I help out pretty well only where "parental authority" is required.

For example, last year at every school function, "volunteers" would try to accost parents to sign a form stating our children may take a drug and alcohol use survey. I didn't sign, even after about five such "opportunities." Then the forms came home in backpacks and Patrick says he NEEDS the form back. Um, nope. He doesn't. What are they going to do, test him on this against his will?? Well, they tried it!! The principal was kind enough after speaking with me to say that he won't suffer any repercussions for "refusing" the survey. Damned straight he won't. Do I need to send a letter stating that you are not to ask him any questions in school aside from his name and class team? It would make for crummy learning when the teacher wants to discuss a novel, but if that's what I have to do, we can play that game. I hope we're not at that point *yet.*

Oh, no, Mrs. C, it's just that Missouri state funding is tied to participation in this survey...


Oh, so you'd just SELL OUT **my** child's data for a little money for yourselves. Not happenin'. I think the district has a helluva lot of nerve for even considering participating in such a thing, don't you? (Then I go and wonder later why I have such a difficult time relating nicely with teachers and administrators LOL! They don't like me much.)

But just getting ready for the school year, I can't even grab the kid's lesson planner without being asked to sign some blanket statement saying I agree with every rule in the student handbook and my child understands what's inside! WHY ARE ALL THE PARENTS SIGNING THIS??? They haven't even read it yet! Why am I the only one saying "NO?" Here, they study about Thomas Jefferson and forget what the Revolutionaries fought for and then blatantly disregard the very principle of being free from an overly intrusive bureaucracy in which we have no representation! Note to other nations: most Americans are a docile bunch. We have a couple hunters in the rural countryside who will really mess your day, but you can take over the suburbs with two Frenchmen and a xeroxed permission form. Maybe three if it's a really big suburb.

You know, most of what's written in the student handbook is really common sense. You just plain old can't go to class in your thong bikini. No wearing huge chains or obscenities on your shirt. But why the rule about not dying your hair unless it's a "natural" colour? No mohawks? Makes no sense. I mean, unless they're just forbidding mohawks that are hardened and spiked somehow so as to be a physical danger. Otherwise, who cares as long as the kid behind him can see in class? And the no-beard rule? What's up with that? Patrick just says they don't enforce any of the rules anyway, and who cares? I think he'd probably just sign *whatever* and he's embarrassed that Mom makes a stink at every table during orientation with "no way I'm signing that..."

I imagine the administrators have figured out that my children are nice enough guys but that I'm kind of a mmm... something... on signing forms. D and I won't even allow our children to sign the forms the district wants from KINDERGARTEN on. We'd write, "(name) is a minor and is unable to sign for himself" on these things and send them back. Yes, they're training our children to sign away their rights in KINDERGARTEN. Unfortunately, I've seen the way some of the children behave in class and understand the need the schools have to get a little "buy-in" on the idea that we all need to behave decently to one another. But good grief.

Senility Prayer

From Madame Monet:

Grant me the senility to forget the people I never cared for, the luck to run into those I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

11 August 2008

!!! He's Talking !!!




He waved at his toy this morning and said "nigh-nigh" to it!! WOW! OK, hopefully he doesn't forget this word. All of you guys are going to be subjected to a zillion "talking videos" when I can get little Mister to say something again. YAY!! I know at least one of you was wondering about Lemonheads, so here is a picture of a Lemonhead for comparison. They actually modeled the Lemonhead candies after baby J. I don't know how they did that since he wasn't born at the time these came out, but you must admit the resemblance.

10 August 2008

"Mmmm?"


Come on, now, when he says that, he's asking you for a kiss!! Yes, I took his picture and went ahead and got a chocolate-y smooch. Do you see that we don't bother with bibs when we know we're going to get very messy? Even the middle-sized boys will take off their shirts when we eat with mustard and the like. The older two insist upon remaining fully clothed at the table. Please note that the booster seat is strapped to a chair D got out of someone else's trash. Yes, and we repaired it with duct tape in the back, can you tell?

09 August 2008

08 August 2008

Got You.


Elf and Emperor checked out some books on worms, bugs and spiders. Oh, and flies. They are very enraptured by the "Sydney Funnel-Web Spider" and have memorized all kinds of facts about it. They're deathly afraid of them. Several bug bites have been examined JUST IN CASE the Sydney Funnel-Web Spider got on an airplane and came to their house. They have been hiding secretly from one another, and when the other unsuspecting child passes by, a shout of, "SYDNEY FUNNEL-WEB SPIDER... ATTAAAACK!" can be heard several rooms over.

Feeling Included?

On my post on Adam Race being forbidden to go to Mass, anonymous recently wrote in part (click for whole article and comments):

"I do want to say that the information in the blog about Adam is completely one-sided. I know for a fact that the church has offered different choices of how to deal with Adam in mass. They have offered the crying room exclusively to them, they have offered private masses, and yet the mother has refused all of these. It upsets me that a kid has to go through this, but it also upsets me that a mother would put her kid through this. Sitting or restraining Adam in mass is a form of calming him down which means he is under stress. I'm sure the options offered would actually put Adam under less stress due to less people."

I don't think I've excluded the fact that the Races were offered the crying room in the basement and other accomodations in other posts, but if I did, I'll admit those accomodations were offered according to several major news media stories right now. I'll also admit that the well-publicized incident of the young man revving a car in the parking lot could have turned out very badly, though I think that's more the fault of whatever idiot sat his car running in the lot with the keys in the ignition than the church or Adam Race.

I guess, anonymous, when I look at news stories like these, I see a lot of judmentalism from people who DO NOT DEAL with autistics each day. Hey, I'll admit their behaviour can be "bratty," ok? Even dangerous sometimes. But wow. They're people with a genuine disability.

And I think an UNRECOGNIZED side-effect of that is that the parents can become either overly defensive or overly aggressive in their advocacy after a while. They can come off as recluses (and "no wonder the kid's autistic with parents like that!!") or overbearing jerks who don't think anyone else has rights. I think that's just a result of knowing that others really don't give a crap about their kids. If you don't retreat from society, your feelings will be continually hurt by friends or stupid commenters at Safeway. If you don't advocate for your child, the rights of the "crowd" will ALWAYS, ALWAYS win.

I think autistics and their parents are pretty well clear that they're either not welcome or no one is interested enough in their condition to find out a bit about it. School experience shows that as long as the kid is little and the state gives money for the child's "special needs," he'll be accomodated reasonably. No money? Lock him in the closet when he misbehaves. Way to go. Autism is no excuse for bratty behaviour, right?

Church experience has shown that the needs of the many way outweigh the needs of the few. Way. Your kid had better watch himself during service time or Mom is going to be called after the situation has escalated into something out of control. Ironically, parents of autistic children are JUST THE ONES who need the most understanding, compassion and concern, but JUST THE ONES who receive the least.

Maybe I need to stop bringing my children to service so that I don't inconvenience the care providers with their idiosyncracies and need for special attention. Of course, that means I won't be going, either, and when I stop going I don't want to hear the stupid verses about giving up fellowship as some have done. HELLO, several fellowships have given up on our children, or shunted them for being naughty. Who's more spiritual? I suppose my "end" of it would be to work on not harbouring bitter feelings... you know, "they know not what they do" and all that.

But I keep going, God, they know not what they do on purpose because they don't want to take an extra minute to find out. They want theology all neat in a package. "Obey God" must equal being obedient to the teacher at all times, and any deviation from that is not a medical concern even in part. It's ALL sin. Let's just take the attitude of, "I'm not going to buy that there is a such thing as autism," so that we don't have to get into the trenches with parents and fight for the souls of these children. They're damn inconvenient.

Oh, and J? He's a little brat whose mom lets him get away with everything. One of the childcare providers came to me and told me J was going "just nuts." See, she told him to get away from the diaper changer twice, and so the third time she slapped his hand. Then she was surprised that that resulted in a screaming, howling, head-banging and rolling all over fit that no one was able to calm down. I mean, all I did was give him a good pop on the hand!

I was upset, but I just asked her not to ever do that again. (*I'll* handle the physical discipline next time and not like that fer crying out loud! The kid sort of gets it, but he doesn't quite get it like YOU THINK he gets it. He *is* being a bit disobedient, but not as badly as you might think. It's just not quite the same to compare him to his same-age peers.) The ladies taking care of him just literally had their mouths open when I told them maybe I'd have just found something else to do with him. And keep trying till it works. Or, you know, I **don't** know how to make him stop doing things or make him do something sometimes. (Not being perfect and all. Even his therapists aren't pushing for him to make sounds because it sends him into such a tizzy and IS NOT WORTH IT, you know?)

So, like, you just DO NOTHING? they asked. I can tell at this point they're thinking "lack of discipline." Yup.

They asked what to do next time that would fix things and I had no stinkin' idea what to say, so I said nothing. I mean, instead of "redirecting" J two or three times, he might need 20 times, or a distraction, or a snack and drink. Even then it might not work and good luck. AND THAT IS WHY IT IS SO HARD TO PARENT AN AUTISTIC CHILD!! THAT IS WHY I FEEL SO ALL ALONE AND THAT NO ONE GETS IT. THAT IS WHY WE DON'T STAY FOR "FELLOWSHIP" STUFF. BECAUSE I HAVE THREE OF THEM. How do I tell them that? I can tell they just think I'm an overindulgent parent. I can just tell they're not looking at it like I am. Or maybe they don't buy it that J might be autistic.

Or worse, maybe they DO and they're thinking, Jeez, I don't want to deal with this kid anymore because he's too much work!

But the end of the matter is, I didn't feel J was beloved in that moment. I didn't feel supported. I would hate HATE HATE to leave, though. This is quite literally the only time my middle boys get to see friends. J is very hard to take out places, and so is Elf because he can run away. Having two kids under two and a child who runs is NOT a good combo in any circumstance, but if one of your little ones also howls and bangs his head, that's just icing, baby.

I feel very alone. I'm thinking I need to advocate for J somehow because he needs to get out of the house occasionally and see "friends." The little kids there of course want to pet him to make him feel better. Awww... bless them, but it doesn't work. I think the care providers were just following what they thought was standard Christian parenting, which I have to admit I used very effectively on Patrick. But it DOES NOT WORK on kids with autism. You will literally wind up beating them to death or you will halfway give up on the discipline, which of course teaches nothing. There are no easy answers to disciplining a child with autism if the result you want is something called "instant obedience."

I just don't know what to say. I'm not sure what to do or who to talk to. I don't want anyone in trouble, but I don't want to think that next week the same thing could happen again with someone different because parents and volunteers only help out once a month. Somehow dropping the boy off and saying, "HEY! Don't beat my kid! But you can feed him fishie crackers if ya want!" just doesn't seem friendly.

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...