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Showing posts from January, 2009

A Peek in My Planner.

I'm getting things ready for recordkeeping next month and allowing YOU to look inside. Aren't you blessed? :p Embiggen for a long description of what's going on in the Happy Elf Homeschool.

Congrats, Henry the Tuatara!

On becoming the father of 11 new babies at the age of 111. Chris sent us a book with rhymes all about the tuatara from New Zealand, so Elf and Emperor were very excited to see his picture and read his story in the news.

Doing Nothing All Day.

Today is a no-curriculum day at the Mrs. C house. This morning, Elf and Emperor are looking at the US map and I will hand them a blank piece of paper and "test" them in a little while. We'll see how many states they can remember. I know the next unit in our Social Studies curriculum is about the 50 states, but from what it looks like, the children read five pages about the different US regions and then somehow have the states memorized for the test. (Unfortunately, most math curriculum seems to be the same way about addition/subtraction and other facts. Sure, you get a little practice in the workbook, but mostly you need to drill these things until the student knows them.)

Next up, I'm going to dig around and find a small photo album I got free from Wal-mart years ago when I had pictures developed. I'll use this to make a "social story" with Elf about how to behave in church. Do not ask why I am going to do this; just go ahead and applaud me for d…

S at Christmas!

I forgot to upload this picture of Rose at Christmas! It's a little blurry, but do you think she's changed much in looks since last month? Maybe gotten prettier? I can't decide. Please compare pics and tell me what you think.

Cookie Sweetie.

This is her first taste of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. I think she likes them. She and Woodjie can say, "Mmmm." Things are generally pretty tasty when you have three cups of sugar and four sticks of butter in the mix. Mmmm. I wonder why Woodjie won't take his nap now?

Not to Complain...

... but this is what my dish looked like AFTER it had been through the washer. It really wasn't that difficult to clean by hand, or at least it wouldn't have been had I not selected the "sanitize" option. I kinda like that "sanitize" option to look a little more "sanitary" in addition to heat-drying the dishes.

Smarties.

My kids are all smarties, but Patrick has to take the cake in terms of "expression of smartiness." You can't say anything around him that he won't respond to with some quick, sarcastic wit.

Tonight, we got home from church rather late and I told him just to lock his door when I leave (G and Patrick share a basement room with the laundry, storage, and D's leatherworking table. Um, and the litterbox. The door doesn't shut unless it's locked with one of those classy hook-and-eye gadgets. They live a charmed life, ok?) so they can get undressed, wash their hands, and get ready for bed. They can skip the shower just for tonight.

"Do you know how I feel when I get naked?" Patrick asks brightly.

Oh, no. (eek!) Do I want to ask? Is there any way to get out of asking? Doesn't look like it... Sigh... Ok... "No..?"

"Like pillaging local farms." *dance dance*

Dork. :p

Effective Preaching.

"I came forward at church camp in 5th grade and 'invited Jesus into my life as my personal Lord and Savior.' I cried like a baby, too...But then, a few years later, I was a counselor at that camp, and I discovered that the staff set that night up every year. They called it 'Cry Night.' " Link.

So, do you think the young man would have felt just as conned if the preaching were specifically set up so that all the rational, logical arguments for a Saviour were presented instead and it were called "Thought Night?"

Maybe your answer depends on how you think people get "saved" in the first place. Um, or even if you believe in salvation anyway. (Yeah, that would necessitate a way different preaching style for sure.)

Just going back to the Bible, I see all kinds of ways people came to know Christ. There's the Ethopian eunuch, just sitting around reading a scroll when Phillip "happened" by. They discussed some theological questions…

Tea on Tuesday

For our Tea on Tuesday, we made pumpkin bread and served it with mandarin oranges from a can. We're reading about Winnie the Pooh and his adventures.

It's the Parent's Fault.

It always is when children die of vaccine "preventable" deaths. Here's a story about how children are getting the Hib cooties not because Hib is "out there and contagious," but because their bad, rotten, negligent parents didn't get the kids their shots. Well, that's the implication I came away with after reading the story.

This is plain old bad reporting.

You know what? Mayyybe Hib vaccines can prevent an immunized child from contracting Hib. Not always. Find me a vaccine that says "perfect protection from disease, zero side effects" and I'll show you a lying manufacturer. Not that I'm a cynic or anything. I myself have contracted a medically documented case of the measles after my parents, bless them, followed the full vaccination schedule.

Anyway. So here's a child who DIED after, the news report claims, the parents' decision not to vaccinate. Hey, maybe. But was anyone asking why a mom or dad wouldn't want a vacc…

Birthday Cake.

Girls are always sweet and demure. They eat their food neatly and pleasantly without mwwam *snort* mmm sounds or food-throwing. Elf and Emperor were given a box of cake mix, a dozen eggs, vegetable oil and a measuring cup and told to make the cake themselves. All I did was put it in the oven. D gave them a grade of only a B plus because the cake did not have an interesting shape. Rectangles, apparently, are not interesting enough. I think to get an A, the cake had to be multi-tiered and decorated in italic frosting script. We'll just take the B. :]

Assorted Thoughts.

I feel like I must be more specific in all my dealings with children. Every utterance must have several subparagraphs covering each eventuality and what to do in every case. When I speak, no matter how urgent the request, I must keep my tone even and THEN I must be understanding when someone "didn't hear" me speak. (several times) Any misunderstandings are always, always MY fault.

Oh! And I am not allowed to make up new rules. That wouldn't be "fair."

This entire week, I've had Patrick and G stumble out of bed at 6:30, pack a ziplock of breakfast cereal and their lunch, brush their teeth and run out the door. Prayers are unsaid. I get zero help with dishes and getting the other children ready for their day. In short, I feel treated unfairly. Bet God does, too. But, I know my limits and unless GOD comes down and changes things 'round, in our family unless we sit down and pray in the morning, it just plain old isn't happening. Sorry, God…

Happy Birthday, Rose!

She is the sweetest little girlie, EVER! She's a snazzy dresser, has an interesting hairdo and do you know what else? She can walk three steps. Yes, she can. :] Her actual birthday is tomorrow, but I'm posting tonight anyway.

The Audacity of Dope?

Presently I can't see the happy rainbows and unicorns with the inauguration of Barack Obama. But if I were to use this product, maybe I could! Holy Coast blog says this stuff sells because "it's all in the marketing." Other GREAT FLAVOURS include Teletubbies Cocaine and green crack for St. Paddy's Day celebrations. I think it's unfair that no one marketed this stuff for the McCain campaign and the "McCain girls" were nowhere near as pretty as the "Obama girl." I think it's a media conspiracy. :p Ok, who really thinks up this stuff?

I WIN!!!

Yup, I walloped a small Elf at Battleship. But look at how *very close* I came to losing. Yes, one of the boats is missing, so we just each play without it. I was trying to show this to D and he was busy and told me just to blog about it so he can look at it later. Sigh...

School Uniforms!!!

Ok, not really. But I ordered these from Printfection, where you can download about any picture you could ever imagine and custom-order T-shirts, sweatshirts, mousepads and all kinds of stuff. Nope, not a sponsored post. We're just happy with the product. Guess what we call our homeschool?

Teaching About Jesus. All day.

"Rebecca" left a comment on Dana's blog to the effect that additional homeschool regulations would be appropriate to hold parents accountable because "lots of home-schooled kids are just being taught about Jesus all day."

Wow.

Well, first off, I'm sure a good number of secular, Muslim, Objectivist, gay and other homeschooling parents are flattered to know they've done such a good job of teaching their children conservative Christian theology. Kudos to them!! Hey, guys... we'll have to throw a party later and your kids can show me all the Bible verses they know, ok? I'll bring the cake. :]

I guess "lots of home-schooled kids are just" are a lot of things. Throw a stereotype out there, why don't you? They're:

unsocialised
behind public school peers
indoctrinated
not allowed to grow up normally
raised by parents who are overly controlling
abused
you-name-it.

I'm sure the sorts of people who perpetuate these myths would never throw …

Everyone Loves Woodjie!

Woodjie loves kisses, too. Even from himself.

Good Morning, Elf.

Elf models the "natural Mohawk" look straight from Bed-land. He would strongly prefer you not touch his hair in any way. "Strongly prefer" is rather a generous description on my part. I have been very insistant upon his getting his hair done with water and a comb every morning if for no other reason than that he has been, shall we say, "quite resistant to conventional grooming methods." YES, those are his favourite pants in the picture, too. I have only two pairs that he will wear without complaing. This is one of them. Sigh. Ok, I love the guy.

Tea on Tuesday

Yesterday, we had some dried apple slices we strung up with some noodles in the kitchen. The noodles held the apples apart so that they wouldn't touch each other while drying. We also made lemon poppy-seed bread and lemon-flavoured butter! The children put some of the Lemonheads they had been saving since Christmas on this as well.

In Praise of Uncle Tom.

I like him. I really, really do. Have you ever read the book?

Uncle Tom, knowing he's to be sold to pay his master's debts, goes along with the plan willingly. He does this because he knows that otherwise, OTHERS will go in his stead. So he takes the burdens of all upon himself. He helps others to gain their freedom while losing his own. Just imagine Jesus without a temper, always sweet and gentle in his words and wearing a bright halo, and you've got Uncle Tom.

Jesus woulda whooped their stupid butts IRL, I'm thinking.

You have to appreciate that the book is really sap. The whole literary genre is really sap. So Uncle Tom is MEANT to be sappy, corny, always loveable... just as the other characters are always drunk, always angelic, always angry... well, you get the idea. No lasting literary value at all here, which explains why most schools don't assign this work to their students.

Sure, it has HISTORICAL value. It inspired people to take a look at the humani…

Give Kiss?

Woodjie is happy to give you one if you ask. He can say "mmmm" when you hug him and pat you back. We took him out to a faraway place where there are "escalators," and he thought that was the best thing ever! Escalators are the most awesome, amazing and fantastic things ever invented. According to Woodjie. He fell asleep on the way home.

The Emperor.

We talked a little bit ago about the little kid by the name of Adolf Hitler. Did you know Emperor has a funny name, too? It really is an emperor's name, and probably not one most Christians would name their son, but I do stuff like that just to irk other people and make spelling difficult for the kid. Once, a lady accosted me RIGHT IN FRONT of Emperor for "saddling him with such an awful name." Yep, this happened at church, too. The Spirit of Christ was just movin' big-time in my response, too. Because I'm a hypocrite and am only Jesus-like when it's convenient and I'm unoffended. :]

Product Reviews You Wish Were Printed on the Box.

"Thank you Playmobil for allowing me to teach my 5-year old the importance of recognizing what a failing bureaucracy in a ever growing fascist state looks like. Sometimes it's a hard lesson for kids to learn because not all pigs carry billy clubs and wear body armor. I applaud the people who created this toy for finally being hip to our changing times. Little children need to be aware that not all smiling faces and uniforms are friendly."

-Excerpt of product review posted at Rational Jenn. She has some... rather interesting comments to add herself that I dare not excerpt myself. Go click and see what I'm talking about. Dare ya.

Happy Housekeeping Tip.

Pancakes are very yummy with chocolate syrup swirls. However, the chocolate DOES stick to the pan and it's difficult to clean up. This is why I made chocolate pancakes when Patrick and G were slated for kitchen cleanup duty. Go me!

Unfit Parents.

We all heard about how little Adolf Hitler and his two sisters were removed from their parents' home shortly after ShopRite refused to put his name on a birthday cake. The state says oh, they'd not remove a child just because of his name. There would have to be other factors involved, like, the name is really bad and would place a "stigma" on the kid.

HELLO???? Is it not obvious that a name like "Adolf Hitler" might just... you know, sorta be kinda bad and maybe place a "stigma" there? A little??

A kid in Emperor's preschool class was named "Jihad." The kid would have had to have been born right around September 11, 2001. Just seeing that kid's name on the smiley laminated desk tag got me mad. "Jihad." I still think "Crusader" would be a way better name, and he could kick "Jihad's" butt on the playground. Twice. Tolerance, my butt when I see names like that. That kid is not invited over to play. Bu…

Restraint and Seclusion Should Be Banned in Public Schools.

Except in very rare, isolated and EXTREME instances, this practice needs to end in all public schools. There needs to be accountability and parents should always be informed. Thank you, Senator Dodd, for your speech on this issue. Hat tip: Missouri Families Against Seclusion and Restraint blog. Ordinarily, I'd say the federal government needs to stay OUT of public education, but this is a civil rights issue. How many people are griping today that the government got involved to break up state-run segregation in public schools 50 years ago? Someday, I think we will look back on these times as the "bad old days" when so little was known or understood about how to truly help those with developmental disorders and/or autism. Hey, if you want to run your own school with your own money, go ahead and keep black people, Christians, autistic people or whoever you want out. (Not that I'd want to go to your stinky school anyway...) But my tax money shouldn't be used…

Fluency as an Educational Benchmark?

"How can you tell whether someone has truly mastered a skill? What is the measurable indicator
that a person really knows how to do something? These questions should be at the heart of every teaching decision, every observation of a child’s performance, and every evaluation we make about the success of an educational program. Yet for many educators, and certainly for most parents, answers to these questions are anything but clear. Most of us have grown up in a 'percentage correct world' where 100% correct is the best anyone can do. But is perfect accuracy the definition of mastery? Or is there another dimension that makes the difference? In fact, we see many children and adults who can perform skills and demonstrate knowledge accurately enough – given unlimited time to do so. But the real difference that we see in expert performers is that they behave fluently – both accurately and quickly, without hesitation."

The above quote was copied from this link that jh gave me …

Let's Check the Schedule!

Woodjie has a schedule on the pole in our family room. It's attached with sticky velcro. Usually I will put only one or two things on the schedule and tell Woodjie "ball time" and stick the icon back on the pole before beginning. His speech therapist also has little schedule icons for things like playing bubbles and reading books. I use sticky velcro on the sides of the pole to hold all the icons we're not using.

The Rights of the Child.

You know how much I hate alarmism. I'm not freaking out about who's eating which soup or why everyone isn't required to be telling me to have a Merry Christmas. And, well, *most* of the time I try to be objective and not say things that imply that every public school teacher is out to teach your kid to sin in three easy lessons. (It takes only one for homeschoolers because they're smarter than YOUR kids. :])

But here's something.

Every now and then, I've come across this "Rights of a Child" idea and every time I do, I have to just shudder. I'm hoping that the American freedom-loving people of all political stripes would somehow, sometime be made aware of the UN and the fact that it isn't, to use a euphemism from Monty Python, just a cute little bunny. It has these teeth...

I honestly don't understand why people who don't value the UN tend to be the more conservative types, because I've noticed that liberal people like to have this thi…

Today's Schedule.

Later, I'll have to post Woodjie's picture schedule. This is the one we use for homeschooling. I am trying to teach the boys to read my handwriting so I will have a translator if necessary. Can you tell we've already done the "cooking" item on the list? I have drawn Elf and Baby Giant (Emperor) at the bottom of the board.

Sugar.

In keeping with my housekeeping theme today, I'm going to share a bit about our cereal. We buy Tootie Froooties (or something like that) at Wal-Mart. It's a good enough bargain, but maybe a little too sugary at the bottom. I sift it out. I mean, I like sugar. But not quite that much all at once.

Elf Goes To Church

He picked out the outfit and the pleasant attitude all by himself.

Children Lived Here.

I hope you don't think I'm reposting these pics to be critical, but do you see the little handprints there on the stairwell? Little toys in other areas of the house. The SPACE HEATER next to the toilet, tub and sink?? Well, this is one gorgeous house, or at least it used to be. I hope my husband or kids convince me to move if I can't take care of mine any better than this. Maybe I might be persuaded that the parents in this instance should be offered some parenting classes? Or a mentor friend? Some help? Maybe the job just got so big that you just don't know where to start. OK, I feel like that sometimes, too. In theory, I think the state should stinkin' well butt out all the time no matter what, but then the little handprints testify to the fact that a small child was crawling, toddling and playing about here just weeks before the photos were taken. Your opinion?

Your Child Can Thrive in Public School.

It's a NEWS story on OneNewsNow. Conservative folks must be looking preeeetty askance at public education if it makes news when someone from their camp says it's ok to send your kid to school. It sounds like something out of the Onion or something... an Evangelical pastor who ACTUALLY uses the public ed system! *gasp*

You know, when I took journalism classes we were explicitly taught that the news was to involve the unusual. "Dog Bites Man" is not news, but "Man Bites Dog" would be. Here we have a NEWS story that says "Your Child Can Thrive in Public School." Well, it's possible, anyway, the reporter implies. Maybe. If you do your devotions in the morning. Go read the article for yourself and see if you don't come away with that idea.

The entire story is really just a plug for a book written by parents of eight children who have been through/ are going through public schools.

I've said this a billion times, but it bears repeating. Patrick…

Assorted Thoughts.

I have all kinds of assorted thoughts, but of course not enough coherent thoughts on the same topic to string together in a nice little post.

Theology

Been learning about the twelve disciples in our homeschool Bible studies. The children are learning about the disciples getting to know Jesus personally. We can know Jesus through the scriptures, but not personally in the same way these men did. What was Jesus's favourite colour? They want to know. I think, though, if Jesus were on earth, he might not have different favourites at different times as I do.

There are just some mysteries of the world we're never going to know. Emperor says that yes, you can find out everything. All you have to do is sneak into heaven and steal God's brain and put it in your brain. Sigh. It would be so cute if he weren't so serious, thinking that this was a viable plot. I would have asked the logistics of this, but Elf beat me to it by reminding Emperor that stealing is wrong, so the …

BO Duke.

OK, so his bangs are crooked. I'm counting the haircut as successful because he has both ears and eyes still. He's running to the camera to get his photo taken. Cameras are a source of joy and excitement. Unlike baths. BO to baths, Woodjie says. And BO to nigh-nigh time. And BO to being told "all done Bob Tomato." BO. I guess he'll learn to say "Luke" and "Uncle Jesse" later.

??

This is the kind of thing I see all the time. Emperor is the only person who can jump and do math at the same time. WHILE he is doing a running commentary and giving away all the answers to Elf. He really doesn't realize he's doing it. The humming. The flipping of his legs in the air during English. (Why do you keep doing that?? I don't know. Well, wouldya QUIIIT? I'm trying!) Unfortunately, the boundless energy doesn't always translate into a clean room or a great job on repetitive tasks like stirring cake batter. But he is awfully cute. I think we'll keep him.

Our Homeschool Day

This post's random belly button pictures were brought to you by Emperor and Elf. I do wish Emperor would remember to zip his fly and pull up his pants. Usually that sweater hides these bad habits.

We began our day with cooking and listening to Jonathan Park on CD. I think I'll count this toward science, as it discussed how the Tower of Babel story in the Bible accounts for differences in people. Today's culinary delight was cranberry-orange bread. I haven't told the children this, but it was horrible. All the younger children, including S, ate this stuff up as though it were actually tasty.
Woodjie made some Play-doh creations while we mixed and cooked. He became quite upset that HE didn't get pans while we were cooking. I will have to save some old pans or something for him to keep with his Play-doh, since it is so important to him. Today he made a butterfly with Mom.
I did "math review" with the children, which only took the children about 20 minutes to co…

Some Thoughts on Culture.

Daja has awarded me the Premio Dardos award, which "acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day." Yep, I have a lot of cultural values being transmitted here.

Ah, well, I do try. I've been trying to instill a love of beauty in my children and I've tried to raise them to be godly, thoughtful people. Hopefully when I blog, I'm giving good thoughts to others as well. OK, when I'm not being silly and posting elevator videos.

Giving this away to other bloggers? That's hard to do because I know there are some folks out there who don't mess with bloggy bling and tagging and stuff like that. SO, if I tag you, and you don't want the award, you're not obligated ok?

1. For Chris at Diet Coke Rocks. She's one of my best bloggy buds and has hosted the Stanleys in New Zealand last year.

2. For Elf at Elf and Etc. He's just so cute!

3. For Emperor at Emperor and E…

Conform or... Look Silly in an Elevator.

The older children and I tried this on D when he came home and he kept going, "WHAT? Do you need something or is something going on?" Oh, noo... we're just standing here... "Well, I don't have time for that." And he walked away. BLEH! If you're going to try this experiment, Patrick says it would probably work better in an elevator. It would probably also work on people other than D. Stubborn man. Got this little video from the Why Homeschool blog. They'll be hosting the Homeschool Carnival blog posts pretty soon. You should go check them out. I'm hoping to have my post on workboxes included among the offerings. :]

So, What's a Bargain?

Don't you just love talking about whether something is "cost-effective" and/or a good bargain? It feels good to pick something out and know that you and the seller are both making a fair deal. I've seen a good plenty of blogs where the writer (hey, sometimes it's me!) will gloat over a particularly shrewd purchase. But how many times does someone write, well, I spend $70 each week on my beauty routine and I still look like crap? Or, I paid x amount for car insurance, but then when I got into a wreck, the bums raised my rates and didn't pay half of what I really should have gotten? Well, no one likes to look like a fool shelling out bunches of money for nothing.

And now, to discuss something unrelated...

The very moment voters passed a bond issue, the school district AMAZINGLY discovered millions o' bucks missing! Who would have ever thought such a thing could happen? And no, of course these "discoveries" aren't timed so that the voters have ze…

Girlie.

Rose likes to take whatever you're using. Then she will give it back. You're supposed to then hand it back to her. Such a strange kid! WHO taught her to share? I don't think it was her brothers.

Sewing WIth Elf.

Please visit Elf and check out his creative endeavours. Tell him what a great job he did, too! He'd love to hear from you.

How to Do Workboxes.

******************************* ****
Woodjie's play therapist helped us get started with workboxes. You might enjoy doing them as well with your autistic child or preschooler. * First, get a couple of old ice cream containers with lids. You'll also get some sticky-back velcro and cut little signs for "work," break time, and "finished." You can make your own sign or download one from the internet. Mine are laminated, but yours don't have to be as fancy. Oak tag and velcro will do. * I've loaded each of my boxes with an activity. Puzzles or potato-heads are good examples of what to put inside. You want to find an activity that has a definite beginning and ending. A toy Noah's ark or baby and bottle set, for example, wouldn't quite fit the bill. You want something that the child will understand that he has completed. Sometimes I'll even get the large puzzles with knobs and pictures underneath, and just put the pieces in the bucket. * We started …

Teaching Science.

"Is there a lack of scientists due to a lack of wonder?" asks a middle school science teacher at A Voice From the Middle blog. Not enough Americans are pursuing math and science career options because, he opines, the science curriculum as currently presented in most American schools doesn't fuel a child's natural inquisitiveness.

"We are so caught up in teaching content through having students memorize facts," he writes, "that most students do not get to capture the sense of wonder of simply discovering things. I do not believe the way to deal with this problem is to radically change the curriculum we are teaching but instead change how we are teaching it. If we can produce more inquisitive students, they will naturally flock to these fields.A college professor of mine once told me that the purpose of school was not to memorize information but rather learn how to ask the right questions. In this digital age there is no lack of information but there is …

Seclusion Rooms

From Ange's blog. Yes, I'm going to say it again. This practice needs to stop. We need to be advocating for children who can't speak for themselves. YES, this is legal. And yes, it is traumatizing to those children who undergo this treatment. Please don't wonder what the kids did to get themselves sent there and restrained. SO OFTEN these are disabled children who are forced into environments in which it's well-known they CANNOT cope... and then they are punished for their behaviour when they act out. Watch the whole video. Just turn down the music and really listen to what they're trying to tell you. These are the kinds of practices we should not allow to be commonplace.