25 February 2010

It's Time For a Bath

Does anyone else go through this?

I send Elf and Emperor off for a bath. It's just time! On the tub wall just under the faucet handle, I've taped a laminated sheet with instructions on "how to take a bath." They include gems of advice such as "get clothes ready" and "use soap." Really.

After bathtime, Elf is the first to pop downstairs. But something juuuust doesn't seem right.

*sniff sniff* Did you really have a bath?

"Oh, yes!" Elf assures me. "See my shirt?" As in, I've even changed my clothes! Well, that's good, I guess. But something still doesn't seem right. Deodorant? Elf nods his head and gives the necessary mmm-hmm and angelic chubby face smile.

*sniff sniff* Did you wash your face? Your bottom? Your feet? Of course he did!

How about your hair?

"My hair?" he cocks his head sideways as if I asked him whether he bathed with five eels and a robotic pig. What a notion! I had to direct him back to the laminated paper that clearly states that shampoo ought be used... you know, like... on your hair?

Ohh. You mean my haiiir.

Sigh. His mom had to scrub his head in the kitchen sink with dish soap because Emperor needed the tub just then. Good enough. You can just smell the JOY in our house, which is better than "musty stinky foot" and whatever else he was smelling like before.

Emperor comes trampling down the stairs. He, too, still smells.

"Did you wash your hair?" Yes! Mrs. C is down to the chase now. Since Elf forgot this, I'm reasoning Emperor did, too.

Emperor washed his hair. His feet. His bottom. Yes, he put deodorant on. But Sherlock Holmes here discovered he's doing me a favour by saving money on my laundry bill . He has changed into the same clothes he had on before his bath! Isn't that helpful? I should be thanking him, especially since I didn't specify that he needed DIFFERENT clothes after his bath. I started the laminated sheet out with "get clothes ready" and "get towel ready," and ended it with "change into clothes." I never specified that he couldn't wear the SAME clothes he had on before.

Why aren't I grateful?

23 February 2010

Award Time!




Jana has given me the Lemonade Stand award for having a great attitude (I had to laugh when I read this as my attitude is not alllways the best.) Jana blogs over at Homeschooling a Texas Tornado. I'm going to nominate ten blogs for this award. Be sure to grab the picture and pass on the love to the next batch of folks!


And Rana has awarded me with the Beautiful Blogger award. I'm supposed to nominate 15 blogs for this... but I am lazy and will only nominate ten. This way I can give the Lemonade Stand award AND the Beautiful Blogger award to the same people and no one is left out (I hate hurting feelings. Well, if I like the person.)


In order to receive this award, though, I have to tell you seven things about myself. But I couldn't think of any. So I asked Elf. Ready?


1. kind.

2. helping

3. loving

4. caring

5. fun

6. a good teacher

7. hardworking


So here ya go. I'd recommend checking out each of these blogs and saying hi. You might find a new blog friend!











Carnival of Homeschooling!

It's up at SuperAngel's blog and features A Dim View of Public Schools, The Most Important Thing, and dealing with spam comments. It doesn't seem to be very long this week at all, so it shouldn't take you too long to browse through some of the posts and say hi to some new friends.

22 February 2010

Dear Teachers... About That "Parent Folder."

I love having one for my preschooler. The staff member throws in a pre-printed sheet with, say, speech or drawing or potty (and a number 1 2 3 for number of times) circled. It helps me to know what my non-verbal kiddo is up to during the day because, "HI! What did you do in school today?" gets me the response of, "da-day?" because he likes to echo what is spoken to him.


But I'm thinking that if we're talking about a verbal child, by second or third grade, we realllly don't need the updates at all. Just call or email me if there is a problem. Why do I have to sign folders indicating that I got stupid paperwork each week (join Cub Scouts, next week is our 100th day of school party, whatever). If it's REALLY important, send an email or mail it to me directly. Do not make my child a carrier, because I'm not interested in his being the middle man and getting flak from you or ME for not delivering papers and messages that, in the scheme of life, are not that stinkin' important.


It's not that I don't want to teach my children responsibility. *I* just don't want more responsibility than I already have, and let's face it: the parent folders are really yet another job I have to do at the end of the day when I'm tired and crabby. I'm happy to help you if you need something, and if you have something to say to me, I'd sure like you to call or email me directly so that there are no "he said/she said" situations or unnecessary dramas. If I want to talk about a problem at school, I will not relay a message through my child. I'll call you, or better yet, I can email you at 3 a.m. knowing I'm not disturbing you, and you can check the message when you are ready.


I get that permission slips for field trips are sent home and excuse notes to the nurse at school will need to be relayed through my children because you need a hard copy. Otherwise, I would rather assume that from 8 to 3, my child is doing just fine and the "education" is in your corner. I will provide a nice area for homework and a little time if I am asked by my child. I don't want a letter home stating what the homework is going to be for me to sign! Please don't do that. Let the CHILD do the work and learn responsibility. I refuse to mother-hen. I am not signing the folders for verbal children. Sorry.

The trouble is, often teachers don't like that sort of attitude. Believe it or not, often public school teachers will see me as the UNINVOLVED parent who won't bother to come to parent-teacher conferences even though we all know they're a waste of time... but somehow, they're the measure of whether a child has a caring parent at home.

Yet apparently, based on my perusal of some blogs, other teachers would see me as the OVERINVOLVED parent because I homeschool some of my children. It's actually undemocratic of me to do so and somehow? My homeschooling is keeping inner-city kids down. (Ha... but I don't see those people putting THEIR kids in the drug-ridden, violent schools. The people spouting off this way are almost invariably suburban public-schoolers or teachers without school-age children in bad districts.)

I just don't understand this "sign the folder" thing for the elementary school set, or why so many papers need to be sent home on a weekly basis. This teacher, for instance, takes the folder thing so seriously that he's kinda glad when kids start to cry when they don't have it signed. I guess I wonder why it's so important to him that it's worth it, but then again, I don't have to teach 20-odd kids all day. It's enough to get my two homeschoolers educated while preventing the little ones from causing havoc. Maybe I'm being too judgmental, but I remember that the few times I did cry in school were emotionally scarring events... and try as I might, I can't say I learned anything from them.

My children have a sort of cousin (it's complicated) that I call "Mitchell" on this blog. He has a ton of homework to do almost every single day and if he doesn't wrangle the folks at home into signing his folder, HE gets into trouble and gets a bad mark. I think you have to be free from these Xes to get a prize, and three Xes gets you sent to the bad-kid seat during recess, which REALLY stinks if that's pretty much the only good part of school for you.

The thing about silly parent folders, parent-teacher conferences and the like is that you almost need a coordinated parental strike for them to become ineffective teacher tools. The children don't want to miss recess and get a bad mark. They want the extra credit or recognition when their parents come in for conferences. Teachers can manipulate entire family schedules with a promise of a few stickers and ten minutes of playground time.

But to my mind, folders and scheduled conferences (in the gym, with 50 other parents waiting behind you and able to overhear) are a BIG WASTE OF TIME and actually hinder the parent-teacher communication process that is essential to a true spirit of cooperation. Because guess what? I don't like to hear bad things about my children in front of others and having to walk past all the tables where they're hawking junk and asking for my signature on stupid things. Or passing out lawn signs proclaiming that we're not gonna booze up our 14-year-olds. You need a yard sign for that, you know.

Instead, could you just email me? I promise I'll write back. I'd rather not have all my "communication" with the school happen on a timetable. Maybe sometimes, you need to talk with me three times in a given day because we need to work together on a problem. Perhaps during other school semesters, I may not need to chat with you at all. I'm guessing you have other things to do with your time than to deal with parents like me anyway.

Thanks for listening.

21 February 2010

Blog Stalker Worries?

Do you post lots of family pictures and tell your readers pretty much everything on your blog? (I do.)

Do you disclose your last name, town and other identifying information on your blog, but think reallllly, only family and close friends are reading it anyway, so it must be ok? Or do you wonder a fair bit about "blog stalkers?"

I have some friends who post pictures of their house, their names and the name of their town. I get worried whenever they announce that they're going on vacation. They must have some super-great security system I don't know about if they're blogging this ... but just the same, I breathe a giant sigh of relief when I see the vacation photos have been uploaded from their home computer. That means they're ok. *whew*

Maybe I'm just naive, but I'm figuring really, not that many people are reading my blog. At least, not that many people NEAR ME are reading my blog. It would take a very determined blog reader to come out here from Australia, Japan or New Zealand just to take my sixth-grade math curriculum that retails for $158.00. I think since half of it's used, it's pretty much worthless resale-wise. Let's just say I'm not too worried about it.

I'm not popping my last name or our REAL names onto the blog, but certainly anyone who knows me well enough has my blog address. I think there's a balance there and for me, I'm ok with where I am right now. I have seen other blogs that don't even show the faces of their children. They can get pretty inventive with some of the poses, too!

Sometimes I look at sitemeter because it's just a lot of fun to see where people are popping in from and what they like to look at. Sadly, "smelly toe picture" or "used underwear" and the like are common sorts of search queries that lead folks here. My husband has a leatherworking blog and "leather wife" is the number one thing that leads people over to his place! Yes, make a "bracelet" for your "wife" out of "leather" and blog about it. Then see what happens. Yuccchhh.

But I'm sure there are plenty of normal people who must like looking at my blog and stay a while every now and then, but just don't comment. I'm not worried that they're stalking me. I can't imagine making my blog private because someone in Idaho likes to see what's going on at my house a few times a week. Truth to tell, if someone reallllly wants to kill me or steal that $158 curriculum, they're going to do it whether I blog about my life or not.

I read this little advice column and thought it odd. I didn't think the writer was a "stalker" of any kind, any more than you or I might be a "stalker" for looking up casual acquaintences on facebook. A true "stalker" isn't going to just peruse a blog, or even look forward to reading when a new post pops up in his reader. He'll obsess about the blogger, spend HOURS on the blog, and googlemap every place they talk about going and then... then he'll start showing up at those places and acting unbalanced.

Don't you think? That's what I'm guessing.

19 February 2010

The Bad Homeschooler You Know

"I don't know about you and the circle of folks you hang around with, but I am closely acquainted with at least two families who say they are homeschooling, but actually do little or nothing to educate their children," Persuaded commented on this post. "In truth there are probably many families who are like this and I think that's kind of a dirty little secret that none of us homeschooling families want to admit to. "

Yup. I don't know any folks quite like this, but I won't lie and say they don't exist. Maybe bad homeschooling is like porno, and you just know it when you see it. There is likely a continuum of parenting, with the superachievers on one end of the curve and the parents of severely neglected and abused at the bottom.

All the arguments in the world that most homeschool families consist of the middle and upper ends of the curve don't help the kids who are truly not educated at the lower end. In fact, it bothers me when homeschool organizations trot out statistics or tables as though the scores or achievements justify homeschooling as a whole. They don't. Homeschooling rests upon the idea that barring extreme abuse and neglect, parents are best suited to make decisions for their children, and that ought include "good" decisions as well as "bad" ones.

And while there is no excuse for abuse no matter where it occurs, I fear that well-meaning folks or Satan or the NEA (or maybe they will combine to form the anti-Trinity... why is there no anti-Trinity? a doctrinal question from Mrs. C) will use isolated cases to further regulation of families in their decision-making. Only imagine if states wanted to regulate Mormonism because of what has happened on some ranch in Texas. It would be intolerable even to most non-Mormons. For now. But I'm concerned that the day is coming when religious practices and homeschooling will be more strictly regulated because I read the angry comments at the end of news stories. Hopefully, these folks don't all contact their representatives or worse, contact their representatives after figuring out how to turn off the CAPS LOCK button and enable spell-check. We'd be in big trouble.

I know that the logical pro-homeschooler argument would be to talk of the slippery slope. If it's not ok for someone to be 16 and be unable to multiply single digits, is it not ok for someone to be 12? Nine? Six? and not know these things. At what point should the state intervene in the homeschooling of a child? At what point IS it abusive to homeschool or "no-school?"

That's a good question, and one I don't think anyone has answered adequately.

Should other homeschoolers come to the defense of bad homeschoolers? Or should we only help the graduate-school parent nutty professor type whose child is an astrophysicist in her own right at seven... but *doggone it* Mom turned in her paperwork a day late? Yeah, most of us are in the middle but have our moments where we need inform our children of basic facts like, "No, sweetheart. The Great Wall of China is actually made out of stone and isn't 'of china' at all. Sorry."

I know another argument for defending all homeschoolers would be that HELLO, public schools do not ensure an education by any means, and it's a pot calling the kettle black situation. Imagine wasting 15 years of your life (two preschool years, kindergarten, and grades 1-12) at your parents' and neighbours' expense, only to find that your education is inadequate and shoddy. There are whole districts turning out crappily-prepared students. Dropout factories. Drug-and-violence free schools that are anything but. It's abusive to ask kids to even get out of bed on time to go to such places year after year, holding out that American dream and education is "the ticket to success"... talk about dashing hopes... and the state wants to go after homeschoolers??!

Yeah. It does sometimes.

I think "education" is, by its very nature, not compulsory. I *honestly* think that if my neighbours or friends don't feel like sending their children to school, that that should be ok as long as they aren't playing in my yard. Mind you, if they sign up? Those kids had better be there if I'm paying for it. Why can't we have a VOLUNTARY education system? If it's VOLUNTARY, bet you most people would still send their children to school. Much as we hate to admit it, there are a plenty of *great* parents out there who just don't feel up to homeschooling, and the mediocre to bad (or just plain poor and need to work or sleep after night shift!) parents see it as free childcare.

Why does anyone have to compel parents to send their children to school? If you have kids in the public school, you know it isn't just a matter of attendance. The children also must occasionally learn to speak in groupspeak for a grade, or as Patrick puts it, "Say something liberal and crazy." It's good preparation for those diversity workshops your son will need to attend when he works in the "real world" anyway.

It really isn't funny, even though I make light of it. Check out this link from a school district (naturally!) in California. Teaching gay "tolerance" becomes a mandatory teaching... hmm... and with students COMPELLED to go to school, would it not be nothing short of forced government indoctrination? Is it coincidence that the large STOP CHILD ABUSE sign is next to postings about discrimination against gay people?

We come back to the point. We have to balance the child's genuine need to be protected and nurtured against his right to be free from state coersion in the formation of his personal credo. I think the state can make good schools to which parents will WANT to send their child. As it stands right now, I don't see the good of the compulsion. But I also don't see many other people who feel the same way because of the "what if" questions. Questions like, "What if we see millions of children grow up and be unable to find a job? Wouldn't they qualify for welfare, and then we'd be paying a lot of money out for them and their children?" Because of course that's not happening now! :P

And here I have to pop in a disclaimer. JUST because a school is a public school does not necessarily mean that it's going to be an indoctrination factory or do a shoddy job for your child. In fact, it might just do a better job than you can. I think the choice should be up to you as the parent. For my part, as my children age, they get a great deal of input into the decision as well. I think we all have enough on our plates without worrying about the less than obvious abuse cases in this world... there are certainly (unfortunately!) enough of them with which to concern ourselves.

Ut Ohhh


Rose is perfectly content if you respond to all of her requests. If she's displeased, she can say "no, uh-uuuuuuh, stopit (one word!), nn-NNN," and of course "mine" and "ee-back!" She also has several different ways to ask for things. When these don't work, she resorts to folding her arms, frowning and looking away to let you know just how unjust you're being.

17 February 2010

New York is Messed-Up.

I have family there, but that's not why. (Hi, guys! LOL) The laws there are so convoluted and wack that I can't imagine that they run under the US Constitution any more.

Take this case, for example. Ever have a nurse or someone perform some painful procedure on you, and you ask them to QUIT it, and they keep it up, and then you have to raise your voice... and they still keep it up? Hello, patient rights time, it's not unreasonable to yell after a good and fair shot at communicating your seriousness to the staff. I'm DEFINITELY not advocating staff abuse (do onto others AND not only that, please give the benefit of the doubt!), but I also think that listening to the patient and/or explaining why a procedure is necessary is worth a few extra minutes. I have had my share of kids before and I know that the nurse in question likely had to push pretty hard to find the fundus (top of uterus) and that it is just one of those things you have to deal with if you're in the hospital with these folks. The others? IVs, stupid questions about "are you safe at home," and the collection of totally irrelevant information like whether my great-grandparents smoked crack and/or got cancer. Sometimes I lie because I know the information is extraneous and you are being nosy. So there.

And sometimes I've heard loving parents call their kids greedy. In my home, when someone is being silly, I call them Dorcas Brain, as in, acting like a dork. The article makes it sound like calling someone a name is an instant custody loss right there.

And in the interests of mental health for EVERYONE, don't coerce people to give their mental health history and/or disclose the drugs they're taking. This blatant discrimination against the mentally ill will only serve to keep the illness in the closet and lead to a bad doctor-patient relationship. Want to know why insurance companies can continue to discriminate against the mentally ill? They're afraid to come out and demand their rights. Dang, people. If someone is on an antidepressant and it helps them FUNCTION, why is that fact then held against them in a custody hearing or CPS report? Wouldn't you think that someone with UNMEDICATED mental health issues would be way worse? Do you really want to go there?

Ok. And this story. Now I know you folks in New York value that personal freedom for each person, so long as each person decides to do what everyone else does. Let's stretch that really cool idea out just a mite. But as it stands now, folks must run lesson plans by petty bureaucrats and beg them for the chance to please, please let them educate their own children as they see fit. Failure to submit paperwork and bend over for a spanking (sign on the line that reads, "thanks! can I have another?") can get you into some trouble with the local ya-hoos. If you don't recognize the power they have before they get mad at ya, no telling what will happen after. The folks in the highlighted link could spend a year in the slammer for not filing their homeschool papers.

Now, I know you have to follow the law and that's brought up in the article as some sort of magical excuse to act like a mini-dictator. And you know, yeah, I guess it would be a danged shame if I were to, say, drive 36 miles an hour in a 35 zone. That would be wrong of me. Yep. Do you really have to sit on the streetcorner with the radar gun to catch me doing it, though, when two people just robbed the Qwik-E-Mart yesterday down the block? Do I really need to pay the $150 unlucky citizen of the day quota fee when there are big-bad criminals out there texting teenage girls and arranging "meetings?" Don't y'all have other things to do?

Don't you?

It really would be nice to feel that I could relocate to any area of the country, particularly if we had some sort of crisis and wanted to be near our family. But I just don't feel safe doing that right now. I hope the petty officials in the links lose their jobs but more than that, I hope some people with better common sense take their places. And that voters get some sense!!

Lonsdale of London

Elfie LOVES sweatshirt or fleecy jackets that zip up, and refuses to wear anything else (um, except his zip-up jammies, I mean). So imagine my happiness when I found a cute little "zippy coat" at the thrift store for $4 with the Union Jack and patches and a cool "Lonsdale of London" brand on the front.

Elf loves it. He's so proud of it. I looked it up online to see if other people are selling these nearby, it's such a hit. That's when I came across a wikipedia entry about the brand name. Some Lonsdale clothes, if worn juuuust right, would have the German Nazi party initials showing on the sleeve, so they were really popular with the old skinhead types. Schools would ban 'em.

Lonsdale didn't specially want to be the official outfitter of the new SS, so it came out with an ad campaign with actors and sportspeople of lotsa different races and ethnicities in an effort to show that the company itself has nothing to do with any of this stuff. Result? It's still banned in schools, but now it isn't popular with the skinheads. No good deed goes unpunished, I guess.

We will enjoy the sweatshirt, but part of me wonders if I have to thoroughly research each product I buy to see if someone somewhere MIGHT think it's objectionable. And that feeling stinks, though I wouldn't want my children advertising Nazi values. Though it isn't fair to the Lonsdale company if they're specifically repudiating those values. Well... sometimes I am not sure what to think about anything.

16 February 2010

Just a Joke.

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump off.
So I ran over and said, "Stop! Don't do it!"

"Why shouldn't I?"he said.

I said, "Well, there's so much to live for!"

He said, "Like what?"

I said, "Well, are you religious or atheist?"

He said, "Religious."

I said, "Me too! Are you Christian or Buddhist?"

He said, "Christian."

I said, "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?"

He said, "Protestant."

I said, Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?

He said, "Baptist!"

I said, "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"

He said, "Baptist Church of God!"

I said, "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God!"

I said, "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said, "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915!"

I said, "Die, heretic scum!" and pushed him off.

Yet Another Reason to Act Paranoid

This one was well-buried on the HSLDA website, in a short article on the state of homeschooling in Missouri dealing with a parent who was asked for MORE information than the law required:

"Parents should be aware that under Missouri’s 'Sunshine Law' (chapter 610, R.S. Mo.) the public may be able to obtain access to just about anything the family files with the school system—including birth dates and Social Security numbers—that relates to a student who is homeschooled and not enrolled in the school. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA, 20 U.S.C. 1232g) generally only protects students of the school that holds the records and information in question. Since youngsters who are homeschooled (and not simultaneously enrolled in a public school) are not students 'of' the school, FERPA may not protect their privacy. This is one of the reasons HSLDA has consistently fought to protect the rights of families against improper demands for information."

Now, I love HSLDA. And I agree with almost all their tenets. Like them, I see parental rights as an important issue, and one that is also tied directly to the direction of a child's education. That being said, I'd rather hear on the FRONT page that information sharing between me and the local public school is a matter of public record if said child is not enrolled.

I'm a parent. I think that the safety of my children (including their identities!) is paramount. Number one! Wouldn't you think this loophole in the law ought to be dealt with by HSLDA before they worry about whether a couple gay guys in Alabama or wherever get married? (Not that I'm OK with that.) And in states where information is REQUIRED to be divulged to school districts, is it a matter of public record? Would homeschool files become a treasure trove of social security numbers and other identifying papers? Maybe it doesn't scare enough people into becoming members as the "oh no, gay people" factor... but I'm thinking from a legal standpoint, this information being a matter of public records is a form of unequal treatment of a student based on his method of education (14th Amendment rights: "...nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." Emphasis mine; more on FindLaw). Maybe I am wrong in coming to this conclusion... they're the lawyers, and I'm certainly not.

Sure, not too many people are stealing the identities of eight-year-olds. But it does happen. And industrious people can save that information in their pockets for later when they can use it to smuggle in an illegal immigrant, run up a credit card debt, a house loan, or default on taxes.

Seems to me that in the past, we would get letters from colleges for Patrick right around the time that MAP scores would come out. Now we have REALLY got it going on as he has taken the SAT. Sometimes two or three notes will come in at a time. (They must have no idea that he has NO MONEY to speak of.) I have myself a feeling that generally, it isn't the schools divulging all this information, but secondary sources working WITH the schools. I can't prove this in any way, as certainly the colleges don't send letters stating, "Dear Patrick, We saw your SAT score recently after it was forwarded by our search company. Blah blah talk to your counselor and take a tour so you can give us lots of money and enroll in our school."

They just don't. If I had the power to make one law that didn't have to do with basic human rights... something "extra," it would be that all telemarketers and marketing people must disclose where they got your name and number from when they're asked. You'd be surprised how often it's YOU giving out your own info on sweepstakes and the like, but it would be nice to know if, say, our mortgage company were ratting us out as being idiots who pay their bills even when housing prices decline.

14 February 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Our church handed out little baggies of chocolate kisses to everyone for Valentine's Day. I didn't allow Woodjie to get one because he is allergic. Not sure how the Easter egg hunt at the church is going to pan out for this kid. Maybe as he is opening his eggs, I can snatch them away very quickly and hide some PopTart pieces inside. Yeah. That should work. In any event, everyone got a little baggie of chocolate kisses with a card that reads, "You've just been kissed! Have a great Valentine's Day! It's our way of expressing GOD'S LOVE in a practical way." Hey, well, it's the thought that counts, though next time, I wish GOD'S LOVE would not be expressed in the form of an allergen. (Actually, I thought it was a sweet gesture, if a bit of a backwardly funny one.) Thankfully Woodjie doesn't notice this chocolate injustice so much yet. We took him straight home and fed him lunch, and he was happy. That's when I received this beauuutiful Valentine's Day card from a small Elf. He gave me a baggie with this "You've just been KISSED" card inside. But all the chocolate kisses were *gone.* A couple foil scrapings and a scrap of "kisses" paper were enclosed. Sigh. It could be worse. One facebook friend statused about her ex-boyfriend giving her a bag of Doritos for Valentine's Day once. It was supposed to remind her that he was "all that and a bag of chips." D says that was very creative and inexpensive. Yeah. At least it wasn't a puppy, I guess.

Notes From the Facebook Spy.

G has been told that at least one of his facebook friends will be quietly unfriended this summer unless said friend repents and starts talking about how great God is and stuff. G seems to think this rather an unlikely proposition. But given the circumstances, he understands.

Now... I usually just let things go. I'm usually a pretty tolerant person. I have several facebook friends who are "fans" of gay marriage and assorted deviances. Or who type nasty things about fundies and this and that on occasion. Or even some Christians who write things they reallllly ought to know a bit better than to say, or who become fans of "swacking kids with belts 'cuz that's how Momma taught me" sorta thing.

Arg. Incidentally, and this has nothing to do with anything other than being an interesting sidenote, here's a little blog post questioning whether the Bass family is "quiverfull." I would have guessed "having lots of kids for welfare benefits" (which is an entirely different thing!) based on the video I linked to a few posts back, but you never know. You just don't know!

Anyway... usually... I let things go. And I know my children will befriend people I don't really necessarily like or whose values are not exactly the same as mine. And maybe I'm a little sheltering of my younger kids with this homeschooling thing. I dunno.

Before I launch into this section of the post, I want to be clear first off that I think homosexuality is a sin and an abomination against God. And while that doesn't mean I feel hatred toward people, my feelings on same-sex "marriage" and gay relationships would likely preclude my becoming good friends with most gay folks (just think... would YOU want to be best buddies with someone who thinks you should ditch the person you consider to be your spouse? Sorta puts a damper on things). But I can't say I'm mad or that the issue even occupies most, or even a significant percentage, of my time. More like... if you mention it, I'll tell you what I think. If it's on the ballot, I'll vote my conscience. No need to scream and get nasty or TYPE ICKY FACEBOOK STATUSES IN ALL CAPS.

But my.

This public school thing... they do try to teach tolerance. Maybe they go too far sometimes. Maybe they go WAY TOO FAR sometimes. But I am beginning, just beginning, to understand "what is up with all that" because I have access to G's facebook account.

I find quotes from friends and friends' friends with HITLER interspersed. Threats to kick ass. Threats about how long it would take for noses to hit the pavement. Threats like "jay u r such a c*cksucker and u couldnt get any from ur girlfriend," except without the pretty star, or "ur such a queer fag dont like my status" or how all homos should die. Avatars with guns. Stuff that makes me jump out of my skin, creeps me out, but isn't quite specific enough to call the cops about.

Mind you, it's not ONLY people who are G's school "friends" typing these things. It seems facebook has rigged it up so that when a "friend" comments on one of his friends' statuses, you get to see the friend's friend's picture and the comments (if that makes sense to you). So even though G hasn't "friended" these busty young teens, here I am scrolling away from kiddie boobs on facebook as fast as my little mouse will carry me. I keep thinking that thankfully (or not, or maybe thankfully again) G has lost his facebook privileges indefinitely. By the time he gets back on there, these, um, pictures will be buried wayyy in the past.

But a 14-year-old comments that he "wunts this" after seeing said boobage? Or that certain teens are up to things they shouldn't be... and post status announcements about it???

I don't want to cause bunches of trouble for G because like I said, he's never on the account. I pop on there every now and then on a YoVille coin run on his behalf. But when you send your child to public school, you come across a WHOLE lot of intolerance from the peer group. Whoever said that homeschooling fundie wack jobs are the ones who have the real problem with gays need to befriend about 100 middle school teens on facebook and see what happens.

Please don't take this post as outright support for gay tolerance studies. I'm just writing to let you know that I DO UNDERSTAND a bit more now why public school teachers who care might just be supportive of these policies.

Thanks for listening.

12 February 2010

Homeschooling According to the House of Lords

I think you'll *love* this House of Lords blog. I guarantee you after reading such snippy, condescending "I know more than you do about everything because I'm upper-class" attitude for more than a few minutes, that you'll hug your American flag for happiness. You might even dislike Obama just a little less because you know other people have it worse.

The link highlighted above is about homeschooling, but if you go back to "home" and scroll down there are some other dooooozie entries and comments. Dang, you think they're racist here in the backwoods of Missouri? Check out the comments about being sure that those counterculture Muslim chicks are educated, hereby defined as and "taking some science A-levels." They just use their fancy accents and puffy words to express their "concern."

"If home education is as good as is claimed," Baroness Deech writes while looking down her nose, "Then there is nothing to fear from some inspection."

Nevermind that the criteria for said inspection hasn't been decided yet. Nevermind that failure to live up to these unwritten expectations could result in your children being shipped off to public school against your wishes and/or taken away if educational neglect is found. Writing those expectations down takes too much time! How tedious, when there is ever so much fox hunting and polo to attend to. (I throw a stereotype back every now and then, just because I can. For how much longer can I speak openly politically? I don't know, if what is happening in other countries keeps creeping in here.)

And as to their making exceptions in the unwritten criteria for special-needs kids? Well, that would just open the door to someone, somewhere, not finishing her science level As who could have. All those unwashed people in the lower classes shouldn't be deciding things for themselves anyway. It opens the door to all kinds of new and dangerous ideas like... oh... I don't know... meritocracy and stuff.

On the same blog, Lord Soley (gotta love that name!) quips that extreme intervention into private lives of homeschoolers is warranted because sometimes "parents are providing a level of education that fails to enable the child to learn basic skills like reading and writing." (Of course, by that token, there are MILLIONS of parents of handicapped children who can never, never, never succeed and never do right. But... another post on that.)

It's been written elsewhere that the British mindset is such that he considers himself a "subject" of a monarch and as such, is the victim of a rather medievalish mentality. Look at the comments, though, and you'll see plenty of feisty people who seem to understand this concept of "freedom" and have a few things to say about it.

11 February 2010

What We've Been Doing

Here at the Happy Elf Homeschool, we've been following a "schedule" since Monday. It's had mixed results. It sure isn't nearly so strict as the schedules you'd find in a larger school, but I am learning just a little bit about WHY those big-bad factory institutions schedule things so strictly in the first place (hint: it's called "getting the stuff you planned to do ... done").

I am discovering that there are small time-wasters during the day, little rabbit trails we keep hopping down, and that sort of thing. And that was wonderful and good while the children were little and needed to learn so much about the world; however, it's not necessary now to interrupt our studies for further investigation on a topic that pops up quite so frequently. This week I scheduled an entire day for cooking, chess games and assorted "fun" or elective subjects after our math was done. When I did that, I found out that the children really need a bit more direction than your average third and fourth graders would. I think doing the math first thing in the morning is a good idea, but I also think one other subject thrown in later in the day might balance out the mostly unstructured "fun" stuff. It would also give me an opportunity to play catch-up with whatever we might have been lagging behind in that week.

I'm posting a few pictures of what I do with the younger children while the older ones are doing a more self-directed activity. I can get all kinds of little boxes full of blocks or baby things (spoon, bowl, bottle, blanket, etc.) and let them play with each thing for a bit. Then I will switch the children's activities so that each has a turn doing a puzzle or matching bears or whathaveyou.

10 February 2010

What is WRONG With These People?

There is just so much blame to go around. A child is allegedly locked in a bathroom closet for months, let out only to be beaten and exercised to the point of exhaustion, and fed a few cans of food and some bread every few days or so. Did I mention she was "homeschooled?" Her dad wants to take "homeschool excellence" to a whole new level, because this is the punishment for cheating on a test at his school. (Um, given his "punishments," I can see the motivation to cheat on a test in order to get a good grade, mmkay?)

There are other children in the family who apparently have relationships with neighbours and friends... but they never told anyone their sister needed help. No one in the area even knew this family had a 14-year-old girl. How scared and intimidated do those kids have to be to stand by and watch their sister starving to death, beaten and locked up? Man. Words fail me.

I looked at the HSLDA website and apparently in Arizona, all you have to do each year (besides actually homeschool!) is file an affadavit. I suppose it is vaguely possible that she was just a name to those folks. If she never took any classes at school, that's certainly understandable. But didn't SOMEONE miss her? Clerk at a grocery store? Old friend? Anyone?

Turns out, plenty of people thought something was up. Look at the video attached to the news story. People near the current place the family is living had NO CLUE about this young woman. Travel back in their timeline just a little, though, and you'll find folks who knew this girl and were concerned. The state child welfare agency was involved. HELLO, news people, how about reporting that little fact instead of just noting the "homeschool" part?

It was on the radar! The child welfare department could probably not have PREVENTED all suffering (come on, no one can... even the police are called AFTER a crime is committed, right?), but they could have figured out if they checked on their current caseload every six months or so that the child is losing a bit of weight, bruised up and making claims of being locked in a closet??? Ya think??

On a smaller scale, this is Benita Jacks all over again. And you watch... instead of requiring physical eyeball-on-child checks on active cases every six months, they'll propose more homeschool regulations and tie in medical records with homeschooling JUST like they do in public schools. And I don't think it would prevent this sort of thing from happening because transient families are hard to keep track of, let alone dealing with the problems of their truant children. Whether they TRY or not, is of course another story.

Nevermind the "homeschool vs public school" thing for just a minute here, because honestly? I feel that "controversy" is really just a glitch in the reporting. The problem is that a child was tortured for months or years and nearly starved to death, but never removed from the situation. And I'd like to know why.

What is WRONG with people??

08 February 2010

The Possum Socks


My husband is wearing socks made of possums and merino wool. Yup. Bonnie sent 'em to us, along with a ton of other stuff, from New Zealand (postage = yowie). There were gifts for EVERYONE in the family, including D. He just LOVES them, and has been telling anyone who will listen (and probably a few people who won't) about how he has possums on his feet. It's true! Wikipedia tells us that possums are Australian native animals, imported to New Zealand and devastating to the local ecosystem. So they kill 'em and make clothes out of them. These are not the same 'possums you're used to seeing around here, though. Those are opossums, and nicknamed 'possums. But they're not possums. Now you know. D will be wearing these socks to work tomorrow and showing them (and the packaging) to everybody. Seriously, these socks are the best and most unique gift he has received from anyone - myself included - in years. Thanks, Bonnie!

07 February 2010

The Boxer Fracture.

A little lower, and he'd be in surgery getting pins and metal bits inserted into his hand. WHEN will this boy learn to stop punching cement walls and/or banging his head when he's mad/ upset/ excited/ happy/ whatever? "Yay," G said, "My first broken bone!" Yep, none of the other children has gotten one of these before, so he gets to be the *first.* Kewl. More kewl still? We need to see an orthopaedic surgeon to look over the x-rays and perhaps recast/ recommend surgery. Hopefully not the latter. I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun bringing all the younger children with him to this appointment. Well... here he's striking a pose for the blog. In response to my question, it is NOT supposed to resemble Mussolini.

06 February 2010

"Homeschooling More Than One Child" Meme

Do you? Please share a little about yourself and your homeschool! Now I'll share about mine:

Elf (9) and Emperor (8) are 13 months apart, and they would have been two years apart grade-wise had they continued in public schools. Elf would have been in fourth grade this year and Emperor would have been in second. But they homeschool together in all their classes here at the Happy Elf Homeschool. They have been a class together at home for almost three years.

When we began incorporating Emperor into our lessons, of course Elf had a great advantage. Emperor was barely out of preschool, but it took him only about three months to get to the point where he was competent and out of the second grade math-wise. Elf is the reading elf and has loved reading, especially since he's been homeschooled and has learned at his own pace.

Each child has a great strength in his particular area. I try to encourage teamwork and cooperation, but often discover that their idea of "teamwork" is "Emperor does all the math and Elf does all the reading aloud that Emperor hates." Ummm... sorry. Mom makes you share.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen Elf "accidentally" reading Emperor's part in a textbook. I make Emperor go back to the very beginning of the passage and read it again when that happens. It annoys Elf no end because it feels to him as though Mom is undoing his reading. Ruining it, even. It bothers Emperor because now he has EXTRA work to do in addition to what he would have had to do in the first place. Well, that's what happens when you don't do your fair share. "Helping" and cooperating is one thing, but doing things for someone else when he should be doing it himself is quite another.

Sometimes a child will get very annoyed because one will call out an answer to a question the other was asked. Do kids in public school cry and punch each other because they get THAT MAD about who got to read what first or who got to answer which question? Or who gets to do "the Elfie dance" for about 10 seconds when a question is answered correctly? Oh, yeah... if Elf was supposed to answer the question, he should get the dance. But if Emperor answered it correctly, he earned the dance. That's not right! I should get two questions after this, then. And two dances.

If you homeschool two or more children, do you pass books down? If they're in the same grade, do you buy an entire set of books for each child, or do you make them share? Cheapo Mom here makes them share books for the most part, and copy answers in a notebook or workbook so we can pass it on yet again. Besides which, it makes it easier to divide "reading out loud" passages because they'll put the book between themselves and the pages on the left are Elf's and the pages on the right are Emperor's. Many tears happen when someone's page has questions instead of stuff to read. It isn't fair. And he read more than me yesterday, too. And he took my dance and IT WAS MY DANCE! ARG!

I am looking over what I've written and am considering that perhaps, instead of only INDIVIDUAL goals, we have "working as a team, helping each other learn and being kind" goals and rewards in addition each week for the children. Sometimes writing out your problems can help you think of good solutions. This is (for some reason! extra energy this week or so!) the time to revamp and revitalize that homeschool setting here at the Happy Elf Homeschool. Because I could use a Happy Elf and a Happy Baby Giant. I really could. Though Emperor might be a bit embarrassed if he knew YOU knew that he was the "baby giant." No matter. When he grows up he will just be a regular grown-up giant. We all know this. :)

But overall, I LOVE homeschooling these guys together. They really are best friends, and I think being together almost all the time keeps them on the same wavelength. They have many inside jokes. Most of the time, they work together as a team, often moreso than I would wish. They have common hobbies. They eat the exact same school lunches. They even wear the same clothes, though Emperor gets to wear them first as he is taller.

What are some of your challenges and blessings if you homeschool more than one child? Do your children work together in all their subjects? Do you save books or buy a new curriculum for a younger child? How do you decide? I don't have a Mr. Linky, but if you leave a link in the comment section, I will edit this post and list your post here:

sample link here

The Pink Toy From Satan

No, not the vibrators at Walgreens. Not the "exploit me when I'm three because I'm looking sexxxy" high heels and princess boas from Target. This time, we need to get upset about the Ouija boards at ToysRUs.

I'm not buying any of that stuff. Actually, I know people who refuse to play cards at all because it has too much relation to the Tarot card and/or they don't believe people should be playing games of chance at all. YES, that includes Candyland. Checkers are ok, but Trouble, with that evil Pop-O-Matic, is not.

Well, to be honest with you, that's a more consistent viewpoint to hold than the "pitch a fit because a board game that's been on the shelves since 1847 now comes in PINK" seem to be holding.

But whatever. From the article:

"Toy expert and consultant Chris Byrne said he found 'absolutely nothing' wrong with any version of the game.

'And if something doesn't fit your value or belief system, you don't have to buy it,' Byrne said. 'There's absolutely nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian about it. I think people are projecting their belief system on it."'"

Um... Ol' Chris Byrne might be a "toy expert and consultant," but I sorta doubt he has any sort of theological expertise whatsoever. What do you mean there's "nothing remotely Christian or un-Christian" about contacting (or trying to contact, or pretending to contact) spirits of the dead, demons or assorted what-have-you? Patrick coulda told you that was messed-up when he was THREE.

There's a difference between tolerance, stupidity, and outright lies. That comment falls into the latter category.

05 February 2010

The *NEW* Schedule

Oh, yayyy. I've realized that I've been frantically trying to get *everything* done at once... and while we have tons of stuff started, we have trouble getting anything actually FINISHED. Or I'd realize suddenly that we hadn't studied the Bible in two weeks. (Really! If this sort of thing hasn't happened to you yet, you either have a schedule, are perfect, or you just haven't been homeschooling very long.) I sorta copied the idea for a schedule from this link (pdf) I found after browsing Luke's blog. Woodjie doesn't have school on Wednesdays, so now I will schedule trips to the grocery store, art or other fun things on this day. We've also moved cooking to Wednesdays. I have left bunches of ideas in the "Wednesday" column and I will probably let the children pick what they want to do after their math is done. Did you notice there is no science to be done this week? We've just finished a science LIFEPAC today, so we'll begin a social studies LIFEPAC next week. When that's done, I'll probably get two science packs done and then concentrate on China for a while as Patrick is travelling there in June with the high school orchestra.

04 February 2010

Crazy Pace! Run Run Run!

Do we really need to finish a good-size chapter book every three weeks? Do I need THREE English curriculum items, one for Literature, one for Spelling, and one for Grammar? AND the vocabulary and grammar worksheets for an entire grade that were purchased separately? And do writing exercises on a regular basis?

Do I really need to do all of Singapore Math AND Teaching Textbooks? Does it all have to be done in one calendar year?

Am I crazy?

What's really nuts is that I'll do every activity in every book, and then "supplement" with other stuff yet still, and then wonder why we work so hard, but yet there is no way possible we're going to finish "on time" this year.

I have just looked a bit at the lopsided expectations I've fallen into and realized that I need to make several changes:

Have a GOAL

My goal for the current homeschoolers used to be that they could read, write, and do basic mathematics. Goal met! Yay us!

Next goal: get them out of my house and living independently, even though I really don't want them to leave. Ever, ever, ever. :( Sometimes it stinks being a Mom.

Breaking that goal down, though, we need more work on social nuances. I live with these little guys and I can tell you that even though they're VERY verbal, they're more than a little odd. They get very upset about things you and I might not think are out of place. For example, we were at Wal-Mart recently and we found little playsets that contain, say, kitchen or bedroom items and a little tiger or bear or horse family that would live in the playhouse.

"WHAT is this world coming to??!" Elfie exclaimed. "My word! That's just... that's SICK!"

Emperor saw the playset and laughed hysterically. "Mommy," he said in a high-pitched baby voice, "Can I have some more human meat?... Sure! Here's another steak!" Ha ha ha haaa!

*Elfie starts laughing despite himself*

I had to tell them both that they were being pretty sick and I was wondering what this world was coming to. These fellows operate on a totally different wavelength sometimes, I tell ya.

Organize

Oh yeah, I hate doing that. But I probably need to catalogue everything and figure out if I have a huge glut in one subject or several. I might even look ahead in my boxed curriculum. When we study, say, Africa, I want to pencil a note in the teachers' manual that I have a sticker book about it in my fifth grade "box of stuff" or whathaveyou.

Get Real

Here's where it's going to get really tough. I feel I need to start having a rough timeline. Maybe even pare my expectations down a little. I might want to figure out what I want to get accomplished each month and plan for that. I'm diligent about DOING THE SCHOOLWORK, but not planning for the schoolwork and certainly not "grading" the schoolwork. I'm starting to get itchy thinking about that. Grades are so stinkin' objective. Plus there's the fact that I make the boys take the same tests over and over until they score at least 90 percent. That wastes some time as well. It would be easier to write "95%" on all tests in the gradebook as D has been very specific that he wants the kids to have grades.

Or maybe I should let them fail a test or two for real. I just would hate to have a big "F" next to "ocean animals unit" should I die tonight and my children need to enroll in a "real school." Thankfully my school presently is rather imaginary, and we just pretend to learn all day. But I think of the clucking disapproval of folks after I die going through the record books. "Tsk, tsk," they'd say. "Mrs. C didn't teach about ocean animals very well. I've also noticed that her children are very unsocialized and laughed at the beautiful tiger-and-kitchen playset we set up in the back of the classroom. What is this world coming to?"

I shouldn't worry, though. Likely if I died, my husband would not be able to find any of the papers I have carefully kept. He would enroll them somewhere and they would TOTALLY BOMB on the standardized tests they'd use to determine grade level. Emperor has a good command of the English language, but will answer a question literally instead of figuring out "what they mean." Oh, boy. He'd be in kindergarten again if they tested him, nevermind how smart he is.

Really, though, I need to sort through all my homeschool stuff and figure out what I'm doing here. Otherwise, when convention time rolls around, I will buy LOTS OF STUFF and want to pack even more into my homeschool day. It's sort of a hobby. I like buying homeschool stuff and doing homeschool stuff. But I sort of make my kids participate in my hobby for hours each day.

We were talking of environments and things parents do to make their children feel safe. Elfie said that what Mom does to make him feel safe is to have school. He loves school! (I think it's the routine that makes him feel safe, but I won't tell him that if you won't.) Emperor groaned and rolled his eyes. Emperor likes his weekends off. I have a sneaky feeling soon he will ask for a vacation. He doesn't mind school, but he likes breaks as well.

Maybe I will take most of tomorrow off and doodle with my books.

03 February 2010

Informal Poll


Would you bother trademarking this image? I just pulled it out of its dusty storage place and had to go "eeew" once again. And I wasn't "eeewing" over the dust this time. Am I the only one who finds this potty-man... disturbing?

02 February 2010

Teaching Hate.

"Of course, the homeschoolers will never stop sending puffs of smoking disdain towards the local public school and it’s humble inhabitants. Along with the fruits of the Holy Spirit and all the Jesus parables, the homeschoolers love to preach the inadequacy and the failings of public education. It seems like the main subjects of homeschooling curriculum must include math, English, and public school hate. Whenever the homeschooling mom passes the local elementary school in the middle of the day, it is her God given duty to point out to her children, how those wretched kids behind the fence on the playground are in a prison… a federally funded prison… a federally funded, atheistic prison. A federally funded, atheistic, prison that mommy and daddy are forced to pay for because the evil government makes them!"

You loved this little excerpt, didn't you? You can read the rest of the vitriol here, or I can summarize it for you: some lady somewhere, who has a physician for a husband and can therefore buy her children a spot in the best public schools should she wish, wants those priggish homeschoolers to stop being so stuck-up and send their kids to school with everyone else's.

Those old one-room schoolhouses symbolize the greatness of communities working together, and we need to send our kids to public school to recapture those good old days on a grander scale, she implies. Apparently, this atheist's take on the "love of God" entails sending ALL Christian children to public school regardless of whether this is a good thing for them individually. Because the God we made up calls us to, and we're totally racist, bigoted, snobbish hypocrites if we don't. (In fact, it would be good for the kids to get away from their narrow-minded parents, anyway.) Nevermind that those one-room schoolhouses she's hearkening back to used to teach straight from that pesky Bible she doesn't believe in, or that, in a large majority of cases, children of colour couldn't even GO to these schools. And the kids who were lucky enough to receive an education were physically and mentally abused on a regular basis in these buildings. The good old days. Mmm.

Whatever. But it made for some entertaining reading. I would expect that sort of thing from someone who has never homeschooled, or who doesn't know many homeschoolers. But the homeschoolers who responded to this post seem even more wacky for the most part. Here, they're stating that they are Pagan /atheist /saw a real-live dark person last week /live in a diverse area /whatever/ and they aren't evil like THOSE FUNDIE HOMESCHOOLERS! Please don't lump them in with *those* people!

No. It's the weirdo Christians who teach their daughters to wear skirts and bake cinnamon rolls that we really need to be concerned about. They're the dangerous ones, not me, boss. Because if THEY pulled themselves together, they're the ones who would make the difference in public education. The enlightened people like the commenters are the ones who should be able to homeschool their children, but only because they're concerned about their local public schools and the larger community and/or teach their children the "right" sorts of things.

Um... yeah. You think that if it makes you feel any better. Dug and found a "handi" wiki quote to consider, folks:

"In Germany, [the Nazis] first came for the Communists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak up, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak up, because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me – and by that time no one was left to speak up."–Martin Niemoller

I'm not implying that sometimes Christian homeschoolers don't have a snotty attitude or that I think secular homeschoolers have to defend everything they do. I'm just thinking that often, the attitude we come across one that's far worse so sometimes... juuuuust sometimes... we like to circle the wagons a little. It's nice to have at least one community in which one is accepted.

And for what it's worth, I was a fundamentalist Christian BEFORE I started homeschooling. In fact, I still send some of my children to the enemy's prison camp. :) Seriously, I appreciate the *good* things the public schools do very much. But I won't be silent about the bad things, or send Elf back to the elementary where they abused him. Must be because I'm a wacko fundie and think kids ought to have HUMAN RIGHTS no matter where they go.

Too bad if you don't like it.

01 February 2010

The AlphaSmart

We have an AlphaSmart Neo now, thanks to Bronwyn! Her son was moving up to a newer model with more bells and whistles, and she generously mailed this out to us, complete with instruction book, cables and a lot of good wishes that someday Woodjie will use this, too. I don't know that the AlphaSmart will improve Emperor's spelling (it's already pretty good), but it will CERTAINLY assist me in grading it. He frequently gets things marked incorrect as if Mom can't read it, it isn't right.
*
I will try to balance my understanding of Emperor's motor difficulties with the simple fact that we do need to work on his handwriting. I have myself a feeling after these first few uses that Emperor will want to have his AlphaSmart wherever he goes. He is very attached to it already.

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...