29 April 2010
Yup. I'll just remember that next time the Mormons come to visit. We live in a big Mormon tourist town, you know. Some head honcho guy in that religion got himself locked up here way back when, so people from all over the world have to go and look at the *very* spot he was imprisoned. Doesn't matter that the jail isn't there any more and it's just a reconstruction. I guess it's the Mormon equivalent of going to the Holy Land or something. Why else would anyone travel hundreds of miles to a place without a decent Perkins? I am so totally asking the next Mormon I chat with for more than five minutes about that, why that's important to them. The thing is, you can't really tell who's Mormon and who's not unless they're wearing their name tags. :)
Well, I think I know Truth when I see it, but as long as someone's not being obnoxious and I don't think the real motive for coming by is to case my house, I'm happy to hear opinions or mini-sermons about stuff. I'll even take your literature and read it. I know other Christians at this point are probably screaming that if I take their literature, I'm letting untruth have a foothold in my life, and I'm letting in forces of spiritual darkness in and letting Satan speak into my life or whatever whatever whatever.
As Elf told me today, "I'm ready to learn about other religions so I can find out the answers to the hard questions." I let him read the Evangel about the different religions in Eurasia, and it has an excellent little synopsis of what people from each religion believe. Unfortunately, the magazine has fallen apart after so many readings and I'm not sure if I should laminate it or not. It's a lot of work to do that. But I might.
In any event, I'm not afraid of your truth and I would way rather hear what you think about stuff than have everything be about a one-way conversation that includes my using repentance-inducing phrases like "turn or burn, bayybee." I would really like for you to be saved (according to my understanding of doctrine, including immersion and magical "in Jesus' Name" spoken during the ceremony) because I really believe this stuff. And if I care about you, I wouldn't let a silly thing like you not talking to me again prevent me from presenting the Truth to you if I genuinely think it's time.
So. About that evangelism. I'm a bit uncomfortable with staged evangelistic events. I can't imagine anyone REALLY comes to know the Lord in a deep and abiding way because some dude passed out a plastic water bottle at a Jesus-Loves-You event. I mean, it's possible. There's that verse somewhere about even a cup of cold water being important in the Kingdom and all that.
One thing that bugs me about church organized evangelism events is that it usually goes down like this: A group of people know that they want to hand out water bottles because church XYZ did it and it's cutting edge to put your church name on the label. Make sure you have a kewl logo, or no one will want to come to your stuffy church. Then they get together and pray about the logo for the bottles, and "the Holy Spirit leads" them to the one that fits their budget and looks pretty good. I do stuff like that, too, but I'm just not going to admit it to you publicly. And I have a deeep revelation here for reallio that works for me: I've found that sometimes, juuust sometimes, the most spiritual thing you can do is just go to sleep and don't make a big decision today. Just go to bed. Quit trying to do it all. Take a little comfort in the fact that God did not call you to be the Saviour of the world. Amen and goodnight. Tomorrow, after you've had a bit of sleep, things usually look clearer. Most of the time. :)
Just be who you are, where you are and let God use you!
One place I passed by on my way somewhere else was an Olde-Fashioned Methodist Church. A beautiful old building, stunning brickwork and a quaint location. On the side, though, was some sort of ultramodern poster proclaiming that it was "The Door." That's it. A little photo of a fancy doorknob is supposed to make you wonder what this groovy place is all about and go check it out because it's THE place that God is chillin', maaaan.
Sigh. What's wrong with old brickwork? I'd want to sit in a pew and sing from a hymnal in a place like that. What's wrong with that? Be who you are... and... "The Door." is not it, you guys. I'd feel totally gypped if I visited and the doxology wasn't spoken with much fanfare, or if they redecorated the inside with strobe lights and did the "dry ice smoke during worship time" thing. (Yes, I've seen this actually happen in a church. I don't smoke, or I'd light a lighter during the slow "worship" songs.)
On Wednesday, I was sitting in church and the pastor announced that there would be a new ministry going on in the neighbourhood. I should have trusted the poor man more, but all I could think of was the corny friendship evangelism I've seen in the past. I honest to goodness started praying fervently. "Ohhhh, pleaaase, God, don't make me hand out waterbottles and tell people Jesus loves 'em and I do tooooo and tell them that they're so speeecial, pleaaaase, God... and please let me bring to mind a prior commitment if the ministry is all about guttercleaning because I'm too fat to fit on the ladder... LORD, please help meeee..." Oh, no kidding, I was trevailing in my head there for a sec.
Thankfully... the water bottle thing was not the idea of the staff. *whew* Seems they actually prayed about doing something, you know, actually useful to others.
Do you know what they did? They went to a place where church members already had a connection and... waiiit for iiiiit... they asked the people there what they could do to help them out. They didn't just jump in with some water bottles and a free car wash!
PRAISE GOD! I started crying right in church. Who'da thunk, praying about stuff and then asking someone what they needed?? I mean, I could really do something like this if I could arrange toddlercare. I would love to do that.
They *asked them what they needed.* Wheww. Still in awe at this novel idea. I have myself a good pastor. Now, this whole thing hasn't been announced in any detail yet, so I don't want to give it all away, but I will say this: the ministry? Is something G has wanted to do for a long, long time. It would actually be a blessing to HIM to learn how to do this thing for other people who can't do it for themselves. He has a lot of energy, and he sooo needs to expend it on something more useful than beating the next Pokemon boss.
I'm telling you, I haven't been excited about any sort of "ministry opportunity" in years. But I'm excited about this. Actually meeting a need and doing something useful for someone else. Yeah.
It's all good stuff.
28 April 2010
So when I've been asked, I have refused to allow my children to be tested more extensively (for example, for fragile X and other problems) in "studies" on autism. The last thing I want on the market shelves is a test that would diagnose autism prenatally. Soon autistics will find themselves in the company of Down Syndrome people if that happens. People will "selectively abort" children if they aren't exactly what they expected.
I think, though, that if I were pregnant that I would want to know if my child were autistic ahead of time. I would just want to be prepared. If there were a test, given my history, I'd take it. But I wouldn't want to help MAKE that test available, knowing other people would use it eugenically. Maybe that makes me a hypocrite; but really, I wouldn't want to see a kid die just because he's autistic.
I wish that we could move away from the "autism strikes 1 in 100 kids and ends 95 percent of marriages" types of statistics some groups like to use for fundraising and more toward "parenting a child with autism is really tough, but you can do it, and I can help!" attitude.
That being said, I won't lie to you. It's tough parenting an autistic child. It's really tough. I can fully sympathize with people who bellyache about this or that service not being available, how hard it is to have ANY KIND OF LIFE whatsoever, the real lack of support from the community around us, even the inability of the child to be on "our wavelength" sometimes. We're parents, but our lives are changed from what we expected. We're frustrated we can't do the things we did before. We haven't done a good enough job by our children because we either don't know how or have just plain run out of energy to keep looking for resources that aren't there.
And we want to advocate for our kids, but often there just plain old aren't resources out there. In our family, we aren't poor enough to qualify for the big money help from the Medicaid people, but we're way too poor to do the $25 copay several times a week, even if services WERE available on our medical plan.
And still yet, sometimes we don't "get" what our children need. We know that the "bratty" behaviour we deal with isn't because of brattiness, but that doesn't mean we can't help our children improve. They're not animals, you know.
But they ARE disabled, and they're going to need some help. Sometimes that help looks doggone weird to you. I know. I never would have thought "put a vest on with lots of super-heavy weights inside (medieval style!) and sing the same ONE line to a song over and over while giving my child a modified noogie" would be a sensible thing to do in public in ANY situation. Um, but it is. I promise-swear that I'm not trying to creep you out by acting weird like this; but this just helps my kid calm and acclimate a bit and I'm tired of him screaming and running. I don't know what's freaking him out right now (because he can't speak or sign yet), but I know this often helps. So... deal with it.
Would I have wanted to know Woodjie was autistic before he was born? Yep. Do I want YOU to know if your child is? Depends on what I think you'll do with the information. Either way, I can't imagine that a physician or nurse withholding KNOWN medical information from a parent is entirely ethical. It doesn't matter what the physician wants. I don't like the way some tests are used as a means to eliminate children with disabilities, but if the tests are taken and the results are in, I just couldn't see hiding what they have to say.
27 April 2010
26 April 2010
24 April 2010
She's figured out by now that Patrick is a Christian, and a conservative one at that. She has a few snide things to say, and Patrick has a few snide things to say back. When assignments are handed out, Patrick gets the ones that refer to the Bible because she knows he likes all that stuff. We can't really avoid the Bible, she tells the class, because it's the most classic literature written by a committee, not to mention the fact that it gets referenced in the *older* literary works.
In short, Patrick is the God-boy of the class. He takes advantage of this unique opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ by using the cartoon assignment to portray his teacher as a two-headed worm that takes in assignments at one end and um, produces grades at the other. He writes things like "our honourable chairman said..." in his reviews. He compared the current public educational system to the Nazi concentration camps for his "satire" assignment. Obama, of course, is vaguely alluded to as the Communist, Nazi leader of the free world, and he writes about what a great thing that is that teachers will have more power than pesky parents with much sarcasm.
In short, he gets her goat and she grades him accordingly. Sigh. Brown-noser, he is not.
This is the same young man that I got a worried phone call about a couple of years ago. They were studying ancient Greece and he refused to look at the nudie statues, the social studies teacher told me. He needs to complete this assignment. Could you tell your son he can look at the statues? Um, ok... I told him he could look but not loooook. No ogling. Compromise met. Patrick wasn't particularly pleased, but he dealt with it.
Patrick said that he was just assigned a "mature" book in English class. He raised one eyebrow as he said it and told me I ought to look at it. "Mature," I guess, is eduspeak for "written porno that no way any decent, God-fearing American would allow to be distributed in the local library, let alone keep in his home."
My. This book is the most smutty, disgusting, amazingly bad work of "literature" I think I've ever seen. I tried to give it a good chance... tried to see some redeeming literary value in the OVERALL of the book. Sometimes when a rape scene or the like is included, it's used to demonstrate injustice or bring to light some element of the human condition, etc. I really tried to give this book a fair chance.
I got through about 20 pages. Lots of incest. Large breasts. Genital smells as turn-ons. Chastity belts and marital rape. Spears through the throat. I finally put the thing down when it went into some detail about how the mom in the book is checking out her young teen son's penis and thinking about its size in comparison with his dad's.
Done. Just done. So I wrote the following excuse note:
Dear Mrs. English Teacher (note I did not use preferred MS. title, sure hope she's married):
Please excuse Patrick from reading One Hundred Years of Solitude in English class. Surely some other, more ennobling work can be selected that fulfills class requirements. We would like one that does not cater to the prurient interests or is otherwise unwholesome.
Thank you for your prompt consideration on this matter.
email address here
Patrick had a good chuckle when he read the note. "This is just what she needs to hear," he said with a big grin. "Perfect." He wanted to know why I wouldn't just email his teacher and why I handed him the note.
Honestly? I am giving him the note because he is nearly 17. In a year and a half, he will be able to watch porno without my consent if he's out of the house. He will be able to do all kinds of things without my permission. Patrick knows my preference on the book. I told him, though, that if he wanted to fill his mind with that smut, that he is old enough to understand the potential consequences.
But I am giving him the note so that the decision is truly his. He can hand in the note, or not hand in the note.
I have a feeling that he will hand in the note because not only does he not want to continue reading this book, he will also drive his teacher batty with the parental backup.
23 April 2010
D does a lot of leatherworking and likes to look for cheap leather belts that he can remake into bracelets, or jackets (sometimes marked way down in price because of tears or missing buttons) that he can cut up and use to make things. It's sort of a treasure hunt for him to see how much useful material he can gather in a visit.
The big reason we go, though, is to get out of the house and very occasionally, we find some stuff that is really great. Once D found a bag of Pokemon stuff for $10. If you've ever priced the Pokemon stuff new, you know what a bargain that is if your kids are into that stuff. I also am always on the lookout for more Great Illustrated Classics to add to my collection. I saw some of these at the curriculum fair for $6 each and there's just no way I'm paying that. I just keep trolling the thrift stores and when I find these books, they're usually 50 cents each.
Often we leave with nothing, but we enjoy looking around. Sometimes we see interesting people and other times we wish we hadn't seen interesting people. The poor cashiers have probably seen it all and at the Salvation Army, we've nicknamed some of these helpful and cheery folks "Smiley." They deal with a lot, so probably I shouldn't blame them.
It seems every time we go to the thrift store, that one or more family is letting its kids get totally out of control. More than once, I've seen kids breaking into bags of toys to get the things they want out of them. Then they stuff 'em into other, cheaper bags, leaving the absolutely unsaleable crap. It's stealing, really, but you'd be surprised that kids not much older than Woodjie are doing this and not only that, that these little ones are unattended while Mom's on the other side of the store. I've told cashiers about this before, but I don't think they think it's worth the drama to actually DO something about it.
And it's not unusual, say, if the thrift store is selling toy guns, for several little boys to be running up and down the aisles "shooting" at each other and screaming. Everyone tries to ignore them. But I think the cashiers kinda draw the line when the PARENTS get in on games like this and play "hide and seek" in the old ladies' undergarment aisles and furniture department.
"Please keep YOUR children with you for the safety of other customers and for the safety of YOUR children," intoned Smiley on the loudspeaker after seeing one dad play some sort of football and hide and seek tag game with his five rambunctious children. Poor Smiley. She said this about four times. Finally she hung up the speakerphone and just yelled at one of the kids to go find his dad. The family suddenly decided that it had other things to do that night.
"Awww, Dayyt!" wailed a young teen. "Howcome we don't buy nothin when we come to this store? Tha gun was only two dollar."
"I think 'two dollar' could buy you at least three grammar books here," I think to myself. But I am a very nice, shy sort of person who values keeping all her teeth and so I say nothing. Finally, D and I are done and are ready to check out. Smiley is ready to help us.
"The sign that says, 'No discount on red tags,'" D says to Smiley as he makes casual conversation. "It's rather counterintuitive, is it not? If your sale is on blue and tan tags today, of course there would be no sale on red tags. Are people trying to get some sort of sale on red tags?"
"Ohh, yeah," Smiley tells us. Those "seniors" get a discount every Wednesday and they think they're entitled to money off on the red tag stuff. The sign is there to prove that they are NOT getting a discount on red tagged stuff. They really don't deserve a discount on anything seeing as how it costs so much to keep these old people alive.
"They should be giving US a discount for letting them live so damn long!" Smiley says angrily.
I was just snorting about that line all the way home. This is obviously a place without "secret shoppers" and classes on how to deal with the clientele with finesse. :)
21 April 2010
I thought that with all the posts about unschooling in the media and on the homeschool blogs of late, that I would go ahead and inform you that if it's good enough for Peter and John, it's good enough for your kids. I think Paul went to private school, though, and later had to be knocked off his high horse. He thought he was better than everyone else because he wore a tie and a pressed uniform. Thomas? He was a public schooler agnostic skeptic type. :)
20 April 2010
It's what you need. You're reminded that you *must* get the things you need so that your children can have the education they deserve at every turn.
Do you remember that Twilight Zone episode? "It's what you need," the old man would say, selling a comb or some shoelaces or stain remover. About thirty seconds later, the purchaser would discover that they really *needed* that item right then. An angry man with an attitude recognizes the old man's gift and begins demanding more and more "things he needs" to make him rich and happy until he slipped in the road and died wearing the shoes he was given.
"The shoes might not be what you needed," the old man said as spectators gathered around his dead body. "But they're certainly what I needed."
I wonder oftentimes when someone, anyone, tells me what I or my children "need," if they are truly saying this out of concern and consideration for us at all. Do we ever get so greedy that we take the things we "need" without considering whether we need them or whether they're even good for us at all? I don't mean to say that all vaccinations are bad and that those who vax their kids are colluding with the enemy. Good grief, no. But I do wonder if the industry and physicians groups see a net benefit to vaccination (economic, herd immunity, health or other benefit) and pressure individual families into acting against their own best interests. I wonder WHY, what the MOTIVATION is, behind the organizations stating what they do.
Do they give you all the information you need to make an informed decision? When have you ever seen a sign that reads, "The following are shots highly recommended by the state of Missouri for public school kindergarten attendance. We urge you to get these immunizations for your children so that the incidence of communicable disease is as low as possible. We say that we require you to immunize your child, but it really isn't a requirement. You can easily opt out using this form (give citation here and note where the form can be found). For that matter, you can easily opt out of public school altogether (cite MO state law number here). These are your children, and your decisions to make, but the studies we're basing our 'requirements' upon seem to indicate that thus and so is the best course of action for most preschoolers (citation of study). Thank you for your careful consideration of this information."
For that matter, I'm just using the vaccines as an example. Do children "need" the socialization of larger schools to do well in the opinion of muckety-muck professionals or the media, or are they just manipulative people trying to gain a bit more power and influence? Or would they like to employ a little fear-mongering so that their ratings go up? Or is it just an "outside the box" idea to homeschool, something that hasn't been done on a large scale for the last 30 years or so... and therefore perhaps a great or terrible idea (we don't know which until later, and why take the chance that you could be wrong)? Hat tip to Spunky for this video (worth your time, I promise). It's shockingly biased journalism. Just shocking. I know we all bring our own biases to the table whenever we report a story, but this was absolutely shoddy reporting. They even came out and implied that children in unschooling homes are "feral kids." You just can't get worse than that unless you want to maybe add in sexual molestation and torture of animals or something. (Maybe that would boost ratings; nevermind if it is accurate or not.)
Please don't think I'm just going after the public school shrills. Homeschoolers do this sort of thing, too, when they imply that EVERY parent can homeschool. Not every parent can. Grant you, more likely than not, doggone close to every parent can. Can they all do it well according to my personal standards? Of course not! And that's just the sort of idea that really annoys me when I see it in the media. You'd almost think you need a postgraduate degree in mathematics to even begin teaching your child "x + y = z." Even then, you'd BETTER think that "x + y = z" is really important in the first place. I'm sure all of us remember how to do all of our high school math, and that's why it's so important to make sure that our children are taught exactly right. We wouldn't want them to miss any "opportunities."
Can I just say that this video really made me mad? How openly and unashamedly biased can these people possibly be? Sure, they aren't teaching their kids algebra. Who in the #$# cares? Do you know how many chronically abused children there really are out there? And you're worried that a couple of kids growing dill in their basement might not get into the Ivy Leagues? Why the hostility and the grilling, the pointed questions? Not that I personally think the anything-goes attitude is best for raising children, but come on. They are wearing clothes. They eat regularly. They make eye contact and speak coherent English. The parents are doing a good enough job and if you don't like it? Butt out. The whole video seemed to point toward the "fact" that we need to pester our legislators for tougher homeschooling laws. No way we should let these kids get away with playing "hooky" all day!
JOURNALISM QUALITY UPDATE: I had no idea when viewing the video link above that it was produced by the same people who show us informative pieces like the one about the man who nearly suffocated on his *ahem* lover's boobs. With pictures! Dare you watch?
19 April 2010
17 April 2010
For a whole year!
Ahhh... ok, that sounds a bit sarcastic, but actually, I love this series of posts. There's just something so oddishly new about seeing what you do every day defended by someone who might not want to live your lifestyle forever, but has at least seen what it's like for a time and is "translating" the experience to other people.
"The word 'homeschooling' makes some people cringe," she writes. "They envision a fundamentalist Christian Mom teaching creationism at the kitchen table, or a counter-culture bohemian, making tie-dye shirts and ignoring algebra."
Um... I teach my creationism at the DINING ROOM table, thankyouverymuch. And hippie that we all know that I am, I'm thinking that tye-dyes are more fun than algebra lessons. One thing the article didn't cover (and I wish there were a series on this too!) is that HELLOOOO, fundamentalist Christians who believe in a young earth also send their children to public schools sometimes. So do hippies! Sure, we're the parents the teacher never wants to deal with but we are out there. Some of us are even nice people.
The comments were pretty telling as well. One detailed the abuse suffered in a public school for years. I think commenters (in other places, not this series, thankfully) who say things along the lines of, "Well, if you pull your kid because you don't like the school or the teachers, you're just teaching the kid that he never has to face up to his problems" can go rot. You face up to your problems when it's a couple mean kids who need a good reality check (then you take the detention for your 'unkind' words or *ahem* whatever... sigh). Or you face up to your problems when you haven't studied for a test and you flunk. I think we can all agree that almost always, people don't pull their kids from public school on a flighty little whim.
One thing I thought interesting was that although she had no stated religious reasons for homeschooling, that she wrote about homeschool parents feeling guilty when they send their children back to school. And that she felt the need to explain why she did that to her own kid. That made me sad.
I hope we are not so insular and so judgmental that we can't support someone else's decisions with their own kids. Parental rights, you know. The school funding issue and whether there should be schools at all is rather a separate issue. So long as there are schools, and so long as there are parents who want to enroll their children, I think we should try to be just as tolerant as we'd want someone else to be of us.
PS. I am going to a homeschooling convention soon. I am so seriously going to look around and see if I can find a tye-dying kit. The Happy Elf Homeschool needs to get groooovy. :)
16 April 2010
I would imagine that Hanako's parents would have reported her missing by now. One comment noted that the Japanese have a high-tech solution for everything and probably just push the button to flush when this comes up.
Ghosts don't inhabit boys' rooms, though. Snakes and possums and butt-eating monsters like to go there (get your post-it note out; when you scroll to the bottom of the article there are naked ladies' butts. fair warning...). When my little brother was small, he was afraid of a snake that would come up through the toilet and bite him on the rear end. My mom was mean to me and wouldn't let me tease him about it, either. She also made me give up ALL MY MONEY to my little brother after I traded him my big GOLD pennies for his little silver dimes. We were both happy with this deal until my mom TOOK MY MONEY, all of it, and gave it to my brother. It was my life savings. *sniff*
One final link: If you're travelling, you'll want to consult this website about where to find a public restroom anywhere in the world.
15 April 2010
1. You're nine years old and in the Wednesday church class with TWO OTHER children besides your little brother. It's not often your mom lets you out, very nearly unsupervised like this. I mean, one teacher and four students? She's brave.
So here you are. The tiny six-year-old you've been playing with since his fourth birthday clenches his little kindergarten-sized fist and asks if you want "one of these." How will you respond?
Correct response: "Thou foolish knave! Quite the bad idea, indeed, sir! Perhaps you ought unclench your fist and attend to the lesson on 'how to be a good witness for Jesus.' Of a certainty, your mother wouldn't wish to hear of your inattentiveness in class. Not to mention, you disrupt my intense concentration on the moral teaching."
Incorrect response: Punch the kid in the gut, hard, and then tell him, "Yeah. You try it now, buddy." Remark to your mother (after she is called out of church by a flustered substitute teacher who now openly admits her teaching skills are "rusty" and she really wasn't expecting a situation like this to pop up when she took over the class this week) that he deserved it because he was ASKING for it. There was no choice in the matter; you had to punch him!
2. You are eight years old and stuck in a doctor's office for ten and a half whopping minutes. Do you:
Correct response: Obey Mother's explicit direction and stay seated, absolutely silently, with your hands folded in your lap and your eyes forward.
Incorrect response: Jump about and carelessly rip expensive "medical poster" with your silly backward swimming motions. Hum incessantly, even after being told five times to stop. Keep trying to kiss your little sister even after she has asked you nicely to dop it many times and has now resorted to screaming, kicking and doing the big pouty face. (Laugh at the cute pouty face and give her another kiss. Ignore Mom when she tells you to quit it and make oldest brother physically intervene.) Goad Mother into doing the threatening you with her eyeballs thing after the doctor enters the room and pretend not to notice hand signals for #1 and #2. Then act surprised when she turns from the doctor to you and says, "No star," after you've stomped on your brother because his foot was on 'your' side. Snuffle all the way out to the car that it isn't fair and how God will punish Mom someday for being so mean. Fold your arms and stomp through the parking lot, attracting the attention of an old couple who did things way better when they parented in 1936.
3. You are three years old. Mom needs you to eat Cheerios and watch TV for half an hour so that she can work on a Bible lesson with your older brothers. Your older brothers really, really need a Bible lesson. Do you:
Correct response: Sit quietly and try to find all three pawprint clues. Watch carefully so that you don't miss any!
Incorrect response: Jump the gate again and again and again. Mess with everyone's Legos and Pokemon cards. Refuse to go potty when Mom comes over. Wait until she leaves and jam a DVD movie you would rather see (Pokemon creatures make death sounds movie #2002) sideways into the VCR side of the player. Wet your pants several times and pretend it wasn't you. Laugh at Mom's silly notion that it is "potty time" and tell her no while you try to hide. Put Cheerios between your toes and try to eat them. Pull your sister's hair. Fall asleep right after Dad takes over.
13 April 2010
Elf and Emperor waded in the water and no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't catch one in the ice cream bucket. So I wandered in as well. It is VERY slippery and slimy in this creek, and full of trash. I kept thinking it would be just my luck to step on a syringe or something... but you know, every child should have some carefree days every now and then to look at stuff like this.
I finally caught a three-inch long tadpole. Like his brothers and sisters, he's a bullfrog with a HUGE head. We let him swim about for a bit and showed him off to the other people in the park. Emperor named him August, perhaps because he hopes to see him later in the summer. Or perhaps he is naming him after his very fave Roman emperor. He prayed over him before we put him back into the water, that he would be safe and that we would get to see him later. :)
11 April 2010
Current Texas Governor "Perry's claim of 10 percent dropout rate does not include students who continue in school, switch to home schooling, or have no follow up data. These students are not tracked, and the governor does not know whether or not they ever graduated," says Bill White. We can't just let these students slip through the cracks! We need to track their every move minutely! The governor doesn't know what happened to every last student in the state of Texas once they've left school, one White supporter claims, BECAUSE HE DOESN'T CARE!
Oh, yeahhh. I think the students for whom we have "no follow up data" should be counted as dropouts. Since we have "no data" on them, we KNOW there must be something very bad going on here. "No data" means that we can make the data say all kinds of things that may or may not be true. I think most of these "no follow up data" people are actually Martians who have completed their training on earth and have returned to their home planet. Governor Perry is hiding something there, because there is no "follow up data." Maybe we need to microchip our students to see if there is a "students leaving for Mars" trend.
Um. And I think I need to go back to school myself to figure out how homeschoolers are "dropouts" per se. I suppose (vaguely) that they have "dropped out" of the system, but that hardly necessarily means they are not being educated, or better still, educating themselves. And the 10 percent dropout rate does not include students who "continue in school?" Should the word "dropout" now mean "continuing in school?" Bill White is sure smarter than me to have this all figured out!
I'm so confused! I think I need to move to Texas and vote for this White guy. He has no real data, but he just *knows* the dropout rate is close to 30 percent. I don't know about you, but I would want a clairvoyant governor who can pull numbers out of various parts of his anatomy and then demand that we all TAKE ACTION NOW.
He sure sounds like a take-charge kind of guy! He made sure to "clarify" his remarks on homeschooling in other places on his website. He wants to be sure parents don't falsely claim to be homeschooling, but then not educate their children. Because some public school falsified its records. I wish I were making this up! Read an excerpt from this post in which the wannabe governor declares his "support" (ha!) for homeschooling:
"In recent months, a number of reports have exposed public schools that falsify records in order present a lower than actual dropout rate. In many cases, students who have dropped out are falsely declared transfers or homeschooled students. One account (EEEK! ONE ACCOUNT! Mrs. C thinks we need to act fast on this one!) tells of a student who was asked to sign a paper stating that he was pursuing homeschooling, when in fact he had dropped out and was not continuing in education. Governor Rick Perry needs to hold school districts accountable for false dropout rates, and Texans need to hold Rick Perry accountable for his job performance. (YES! There was this ONE ACCOUNT of a falsified paper, and the governor now needs to be "held accountable" for his job performance!)
"When a public school falsely declares a child who has dropped out as a homeschool student, it hurts the credibility of all parents who choose homeschooling."
YES! You read that right! A public school falsifies records, and it MAKES HOMESCHOOLERS LOOK BAD. Not the public school! The homeschoolers. Kinda like how when there were fires in Rome, it made those Christians look bad. You know it's time to do something about *those* people.
10 April 2010
I've been looking for that for a long time.
Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Cleaning. About two weeks' worth of off and on cleaning like a crazy lady. I say "off and on" because I have these little cuties that keep wanting to eat, get help going potty and they also like to play 'tay-to (potato head) with their mom on occasion, too. Yes, that includes Elf and Emperor. If you have older children and babies at the same time, you know they get interested in one another's toys. Nevermind what the box says.
Why am I cleaning? Sorry, "to have a clean house" is not the answer. I'm preparing for the GREAT CURRICULUM FAAAAAIR next weekend in which I will purchase about $7,328 worth of stuff.
Well, not really.
Actually, I'm going through the books I have now and figuring out what I want to do "next year" for Elf and Emperor and thinking about stuff I might want to buy. I'm thinking Alpha Omega Lifepacs for English. I love BJU and all, but I'm tired of sentence diagramming, dictionary work and "how to look up stuff in a card catalog." It just isn't relevant right now; later, when the boys are a bit older, they will certainly need to know the mechanics a bit better.
In science, we spent so long on trees and frogs and other subjects not in the official curriculum, that I will be able to stretch our fourth grade science Lifepacs until sixth grade. I also have plenty of things printed that were online to supplement if I run out a fair bit early. You know I will.
Even though English Lifepacs come with spelling, I'll likely get BJU Spelling. I will probably have to go over the fact that they'd be doing two spelling curriculums with the boys and see if they REALLY want to do that. They already are doing two math curriculums! We aren't exactly falling "behind" in math, but we aren't as far "ahead" because we've had a few setbacks this year as well as doing twice the work. But I already posted about that.
Social Studies? Wow, am I ever covered. I have several fourth grade Lifepacs, and then we will study Greece, Rome and Egypt. Then a more advanced world history overview. By then, we're ready for sixth grade.
SIXTH GRADE. I don't even know what's going to happen in sixth grade. I always thought the children would go back to public school in sixth grade, because they would no longer have to tolerate the abusive elementary at that point. Now I'm not so sure.
I like thinking ahead, but I don't like thinking *too* far ahead in any great detail yet. In a sketchy sort of way, I can tell you that I would want some sort of all-in-one program (like a BJU distance learning or somesuch program) if we continue through high school.
What do you think? Do you ever start to question whether you've made the right choices? Do you ever wonder this after looking through an entire mall full of every imaginable book in the world? I do. Right now, though, it seems as though homeschooling is a hobby for me. An expensive, time-consuming hobby that I enjoy a lot. I am ready to see what is at the fair and make a few other purchases that would fit within the framework I've already set up in my notes.
I get a bit overwhelmed and exasperated planning it all, but it IS nice when it comes together. I think it will be a lot of fun to go to the fair, though I do remember that it was a bit tiring as well. It's easy to get a little lost and lose track of time in places like that. :)
09 April 2010
Woodjie can ask for strange and interesting things that he wants! But he has to have a PEC to choose from, or the actual choices in front of him. You can't just expect him to walk over to you and say, "Mom, I've been thinking that perhaps the linking rings would be a good choice for me to play with this morning. I also want to watch Blue's Clues, but I wish you would not fastforward through the 'Rugrats' on the previews. I don't know what your problem is with them, but I want to see them." Nope. He doesn't do that. He can choose from Kermit-froggie and Blue's Clues because I'll hold the tapes in front of him. And yes, I simplify title names in the hopes of catching a simple word or two. "Oo- goo!" just won today. It almost sounded like a word. I pretended I heard "Blue's Clues" and the kid looked extraordinarily happy. So maybe I heard it. It's hard to know how much is wishful thinking and how much is really there.
Maybe he will learn to speak... and remember the words he is learning?? He had at one point several words that I haven't heard again like ball or cup. I miss the "love you"s and the "more"s and the "yesterday at sunset, I ate two apple"-s. (OK, the last one was made up. But every other three year old can make a sentence like that and I am jealous! It isn't fair. I want to have a conversation with Woodjie, and he wants to talk to me! I know he does!)
But blessedly, I'm finding if I'm right nearby and making eye contact, I can figure out all kinds of things that Woodjie wants to tell me. I just can't always be nearby. This afternoon as we were getting ready for him to go on the school bus, his little sister had her usual "shoooooooooes!" temper fit. She wants to go, too. Woodjie let me put his shoes on, but then he reached into the shoe bins and found his sister's shoe. "Ah ee aa?" Nope. Just you, little guy. He understood. He has a lot of things to say that you can figure out by using context.
He points a lot. I am teaching him "show me" when he points sometimes and let him lead me to the item. It is very sad that I can't reward him often for the things he shows me. No, you cannot have your brother's games and Pokemon collection. No, no third glass of Hawaiian Punch. Sorry. But he is growing up a little in that he doesn't have quite so many head-banging temper fits about this stuff. Maybe I am jinxing my kid by typing that; but it seems that he is starting to know that well, sometimes he gets something and at least someone understood and THEN said no. Before, Mom would just run around and go, "This? This? Um... How about this?" and he'd almost never get anything.
He sure is an active and energetic little guy. I am trying to teach him to lead slowly and gently. My arm hurts being torqued about by him. I am slowing him down a little. I can't imagine in a few years, having an 80-pound kid lead me around the way he does now. He has *got* to calm down a little. He's cute, but I need help conveying "calm" and "gentle." He will jump right into you with a big smile on his face because he wants to play. And he just can't do that once the old hormones hit and he is six-foot two like his bigger brothers. And the Elf needs to learn not to let Woodjie bully him by pulling him around and "telling" him what they will be playing or doing. Cute that Woodjie can communicate like this, but game's over.
One thing Woodjie loves now is the spring weather. He wants to be out in the front yard. He found the first fly of spring, which of course flew away. "Uh-oh. Ee- ee go?" he asks, looking around. "Eeeh ee iih!" Yup. There he is. Good job, Woodjie! You found him!
08 April 2010
So during homeschool, I'm not letting Emperor rub my arm and constantly pull on me like he always does. It's amazing how often he does this... I hadn't noticed until I became injured, but the fact is that he must ALWAYS be touching and playing around with something, and I would rather have my arm kneaded constantly than see him jumping about and poking his brother. I just don't want him to do it right now.
"Well," he tells me, "You should wear shorter sleeves so that I can see the bruise and be reminded not to do that."
Ok... I roll my sleeve up.
"You have very flabby arms." I'm shocked and flabbergasted. Really. I tell him that that's not a nice thing to say, that it hurts people's feelings when you call them fat, and to not do that again before I get mad.
"I didn't say that!" He's truly offended. "Don't put words in my mouth like that... I only meant to say your arm muscles are very flabby, not the bone part! You just must be eating a lot of fatty foods!"
Did I just hear what I heard? In the background, I see Elf is waving his hands in front of his face and mouthing ohh, you don't want to say that.
"WHAT?" Emperor is mad. "I never said anything bad! Her fat is mostly not on her arms anyway."
Ohhh boy. Um, well... Emperor... people get their feelings hurt when you say that they have "flabby" arms. That's kind of the same thing as saying they're fat. (I'm planning a good cry later.)
A long discussion ensues in which Elf decides he's going to defend me and declare that I am not fat. And there is nothing wrong with his mom. (Aww... thanks, Elf.) In fact, I am actually a little too skinny some places. Like right there.
YES. He did. He pointed right at my boobs.
What a humiliating day. I find myself wondering if I can count this as "social skills" teaching time, or just put a "no, we never did study 'how to do an outline' today... wasted homeschool day..." into my journal.
06 April 2010
Well. He has the best of care, but I don't really want to blog about it out of respect for HIS privacy (Um, you read my blog... you know I have no issues with my own...). I just mention it to frame the story so that I can talk about how it affects our homeschooling.
It's shot! It's terrible! We've put the hours in, so I've fulfilled the letter of the law, but I see stacks and stacks of stuff NOT DONE. And sure, sometimes it's great to linger over a lesson, or do something else entirely. But honestly, we're only about halfway done, and the school year ends/begins on July 1. The kids are going to want to take a break SOMETIME this year.
They homeschooled all summer. I pretty much turned my homeschoolers loose and let them learn about whatever they wanted during that season. And yes, they did learn. And I'm all for that "discovery" thing. But to me there is a balance, and it's totally been shot to poopie-land over the course of the year as a whole. I had given them that time over the summer reasoning that there is plenty of time to get down to business later.
There wasn't. I can't tell you how much emotional energy it takes to battle insurance companies and yap with this doctor, that doctor, the other nurse for the whoosie-whatsits and then have to tell the public school YET AGAIN that this child will be out. Sorry. They've actually been very understanding. If you have a doctor's note, you can miss as many classes as you wish. NB: you will also pass said classes. I only wish I were kidding; this is an open secret. But thank GOD for some of those people at the public school being willing to work with our family because I cannot *imagine* how badly things would turn out if they didn't. I'm going to take the grace they have offered and thank them for it. Profusely.
In any event, I'm wondering if other families have been through this sort of thing before. Do things get better? And I wonder, what if they don't get better? What if this is a "new normal?" I cannot imagine putting the children into the local elementaries... and yet, I cannot imagine going through another year of this.
I hope to really, REALLY homeschool through the summer with perhaps a week's break in there somewhere. I start to wonder about sinking money into the five-billion dollar "leasing" of the DVD curriculum at this rate. School by TV doesn't sound bad at all compared to "school during times Woodjie and Rose are quiet and Mom doesn't have to be on the phone and Elf and Emperor are BOTH ready to listen."
Arg. If you've ever been through something like this before, I'd love to hear a little about how you managed it, especially if you also had younger children at the time.
Little side note that has little or nothing to do with the rest of this post: It's come to my attention through the Apples and Jammies blog that it's time to enroll in Pizza Hut's Book It program for next year. You get a free itsy pizza each month for students ages 5 -12 if you register here. We didn't enroll for this year because of the AFA boycott (we wind up spending $25 every time we go, free pizza or not!), but we will this coming year. :)
05 April 2010
I base alllll my worldview on this issue on the fact that "in Bible times," kids like Jesus were not educated by the Roman public school system. After all, if you give your kids to Caesar, you shouldn't be surprised if they come home Romans. Even though the Romans didn't specially confer citizenship on lowly Jews for the most part. But no matter! The saying is clever AND accurate.
I think we should do everything based on what I heard some guy say they did during "Bible times." I love how during "Bible times," there were clearly defined roles for the sexes. Just read the New Testament carefully and you will see that every lady mentioned stays home and tends her home and her children. They never, never worked outside the home unless they were selling organic foot loofas and lotions online. We wouldn't want them to interact and speak with a MAN other than their husbands, you see. That only leads to trouble. Trouble starts with T, which rhymes with P, which stands for "public school."
Also, in "Bible times," we know that people were great and charitable givers. There was no need of any sort of welfare system; that would be godless. The GODLY thing to do is have these handicapped people plunked outside the city gates, or in front of the temple, with a nice little cup. Teach them to shout, "Alms for the poor!" to the passersby. Non-verbal Woodjie woulda been great at this game. It's the original "no welfare; get to work" program. I am sure every poor person was adequately provided for under this system, and if they weren't, it's all the family's fault. Well, and even if it were all the family's fault, God always provides so the disabled guy did something to deserve it! Hang on while I look up that verse... something about God's family never lacking bread unless they were dopey enough to choose to have their ancestors captured and stuck on a boat bound for Haiti...
Back to reality. I really like homeschooling. I think it's the best choice right now for Elf and Emperor. But I've been reading some crap (sorry, no other word for it unless I revert to the Anglo Saxon; I'm not Roman, you know) that astounds me.
I love google searching "homeschooling," and make all kinds of new and interesting friends that way. I also see a few nuts-for-brains who think that Jesus basically endorsed the pioneer lifestyle, whole foods and killing your own chickens with a hatchet. Just like in the Little House on the Prairie series! Don't read the series too closely, though, or you'll see Pa and his family taking land away from the Indians, people getting murdered, drunken gangs carousing in the streets and killing people, claim jumping, a severe lack of education for rural farm children, and a general wildness about. And no, I don't mean "wildness" as in, pretty prairie grass and twittering birds. I mean that except for some of the trappings and the newer drugs, the Ingalls family probably saw a lot of the same stuff you would see in the 'hood today. It just looked prettier when they wore their little bonnets and simple dresses on all that unspoilt land... you know, that the savage Indians needed to leave so these "civilized" folk could move in and farm. :)
No, old Mrs. C is not getting liberal in her old age. It might *just* be better for us not to have any welfare system at all, but I have nothing to really compare that idea with but the dog-eat-dog competition for "charity" some of these old-style beggars had to deal with. And I've read Oliver Twist, so I know the faults of the "church" welfare-type system so many of my blog sisters keep proposing. I'm just going to advocate for what I feel is the right thing without saying GOD said for me to advocate for a particular economic system.
And grant you, it might *just* be better for there to be no public schools. Just don't tell me that we would have a 97 percent literacy rate without them, though... if by "literate," one means "able to understand a credit card application or do taxes with an income of over $200,000 from diverse sources in such a way that one gets to keep much of the money." 75 or 80 percent maybe... but not 97. And yeah, of those 75 to 80 percent, *most* of them would be better-educated than the public school average. Maybe my standard of what I think "literate" would be is too high. I'm not quite there yet, and I have a BA from Wittenberg University. (One year's tuition and expenses? $40,000. Thanks, Mom and Dad!!) We don't make much income, but we HIRE OUT our taxes and every now and then, we need to re-read those cell phone contracts because we get a little confuzzly. (My blog. I kin write however I wanna on it. If'n you want proper English, go to England.)
I think homeschooling is GREAT, but I just don't form my DOCTRINE on it alone, you know?
03 April 2010
Wouldn't you know it, that Emperor came out of the pool's bathroom today with his swim shorts down to his knees, yelling? He can't pull the shorts up, he has no towel, and he can't stay in the bathroom alone... so... the best thing to do is kinda shuffle out to the pool area with your "pants on the ground, pants on the ground, lookin' like a fool with your pants on the ground" in front of ohhh... a million five-year-old girls with your "sag" in plain view?
After doing a double-take and screaming, "What? What? Ohhhh my WORD!" I wrapped the kid in a towel and we shuffled off to the ladies room with his dry pants. He's sort of a big kid to hang out in the ladies' locker room, but what else can you do in a situation like this??
I'm almost afraid to blog now...
01 April 2010
"If we raise our pants, we raise our image." Hmm... I'm watching this video and I'm not sure what to think. I'm no fan of the saggy pants thing. My sons wear their pants without belts and if you were to lift their shirts, you might get an eyeful. (Not as much of an eyeful as the men in this video are displaying!) But I'm not afraid that "the city, the country, the globe is watching this." I think it's just teen foolishness. Further, I remember well 30 years ago that people with tattoos were generally ex-cons and lowlife-type people. And that really isn't true any more *at all*. **************************************** ********** ************** ******* ***** * * * I had never thought of the saggy pants thing as just a "black" thing, but more of a lower-class thing or a regional preference. And I don't see the racial stereotype thing in the pants. The silly walk and lack of consonant enunciation, perhaps. Mayyybe. But I've seen plenty of white people who can't speak well, and hey! I have a kiddo here who doesn't talk at all. I'd be thrilled if little Woodjie were able to say "'Sup yo?" to me. It would be a start! *************** ********* ******** ******** ***************************************** ************** ************* *** ** *Put it this way: What if inner-city black folks were earning lots of money and were the most respected people in our country, and it was the suburban whites as a group who were not doing well in the society? Bet you moms would be pulling their kids' pants DOWN before they left the front door, and making sure they're practicing "the walk" with the hired tutors after school. Just saying. *shrug* I don't think it's "racist" or promoting stereotypes at all, this baggy/ saggy pants thing, and as long as they're wearing underwear underneath, I reason things could be a whole lot worse and count my blessings. What do you think?? I want to know.
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I wish I'd have known this starting out. I wish I'd have known that it's actually LESS work to just homeschool your child, than...