29 June 2010

Should I Laugh? Is it Funny?

"Reporters with bylines at non-ideological journalistic outfits, like the (Washington) Post and other old-fashioned newspapers, will only be able to cover ideological politics if they can amputate their own political opinions." Article.

Excuse me a minute (non-ideological! Ha ha ha haaaa! *snort*). Um, ok. I'm back.

The article concerns itself with a WP journalist who wrote mean stuff in his off hours under his real name. He suggested, amongst his other sage ramblings, that Matt Drudge go kill himself. Just think of the oppression this poor reporter is under. I know the people in Pakistan are just weeping for him. Oppression like this is akin to telling a restaurant critic not to blog under his real name that Mario's Restaurant should burn and Mario the chef murdered because he didn't like the polka-dot mushrooms they served there last week.

I can't believe this is even an issue. Do you think that the Washington Post neglects to sit down with prospective journalists to lay out the ground rules in some fashion? I was employed briefly by a small daily newspaper as the reporter for the whole town (think "Evil Mayberry"). Yet even in this teeny-tiny burg, the editor made sure to have a talk with me about attempting to be objective in my stories, not attending local political rallies unless I'm assigned to cover them, and not writing PR for companies on the side for pay and popping what amounts to a free ad into the newspaper. That sort of thing. She made it clear before I even said "hello" to the mayor what was expected of me.

I know that no one is truly "objective," and that the myth of an "objective" reporter is just that. But you can sure try. It's an ideal, sort of like the "godly man" is an ideal in Christendom, okay? What you are supposed to do is give careful thought to the questions you ask (Do they reek of disdain and provoke the interviewee?) and the way you construct a news story (Do you leave out the facts selectively to slant coverage?). I think one of the greatest compliments I received was a thank-you from someone who supported a side of an issue I absolutely loathed. She said that I told "them" off in my news article. Really, though... all I did was present the salient quotes from each side and let my editor edit the article and print it her way. Then the readers decide what to make of it. No way I was going to tell her I thought "her side" was absolutely nuts.

I know reporters can sit down and discuss sources and whatnot "off the record," but this JournoList seems a fair bit beyond that. This is hardly a meeting between a few reporters, coordinating information on a breaking story. This crossed the line of what is expected of a professional.

Now, mind you, if you're not TRYING to be "objective?" If you're up-front about being a left-wing, or right-wing, or whatever kind of person and you're just the same loudmouth wherever you go, just have at it and good luck to you. Imagine Nancy Pelosi running her own newspaper and doing her own interviews and you know what I mean. As a "source" or a reader, you know what you're getting into.

But if you're pretending to be objective, and you're working for a newspaper that is trying to be objective, and you go off and act like that, I don't see where the company is producing a "chilling effect" at all. It is protecting its interests. It wants the next reporter it hires to be trusted by sources, and it wants to keep its ad revenues and its readers.

Am I missing a key element in this debate? I'm not going to pretend that working at some third-rate daily for a little while clues me in to any deep mysteries of the journalism trade. What do you think about this?

28 June 2010

Miss Pretty Pretty

Rose likes to make ca-coos (circles) and happy-s (faces) and dots. She wants to tell you all the colours. She can tell you, "I pooT. Eee-yucky. Poo!" when it's time to change her. In short, the kid talks too much for herself and now must translate for her brother Woodjie. She is also learning the names of all the other people in the family as well as Pikachu, Butterfree, Happiny, and several other Pokemon. She also wants to learn to go potty. We had to teach her that she is not allowed to stand to do "weiners." (Yeah. I'll just let her think that's what it is.) She hasn't gone yet, but we have watched the potty video about 500 times. That also features a boy, but he "puts his wee-wee and poo-poo into the potty," and doesn't stand and jump at the last minute for fun like SOME people I know. Here's a lovely clip from the video. The doctor talks about 89 years in that same voice, too.

27 June 2010

Not Really a Debate

Funny how news articles can turn something that isn't really a debate into... a debate.

Hello. And for those of you who weren't aware, let me welcome you to the 21st century. In this century, pretty much everyone now agrees that beating women, selling them, and/or raping them is a "bad" thing. It's frowned upon, ok? Ta-da... look at all that agreement. Yay.

On to rape "prevention." Well, men just need to suddenly become just like Jesus (*zing*) and this sort of thing would never happen. Next problem?

Hmm... guess that didn't solve much. And it sounds rather like "ignoring the problem," doesn't it? Ok. Um... how about we all agree that rape is really bad, and if you're caught, you'll be severely punished? Like with probation or something. If you're caught. And if your witness recognizes you and isn't too scared to testify. And if there is enough "evidence," or the police even bother to gather it.

Oh. That also sounds like "ignoring the problem," to my mind. So, if the law has no TEETH to it, how about we give women the teeth instead? Just where you'd want 'em to be.

New invention!

But the news article makes it sound like it's a bad thing to do ANYTHING practical that MIGHT give ladies the power to thwart an attack. Hey, having some guy being scared that the young lady's vagina might bite could even be a discouragement before the attack takes place if enough people wore these. What is up with all this criticism that women shouldn't be allowed to do this, and sudden concern for the perp? Y'all are sick.

"A South African expert on gender-based violence, Lisa Vetten, said the device harks 'back to the days where women were forced to wear chastity belts.'" Good grief. Sounds like the woman is GOING to the pharmacy and buying this herself, inserting it herself and removing it herself. I don't know if it necessarily PREVENTS rape altogether, but empowerment? Has to be a good thing.

One thing that wasn't mentioned was the idea that perhaps a rapist would be so angry that he would severely beat or kill the victim. Or that, knowing these devices are out there, that penetration would first be made with a blunt object (think broomhandle, violently applied). That might be a valid reason not to wear this, but I would imagine we take risks whenever we try to defend ourselves.

26 June 2010

Death Metal Rooster

I know most everyone's on vacation, so I thought I'd provide some farm-y entertainment for the rest of us who are too poor to leave home for anywhere interesting. I'm pretty sure there's a way you could download this from YouTube onto your MP3 player or Nanoprobe (tm) attachment so that you can listen to it during those times when you need a little relaxing musical refreshment.

Summer Break!

That's right! I'm giving Elf and Emperor A WHOLE WEEK OFF to do whatever they want! After their mathematics is done. :)

School starts again on July 1 and follows a relaxed summer schedule. We'll start only some of our regular subjects. This includes our learning about Ancient Egypt. Later in the year, we'll do Rome and Greece. I have borrowed several books from the library and movies, too. Since I'm an HSLDA member and renewed for two years instead of one, I got the Drive Thru History DVD on Greece and Rome for free! Wa-hoo!

Patrick hasn't been doing much for his summer. He is now able to have a friend over every now and then. We had not been able to do this for quite some time.

Elf and Emperor got some crazy idea into their head, and now they are quite insistent that they are putting on a "circus" next Wednesday. I've seen their practices, and I can tell you that most people would ask for their money back. The acts consist of the children banging tamourines and various wooden instruments and screaming for the "music" portion. Then there is a puppet show. They changed Emperor's stuffed bunny's name from Jefferson, after our third president, to "Evil Experiment" so that they can scientifically test products on the poor rabbit for our amusement. It's sort of a Tom and Jerry-type slapstick, but still.

And they want popcorn. I keep wondering where they got this idea, and WHY they must insist upon it happening next Wednesday. They do odd things like that. For instance, EVERY November 2nd is "Polite Day," during which extreme efforts are made to be polite. That would be fine, except for the fact that they are a little overly helpful about correcting the impoliteness of others.

Finally I told them that I would make them some popcorn for the big day. They have made little ads and posters and are hoping to charge 10 cents admission. I told them this was a great idea... I will be charging 20 cents for the popcorn.

Bwa ha haaa. Ok, I won't. They were pretty doggone indignant about that idea, though.

23 June 2010

"Gee-yee" and "Az-eye-ah"

Rose really thinks her name is Girly. "Gee-yee," as she calls herself, will ask for her brother all the time. If he's not in the room she will call, "Az-eye-ah?" and look for him. Here they are, all tuckered out after church.

22 June 2010

Summertime with G and Q

G and his friend Q have been hanging out this summer. Q, as you remember, is a rather interesting sort. Let's just say I finally figured out that much of his problem is that he doesn't take social cues very well. I look back over his past behaviour and I don't think it's a parent thing at all... it's a Q thing.

Yeah, here I am with all these different kids, and I just now realized that.

Ok, I didn't. Actually, *G* had to clue me in to the fact that Mom, he just doesn't understand a "hint." You have to tell him. And that's true. Once you just flat out TELL him, he's ok... no beating around the bush or trying to be "polite." No trying to drop the subtle hints. It's rude to just TELL someone they need to go home. But that's what I have to do so that I don't wind up getting mad at him and he doesn't wonder why he isn't invited over. Q is still a friendly lad despite this blunt approach. In fact, I think he appreciates it.

I can't say that G could ever ask for a better friend, but both Q and G would do well to take a social skills class or three. Q calls six times in five minutes. He shows up at the door. He comes by after G has hung out at his house because (I guess...) G can't make the two blocks alone. Then Q wants to hang out, both of them all sweaty and smelly, in my house.

Arg.

Not to be mean, but I told G to be home at 4 so he could get a shower and dinner would be ready by 5. I don't begrudge the kid a drink of water when he comes by... but... I kept saying that I was making dinner now. (I thought that was direct enough; guess not). I FINALLY had to get sorta rude with Q and say (in a friendly tone), "Well, it's time for me to kick you out, buddy!" And he was ok with that. "Ok, see you later, Mrs. C! Call you later, G!"

And soon I'm going to have to say, "Q. You are just calling too much. Two calls per hour, barring emergency, okayyyy?"

They are best friends. And my, does Q love to talk. A lot. He also has several funny stories about the newest craze.

Hopefully you humour me after my little post yesterday... but the latest craze is for young ladies to lift their shirts and show their boobage to young men. Really fast, lift the shirt, put it down again. You wouldn't notice if you weren't looking.

I don't get it, Q. What would the inner motivation be here? Do they expect the young men to suddenly ask the fair damsel's hand in marriage, or what?? Is this a request for a date? Are you boyfriend/girfriend officially after that happens? Don't get it.

Q turned about as red as his hair. (Well... I don't think that's it, exactly... he told me. But he went no further.) And from his chatter I gleaned that this has happened on several occasions to G. When interrogated, G neglected to mention it because why should I know this? I would just get upset. And a girl flashed him during YEARBOOK signing time at school? You didn't tell a teacher about this right away? (I got an eyeroll from that... he's pretty cool under questioning.)

Whyyy did this happen to my little kid? Was this her way of wishing him a good summer? Ok, I still don't get it, and the more I declare this, the funnier the guys seem to think my puzzlement to be.

So I asked D about it and he said no, no one is going about boobflashing him. "What? No, I'm an old guy. Why would they do that to me?"

Mental note: must be young, eligible male. Hmm... So I called Patrick up to ask him and he replied, "WHAT? I missed it?"

I'm sure he doesn't mean that. Please say he didn't mean that.

21 June 2010

A Smokin' Post.

Nameless Teen is upset because I won't let him sit in the back with the other teens in church. Unfortunately, he likes to wait until juuust before the quiet "worshipful" songs to slip out on the other side of the aisle to make his move away from the family. ONE and only one time in the past, he sat next to a very *ahem* developed young woman during services and her friend (Mrs. C does not notice these things ordinarily, but this was an UNUSUALLY prominent feature on the young woman... and quite um, accented by her clothing/lack thereof).

There would be NO WAY for me to pull him away from these people without getting up and bumping into everyone while they are intensely quiet and worshiping... or without calling attention to myself during the prayer time in which Pastor prays that we focus only on God etc. etc. and the Holy Spirit moves, etc.

I'm thinking my son is focusing on something that shouldn't be out for public display, and I'm helping God out by getting his eyeballs off her boobies. I'm annoyed at them both, but I can only chastise my own child. The other kid is a "visitor," which in church parlance means, "able to wear practically nothing/ say practically anything, and behave in practically any fashion and no one is allowed to say anything lest she feel she is unloved here in God's House and an elder or someone important gets mad at YOU for causing embarrassment." Arg.

Later on, wouldn't you know, the rumours about Nameless get out. And they're told by the young lady he sat next to in church. See, her best friend was Q's "girlfriend for a day." Apparently if you are a "girlfriend for a day," that makes whatever happens on that day respectable. Because you aren't some strumpet. You're his *girlfriend.* On that day.

So.

The THIRTEEN YEAR OLD young lady runs away from home and her parents catch her. Where was she? She told them she was with Nameless, and the parents forbid her to come to church, ever again. That Nameless is sure corrupting their little girl.

I happen to know that Nameless was actually somewhere pretty far away on the night in question, so... *whew.*

But here's what I told Nameless: it's one thing to sit next to a girl in public school where it doesn't MEAN anything, and quite another to sit beside each other in CHURCH without the Youth Pastor in the same row. The presence of the Youth Pastor in the same row would supernaturally make it ok with me.

I don't know why; I just feel that way. He thought this was incredibly funny and old-fashioned. So be it.

Truth to tell, I don't really want him hanging out with other teens without adult supervision, period. Nameless says I don't like the other kids because they smoke and/or have children of their own.

I don't know them. I am told that since *I* smoked as a teen, I ought be less judgmental.

Maybe so. (Aside: I can't tell Nameless this, but it wouldn't bug me if Other Teen hung out with these people, because their habits would NOT rub off on him. It's not as though you need to pass some huge test so that Mrs. C bestows the "Christian" label upon you... it's not my place, but it IS my place to try to turn Nameless away from the bad path he seems to be following of late...) I just told Nameless that I really don't know these kids, but am concerned that he will want to start smoking or doing God-knows-what next if he spends too much time with a peer group in which this is acceptable behaviour.

OH! He tells me. He meant to ask. Can he start smoking now? (Crap, he's serious, I'm thinking...)
He will do it way away from the house so that Elf is not bothered by the smoke (he used to have asthma). He will spend only his own money on it.

What?? He can't?? Why NOT???

A big argument ensues in which I tell him he isn't paying for family expenses and so really, this idea is out of the question. It's pretty costly to smoke.

Well, he'll get a job. As a paperboy. For a couple of hours a day after school. That will be enough money to pay his part of the mortgage, electric bill, water bill, and other assorted expenses AND he will have lots of money left over for cigarettes.

Yes... he really thinks this.

He thinks it would be a great thing for him. D just tells him no. Not happening. Nope. Go be on your own after your 18th birthday and then smoke 'em if ya got 'em.

Nameless thinks D is keeping him down. It's HIS body, and he should get to decide. It's really important to him! He wants to do this thing and you're stopping him!

Oh, well, D tells him. My house. My rules. Too bad.

I'm asking him whyyyy he wants to do this. Nameless then tries to negotiate smoking rights with me, and I had to tell him no, Father has already spoken, but I am trying to "get" why he wants to do this. After a few angry exchanges requiring him to take a time away for a bit of thought, he says that this would help calm him down and it would be a fun habit to get into because his hobby of bouncing tennis balls around when he is anxious doesn't carry over very well into adulthood.

The kid has a point. He really does. You and I both know that tennis-ball bouncing in the parking lot is weird, but smoking is not. Not fair, but there it is.

But D has made a prounouncement that anyone caught smoking will suffer SEVERE consequences. He's told me a few of these... which do fortunately fall a little short of the stretching rack and whatnot, but not by much... but I am not allowed to reveal these to Nameless because when Dad says SEVERE and has forbidden something, you're supposed to just obey him out of a sense of filial obligation and moral duty. And of course he will.

Siiiigh.

20 June 2010

It's That Time of Year Again...

Wasps LOVE this window and come year after year. There is no way to get up into the window from outdoors; it's three floors up. From inside, there's no way to get up in there without dis-assembling the entire window (so I never, never clean INSIDE the windows; deal with it). Elf and Emperor like to take turns standing on chairs near the window so that they can see what the wasps are doing and how they live. The happy cry of, "LOOK! They're having more babies!" brought D over to the window in a hurry. He started tapping on the glass violently, disturbing their family life and I tried to appeal to his sense of empathy by telling him he was ruining their peaceful Father's Day. "Good!" he said. He had us tap on the glass to anger them and draw them outside where he would be waiting with the sprayer. Of course, he didn't get them all. He's mad. He comes by and bangs on the window about every three minutes and speaks some not-blessing sorts of words over their lives. Oh... as I was wrapping up this post I had to take that back. The downstairs toilet is full AND broken, so he is off to the hardware store to get the parts he needs to fix it and some more poison spray. For some reason, he wants to go on this trip alone. HAPPY FATHER'S DAY, D!! :)

17 June 2010

Snippety-Doo-Dah...





After viewing this, you'll want to display this handy-dandy "Golden Snip Award" proudly on your blog sidebar. Too bad I'm not allowed to, though, and am only showing this to you FOR DEMONSTRATION PURPOSES ONLY. In reality, it's "reserved" for those people who are truly responsible and surgically alter their bodies so that they never have children! See, humans keep cluttering up the earth with their offspring, and the earth would be a lot better without any of us around. How dare we think our species has any right to exist! That's specie-ist, you know.


Bummer for me that I would only be allowed to download and share a "Silver Snip" award on my sidebar if I were to take permanent medical measures against pregnancy. Let's see... I could go through painful surgery and become a second-class, soon-to-be extinct citizen! I could also get the official child-free tattoo! Several awesome ones are featured right here (scroll down). They look so space-agey, and they almost make me want to put the logo on a flag, stake it down somewhere, and declare in my best cartoon voice, "I claim THIS planet in the name of the Earth!" Yes, the Martian is one of my very favourite cartoon characters...


I just wish I had what it takes to be in their special club. I wish I could have that oh-so-knowledgeable air about myself that the Vehement-Human-Hater club seems to have. I just keep getting tripped up on the fact that these people have egos and laughing about it (which shows *I* have an ego, which is not funny). Watch a few seconds of one of the "educational" videos at the Voluntary Human Extinction website and see what I mean...


Though in seriousness, I have to agree with the idea that it's better to surgically prevent conception than it is to get an abortion after the fact... that's true... but this whole website is very overly simplistic with its "people = bad" sort of mentality. It doesn't take into any serious consideration why certain people might want to have children. Any thoughts that don't agree precisely with theirs are passed off as selfish and ill-educated. I do have to respect people who try to follow their convictions in this, but... I'm not understanding why (using this thought process and taking it to its logical end) it would not just be more efficient to develop a human-killing microbe and release it in downtown Tokyo or London rather than handing out goofy bumper stickers and "snip" awards.


I just don't get how these people reallllly think the whole human race is going to VOLUNTARILY go extinct. Are they serious?

16 June 2010

Patrick is Driving!

You knew it had to happen sometime. He had been reluctant to get his permit for quite a while. He could have gotten one at age 15, but he didn't want to be so "responsible." It's ok for him to watch five younger siblings when I have to go out... that's not overwhelming. At least three of the siblings are autistic and have special needs. That's not overwhelming.


Driving? He just wasn't ready to do that.


When he came back from China, I had his passport. I didn't want to put it back into the safety deposit box without getting his driver's permit. Why? Well, G's friend Q (you remember Q!) got his permit already. If Q can drive, Patrick really needs to be on the road, too.

Patrick was "ok" with getting his permit once I told him I thought it was time. It wasn't even really an issue either way. He studied the book for about half a day and came up with a million odd questions like, what do you do if you shouldn't pass on a hill, but a car is parked in your lane and blah blah etc.

I'm sure the answer is somewhere in the book... (So what do you DO? I told him I had no clue.) For that matter, I live in Missouri. I drive according to "avoid potholes and oncoming traffic" and know that this "turn signal" thing is very theoretical. You have to guess at the inner motivations of the other drivers on the road because they don't signal these. Yellow lights are to be driven through, as are the first 5 seconds of the red light.


Another really great thing about Missouri driving is the clear and easy way you can get a license. Ohhh... I won't eeeven get into the TWO YEARS worth of personal paperwork they seem to want to register a car... but the licenses seem to be issued in some sort of secret system. There are "fee" offices and "motor vehicle" offices and "license bureaus" and no, they're not all the same thing.

Did you want to call ahead of time and find out what to do? HA! HAHAHAHAHA! It's all automated, and not only that, often contains faulty information. You must show up, "take a number," and wait. The first place we went to told us to go to a "testing station" across the stinkin' metro area. Wayyy out close to the 'hood. Ok. We do this and had his passport looked at and he took a test while we sat in a smelly waiting room and watched a video loop over and over, featuring a state trooper, accidents, and Missouri state law prohibiting teens from getting boozed up, carrying more than three unrelated teens in a vehicle, or driving after the magical hour of 1 a.m.. Of course he passed just fine.

Permit time, right??

Wrong!

We had to go back to the original license bureau...the one that sent us out near the hood for the "test" part of the process in the first place. No, the place we got the "test" done doesn't "process" licenses... silly Mrs. C for asking that. Sigh. More long driving, this time to bring the paper with Patrick's picture and info typed on it. Take a number and sit. Blehhhhhh. You can imagine how impressed the small children were with this process.

I will say that I liked the fact that the permit cost me a whopping $3.50, even if it did take nearly four hours. But Patrick did NOT appreciate that the State of Missouri empowers parents to take away the permit by law at any time. If they so choose, they can even sign a paper PERMANENTLY revoking all license rights until the child's 18th birthday and the state will honour that.

Oh, yeah. Patrick was outraged. Too bad. I told him that that was a great idea, and that if I ever catch him drinking and driving that that's exactly what I would do. I don't think that would happen (or I wouldn't let him even test for his permit), but I think it's important to lay out those parameters wayyyy before there are misunderstandings.

Patrick is still mad. He thinks he should have more rights than that. I told him parents *usually* look out for the rights of their children, but yes, we can make crappy decisions on his behalf. I didn't homeschool him, though, when he expressed his interest to remain in public school. I could have. You know, I do a lot of things differently because I know how he feels about them. That's just common decency to make allowances for our teens as they age. I'm hoping he'll make allowances for me as I age, too. :)

15 June 2010

Patrick's Trip to China... A Debriefing.

Here's the picture I'm *allowed* to use from Patrick's trip to China. It's the only one I'm allowed to put on the blog. The other pictures are *private,* he tells me. They feature a few shots of the Great Wall, and of himself and his friends, but mostly... they're just odd. Pictures of his teacher picking his nose. "Random Guy" pictures... of other obviously European/American/stuff we see at home anyway- type tourist-y people. And photos of a *sex shop* and the prostitute cell phone number graffiti. Just classic. Just what he'll want to share with his grandkids someday.

That's ok, though... I'm sure he brought home lots of nice pressies for his siblings and the post cards he sent will arrive in the mail soon.

Well, no, he didn't get anything like that, Patrick told me. His suitcase was crammed with old pop bottles, food wrappers, GARBAGE from his trip (they weren't allowed to throw out things at the hotel... what is up with that?) and a cloth napkin from the hotel. Arg. Surely you got SOMETHING, something... something to share with your brothers at least?

YES! He brought home *used chopsticks* for them. No postcards.

Nothing.

Well... I shouldn't say *nothing.* On Elfie's birthday, he was presented with a "shock" gum container. Warning: not to be used by anyone under 14. Warning: not to be used by people over 50. Warning: not to be used by anyone with a medical condition.

Warning: just keep it in the wrapper, Elfie. I suppose it's the thought that counts.

12 June 2010

One Ring to Rule Them All

It arrived on time for his birthday after all. Mount Doom is an upside-down coffee cup with icing decorated by Elf for his special day. Happy tenth birthday, Elfie!

11 June 2010

Ummm... Yes. We are Oddish.

(Oddish is actually a Pokemon, you know.)

Dinner is interesting at my house. Emperor is raising his Cheez Ball into the air. "Whosoever finds Moby Dick gets this Cheez Ball dubloon!" he announces. Elf tries to snatch the ball, but "Captain Ahab" claims the dubloon for himself. It's his whale, you know. Chomp, chomp, chomp. Even Girlie is having a great time making noise with the "dubloons." Woodjie is crying and feeling left out. Poor kid is allergic to milk and eggs and Fritos just aren't the same.

After dinner, I'm drying my hands on the towel I keep looped around our fridge door when I notice Elf cringing. I hadn't beaten him yet today, so I was wondering what was up with the kid. He looked as though God Himself were going to smite him on the head just then.

What's up with that, Elfie??

"Well..." Elf is backing up a few steps now and wrinkling his nose. "Patrick wiped up cat barf off the floor and then hung the towel back on the fridge!"

Eeeew. You know Patrick left TEN DAYS AGO for China, don't you??

(Though I'm sure this is NOT the same hand towel he used, I have a few questions. How long was it hanging up? Who used it? Did they touch my clothes/ face/ anything in the universe after touching barf? We *do* change them when they get obviously soiled, overly wet, or time just plain old passes and I just feeeel that I want a new towel. But yuck. I wonder about which dish I might have touched with cat barf remnant on my hand. Did I eat something when I had cat barf on my hand? It's hard to tell when you have to change a 45-pound kid's poop three times a day. Just saying.)

Yuck.

New rule: you simply *must* tell Mamma right away when you notice a cat barf, poop, or just plain old "gross" situation.

"OH," he replied. "I meant to tell you. But you were very busy at that moment." Arg. Okayyy... but maybe ten days is a little long, Elf... eeeww...

Or this. This. You will love this one. We are all at the hospital so that G can get a checkup. Imagine me rounding up Mr. Overwhelmed Elf and NonVerbal Woodj, and Jumpy Girly who wants to play with flu-ey kids. G is rolling his eyes about and getting embarrassed to be seen near Mr. Hello Kitty Shorts.

Yep. Emperor has just emerged from the unisex bathroom, so in I go to wash a booger off my hands. (Eew. No. It wasn't mine. Don't ask!) The entire toilet is clogged with paper towels... it looks like some horrid vomiting volcano. You know I have to ask Emperor about it.

Oh, that. Yes, he did that. He didn't see a trash can nearby, so...

Arg!

And what's really bad is, this reasoning makes PERFECT SENSE to him! No amount of making up new rules will get him to quit doing silly things like this! I should just be grateful that he has stopped smelling strangers and asking people if they know that he is now eight years old and is really a baby giant etc etc... but my. I have to inform the receptionist about this mess (it's clogged!) whilst trying to corral Woodjie/ G, stop touching Girlie... Meanwhile, Elf is reading *very loudly* one of the murder scenes in The Picture of Dorian Grey to the entire waiting room. I don't know what it is about reading time. Every time I manage to bring all the books because I don't want idle hands doing the devil's work, we come across the entirely wrong scenes in the book in public. The guillotine scene in Tale of Two Cities was especially fun at the allergist's awhile back. We had a lady get up and move to the other side of the room for that one after Elf stood and shouted, "DEATH to all aristocrats!"

At least he was in character. But I'm thinking that we need a special "travelling" book to read aloud when we go places titled, "Happy Flowers in Flowerland" or "How to Behave in Public." Somebody tell me I'm not alone in having things like this happen on a regular basis. Please.

10 June 2010

Making a Hello Kitty Doll


Did I mention Emperor has a thing for Hello Kitty? He sewed this doll from a kit we got at Jo-Ann fabric store. He takes this little dolly about everywhere with him, puts it with some of his other dollies, and builds houses for them. He also has an extensive tinkertoy gun collection for Hello Kitty. Apparently Kitty is VERY BIG into the whole idea of defending fortresses and testing launching weapons. (I guess she is in the red jumper militia.)

09 June 2010

Making a Tile Mosaic





This is Elf's art project. He designed what he wanted to do with his tiles and made a detailed drawing. Then, we broke the tiles and glued them down to the base. He picked just the right tiles for the edges and then "filled" the other spaces with smaller broken pieces. After this dried, we mixed the grout and filled it in. We let it dry 15 minutes and wiped the top. Then, after it was completely dry, we wiped it until it was completely free of grout on the tile surfaces. Here it is, finished! Elf says that it took a long time, but it was worth it. It's a volcano at sunset.

Kansas City School District

The funny thing about Kansas City School District is that it sure doesn't equal "Kansas City." Kansas City downtown is a teeeeeny tiny fraction of what is actually legally "Kansas City." I think "Kansas City" actually takes up about a third of the state and is mostly white and suburban. There is a good plenty of beautiful old farmland that is presently being torn up and made into boomboomboom little tract houses, big McMansions on teeeeny plots of land with teeeeny trees and matching mailboxes, and Mission-style apartments - mountainous! - that draw thousands.

I'm telling ya, Patrick has been invited to friends' houses that aren't even google map-able. Whole streets not marked. It doesn't help that street signs go missing or directions from 17-year-olds are sometimes a little fuzzy. But the "census" this year will no doubt show tons of people moving into Kansas City, even if those "tons of people" are certainly not urban.

Our school district is a suburban one, but we have about 3/4 as many students as the Kansas City School District. No one wants to live in the Kansas City School District. At all. Well, I suppose *someone* probably does, or there wouldn't be anyone left. The city is doing brilliant things like "condemning" whole blocks and handing them to developers who make posh condos that childless people move into for the extreme tax breaks that last 247 years. Better believe these are people who aren't coming to the downtown area for the great schools, or even the great neighbourhoods a few blocks over.

In my district, the new homes over the Kansas City line are advertised streetside with large "KANSAS CITY ADDRESS... (Name of Mrs. C's city here) SCHOOLS!!" banners. It's just real estate sales, but it's really another way of saying, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO SEND YOUR KIDS TO THE ICKY SCHOOLS IN KC... MOVE HERE INSTEAD!!"

Gazoodles of police officers, firefighters and the like live in this area because they're required to live in the city limits and technically... they are. Sure, they're violating the spirit of the law, but certainly not the letter and I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing if I were them. Certainly when we moved here, we knew we would NOT be buying/renting/going anywhere near places that were associated with Kansas City Public.

Did we "abandon" the district by not seriously shopping there? Do people who move out "abandon" the district? Here's an interesting article about KC Public's history that implies that sure, the administrators made a TWO BILLION DOLLAR MISTAKE (whoops), but the school system is in trouble because of those irresponsible publicly-educated teens who keep having sex. It's their fault even though we all know they learned about the different ways they COULD have sex in school (but shouldn't! but here's where you can get free condoms! don't do it! and take a pamphlet on birth control). And it's also a mess in KCSD because of those terrible middle class white people who just don't seem to understand that they have a social obligation to keep their kids in bad schools for the sake of the other children.

YES, many of these problems happened when desegregation happened. Imagine yourself back in the day. They used to send the black kids to crappy schools. Now they're desegregating and YOUR kid is going to be bussed to a crappy school. People are angry. Crowds of black people are throwing rocks at YOUR child and there is racial unrest. Are you racist for leaving?

I don't blame people for leaving. I know families who did back then when there were race riots and are glad they did. You can say all you want about "white flight," but the truth is, black folks are leaving in droves, too. Common sense has no colour line. You would just never know it to look at the news, but many of the newer students in our district are not white. Don't cover that story, though! Focus on the fact that even though we have a very big increase percentage-wise in minorities (well, maybe don't even mention that part! too divisive), that it's still an overwhelmingly white district out in the burbs, would ya?

The school districts in general seem to think they own the children within their boundaries, so it's hardly surprising that KCPS tried to keep some of the more suburban outlying portions of its district from defecting to Independence, or that it tried to incorporate more "white" areas to keep itself from becoming the "hollowed-out heart of the metro" that it is. There are hard feelings all around on that one.

"From Liberty to Lenexa, 'you don’t even have to say more than the words "Kansas City School District" to trigger an emotional reaction,' says William Worley, a local historian and author."

You've got that right. I think the KCSD is on the right track with massive school closures and actually working on educating the children rather than supporting a crumpled infrastructure. It's a shame they had to cut charters and other choices for children, and I think it will further contribute to an exodus from public education there. It seems to me that in extreme bad and urban districts, the focus has to be on providing a school and a teacher for all students, and nevermind the Latin lessons and marble floors. Don't like the basics? Leave. I think it's time to stop pretending that all public schools offer a "quality public education" for each child. They don't. All public schools are not the same, just like my homeschool is going to be different from someone else's.

Why pretend? The district already spent $2 billion pretending, and it didn't draw the elite crowd they wanted. Time to work with the children you actually have and quit wishing they were different.

07 June 2010

Happy Meal High School

Browsing the 'web and came across an interesting site designed to answer public school patron concerns at a district in upstate New York. (link; scroll way down to find excerpt)

"Comment:
I have two children in school and support their education, but school taxes are out of control. How do you expect people to keep paying more and more?

Response:
No one likes paying taxes. You could think of it as the cost to send your children to school. (LOL You mean public education isn't FREE? Someone pays for it?? Ok, sorry to interrupt. You may continue.)

Think about it this way: a home assessed at $200,000 pays approximately $6,000 in taxes. Students are in school for 180 days. This amounts to $33 per day. If you have two children attending school you are paying $16.50 per child per day. If they are in middle school, they are picked up at roughly 8 a.m. and dropped off at 4 p.m. That means that you are paying $2 an hour for each child. This doesn't take into account the fact that they may stay later for extracurriculars, extra help or sports. When you think about it, it costs more to take a child to a movie or buy a happy meal."

Done laughing? Ok.

Now, I'm sure we ALL ordinarily take our children to the movies and buy them Happy Meals (tm) several times a day, and if it weren't for the nice people at the Shenenenenendehoahah School District taking the kids off our hands occasionally and exercising them, they'd need a $6,000 motorized scooter to hang out with the other kids at the mall. Those mall rats, racing their Larks (tm), waving their canes about and smoking their Winstons in the food court... they cause trouble. But thankfully, the schools have an indoor pool to prevent this travesty. In UPPER New York State, where the average temperature is -500 degrees, I'm sure that "swimming" is a skill these kids will use long after graduation. But, the website tells us, that's a way better use of money than that-thar "air conditioning." It only gets hot enough to use THAT a few days out of every year!

WOW.

Can YOU afford an extra $6,000 a year? JUST on school taxes alone? Not even counting your mega New York sales tax, hospital tax, police, fire, local mafia and special highway taxes? Every road out there is a toll road, you know, and you either have to pay something like $50 a day to use the state highways or use a discombobulated system of half-patched and dog-legging dirt roads for two hours just to get across town. And you'd better know your way because they change the names of the streets, many of which have similar names. Really. So after shelling out all the kind of money it costs to live in that part of the country, I'm pretty sure no one would have any money to homeschool their kids, let alone feed 'em Happy Meal (tm) burgers several times each day. Good grief!

Mind you, I do feel it's reasonable that if you have a child in public school that you pay your fair share of the expense of educating your own kid. I also know we have this outstanding agreement that we all pay for the roads, even if we don't use them, and the ambulance services and etc. etc. yeah yeah blah blah blah. I really do get that the money we pay out does not necessarily have to equal the "benefit" we get individually from the system. And I also know that the cost of educating a kiddo like Woodjie is going to be ohhh, about equal to my husband's take-home salary each year if Woodj stays in school full-time and keeps having his own aide and the special class and the special bus and the special aide on the bus etc.

But $6,000. Um, my parents lived in this SAME TOWN while I was in college and I will bet you they paid more like $12,000. God bless 'em, but I think I'd have lived in a tipi before I'd give anyone the satisfaction of taking $12,000 of my own money away. Here's a link to a house on the same street... my folks had a place with more bedrooms and stuff like that. Corner lot, too.

But since they moved there while I was in college, I never made any friends. I'd just come "home" and work at the mall as a janitor or McDonald's worker. It was an odd foray into the life of the lower middle class. I discovered that I am not smart enough to run a register and keep an order straight. No. That is not false modesty. I cannot remember verbal directions. I very nearly flunked out of PE and several other classes in which teachers SPOKE instead of WROTE on the board. If it isn't written down and I can't read the list... I honestly can't do it. I wouldn't say it's quite a disability because see? I have two arms and legs. I just don't put myself into positions where the spoken word must be relied upon to convey information if I can possibly help it. If it's unavoidable, I'm shouting, "WAIT! LET ME WRITE THAT DOWN A SECOND." Months later, I get complimented for my uncanny memory. LOL, I really just look up everything in a binder. I write things and keep them in binders. True. All I have to do is remember which binder I need to look in for a given piece of information. And no, it's not easier just to remember the information. That would make too much sense.

Well... I don't miss Clifton Park. My little (six ft, 4 in tall, bald with BIG TATTOOS) brother finished out his education there and married his high school sweetheart. They are living nearby, though in less fancy digs, with their three children. I couldn't imagine spending $12,000 a year on public schools each year in property taxes alone... in ten years, that tax money could BUY you a decent-sized house out here outright. How many Happy Meals (tm) do you think I could get for $120,000?

05 June 2010

On Order.

This will not arrive in time for Elf's birthday. I had to decide between ordering other things from a place that could deliver in time, or order from Amazon, get the "free" shipping, and buy THIS with the money I'm saving on shipping.

It was a hard decision. Stuff on time? Or more stuff... but later. Had to call Elf in to decide. I let him look at it and decide... is it worth waiting a bit longer?

He gasped when he saw the ring. Ooooohh. Well... Can he see the other stuff he's getting?

No. (That was pretty hard for him to hear!!)

But you can be in on the secret! He'll get the Two Towers CD and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I'm spending the money my parents sent out for Elfie's birthday. He will love it. :)

04 June 2010

Thanks, A Noni Mouse!

Elf read my Keebler Chronicles blog post and asked me to post his comment. "This was a very funny blog post," he told me. "But I am still a Keebler Elf."

I'm using A Noni Mouse's idea of a "retirement" from the Keebler factory when Elf turns ten. I have taken a shoe box and pasted Keebler pictures all over the outsides and printed "Happy Retirement from all the elves at the KEEEEEEEBLER factory" for the top, ready for presentation on his birthday.

Inside, I have placed an ID card. It reads:

"Be it hereby known that
(Elf's Real Name Here)
is a retired Keebler Elf with all the benefits befitting retired Keebler elves; namely, promotion to Rivendell Elf status and Fifth-grade Elf status. Witness my hand and seal this 12th day of June in the year 2010 in the presence of J.R. Keebler, esq. et al.

(fake signature)
Ernie Elf"

This was placed over his picture in such a way that his face and shoulders are visible. I placed the Keebler logo from a pie crust near his head and then laminated it to make the ID card. I also put a couple packages of cookies inside the box and a note which reads:

Dear "Realname" the Elf,

We're going to miss pretending the Keeblers with you every night, but we know that you are growing older and are ready for new things. For our special goodbye gift, we wanted to be sure to give you a REAL ID card. We hope that you save it and always remember our time together.

May God bless you!

The Elves of
Keebler Elf Troop #89

Hopefully, the tiny Elf will be ok with this chapter of his life closing. I was thinking of making a fake package from the Rivendell elves, but I'm not sure what to do for that on a budget. :)

03 June 2010

Adjustments

With Patrick away in China, G is lonely. He found a friend and fell asleep late last night.

Patrick and Me.

Patrick and his orchestra group left at 3 a.m. yesterday morning. They should be in Beijing right now finishing dinner and getting ready for bed. I am 5 ft 8 inches tall, and Patrick is not standing as straight as he could be. I'm thinking his legs are probably sore from being cramped on the flight. :)

01 June 2010

The Keebler Elf Chronicles

Elf is nearly 10. It's time for him to give up this idea that he is really a Keebler Elf. People sort of think that's a bit odd when you insist that.

"But I really *am* a Keebler Elf," Elf insists.

"No, really," I tell him. "Let's have a serious talk here, Elf. Time to be really honest. We like to pretend that you are a Keebler elf, and that you go to the Keebler factory at night when everyone is sleeping to make cookies, but you've really never been there."

"I go there every night! I make the cookies!" He folds his arms.

"The truth is that the Keebler factory is in Battle Creek, Michigan, and that it employs ADULTS, not elves, and that you have never been there."

"But the Keebler TREE; I've been to that. You're thinking of a different place!"

"No, Elf." I'm trying to speak calmly so he can really listen. "We both know the Keebler Tree and the Keebler elves are just advertising. There are really no Keebler elves, and you have never been to the Keebler factory."

"Explain the cookies, then. You KNOW they don't just show up at the store. I AM a Keebler elf and I do make the Keebler cookies."

"Elf... I'm being serious." (I'm seeing Elf is getting pretty upset... so we'll try a different tack.) "Older elves like to pretend to visit Rivendell and see Frodo..."

"THAT is such a LIE. I don't go to Rivendell! I'm a KEEBLER elf!!"

How should I reason with that? "Okayyy... but when you turn ten, it will be time to stop pretending the Keeblers, Elfie."

"I object!"

You... object?

"I object! And I want a fair trial!! This isn't fair!"

"Elfie. Elfie..." I don't even know what to say (sigh). "You know in a dictatorship, you don't get a fair trial."

"I know. But I want one anyway!"

"Elfie... you know even with a trial you would have no way of proving you are a Keebler elf."

"I can so! I have the keychain from Ernie!!" (Yep. The Keebler people sent him a plastic "Ernie" elf keychain several years ago. I guess now it's proof that he's an elf.)

"Elfie... you know that keychains don't prove that you are a Keebler elf. It's time that we stop pretending that you are a Keebler elf, little man."

"This is NOT FAIR!" Elf has hopped off the couch and is standing with his hands on his hips. "I want a fair trial! And I have a keychain! And I can show you my Elf ID just as soon as I am done colouring it! I can really prove that I AM AN ELF AT THE KEEBLER FACTORYYYYY!"

Ohhhhhh.... kay. Guess we'll talk about this later.

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...