31 August 2015

Beginner's Bible: Wild About Creation

Bright, happy animals and colourful scenes abound throughout the book.  Your 4 to 8-year-old will appreciate the easy-to-do tracing and matching activities and have fun with the stickers.  Like most workbooks for younger children, there are also colouring activities, a maze and a find-the-difference included.

What you see here is the cover, but inside is very much like the cover.  Very friendly, cheerful, easy-to-do for children on their own.  "Stocking stuffer" is so over-used, but it could be that or a party favour or better still?  A travelling book.  Something to keep a little person occupied and learning at the same time. 

No deep or controversial theology is included in the text of the book.  It's pretty much about how God made everything, things were happy and great, and in the last two pages?  Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit (pictured as a pomegranate!) and were banished.  I'd recommend this series as a small gift for children.  Woodjie loves his and has yet to do any of the activities.  He's still looking at the pictures and admiring the animals. 

Incidentally, this has been a hard book to review.  Woodjie wants his book back.  I always want to weigh what the target audience thinks of the book, so I can't hide it before the review.  This one's a mega-hit. 

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Iowa Open 2015

Emperor got to meet GM Alexander Yermolinsky.  He is a big fan of his "Every Russian Schoolboy Knows" show on the ICC.

Rose, ready for round one in the Rated Beginner Open.

I got to meet blogger Bethany Carson!

24 August 2015

The Good Knight Dala Horse in Lindsborg, Kansas.

The Good Knight Dala horse was unveiled outside the Anatoly Karpov International School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kansas, on Saturday. Emperor's design was chosen for the horse, so his name is on the plaque.
Here he is with GM Timur Gareev.

Nearby Dala horse.

There are now 33 Dala horses in the town...

While we were there, we browsed an art gallery and I brought this jellyfish home.

Ask an Autism Expert

Woodjie DID name them, I s'pose.
 I've been asked to do a post about helpful resources for helping autistic people.  This is one of those times I wish I had "the answers."  I have lots of helpful suggestions, and I'll pop a few here, but every child is different and the saying goes that if you've met one child with autism, you've met one child with autism.

I have four diagnosed children, and two who are, shall we say, eccentric.  So I can tell you each child needs something different from parents, and when you're dealing with an older child, the best way to know what that is is to ask him.  It's such an obvious answer that often we forget it!

Something we've been having trouble with. 
Lately we've been having trouble with Woodjie pulling out whole clumps of hair and he has bald patches all over.  He picks the hair off his body and his eyelashes.  He twists his skin as well, so sometimes he looks like an abused child.  In speaking to him, he is not sure why he is doing this, and he does want to stop.  That tells me it's not a discipline issue at all.  We have had a behaviour therapist in and we've been to the doctor.  Between the two we have various routines and things that help (such as a weighted vest schedule) and medication.  But he still does it sometimes.

It's odd to say, but the best help I've found has been the willingness to leave what isn't working.  Doctor isn't listening?  Buh-bye.  School won't work nicely with your child?  Homeschool.  And so on.  Sounds simple, but you know it isn't. 

But I also can't stick with what's not helpful, or with people who I don't think are on my child's side.  I've found bridges I thought would last through the ages are presently nothing but char.  And that has to be ok.  I've got to do my best job, even though sometimes it's not good enough - most parents feel that way some days, I'm sure. 

To parents facing a new diagnosis, I'd tell them that autism is not your enemy.  It's a difference and you have to work with it, but it is not necessarily a bad thing.  I never thought my kid's super-white skin was a bad thing, but I must make allowances for it if we're to go outside.  Not doing so is poor parenting.
Woodjie loves Pokemon.

It sort of sucks that we moms of autistics have to make so many allowances in this world so that our children can function.  It sucks even worse for our kids.  You're going to find all kinds of crazy stuff - and crazy and resentful people - in this world and most especially when you are dealing with something like autism.  My best advice after "listening to your child?"  Is to find friends.  Which is hard.  It is hard, hard, hard.  They pop up in unexpected places, though.  One place I've found friends - and even local friends - is the internet.

You found me, right?
Edited to add Woodjie's vest (back of chair) and Woobie cloth (foreground).  He also has a brush and we curry the kid like a pony.  Hey, whatever works, right?

I'll leave you with a few links I presently find helpful.  Feel free to comment with things that you find work for you.

ASAN - The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

Sisterhood of the Autism Mothers and a Few Great Dads - facebook group

Autism Blogs Directory - site has not been maintained lately, but a good starting point to find other autism-related blogs.

The Explosive Child by Dr. Ross Greene.  A particularly good resource for parents of "difficult" children.

19 August 2015


How quickly we take our blessings for granted!  Every little happiness we receive from God should inspire us to be grateful and mindful of others who don't have as much. 

Thankfulness has to be one of the more difficult virtues to cultivate in young children.  I chose to review Eileen Spinelli's Thankful book because the coming season is a time where we're slowing down and counting our blessings. 

Thankful is a prose-y poem meant to be read slowly and savoured with the accompanying illustrations on each two-line page.  You'll find as you go along that simple, usual things can inspire gratitude.

Archie Preston's artwork will make this the sort of book you'll want to display on top of your bookshelf during the fall season for children to "discover." I think the style is very much like Quentin Blake's.  You'll enjoy how the pictures and the words compliment one another.

It's a nice sized hardback with glossy pages and a good quality.  There aren't very many pages, making this a suitable bedtime book for younger children up through about age eight.

 Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

18 August 2015


Rose had to work 13 weeks for this brand new dolly.  I figure the kids earn about $2 worth of prizes each week, and they can buy stuff at the store and save it until it's earned. 

14 August 2015

Do you Swap and Shop on facebook?

I'm a local swap shop "member" mostly for the entertainment value.  Every now and then a poster will come through with breaking local news and post about that.  Interesting if somewhat unreliable news source via some guy's brother who knows this other guy who knows the fellow featured in the news story.

Right now, someone's online trying to sell a comforter with a five-inch rip that is covered in dog hair for $50.  She's selling it because it's too thick for her and her boyfriend (presumably b/c they get too hot at night?  Must we know?).

Another lady runs around with a bucket of used hairbrushes and offers give unlicensed haircuts in your home.  She's posted several selfies of herself in sweatpants and a uhm, very form-fitting T-shirt modelling "bridal" hairstyles.  An updo will run you only $20!  She can drive right over and work tonight if you like.

What kind of town is this, anyway?  But I have to read the boards.  Just. Can't. Stop.

And I have to read the accompanying local "complaint department" boards where people have bought 20-year-old washers from people and are genuinely surprised when they employ their entire family to throw them on the back of a borrowed pickup truck, jostle them across town, inch them down the basement stairs, hook them up... and find they don't work.  

I would snarkily say that I'm selling a half-used packet of adult diapers and that we should meet in the Cityname Target parking lot, but that one's been done before, too.

10 August 2015

Back - to - Homeschool Clothes Shopping.

My mother and me, 1989.
Are you all done with your back-to-homeschool clothes shopping?  Do you need a jumper like the one I'm wearing in the picture above?  You can actually buy 'em on etsy and be just like all the cool kids. 

Or maybe you want a more modern T-shirt from zazzle with a homeschooling slogan.  Notice how they try to get you to "accessorize" your shirt with a pair of jammie pants?  Stereotypical, maybe, but I wonder how many sales they get.

And then there's Amazon.  Our buddy.  You can buy Homeschool Snowboarding pants for $270 and get *free shipping!*  Pretty exciting, huh?

"No amount of snow nor rain can mess up your day off when you've got the Homeschool Snowboarding Heavy Days 3.5L Pants. It's almost difficult to have a bad day out on the hill when you have a 3.5 layer shell with 37.5 technology bringing supreme waterproofing and breathability to tackle godly amounts of rain, sleet, hail, pow, and anything in between. Homeschool's packed this thing full of features like a Pant to Jacket interface, boot gaiters and thigh vents, all guaranteed to make life easier and pow slaying more enjoyable."

That's right, folks!  Godly amounts of rain and "pow" won't have any effect on you when you are wearing your  Homeschool Snowboarding pants.

Think we'll just stick with last year's stained T-shirts and save some money.  How about you?  

09 August 2015

Vegemite a "Precursor to Misery."

And not because it tastes like pureed roadkill with bitter herbs.  No.

From what it sounds like, Aborigines get drunk off it or something.  It's ok for white people to buy this rancid stuff from the store, but apparently there are aboriginal communities in which alcohol isn't allowed.  Seriously.  Some blonde guy named Nigel gets to be the indigenous affairs minister of the country because he's really in touch with stuff like that and that's what he said. 

When I read stories like this, I'm not sure if I should feel insulted that Aborigines are assumed to be such stupid people or if I should be outraged that suburban kids, in some horrible expression of reverse racism, are subjected to Vegemite on toast each morning.

07 August 2015

The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival Book Review

You practically smell the fall spices while reading The Berenstain Bears' Harvest Festival book.  The bears visit Farmer Ben's place, pick pumpkins and apples, take a hayride, and thank God for all His Bounty. The illustrations are just as you remember them from your own childhood, but Mike Berenstain is continuing the line started by his parents, Jan and Stan, in 1962.

There's nothing not to like about this book.  It's a longer storybook for children ages about four to eight. The book contains no objectionable material and no conflict whatsoever.  It's just a story about how the bears enjoyed their day out together as a family on a fall day.  Mike Berenstain interjects more faith and Christian ideas (such as thanking God or saying grace) than his parents did, but for all that it should be an easy and friendly book for all faiths.

I'll even go so far as to say that Mike Berenstain did an even better job on this than the original series for friendly story lines.  I hope at some point they consider selling a boxed collection set, as this (and other books) are paperbacks.  Five stars!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Temporarily added note to readers:  if you're an Amazon Prime member, the book is currently a Prime item (shipping included) for only $2.00!  

04 August 2015

Woodjie Recites the Preamble!

Woodjie can say the Preamble, too!  Please leave him a comment!

Rose Recites the Preamble!

Guess what we're learning about in history?  I don't think the children understand the importance of the Constitution just yet, but we're working on it.

03 August 2015

Old Pic

***** ****
Mary Jane Albert (Cunningham) was born in Pennsylvania in 1856.  She is my paternal great-great grandmother.   

Woodjie's Roller Dance Routine!

Only a few people were selected to perform their routines at a recent club fundraiser.  I went to upload this video and was pretty shocked...