30 May 2009
YES! We have finally finished book 4A in our Singapore Math curriculum. We did a bit of review in this book before moving on to the B book. The beginning of the B book is relatively easy, and gets harder in the next few weeks.
We finished a unit about heat, sources of heat and how to use energy wisely. D even took the children outside to do an experiment about the sun's rays using a magnifying glass and some paper! The boys loved that.
Spiderman velvet posters and iron-together beads. Crayon drawings. Mostly art is a fun subject in our school at this point, though I probably ought to buy an actual curriculum. We find quite a bit to occupy ourselves in the "how to draw" books, though. You'd be surprised at how detailed those can get.
Trains and the Wild West. We learned about how the train operates using steam and coal. We learned some cavalry hand signals. We made our own "brand" that would discourage cattle rustlers. We listened to songs from the time period. We also examined maps from the time period and talked about the Coffeyville robbery. We're technically done with the academic part of this series of lessons, but I think we'll revisit some of our curriculum and read books about Jesse James and the West.
We're finished with BJU Grade 3 Unit 13, dealing with the difference between adverbs and adjectives and reviewing comma placement. Unit 14 entails writing a biography. Emperor wanted to write one about God. I was able to talk him down from that, to Satan, to Michael, to about John the Baptist. (*whew*) You'd be surprised at the number of resource materials available from the library about him! Certainly much more about him than George Westinghouse. That's Elf's choice, because the air brake is an exciting invention!
Yes, I found almost nothing at the "juvenile" level about Westinghouse, but plenty of technical books he probably won't understand. Bummer. Maybe there will be pictures, so we'll check these out anyway. It may be that we have to learn to REVISE our topic ideas when things don't work out. That's something I didn't learn until I went to college.
We finished Bram Stoker's Dracula!! Finally! Now, we're reading Boomtown. Elf is actually having more trouble understanding what is going on in the text than he did with Dracula. There are many idiomatic expressions in Boomtown. Things you and I would just pick up, that he needs help on. Dracula had more advanced vocabulary but was very literal. Boomtown is a funny book. Elf and Emperor keep imagining that it isn't real. Then I would show them the pictures, and they'd think it's real. They're not sure if it's a true story or not. It's one of those stories that is impossible to believe, but because it has a PICTURE in it... welll... "Is this true, Mom?" Of course not. But I get asked that question occasionally anyway when someone wants to be sure.
Emperor just finished an ABeka book titled, Growing Up Where Jesus Lived. It actually isn't a religious book at all, but the fictional story of Jacob going to Jerusalem to Passover and detailed explanations of what Jewish life was like when Jesus was alive. I would highly recommend it even to those who aren't believers, who just want a background text about life in Israel. I learned a lot from it myself.
Elf is still working through one of the ABeka third grade texts as well. His book has short stories about historical characters and legends and fables. Sniffle warning, because some of the ABeka stories make me cry. So does The Velveteen Rabbit.
We just finished Unit 2 of our BJU Kit A. I can't believe the children did well on the test, but then again, the curriculum is geared toward younger children. I need to get more consistent with teaching Spanish, but I am one of those teachers who likes to do EVERY activity in every book... so much so that even though we homeschool all year, I fall behind! The children are learning and enjoying it, too.
We even went to lunch a bit ago and ordered real Mexican food! And Emperor tried something new! Elf... well, we love Elf. I think he had a burger or something. :]
I count most of our Bible hours toward reading, as we are working from the King James and reasoning in our workbooks about what we read. Sometimes we sing songs. We're doing BJU Grade 4, so the work is more challenging and we are going at a slower pace. So far, I have NOT liked BJU 4 as much as 3, because the Bible stories seem more "split," if that makes sense. I think we will take a whole book next unit and read it through rather than doing a chapter here and there and working on that. Sure, you get bored during the begets, but I think there is something to be said for taking a work as a whole and evaluating it that way. When that sort of thing is taken to extremes, you get "friends" who comfort you when a loved one dies with Bible verses that are aimed at Jewish people being dragged into captivity and have nothing at all to do with the fact that you've faced a loss.
No, BJU stuff doesn't go that far with the pat verse, but it is a curriculum that is meant to be done in one school year. We're not limited to that. We can take longer or skip lessons if we so choose. I'm choosing to stretch things out by reading a whole book every now and then. It took us *almost* forever to read through Acts as a group. I was continually explaining this or that, giving background and that sort of thing. There's nothing wrong with that, but it does slow down the reading.
I think it's strange that there is so much outrage. Is it only me? Here's a fellow who is doing nothing illegal. It sure looks like he didn't rape anyone. It looks like the ladies knew what they were dealing with. Here's a fellow who earns minimum wage and proudly states he had four children in one year. Twice. And this is a guy you wanna "get with?"
Slim pickins out there, I guess.
Sure, as a Christian, I would have to state right here that sex is a gift best reserved for marriage. I'd also state that the young man is rather irresponsible, as are his mistresses. (Is that what I should call them? I want to be reasonably respectful, but blunt. Maybe those two qualities don't go together very well.) These folks are not thinking about the consequences of their actions in regard to the people they'll bring into this world.
But here's what I'm thinking: without Jesus, this behaviour makes a lot of sense. As do a lot of other things.
Without Jesus, why WOULDN'T it be ok to have sex with whoever, whenever you felt like it? You'd only have to consider the potential consequences to yourself if you lived like that. You could reason that you're not hurting anybody, and totally flip off the nutty religious folks and say it's "love." Then you could fall in "love" with a different person every few months or so.
What's wrong with that? I mean, without some moral framework that says such behaviour is wrong, what's wrong with that? (And yes, I recognize that some folks have a moral framework apart from God. I used to be an atheist, you know. I think I still have the T-shirt somewhere. But my moral framework came from within myself and what I felt was right, and was not based on outside, unchanging things like the Bible and Truth. Then again, I'm following the Bible and what I feeeeeel to be Truth. So round we go... Um, another post.)
And yes, you can get all hopping mad if you want to that all of us are supporting these children with our tax dollars. (I'd agree... though calls to castrate the fellow are a little over the top, don'cha think??) But look. If anything, that shows a little planning on the part of ol' Mr. Desmond here. His kids might not vacation at Disney World, but they're provided for. They're not starving. And all you folks getting all outraged have to realize that this is the sort of thing that we encourage when we provide a "safety net" for the poor and jobless.
It's for the children.
I mean, I might disagree with the whole premise of the government giving handouts to people, but I can understand that the outrage is a bit misplaced when the funds are there for the KIDS. Shouldn't we be glad that these children are being helped by someone? And instead of getting all mad at the moms and dad in this situation, can we get angry that we've instituted a system that allows this to happen on such a regular basis?
Jesus said that you'll always have the poor with you. To my mind, it's just a question of who should be helping the poor and under what circumstances. Are we comfortable helping poor people who made poor decisions? The question is an important one. Maybe it's just my little brain thinking off-kilter... but we're not called to help just those who lived moral lives and are going through hard times. We're called to help the drunken homeless and everyone else. Not to enable, but to help. Which sometimes means saying no, and letting that person go through a hard time. Sometimes that means "throwing good money after bad on people who won't change." If it's my money and I get to decide how to spend it, I hope that I do the best I can with the resources I'm given.
Another matter altogether to talk of government spending on the poor.
Another matter even after that to act all surprised that people take advantage of Uncle Sam!
I hear alarming statistics about out of wedlock births and the dependence of the poor on the government. May I gently say... all it takes is one economic downturn, and we're there with them. On the other hand, all it takes is one massive economic downturn, and these children might not get the support they need...
If I were to get a VOTE on whether this lifestyle were legal and ok, I'd vote no. But I don't get a vote. It's too bad, too, because if y'all think I'm intolerant now, there's a whole lotta other stuff out there I'd be nyet-ing.
29 May 2009
More whites homeschool than blacks. Fewer poor people are joining the homeschooling ranks. Whoopdy-doo. Anyone oppressed in those two sentences there? (Not the whoopdy-doo one. That was thrown in for free.) Anyone NOT allowed to join in our reindeer games because of race, class, socioeconomic status or whatever? Ummm... not reading that.
Ok. So I've been reading in several different blogs about this shift taking place among homeschoolers. I don't see it, personally. What I DO see is that any time one speaks of race in an article, there's an unspoken implication. It's paternalistic, actually. If more white people get this or that, how are we going to help the black folks get their fair share? Or if whites as a group score in this range, how are we going to help black children score in the same range? Paternalism. Hellooooo, black moms and dads are allll grown up and can take care of their own children. If they need help, they can ask just the same as I can. Good grief. Perhaps I read too much into these little bits of "information," but whenever one separates the races to prove some sort of political point, it feels like instigating to me. JMO.
But of course, the Department of Education must always be correct in its findings. Many homeschoolers like myself have had wonderful experiences with the state and public education, so we're glad to help by taking this survey! (*snort*)
In any event, now it seems that zillions of Richie Riches are homeschooling. Most of the Richie Riches are white and suburban. There's something just wrong about them being able to do that, it's implied. Just read the comments in this article. Wow. We white homeschoolers are pulling our kids out of classes so they don't have to mix with them thar blacks and drink from the same water fountain! Sigh. Oh! My fave comment?? The alleged homeschool mom who is concerned about her children getting too close to a "condemn" machine. Bwa!
I think a bunch of jokesters got online and made this stuff up.
25 May 2009
Ideally, no one would be want to be drinking so much alcohol that they could roll around and puke, pass out and/or drive into some innocent person. I think of alcohol as a drug with risks and benefits, just like (for instance) Prozac and Tylenol. So, sure, if your doctor tells you to have a glass of wine with your dinner for some health benefit, you would do so. Or you would self-medicate a certain amount for your health in the same way that most of us sane people might occasionally take a Tylenol for a headache.
I'd like to think that most people are reasonable people, but I've been to college.
No, I don't mean that you need to be more educated to understand the risks of overconsumption; I just mean "I've been to college." Heavy drinking happens on just about any night of the week you could imagine. It's cultural. I think I got over the whole novel idea of drinking alcohol as a lifestyle somewhere around my second semester as a freshman. By then, I had figured out that I could do whatever I wanted whether it was legal or not, and it got boring. Yawn.
A young man joining a fraternity was not so lucky, and died. There were a lot of factors that led to this, but let's just say that in retrospect, I don't imagine having hundreds of people fresh from Mama's house and supervision, suddenly living all together in their own community of peers is such a hot idea. These are the same "kids" who, just a few months before, had to ask permission to go potty at school. Maybe that's just me thinking aloud... but there seems no middle ground between kindergarteners and high school seniors in terms of freedoms granted/ responsibility learned in public school. (Ok, driving to school doesn't really count if the students are not allowed to leave campus all day. Sorry.)
Back to the subject...
I don't imagine the solution would be to have Big Brother telling me how many bottles of cough syrup I can buy at the pharmacy in case I have a drug habit. I mean, that's like Home Depot forbidding me from buying a hammer in case I murder someone with it later, you know? All right, bad analogy. But I'd like to shop for a cough syrup bargain without reference to the fact that someone ELSE is shopping for this TOTALLY LEGAL product so that she can convert it to meth. See, because I thought meth was illegal? Not cough syrup... I want to buy my cough syrup and have everybody not keep records on how many I bought and my drivers' license number. I can make my own decisions about NyQuil, ok??
Here, I'm criticising the government for regulating something *I* don't have a problem with. Millions of other people DO. Maybe I should be more compassionate about those folks and just deal with a little inconvenience. It would be easier not to start. "Hugs not drugs" and "just say no" is designed for that sort of audience. But those sayings obviously wouldn't work for everyone. You tell the heroin junkie "hugs not drugs" next time he needs a fix. Bring the Care Bear bunch in and do a skit about how users are losers and see if it changes anything.
And I read stories like this and go, good gracious! How could such a thing happen? And I think somehow we have all failed this child. But I can't quite put my finger on how. Please don't interpret that statement to mean that I think the state "village" needs to raise children. I think parents should have absolute say in the raising of their children... but I have to admit that it seems terribly awful if, in the "luck of the draw," your parents are PCP-snorting crazy-o's who also inject crack on the weekends. I suppose that if the state monitored all children, that this boy could have been saved.
Then again, if the state got to decide everything and monitor everything, we'd all be doing drugs and the government would get the tax money. I'm just cynical enough to think that the government doesn't REALLY want anyone to quit smoking when there are Virginia farmers who would get upset about the impact on their business. In addition, tobacco is just such a great source of revenue! Only think how much money Uncle Sam could get if marijuana and cocaine were legalized as well.
Where am I going with this? Well, I'm not sure. I just saw that story this morning and it broke my heart. I started thinking that they need to get those drugs off the street. Then I thought about some of the methods the government would have to use to make it happen. Then I thought that if we had universal healthcare, the father would get some legal oxycontin and be relatively harmless. But I'd be payin' for his oxys.
Then I thought that maybe this dad is gonna wake out of his trip and be really sorry. Then I thought that I ought to feel sorry for him, but I'm too sorry for the little boy to do that.
I really don't know what the answers would be to problems like this. Your thoughts are appreciated. I want to hear what you think about it.
23 May 2009
"I pushed him off because jumpers like Chen are very selfish. Their action violates a lot of public interest," Lai was quoted as saying by Xinhua. "They do not really dare to kill themselves. Instead, they just want to raise the relevant government authorities' attention to their appeals."
You know, in some ways I agree with this fellow. I mean, here are zillions of officers at the scene. Robbery in another part of town? Sorry. Busy talking to indecisive potential suicide guy. Busy blowing up giant inflatable pillow for him to fall on so he can't possibly kill himself. Busy blocking traffic so no one can go about their day. Do you think other people might need to use this highway because a loved one has a medical problem and needs the emergency room? People can and DO die when trying to rescue these people as well. Sure, they can be depressed and sad and despondent, but they ARE selfish. And think of the public money spent on this escapade! It's shocking!
It doesn't follow that I'd break through a police barricade and push him off a bridge! Where does this guy get off deciding when and if the guy should "jump?" I'd be very concerned about random guys interfering in police work if this happens regularly in China. The job is dangerous enough, and the decisions hard enough to make, without having to factor in "random guy off the street" all the time.
Does this sort of thing happen here in America? Because that's scary.
22 May 2009
I just hate not having an answer that is understandable. On a recent oral test, Emperor said, "God, in His wisdom, hath ordained it to be so," after a question asking for a "why" detail. I'm looking for something a little more specific...? And wow, "hath ordained?" Where does he get that stuff? Because I don't talk that way.
Emperor loves to mix up his science and theology. He says things like, SCIENTIFICALLY, if God is all-powerful, he cannot make a rock so big he's unable to move it. Because SCIENTIFICALLY, if he can do everything, God would be able to move whatever He makes. (He's so cute!)
God CAN make a rock that He cannot move, Elf declares. And furthermore, it doesn't have to be a big rock. It could be a tiny pebble.
Not following you there, Elf.
Well, he says, all God would have to do is make a tiny pebble and then say, "I will not move this rock!" and then He wouldn't be able to do it. It is impossible for Him to lie and go against His word. Then the rock would stay there forever.
Hm. I'm wondering what his answer to the "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" would be, but he has evaded me with the question of, how many does God WANT to dance on the head of a pin... and that would be your answer.
Now, how am I ever going to have a good argument with someone like that? You just can't even have a discussion with someone who keeps setting the parameters of the chat all wonky.
Elf has many questions about things that need to be answered, but much as he enjoys science experiments, he likes chatting even more. Elf wants to know WHYYYY the sun burns even though there is no oxygen in space. He has me there, you know, but I don't want to admit it! I mean, I just got done a few days before that admitting I didn't know how coal made electricity.
I told him that he had discovered the secret to the universe by asking the question he did. I told him that it's impossible for the sun to burn with no oxygen. He's right! Now, he realizes that all his existence is nothing but someone's imagination. We aren't REALLY here, you know, Elf. We're just something God imagines. Now that you know that it's impossible for the sun to burn with no oxygen, you know that YOU are impossible to be real, as well.
Oh, goody! And the explanation worked!!! Some little kid got pretty worried there. It's been about a month and a half since that little discussion and sometimes *still,* Elf will ask whether he is real. I have had to admit (AGAIN and again) that I was just playing around with him because I didn't have a good answer about the sun burning. Now I've traumatized my kid. Fiiine. I have to go back and say, "Elf! It was a joke, ok? And you fell for it."
I guess I have to go look up more stuff online and try to figure out some easier explanation for everything that's gonna work for them. I probably shouldn't mess with their little brains *just* because I don't know the answers to their questions. My dad did that with me a lot, and now I have to live in Missouri because if I get too close to the coast, I'm afraid I'll fall off the edge of the world.
But I might just have the children do a research project on the tree octopus, just to see what their thoughts would be on the subject. Bwa ha haaa.
21 May 2009
18 May 2009
I wouldn't defend it as being an intellectually highbrow endeavour when I talk with you on my blog. If your threshold for poor grammar is lower than mine, you're welcome to go elsewhere. Whatever. (See? Fragment. Don't like? Too bad. LOL)
I'm sure that, were I looking to "tag" a building with graffiti, that my primary concern would be not getting caught rather than embarking on some intellectually stimulating discussion in the free marketplace of ideas. So I had to laugh when I read this post at Joanne Jacobs' about a roving grammarian adding fliers to graffiti to help the "artists" do better next time. I'm sure that people who deface property for fun are open to learning proper English and appreciate the free lesson. Though my head swam as I read the following comment excerpted here:
"How about replacing some of those pointless Teacher Ed classes with studies in linguistics? 'Where da bitches at?' is indisputably grammatical in the African American Vernacular English (AAVE) dialect, and indisputably appropriate for an informal genre such as graffiti. It’s sad that Language Arts (English) teachers are often uninformed and uncurious about the facts of language use. What teachers can and should do is help such students to *add* another dialect, Standard American English, and learn the contexts in which its use is appropriate and advantageous."
So... there can't be "proper" and "improper" grammar any more. It isn't even a matter any more WHERE one may speak in slang... it's just your "culture" that you speak improperly. Oh, excuse me! DIFFERENTLY.
Where the common sense at?
By this logic, there is also a Stereotypical Oriental American Vernacular English (SOAVE) that leaves out several articles, as in the phrase, "You get good job? Much Money?" or the Movie-Native American English Language (M-NAVEL) in which one wonders how "heap big much-um money you get-um from job. How." Or the Valley-girl American Vernacular English (VAVE) which, like, totally uses "you know" and all that like, totally regularly. Or the Good Ol' Boy (GOB) dialect that necessitates a rousing "YEEE-haw!" at the end of every country song and/or NASCAR race. And of course we have the Buzzword Or No Employment (BONE) language, which changes every few years but commonly uses "synergy" and "proactive" measures to alter itself to the political climate.
How insulting. How stereotyping of people! I suppose this school of thought came from good motives, as in, we ought not look DOWN on people whose English is not "standard." Further, I can't say I haven't found some "non-standard" English phrases fun and colourful. Or used them myself! I have a real pet peeve for the double negative, but I can certainly listen to the gist of what someone else is saying without reaching for my red marker.
What am I saying? Tolerance, maybe? Understanding? A time to have "consequences" for bad grammar and a time just to listen to what the other person is conveying in his own way?
Um, I hope I don't need to specify that "Where da bitches at?" is probably not going to fit that li'l ol' rubric, though. Nor yet graffiti.
17 May 2009
I was wise and had a chat about that "just in case" before we got to the park.
The thing with Elf is, he's ok sometimes and not other times. I don't feel ok letting him on a ride alone when there is a possibility of his freaking out and doing something foolish. We've had the talk wherein I advise Elf that I am not scared of the ride when I put him on, but what he might do while he is ON the ride. And that the rides are all short and will end soon no matter how scared he is.
But he was terrified! I had to, in anticipation of the big hill at the end of the ride, remind him through his screams of "make the ride stop" and "I want to get off this ride!" that the big hill was coming, and it would then be over and he would be ok... that Mom is here, and Emperor is here, and he's safe if he sits still...
So. We get off the ride at the end. Emperor has been waiting all year for this trip and is disappointed. He is nearly eight. I tell him that if he hangs on properly and is good and still, that he may go on alone.
There was much screaming and begging from Elf.
"PLEASE don't let him go on that ride, Mom! PLEASE don't do that to him! Emperor, don't go!" and similar screamings. You know, as a mom, that's how I feel inside to begin with, and here I have an uber-uber-mom next to me worrying way more than I ever could. After a talk and some hugs that didn't help at all, I got on line with Emperor and Elf so that Emperor could ride the boat alone. Elf is still crying and screaming. Emperor and I discussed that he was just very worried and needed some time to get used to the idea. I could tell that Emperor was feeling guilty about going on the ride, and tried to assure him that this was just Elf worrying, and Mom isn't worried... and go and have a good time. Elf will get used to it! (And Emperor needs to have as normal a life as possible, don't you think?)
Elf watched Emperor get on the boat and screamed a grief-stricken, "Good-byyye, Emperor! *sob* I will miss youu!"
Yeah, the staff loved us.
I brought Elf over to the exit ramp where we could see the big hill and explained to Elf that Emperor would be ok, and we will watch the hill and see him. He had a terrified look as Emperor came down the hill... but was very relieved to see his brother again.
Emperor wanted to ride again. Elf was still a bit upset, but the begging and screaming had stopped. Now he was just resigned. By the time we finished waiting on line and Emperor's ride was over, he seemed very calm. We even looked at some of the pics of Emperor going down the hill. Elf seemed to be a little glad for Emperor, even if he was unable to go on the ride just then.
Puzzling, as he used to love that ride.
Well, off to another ride. The Fjord Fairlane, with little cars that go in a circle about 20 feet in the air. Tame. Elf has loved this ride. So on we go. Looks like they changed the ride so only two people can sit down at a time. No way I am leaving Elf up there without his mom. Emperor must be ready to go alone, and I will sit with Elf.
But when the ride began, the screaming started from Elf. He wants the ride to stop! It's too scary! He doesn't remember it going this high! or this fast! And I had to hold onto him and remind him that the ride only lasts about three minutes... (but that's too long! Elf says.) I keep him talking about how we can see the trains later, etc.
Emperor wants to go on the ride again!
Bye, Emperor. Come over here, Elf, and we can watch. Elf calms down a bit while Emperor rides this, and contents himself with reading the legal notices on the sides of the ride. Well, until I explained, in answer to his question, what the "inherent risks" of riding the rides might be.
I thought we would be in for a doozy of a bad time at that point. We could all at least agree that getting an ICEE was a good idea, though, and we all participated in that. Next off to the trains.
I thought this would be a steam train, and it sure looks like the old steam trains used to. Until you get up close. No coal box. No fireman shoveling the coal into the furnace. The engineer brought the boys up to see the workings. It looks like the steam is heated by propane or something... it's still run by steam, but not like I expected.
Elf was happy on this ride. Emperor was happy on this ride.
The boys did the Merry-Go-Round. Elf is going on to the horse and hanging on. Yep, I'm the worried mom of an almost nine-year-old kid shouting from the sidelines that "You can do this!" and "Go, Elf!" while all the other moms have let their two-year-olds on alone without that much fanfare and are hardly paying attention.
LOL... yeah, and we get quizzical looks. This lady named her kid "Elf?" I'm at the point in my parenting career where I don't explain anything to anybody unless I absolutely have to. Whatever.
Emperor and Elf have agreed on this ride and get on it again and again. They scream at each other about who can't catch up and I'm beating you in this race... Once Emperor sat in the little sleigh seat and screamed, "HO HO HO" through the whole ride. Ok, I guess the sleigh does kind of look like Santa's.
Emperor wanted to do the Kangaroo hopper ride next. Elf said it was way too scary. I sent Emperor over while I took Elf to the bathroom.
Poor Emperor returned in tears! That lady said (sob) that I'm too big and (snuff) not allowed to ride this ride, ever!
Really? You're only seven! Let's go look and clear this up.
Sure enough, Emperor towers over the 54 inch stick they use to measure the biggest you can be to get on the ride. And a closer look shows me his legs wouldn't even fit inside anyway. Emperor is in tears, so I let him decide what we will do next. Ok?
He decides it's time to go to the Camp Snoopy section of the park. (I knew it was a bad idea to let him decide!!) Guess what the height limit is to almost every ride in that park?
The rides are very tame there, and frankly made for toddlers. Elf LOVED this place, and he is small enough (being an elf and all) that even at almost nine, he can get into all the rides. Yes, he was on the kiddy plane, waving to Mom with a big, "Look at me! I'm on a plaaaane!" while Emperor was crying his eyes out and blowing his nose on a napkin.
Charlie Brown and Snoopy saw him and came over to hug him. Emperor was snuffling about how unfair it was... he's still a little kid... A staff member came over in the commotion and suggested the Wacky Worm ride.
It was perfect.
It wasn't a crowded day, and the worm ride is a mini-roller coaster. Tame, but enough fun that Emperor enjoyed it. Elf went on a couple times, but they allowed Emperor just to sit for every ride since there wasn't a line. I think he spent an hour just going round and round on the Wacky Worm ride while Elf did the mini-kiddie rides 20 feet away.
By the end of the day, I was pretty tired. We looked at the prices for food ($3 for ONE cookie!) and decided to forego souvenirs and go to a good dinner at Longhorn. Overall we had a great time, though Patrick was drenched because he stood (on purpose!) on a bridge where the water rides splash with great regularity.
16 May 2009
I've noticed on my sitemeter that someone popped by from Tennessee under the search words "can being locked in a closet cause behavior problems." (My heart sank into my stomach when I read that. Did you know I show up number two on that Google search?) Later, I received a comment from a distraught mother relating that HER autistic son was being locked up in a closet at school in Tennessee.
May God bless her as she figures out what she needs to do long-term.
I've left Erica a comment indicating some websites she can visit. I was tempted to overload her with about 20, but I left two. Sometimes when you're going through things, it's hard to even think straight. I know when I was going through things with Elf, it was somewhere between difficult and impossible to even function.
Erica relates that she is now homeschooling, but doesn't seem to feel very happy about it. She feels it's unfair. I'm so hearing you on this, Erica. I know you are going to get *so* much out of spending that time learning with your child, but I'm hearing you. It ISN'T fair. It ISN'T what you signed up for. Hard enough that your child has all these problems, but others are abandoning you just when you feel you could use some help. These experts, who are supposed to have these proven methods to make things better, are abusive and make things even worse.
I hear you. I really do.
But I would submit to you and my readers out there that a mediocre-to-crummy education, given with love, is going to produce a far better citizen than a good-to-great education doled out with abuse. Children growing up without acceptance of their disability ARE going to have behaviour problems. It doesn't have to be. You love your son and are investing all this time and energy into his life right now. It isn't for nothing. I believe in healing. Oh, no, I'm not excusing what the school did. At all. But I believe in healing.
I also believe in God and prayer, and that He can work miracles. Though as a mom of three autistic kiddos, I can tell you straight-up that they aren't always the miracles you're praying for.
Would you like to pop over to Erica's, or do you have some advice you'd like to offer here? I have a feeling she will be back to look from time to time as I will go back shortly and leave a link to this post on her blog. Thanks!
15 May 2009
14 May 2009
I like easter. My favarite thing about it is hunting eggs. The eggs represent Gods blood. The backround represents sin. East is great. Don't you think? The real reason of easter is God rising again. (by Emperor)
I like Eeaster for a lots of stuff. The main thing of Eeaster is Jesus rising again. It's fun to die eggs too. It has nice chocolate. Cute bunnys are there too. I like Eeaster is a nice holoday. There is also good books in Eeaster. (by Elf)
The words "Easter" and "favorite" are going to have to be added to next week's spelling list. Does that mean the children will spell them correctly next time they're writing on the subject? No. I keep doing these writing prompts and chatting a bit about grammar and whatnot afterward. We've gotten to the point where we can do one short paragraph as above. All the sentences at least vaguely relate to the topic, which is a big accomplishment.
How should I help the children incorporate better sentence structure? I'm concerned because they speak this way as well. It isn't as though I'm telling the children that I like Easter for a lots of stuff in my usual day-to-day speech. Yet, they get it from somewhere. I know we have autism in the family and it may express itself in language difficulties, but I don't want to just blame all of our language snags on that.
I have some of those exercise workbooks and I think that a short daily practice will be beneficial. We do our journaling once each week and learn grammar from Bob Jones. The strange thing is that these children can tell a noun from an adverb, a declarative sentence from a command, distinguish between linking and auxiliary verbs (they're called "helping" verbs right now, but still) and yet their sentences lack good structure.
I made it through college barely knowing a noun from a verb. I "just know" my spelling, and I can "just tell" when a sentence is wonky. I might correct a poor sentence without knowing that the thing I fixed was a subject-verb agreement problem. I'm learning the grammar along with my children so now I can tell them WHY they need the corrections.
Some of the worksheets are rather problematic, however. They may ask things like, why did Sara's mom think that Sara had "ants in her pants?" And I would get an answer about bugs.
13 May 2009
You dorks. I can tell you that "best practices" stuff for absolutely free, and you wouldn't even have to violate anyone's privacy to do it.
How about for starters we quit locking kids in closets for acting all disabled? Then maybe doing that thing called "listening to the parents" when they have a concern or want to actually, you know, sorta help craft that IEP might be nice. Another thing y'all should do is called "listen to the experts." When the parents have gone to the time and trouble of seeking out a specialist that knows a lot more than your ditzy special ed coordinator who attended a workshop on all this once (and most of the workshop consisted of legal ways to get out of helping the kid? Betya.), please just take a minute to listen to the advice they give. In retrospect, these special ed people were not ditzy. They were dang malicious because they KNEW what Elf needed to succeed and couldn't give a rip because it would cost them money and get them some heat from the people above them. How many people risked their jobs to say that what happened to Elf was wrong? How many people made any sort of formal complaint, or informed me about useful things to do that might force the district's hand?
I'll give you a hint... It's a round number.
I realize it might cost you a few pennies to implement these things in school. Hey, it might cost a lot of pennies. Don't like it? I'll be happy to sign petitions to our government asking it to please NOT link services to the disabled through the public schools for people ages three through 21. I think family-centered therapy would be much more in keeping with serving the needs of the truly disabled.
Sorry, but Joey switching a couple letters around or Sammy getting hyper and needing an extra recess ain't a disability. You might get FUNDED by the state as though it were, but it just isn't a disability like "blindness" or "having no legs" and that sort of thing is. That's why I don't think you guys really know a disability when you see it. Disability isn't always obvious like "blindness" or "having no legs."
Welcome to the 21st century. There's this thing called autism? And a lot of people have it? And I don't care so much about the cause, but I DO care that there isn't much REAL HELP out there for these children. In my price range, anyway. Sometimes when I see stories about "recovery" like this one, I want to just
Oh, how did that get deleted?
Can I mention without getting too personal the toll this sort of thing takes on a marriage? Things were AWFUL here right before Elf got taken out of school. Just awful. I'd have to pick the crying kid up. Hold that little shaking child as he begs me PLEASE don't send me back to this horrible place. Come home and fight with D as he thinks we need to give the school a "chance" (those bastards!) and he's going back tomorrow.
Think of my options.
Divorce? Great. Then I could be a single working parent, and have to send my kids back to school AND have no time in my schedule to pick the poor child up. Then instead of being in the closet for 20 minutes, he'd be there all. day. long. That would work! He'd lose a parent and we'd all of us get even more stress than we're already going through.
Prayer? Yeah, I guess that finally "worked," but do you know how hard it is to send your child into an abusive environment? To KNOW that it's abusive and not be able to say anything? To KNOW that you'd just BETTTTTTER get along with these people and try to be on their good side, because your husband won't back you up if you withdraw the kid and stomp out the door? To tell them oh... it's ok... don't worry... we'll have a better day tomorrow... and lie because you have to, when really you wish that
So, in conclusion, my heart goes out to those families who, for whatever reason, we left in school. And knowing we may be one of "those families" soon.
Woodjie says a couple words, but D thinks Woodjie will go to school if things aren't better. You define better. Yeah.
What am I going to do if things aren't "better?" Look at my options above. They really... stink. And to think I might have to interact with the same people who did all this to Elf, daily... and have to hear about how Woodjie is making "poor choices" and live with the fact that D doesn't want to do the lawyer thing...
I hate the whole idea. Not to be too melodramatic, but I would hate my whole life if it came to that. I can't imagine. And Woodjie doesn't even have the words to tell these people off.
This is one bad law. I just have enough to fight without this.
11 May 2009
They WERE just alike. I can remember as a little girl being able to tell them apart easily, but other people had trouble. You just knew the difference; there was something different about them, but I couldn't tell you exactly what it was. My uncle grew a beard as he got older and the family joke was that he was the "evil" twin (if you've seen the Star Trek episode with Spock in the alternate universe, you know what I'm talking about).
My uncle later bought my grandparents' house in Chappaqua, NY, and family gatherings continued there well into my teenage years. He and his wife were excellent hosts and fun parents. I always knew the rules were more lax at this place, and the snacks were there for the taking. And they had *good* snacks, too, not the old Saltine crackers with peanut butter stuff we always had to take when we went places. My uncle was cool, and a very funny guy.
Since the 1990's, my father and uncle would send emails daily. Sure, they were mostly cheesy and contained bouncing happy faces and silly jokes, but every night it was nice to check my inbox and see their notes to each other, cc'd to the whole family. He sent one late Saturday night about how he was getting this and that together for an upcoming meeting, and he was going to bed.
Early on Mother's Day, we received a phone call relating that my uncle is gone. He was only 59. My family is devastated. Would you please pray for them? My father will have a very hard time with his birthday soon. There will be no call or email from his twin waiting on that day. My aunt will spend her first Father's Day as a widow, and her (thankfully grown) children will not have their father with them.
My heart goes out to them all.
09 May 2009
I've learned better, though, and not just through my experience with Elf in public school. Here's what I mean: We'd keep getting calls and newsletters about please join the PTA, this or that committee, blah blah. Then when you join, the public school staff TELLS you what you are doing. They TELL you that the Box Tops money should go for a new playground or whatever.
And um, if I'm on a curriculum committee, shouldn't I be able to select ANY sort of reasonably secular material for the children? No? It has to be "Show Me Standards" this and "Aligned with District Expectations" that, so you get a choice of two, but then they tell you the other is way expensive and ask you to only recommend "this" one. Here you go! Now write a report about how great it is and recommend it for us, wouldya? Um. So yeah, I skipped bothering with that one. That committee is a two year commitment, and I just have other things to do than to play that rubberstamp game. Smart move on my part, but then I didn't get a "say" in the curriculum, did I?? So I have no right to complain when they pick out something really dopey...
Or, we're redistricting! We want parent input! Once you're on the committee, the district tells you that any redistricting has to work out so that there are certain numbers of socioeconomically deprived kids in each district (map already looks wonky when you do that). AND we want the races equally distributed (more wonky) AND it has to go with efficient bus routing...By the time you're finished, you might as well have had zero input. Actually it's worse than zero because they give you the IDEA that you have some say-so.
Is it any surprise that parents on the whole are uninvolved??? It shouldn't be.
I know teachers can have some crappy-o parents. Hey, I read some of their blogs and I also know what a pain in the patootie some of these kids can be. I live with a few myself, but I can only imagine what a hard job that is with 30 to a room. Actually, more for the having to deal with other people thing than anything else, what with my being an introvert and all.
And I know that your school has 575 other students, but see... this one is *my* kid. Maybe I'm a little overly picky. I can give on some things, but I *twitch* can't stand *twitch* stupidity. Some things the school system does are just stupid. I'm getting older and maybe not wiser. Maybe I'm just more lazy and recognize the futility of banging my head against the wall on some of these things... so I've quit doing it.
What do you think being an "involved parent" should look like?
08 May 2009
07 May 2009
Well, Joe linked to a recent story about a fellow who allegedly shocked his four children with dog collars and compared it to the treatment autistic people receive at the Judge Rotenberg Center in Massachusetts:
"Now the only problem is that the dog collar that Marcum used was probably a lot less powerful than the one that is routinely used at the JRC. The dog collar is a small, self contained unit, while the JRC devices need a backpack to haul around. The dog collar will stimulate for up to a half second, while the 'GED' devices used by the JRC will shock you for up to 2 seconds."
"I found out while poking around that dog collars are subject to legal regulations, which state (amongst other things) that they can be applied for no more than 12 hours in any 24 hour period, and they can't put out more than 15 milliamps root mean square. The JRC uses devices that put out an average (not maximum of 15 milliamps RMS, and a maximum of 45 milliamps RMS (fully three times as powerful as the maximum allowed for a dog collar)."
My neighbours used to have a really BAD dog that would bite children. He was *supposed* to have gotten rid of it. It was on one of those electric fence things, except this guy was cheap and didn't even bother to bury it in his back yard. The dog would constantly escape and it seemed to me that each time he was "out," he was more scary than the last.
Autistic people are not animals! But the principle of 'training' your animal or child... of supervising and instructing, remains the same. I have to wonder if that BAD dog began as a bad dog, or if he were just a neglected dog turned angry. Well... anyway. No, I don't mean to suggest my children are performing in a poodle circus, but that when we encounter hitting, we tell the child "no" and offer alternatives, or find out WHY the behaviour continues... or... well, we do something other than zapping the kid, I'm thinking. Eventually, the child learns other methods of negotiation or anger management. (That's what I mean by "training," especially since we have no musical, showbiz or circus talent here. Sorry to disappoint.)
Oh, hey! That reminds me that I want to show you all my new ring soon. Our speech therapist got it for us and I put it together. Off to take a picture!
06 May 2009
It makes me want to DO something about it. So I write. I hope you're reading.
Contrary to celebrity yapping on tv today, abuse is not inadequate teaching of Darwinism in private homes. Abuse, REAL and SERIOUS abuse, can happen at home or, as this blog post will discuss, at school. Abuse happens when children are locked in closets, slapped, strapped to chairs, belittled before peers and not having their educational needs met by the people who are paid by the taxpayers to do so.
"The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) today released a report asking Congress to stop the use of restraints, seclusion, and aversives upon children with disabilities in school. The report entitled, Unsafe In The Schoolhouse: Abuse Of Children With Disabilities, details 143 incidents of the use of abusive interventions against children with disabilities in school. The report also includes suggested legislative remedies." (Excerpt of a press release, found on Missouri: Families Against Seclusion and Restraint blog, though I added the link in the middle of the quote.)
Of particular concern is the fact that many of these documented incidents occurred in young children:
"The relative ages of the children can also underscore the imbalance that occurs
in schools between larger, older adults and young children. Approximately
86% of the children were under age 14. Of course, mistreating older teenagers
is as wrong as mistreating preschoolers. Abusive techniques should never be
used with any child or person with a disability--no matter how old they may be.
People with disabilities are often at special risk of abuse. This is particularly
true of children and teens with cognitive, developmental, emotional, and
If I may...
It's much easier to bully a tiny kid than it is a huge hulking teen. I'll bet you most of these teachers didn't start out their day with, "I think today I'll pick on a little kid and strap her to a chair. That would be fun!" But I will say that during the course of "difficult interactions," the staff is going to think twice before sending my 6 ft. 1 inch kid to a closet. First off, they're going to have quite the physical fight on their hands if they try to make him do something against his will. Second, my son can not only speak, but he can remember faces and names. I'm not going to say he's completely safe. I'm just going to say that it's a lot less likely for G to be placed in a potentially abusive situation than a small six-year-old.
Wouldn't YOU be more likely to "talk out" problems with this great big kid than try to physically force him into a chair or closet? Right now, the staff is working well with G, and most of my concern is for the other families out there. What would happen to families like ours if things fell apart at school?
I hope that Congress listens to what the report says. As much as I believe in local control of schools, I also believe that a child's civil rights are violated every time something like this is practiced. It's time that we protected all of our citizens. These children cannot advocate for themselves.
04 May 2009
Be sure to go to the website at the end of this presentation and click on the flowers to see if you can EVER appreciate your mom enough. Nope, you can't. I myself tried to scoot the "things my mom does for me" flower way down and my appreciation flower way up, but it looks like no one can ever appreciate Mom enough. Are you reading this, everyone *cough* who happens to live with me and is over the age of five *cough*. You know, I just had to post this after I literally typed up a great big long set of rules (subject to change without notice!) that I will LAMINATE and post on unnamed teenage boys' bedroom wall soon. Yes, it contains a Preamble and six Articles in which the authority of Parenthood is supreme. I'm sure the boys will appreciate the addition to the decor. Thanks, Knifty's blog for the link!
02 May 2009
01 May 2009
Ok, not really. HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff says that in the event of a legal challenge, unexpected custody dispute or child welfare investigation, these records could prove invaluable. "None of the parents we've been called on to help in these circumstances ever dreamed they would be facing such a difficult situation. Unfortunately, tragedies do occur. Since no parents know for sure whether they will ever be in this situation, it's wise to keep a full set of records."
Wow, you'd be surprised to see how "full" the fullness of the full really is when they talk about "full." Oh, and while I'm on the topic, the records they want you to keep on special-needs children borders on the astoundingly difficult and expensive. The magazine doesn't do it justice, but I have called in the past for specific guidelines when I was looking into homeschooling G.
(Aside: Public school works for G right now. I just wanted to know because he was moving up to the junior high level this year... new building for him... new staff. They were getting ready to do his three-year eval at school and I called HSLDA for friendly input. You never know what they'll find after these evals and I wanted to be prepared for what-ifs.
HSLDA has a bad rap for being very down on the public schools, but I need to tell you that the special-needs staffwoman I spoke with was very helpful and supportive. She asked *me* what I would prefer as a parent, and I told her that I was already homeschooling another autistic child and would prefer to keep this one in school if I possibly could. And she told me that she would try to help me plan within that framework and gave me some ideas. *whew*
Anyway, please don't get down on the HSLDA people for being anti-public school. They've seen some bad horror stories, I'm sure. I wonder about the stories we don't hear about...but I digress...)
The guidelines for homeschooling G? Document that you are doing therapies for the child. For us, that would mean getting him speech and social skills therapies. Right there, the money we're talking about is pretty high. Occupational therapy. You need some sort of testing or evaluation done twice a year to show progress. Keep this in your records. You need to write a student plan just as if you were making an IEP, with measurable goals and etc.
Ok, good luck with that. My head hurts even thinking about it. I'm not sure I'd do *all* that if I had to homeschool G. Theoretically, I suppose I should be doing all that with Elf since he has been documented as autistic. But he does his English and math work just like anybody else. Sure, a little trubbl with the speling, but I think at least a sizeable minority of boys his age have the same difficulties with writing. He can read quite well. In short, he can do anything anyone else can do except sit in a class with bunches of other children without special help.
You'd be amazed at what the medical and school people wanted to do with this child. They wanted him to be on meds. Heavy meds. I'm ok with medicines if they're genuinely needed. I think some of us Christians get a bit overly leery of the drugs and the good things they can do, but I also am not so foolish as to believe that the drugmakers have no influence on prescribing decisions. In any event, if changes in how we handle the child don't help, or if the child has a demonstrable need for a medicine, fine. I don't think he did. But I think having him home suddenly cured him of his autism! Just imagine! As long as he never has to go out into the real world and earn a living, or attend a college away from Mom and Dad, as long as he can do all his learning in his living room and see children outside his family only on Wednesdays and Sundays at church, he's just fine.
Yes, I know I am borrowing time with this little boy. But I just can't see sending him back into a world that he finds so hostile that medicine starts to look like a palatable option. He's a wonderful person, and if he's supported, he can be creative and productive. Too many people around is just too much for him. I don't know what we will do in the future. I guess we'll figure that out in the future.
Honestly, my concern in educating G is to just get that diploma and who cares if he spells "Russia" with three R's and an -sh? If he were homeschooled, I'd have to put him in the third grade class with Elf and Emperor and he'd get angry because some of this stuff is *still* too hard for him. Bless him, but G thinks Elf and Emperor are amazing smart, smarter than any of the kids he goes to school with. That's just not true. It's just that G has a learning disability, so the kids he goes to class with are different, too. At home, it would be very tough to get some sort of "diploma" for him. The public school can modify until G "makes it." When I modify, it's just Mom lowering the bar and printing his diploma at Kinko's.
That's just an unfair way of looking at homeschooling, but I have to be practical about such matters when deciding where to educate him.
And yet we are dealing with a disability here. Bummer for you if your child has a learning disability and you want his accomplishments recognized outside public school. Bummer for you if you want to homeschool with the same budget you use for the other children in your family. I know there is a little special-needs stuff "out there," but anyone who has seriously priced a workable option will be sobered quickly.
But back to record-keeping.
I have pictured above the math books Emperor and Elf finished JUST TODAY and the journal I've been recording their hours in. There is also a stack of three-ring-punched, yarn-bound school papers. I'm thinking for an eight and seven-year-old, I don't have to be nearly so freaked out about documenting every little class, lesson plan and etc. that I would if they were in high school. Perhaps if they're cooking I might mention what they're making. Then again, I might not. In science, if we're studying plants, I might not write that we did p. 40 in the textbook and 12 in the workbook and had a 20-minute discussion following about stems. I might just take the total and write 2 in the margin and then "science." At the end of the day, I add up all the hours and write that next to the date. Each month, say, I would write that we are learning about plants in science and fractions in math or whatever the case may be. Easy.
I still wish I didn't have to do it.
One thing that bothers me about some of the HSLDA defences of member families is that when new laws are proposed, HSLDA will argue that the current law does a great job of making sure parents are educating their children. Argh.
Or I'll hear moms go, wow, that state-required testing took 3 months and $9,000 out of my pocket (ok, slight exaggeration here), but it was great because I learned about how my children met the state standards! Argh. I guess if you have a special-needs child, it might be worth it for practical purposes, for *yourself* to know what you're up against and cover your bottom... and you have to do what you have to do to keep your kids, and if that means testing then so be it. But... argh. Shhh. Please don't write that! I love ya, but please don't write that! So it was worth the money for YOU, and how much did it cost all the other homeschoolers, total, for this test? You're glad that this was a requirement? Sigh. Can't you just be GLAD you took the test and leave it at that?
Worse yet, don't say things like that within earshot of your state rep. He'll think that that means testing is a great thing and then he'll make EVERYONE do twice as much the following year. More laws always seem to be good laws with these people, and a they need a little reminder every now and then that no one is "getting away" with anything by not providing every bit of information the state ever wanted to know about homeschooled children. Don't you get me started on the census people (read it from Jenn instead!). Ok, at least I don't see any of you guys blogging about what a blessing the long forms and various "surveys" could be...
Or I'll see people go, I'm so GLAD I went through the "grovelling" process with our local whatevers so I could have permission to homeschool. You know, it turns out the state-required inspector of my house was also a Christian and it was really a BLESSING to get to talk with her. So when I kissed her ring, signed allegiance to Beezlebub, and gave a detailed course outline down to the type of pencil we'd be using, it felt like ((love)). Argh. Glad it worked for ya, but can you at least ideologically say that the rules are crap? At least in theory? Please?
Another thing, people. If you homeschool for religious reasons, and then pick curriculum on purpose so that it aligns with state standards... aaaargh! Just.. aaargh. I'm thinking of one good friend of mine in particular who highly recommended Alpha Omega because it was aligned with California state standards. We don't have "state standards" for homeschooling in Missouri. Just a certain number of hours in each subject in a record-book. Well, I suppose those are "state standards..." I got confused, because I was new to homeschooling. So I got brave and asked... why don't you just use your Bible and figure out the standards? I mean, CALIFORNIA?? As a standard for Christians?
Are there even Christians in California anymore?
It was like her whole body shot out of the chair. Mrs. C, you're right!
Hey, I still like Alpha Omega stuff... I mean, don't get rid of it just because the Californians like it... I'm just not into it for the stupid California standards.
And yeah, I've met some wonderful Christians online since having that conversation. I had been wondering why the fire and sulfur thing hadn't happened, but turns out God knew more than me and there were at least ten good men out that way. :]
Do you keep records in your homeschool? I keep a few things even for my public-schooled children.