30 April 2011
A simple library book or three can help you learn which pieces move and how. Ages ago, we bought some sort of chess disk to play on the computer. Software isn't very expensive. For that matter, you can play for free online at http://www.chesskid.com/ or http://www.chess.com/. We bought "premium" memberships in chesskid after we tried it out for a while and figured that it was something we would really use. There are videos and tactics exercises galore.
One book I found pops up for sale frequently with homeschool curriculum providers is Starting Chess. My nine-year-old, Emperor, took a look at it lately and declared it far too simple. Which to me means that it likely is a truly "starting chess" sort of a book that most anyone would find understandable. Currently we are working through the Simon and Schuster Pocket Book of Chess. I'd recommend it for a middle school through adult beginner. It contains some basic tactic puzzles and teaches algabraic notation (the current standard) after a brief introduction of the pieces and their moves.
There are a good number of youtube videos and websites devoted to chess and chess tactics as well.
We've found there is a chess club and a chess league not too far from where we live. We've been playing at the league level for about 6 months and now we are ready to try going to the club each week. I don't think we'll ever get as ambitious as our friends who are going to NATIONALS this week in Dallas (Good luck, S family!!), but I think we'll always enjoy the game.
29 April 2011
Elf said he was veryy quiet and made a cutout picture of some kind in that art class for the school art fair, did you know that? That was fun. Art class is *great.* Maybe the art teacher is great, too, but had a bad day because of the "massacre" that happened before. Mom, what is a "massacre?"
In class, sometimes they play games. Elf won a grape pop! It was super cold because it had been in the freezer. Mom doesn't usually give grape pop. School is *great!*
Every week, they get to watch a movie. This one was a ghost story and a lot of the kids were screaming and scared. Was Elf? Welll, let him just say that it *was* sort of a scary story with a surprising part to it. He got to eat his lunch by the screen. Mom doesn't let him mix up his movies with his meals.
They also have "PE" in school. They will not let him run or play because of his broken bones. He has to stand or sit to the side with a couple of other children who are also not allowed in PE. That part of school *would* be great, but isn't right now. Elf is sure he can do bunches of pushups when he is allowed.
Elf's teacher is also really *great.* He can teach better than his mom! Mr. McC says this part of his starting school is called a "honeymoon" and that we should enjoy it while we can. :)
28 April 2011
The news stories seem to indicate that Phoebe Prince was very wild and unstable. She apparently stole boyfriends and didn't understand why people wound up hating her for her manipulation. It appears she had mental problems and her mother, on at least one occasion, left her alone at night. (Trouble, of course, ensued.)
Phoebe later killed herself after the chickens came home to roost with interest. Now the "bullies" are up on criminal charges and the grieving if somewhat inept mom is Scot-free.
It isn't nice to call someone an Irish slut. Or a whore. Or a c-word. But at the same time, I could picture myself at 15 or 16 saying that sort of thing to someone if she were sleeping around with my boyfriend and some other fellows. I could also easily imagine getting together with friends and snickering about her and/or gossiping. Spreading rumours about her on facebook and just about everywhere else. I'm not saying it's RIGHT. But I'd like to think it isn't criminal, particularly as it's somewhat instigated behaviour.
Bullying isn't always very clear-cut. Often the person bullied has contributed in some way to the problem. And sometimes what appears to be bullying on the surface is tit for tat sort of stuff that escalates. It would be easy to defend against libel if Prince were a public figure; the kids would simply show that what they have said is TRUE. Chick is sleeping around? Check. And is Irish? Check. Um, "Irish slut" would sorta fit there...
So I'm very concerned that everything seems to be labelled as "criminal bullying" now. If the other teens had threatened bodily injury to the "Irish slut," or in some other way done something a reasonable person would find frightening, that would be more in line with what I feel ought be prosecuted. If you've seen bullying, REAL bullying, where kids are smacked around and constantly belittled for things they can't help such as a disability, you'd understand that having people just plain old hate you and call you names because of stupid crap YOU DID, that YOU KNOW is stupid and wrong, should NOT count. "Bullying" should really imply some sort of defenselessness on the victim's part or some sort of threat or intimidation.
Now, wait. I'm not saying that these other kids were all nice or that nothing should be done about their mean-ness. If it's true that there were several yelling at her and throwing stuff, punish them for THAT. Not criminal charges for her death.
It just seems everyone wants to blame the schoolyard "bully" without looking at the entire picture. When someone dies, it shouldn't erase every blemish of the character of that person. It is considered impolite to speak ill of the dead but I think somebody probably has to to defend some living teenagers who are probably going through their own special hell right now.
The truth is that Phoebe's actions (or those of anyone who actually kills him/herself) were likely either borne of selfishness or mental illness. I would be inclined to think the latter.
This kid *should* have been ostracised for the way she acted. Not screamed at and having stuff thrown at her, but hello... you just CANNOT act the way she allegedly did and not expect a social consequence. The young lady should have learned a lesson from this ostracism, vowed never to have sex again before marriage, and apologized nicely to all the affected parties. The mother should have then taught her wayward daughter that yes, everyone will now shun you throughout your high school years. This is the price you pay for acting like a jerk. Stop acting like one.
Maybe I'm being too blunt. But this was a real child who did something horrible, drastic and wayyyy worse than what the so-called bullies could ever perpetrate. Her parents either let her get out of control, or needed and were unable to obtain enough help for their daughter. If I were the defense attorney for these kids, I'd want to know what the hey about why the parents aren't being prosecuted for negligence. You don't just leave a mentally ill and sexually active teen alone overnight unless someone cuts your leg off and you need to drive yourself to the emergency room, yk? But it may just be that these are simply fallible human parents who desperately wanted mental health help for their little girl and were unable to find any that really made any difference.
People aren't all good or evil. They just seem to be drawn that way in the news...
27 April 2011
26 April 2011
25 April 2011
You get ready for a trip to Italy, and you learn Italian, and you're all ready to eat the native foods and go to the native places and see the sights, but you get dumped off in Holland. Then somehow you're la-la-la-ing your way through Holland, clicking your wooden clogs happily and revelling in the blessings of tulips and windmills. This, or so the analogy goes, is just how it feels to have a "special" child, and aren't we all glad we're in Holland together?
Dang straight, I'm not. Twerp alert: I paid for Italy. I'm feeling gypped.
And gimme a break. Don't even tell me that the second you got off that plane, that you wouldn't be yelling at every single ticket agent, the pilot, the stewardesses, the radar tower people, God and some random puppy that got in your way that day. (No, you'd kick the puppy. You're just that mad.) I'm telling you, I'd have the most colossal temper fit you'd ever seen, right in the airport. It would look something like this, but you have to picture this scene with a middle-aged fat white woman roly-polying all over the ground and snotting everywhere.
But the analogy isn't really a fair one. Because really, you're IN ITALY but no longer able to speak Italian with the people who surround you. You can no longer eat the foods you wanted to eat or go to the places you wanted to see as a parent. Sure, you can love your little Dutchman and pinch his little Campbell's soup kid cheeks, and you can rejoice in the fact that your child is a gift from God. And you can yodel with him or whatever it is that those Dutch people do. (I know they don't yodel... that was just me trolling for comments by being provocative.)
That doesn't mean that when your child doesn't speak and the other kids the same age in the church nursery are using the potty and giving an entire monologue, that you don't feel jealous. And angry. Why are we all working so hard, and things are still difficult?
It doesn't mean you don't want to smack some people upside the head, either. Do you know how aggravating it is to deal with stares and comments, knowing this is some horrible joke God is playing on your poor child? Here, you can be reasonably assured the know-it-all who advises you on child rearing in the local Wal-Mart hasn't had to deal with one stinkin' tenth of the problems you've been handling. And her kids don't have one stinkin' tenth of the obstacles to overcome your child does.
You feel jealous of the easy life those people have. You wish *you* had the easy life with *your* children and that you could be the one giving the stupid advice to Ms. Stupid and the Stupid Twins on checkout aisle 15. But nooooo. God puts all this on your family, and then you're supposed to suck it up and be gracious.
It isn't fair. Not that I'm doing so hot on the being gracious thing, and not that I'm doing so hot on even caring about not doing so hot on the being gracious thing. I just don't have any energy left to do that, you know?
Arg. Well, I'm glad that at least later in the video interview, Franklin Graham clarified that we DON'T know how "every eye will see" Jesus returning to earth but that he IMAGINES that social media could be a part of that process. I don't know. The whole thing comes off as kinda nutty to me. Your thoughts?
23 April 2011
But I do find that having homeschooled, I am changed. I know that at any time, all I have to do is send in a form that I'll be homeschooling Elf thankyouuuu, and I will never have to send him back. My husband was reluctant to allow Elf to homeschool, but he now understands that though there ARE some drawbacks to homeschooling for our family, there are some very big positives as well. And we've had the opportunity to enjoy those for 4 1/2 years.
I know that public school teachers can be wonderful and helpful and kind, and there are classes Elf will be taking that I don't have the time or patience for at home. But I know now that I don't NEED them. I would, at this point, LIKE for them to be a part of Elf's life. Everyone at the new elementary (I demanded a different one than the closet-locking one, you betya) seems so kind and concerned that Elf have a smooth transition. I can't tell you how many phone calls and caring questions I've had about how best to acclimate him.
I think that going to school part-time will be very good for him. But I also think it is very good for ME as a parent to know that I'm not just stuck with whatever I get. I'm actually very impressed with the staff at "Oak Tree Elementary" and the very second I'm not? He doesn't have to stay. I decide how long I'm going to try to work it out and what my next step will be.
I don't know how to put it, but just that knowledge changes you. It changes school from being a prison to a place we'd like to go to learn and see friends. He doesn't have to go. And that makes all the difference.
22 April 2011
21 April 2011
20 April 2011
I'm the bad neighbour who says NO to every fundraiser known to Man. Too bad if you don't like it, but I just don't have time or energy to mess with forms, pay money, wait around and get stuff and distribute it and/or explain to my husband why I spent $42 on gift items. Oh, yeahhhh the Sally Foster gift wrap with the glitter on it was niiice stuff. Was it $8 nice for a little roll? Point taken.
"Most parents and school supporters will tell you that they would welcome an end to the annual sales of candy, candles, wrapping paper, magazines, cookie dough and other products they neither want nor need. For many parents, these fundraisers are a financial burden." Duh, this quote came from....
Wait for it...
A fundraiser for schools!
You knew it, didn't you? But this one is different and maybe a little scary. "Power for Schools" will give YOU the best residential rate through your electric company. Then the schools get a kickback, Mafia style. And boyo, with over 200,000 students, the schools in Houston are gonna get rich. Can you imagine, your electric company tangled up with the schools? Don't you get the superintendent all mad at you or the lights are gonna go out. And I mean all the way out.
Ok. Maybe paranoid me thinks it's just an odd idea and there is nothing mafia about it. I mean, they have the CUTE school and house drawings on their website, so it really has to be harmless. In fact, while I'm at it, I'll think of some other fundraising ideas for local schools:
1. Grocery cards. Get the best deals on groceries if you sign up for the program and pay a $20 annual fee. Kind of like Sam's Club, except non-members are paying $5 for a dozen eggs. You do not want to homeschool in this district, or if you do, you'd better be reallllyy supportive of public education. Just buy the card. Everyone wins!
2. Gas cards. The Richie Rich private schoolers and old ladies on pensions have lots of money to spend on a higher rate per gallon than YOU will get if you sign up with our program. The school gets money, and you save money, too. Everyone wins!
3. Physicians' offices. It's no secret that pink eye and the flu spreads like wildfire in a classroom setting. We contract with an unpopular physician who needs new patients and YOU pay only $20 a month fee for unlimited sick visits. We can offer it this cheaply because at this price, the doctor will be the only game and town and know immediately which classrooms have pink eye, lice or the flu as the "problem of the week." FAR less time is needed in evaluating symptoms once we have our index case documented. Everyone wins!
4. Book fair sales. Don't go to Barnes and Noble or browse on Amazon for exactly what you want. Attend our "literary fare" and purchase classics such as Captain Underpants or watered-down children's literature with easy to read type. Teachers can write up "wish lists" based on the mostly inane choices we offer or they can deal with whatever Central Office gives them that year (if anything). While you're there, your children will pester you to buy erasers that smell nice, silly novelties and small "educational" items. Everyone wins!
Oh, wait. Number 4 is actually being done in our local school...
19 April 2011
17 April 2011
15 April 2011
14 April 2011
13 April 2011
11 April 2011
09 April 2011
08 April 2011
06 April 2011
04 April 2011
This superintendent is FED UP with bad treatment and decreased funding for public education. He IS, however, content with leaving paddling on the books in his district. You won't see a demonstration against that! I'm sure the teachers realllly care, though. They've lobbied against corporal punishment in the schools soooo consistently. I mean, the NEA website is just riddled with calls to activism against -
What? It isn't? Ohh, my. How surprising. Just look at me jumping out of my seat with amazement. (whoo.) I'm so amazed. Here I thought so many of the teachers were concerned about homeschoolers because they, you know, might be abused at home. Locked in a closet or something. You know... like my son was at school. That's the reason we started homeschooling. Ohh the irony.
Parents like me enjoy wrapping our children in the "snug blanket of homeschooling." Watch the video. He said it. I imagine that he means we overcoddle our children and protect them from the normal, everyday things like the homelessness, poverty and drug addiction that HE is dealing with in the public school. If I've overcoddled my children, I figure the snug blanket will be removed soon enough. The guy's speaking from TEXAS, though. Nobody wants a hot, fluffy blanket in 90-degree weather! What kind of analogy is that?
Not to mention the insults this superintendent throws at his own schoolchildren. He has the gall to get up in front of God and everybody and say right off the bat that public school students are NEVER really going to be as shiny and new or "scrubbed clean" like privately-schooled kids or homeschoolers. Yeah. I'd be danged insulted if I had a child in this guy's district. My kids are clean enough and I resent the implication that just because I'm lower class, that I need to learn what this "soap" thing is. Hey. My kids' clothes are stained and threadbare because they are old and we can't afford new ones every week. But they are *clean.* Maybe I spent my money BUYING BOOKS for my kids like the private school kids he's busy deriding.
But... you have to admit, it IS nice of him to be a fighter and march into that school building every day, all bleeding and bruised (did you hear that insane talk?? He really said that!) **sniff** but those valiant teachers... they're not gonna give up on the kids. You can cut this fella's pay back to minimum wage and he'd still be there fighting. Oh, yeahhh. Know why? Either the benefits are dang good, or he's lying as some sort of stage gimmick for emotional effect during his speech. I'm thinking lying, but his benefits are still probably better than mine. See, but I don't feel his money needs to be redistributed to my pocket "for the kids," though. That's the difference between us.