Sunday, September 30, 2007

LOL Cat Meets Lord of the Rings

From here.

Weekend Roundup

So, let's see... bought the cord I need to make Wildchild's ballet bag, and the fabric I need to make her Halloween costume. She's going as Tinkerbell.

Refreshed my educational supplies with a few books I needed, and also a little specialty paper, the kind with ruled lines and some space above for a picture. I want to write some cute little stories for Wildchild to read. Maybe I'll let her illustrate them.

Bought shoes for both of the girls, although one pair needs to go back. Wildchild wasn't with me, and they didn't have her size, but the salesperson said they ran a little big, so we tried the next smaller size. They didn't work.

Made a new skirt for each of the girls, which they wore to church this morning. I should try to finish Wildchild's ballet bag before her class on Tuesday. I desperately need more clothes. Mr. Evil Genius could use some more clothes as well. It's wonderful having clothes especially made to fit you, but right now I have a lot in the "to do" pile.

Kept my husband and Wildchild company this afternoon as my husband found his 100th cache. Now my husband is off with the girls planting his very first cache (that he is responsible for maintaining.)

Looking forward the baseball playoffs this week, school, and sewing, sewing, sewing!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cure for the Friday Blues

As I've gotten more into homeschooling, both increasing the scope of my teaching, and teaching the girls at higher grades, I'm realizing why Friday happy hour is popular. :) Not only am I tired, but my tired mind tends to focus on what I haven't achieved during the week, and what needs to be accomplished over the weekend. Fortunately, there is a couple with whom we go out to eat a couple/few times a month, and tonight was one of those times. I got some adult time, a good meal, a tasty sangria, and Mr. Evil Genius just ran out to the ice cream store and is bringing home a chocolate-with-hot-fudge sundae for me. I think I'll survive another day.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Jumping the Shark

I'm just minding my own business, doing one of my favorite activities, cruising around the 'net, looking at the wealth of educational materials for my girls. Today I'm looking specifically at reading material. Haven't been at Scholastic's site in a while; go to check it out. See nothing but Democratic presidential candidates on their front page in one of their flash pictures. Have flashbacks to when I discovered that Dorling Kindersley had John Kerry on the cover of their U.S. Presidents book. Getting a Bad Feeling about Scholastic. Decide to go over to the Scholastic Store anyway. See The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon. Okay, it's official. Scholastic has Jumped the Shark. I mean, Laurie David, who helped produce An Overblown Inconvenient Truth! Who got busted by Newsbusters when she pushed her, you know, very, you know, important book on the Today Show. Who lives in a huge house in Martha's Vineyard (language warning for the sensitive). Check here for some good humor by Jules Crittenden to get a good laugh, if you need it.

Aww, Scholastic kid reporters covered the Democratic debate on MSNBC. Wonder if they're going to cover any Republican debates? (crickets chirping) Holy cow, the questions and answers are so freakin' ridiculous! I really think you ought to go read for yourself. Okay, these are kids, and school is one of their biggest concerns right now, but someone ought to tell them that the federal government ought to get *out* of schools! Personally, I think we ought to vote for Mike Gravel. He says, and I quote: "I will end wars and you will have a world in peace. I will end the whole problem we have with the environment. We are cooking ourselves off the planet, and we've got to solve that problem now and we cannot do it with the leadership we have." Gee, can you also fix everyone's eyesight without that bothersome Lasik surgery, cure cancer and give everyone in the U.S. a flying car while you're at it, please?

I'm thinking of writing my own children's books. There's too much slop out there right now. Anyone want to join me?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Youth Movement

Gotta love the kids. In preparation for the playoffs, and since we have a doubleheader today against the Seattle Mariners, manager Eric Wedge is resting some of our everyday players and playing some of our second-string. We're currently up 9 to 2 in the first game. Veteran Victor Martinez is the only one on our squad currently without a hit, although he has drawn a walk, and has an RBI. In the "odd" category, we are the "home" team in this first game in Seattle, to make up for that last snowed-out game back here in April.

In a somewhat-related-in-my-own-head story, my indentured slave labor daughter made the mashed potatoes for dinner completely on her own. Well, her younger sister did help a little with putting in butter and mashing. I love having kids old enough to help with stuff. I've always hated making mashed potatoes, but I LOVE eating them! The Scientist also made cookies today, another thing I love to eat. :)

Creating a Pattern

We're settling into a routine here in Evil Genius Land. Wildchild has had her first Brownie meeting and is taking ballet and jazz dance once a week. I was gratified to hear Wildchild's new leader say that my daughter, homeschooled since kindergarten, fit right into her new troop. I'm hoping she'll make a friend or two in the troop. She's much more social than her sister (perhaps a second-born thing?) and she doesn't play as well alone. Just as moms are so busy today, so girls of eight are busy with schoolwork, homework, and innumerable activities.

And speaking of activities, I've been making phone calls trying to find a 4-H club for the Scientist. She tried Girl Scouts, but with her serious and studious nature, and love of animals, I think she'll be happier in 4-H, despite the fact that she can't do any animal raising where we're at right now. I found one 4-H club in the area whose leader has miniature horses. She'd be in heaven with that. Hope that works out, as we're experiencing much frustration with vehicles. Our minivan finally made it into the shop for a new (to us) engine, only to have to go back after a few days. I want my minivan! (sniffle) Horse stables and tack shops seem to generally be quite a drive from where we live, and Mr. Evil Genius and I don't trust the beater I am currently driving to make it that far. Meanwhile, the poor Scientist is chomping at the bit (ha!) to take horseback riding lessons.

Not content with three projects on the table, I started a fourth, one for which I've had the materials for a while: a ballet bag for Wildchild. This one should be done fairly quickly, being pretty straightforward. I hope so!

Oh, and of course there's school! I'm not getting as much German taught as I'd like, but we're not doing badly in the other subjects. We're doing ancient history right now, and I am jumping around a little bit more than I'd like in that. So many early civilizations started around the same time. I think I'll have the girls help me with a timeline to tie it all together. I'm happy with the girls' art curricula this year, where I felt I had a gap there before. Everything else, I have a direction I'm heading in, which is half the battle. Heck, that pretty much describes my life right now: everything is not exactly where I want it to be, but I know which way I'm going.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Nobody Will Win This

At least that's my take on the current strike by GM employees. Retirement and salaries seem to be driving American car companies into near-bankruptcy, and yet those things are under debate, as well as keeping jobs in the U.S. Yes, let's make sure auto workers are paid enormous salaries, that funding autoworkers' retirement is a significant part of the selling price on a new vehicle, and that auto manufacturers cannot try to save money by taking jobs someplace where labor is cheaper. I amend my blog title. Car companies competing against GM and the UAW will be the ones winning this. And the job markets and financial health of Cleveland, Youngstown and other cities will probably be losers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Championship Baby!

The beer and champagne are still flowing hard in the clubhouse. Hee hee! Our mascot slider has his raingear on! Trot Nixon is going full out with the buckets of water. And our GM got the pie in the face today. Go Tribe!

Post in Search of a Title

If I could have typed telepathically yesterday, I would have put up a post. Thoughts were swirling around in my brain, but I was apathetic about typing them out onto a screen. Even the Indians game last night was not really noteworthy. Fortunately, our magic number is down to one just the same. Would have liked to have gone to the game, but Husband is not feeling well. Hopefully the Indians will do well today and not have to depend on the Tigers to lose for them to clinch at home.

I finished a shirt yesterday that's been in the works for a while. I've kind of put the quilted purse aside temporarily. The pattern calls for folding the raw edges of the quilted straps over and pressing them down. I've already discovered that doesn't work so well with the quilted material, so I've kind of dreaded putting the straps on, which is the next step.

I'm hoping we'll be able to take a little trip or two to enjoy the fall weather and the colors of the leaves. I think fall is my favorite season of the year, despite the fact that it predicates winter's chill.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm Cranky

Say what you like about public and private schools, but at least they give you a chance to meet lots of people in your own peer group. Why is it so hard to make friends once you leave school? In today's world, with so many mothers working, it seems even harder. Half the girls in my daughter's ballet class are ferried there by a grandmother. Knowing people online is nice, but I'd like to have a few pals in this area to do things with.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three Is Our Magic Number

Since the Indians just beat the team right below us in the Central Division, our magic number goes down to three.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


After beating the Detroit Tigers tonight, the Indians magic number is down to five!! For those of you who are not baseball fans, that means the Indians only have to win five more games to clinch the American League Central Division championship. The Tribe is also only 1/2 game behind Boston for the best record in the American League. Hey, Hey, Hey, Let's Go Tribe!


Up for discussion: Why You Should Choose Math in High School.

My point of view: my girls are in the grade school years now, but I want them prepared to study more difficult mathematics in high school, and be ready, if they wish, to study even more advanced mathematics in college. Both of my daughters currently seem afraid of math, but they can both do the work when it is explained to them. Concentration is a problem for them, but that is the case in all of their subjects. The Scientist is already starting to doubt whether she can do the work required to get through veterinary school, and I *do not* want her to have these doubts!!

In my own experience, I believe the teacher I had for the first two years of high school math, Algebra I and Geometry, was not the most effective. When I got a different teacher for Algebra II, I "got" math much better. He actually suggested to my mother during a parent-teacher conference that I might have a future in mathematics as a career. My mother's reply, "She hates math!" Sigh. I did not get the best parental support at home, either. At least my mother showed up for the conference.

I also wonder what on earth I studied through eight years of grade school mathematics that I was not ready to take algebra until high school. It seems that at least some students are starting algebra in the grade school years now. Mathematics in the younger years seems to be a lot of repetition and I'm not sure all students need it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Eating Our Way Through Little Italy

When your in-laws are Italian, you can't go to just any Italian restaurant. All the food gets compared to the way "Grandma used to make it," and Grandma used to make it from scratch. My husband turns up his nose at most Italian chain restaurants. But we always enjoy getting together in Little Italy, a section of Cleveland. Yesterday we gathered with my in-laws to celebrate our nephew's 18th birthday, and ate and talked with family for ages.

Then we visited two of the bakeries in Little Italy, and ate and talked some more. My husband loves Corbo's bakery; the cookies there are just like the ones all the women in his extended family used to bake when he was growing up.

My nephew decided to take advantage of being 18 by doing one of the things he's legally allowed to do now.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Deeper You Dig, the Worse It Gets

So how did the education system get to be so poorly implemented in this country? Some of it seems to be about power. The teachers, principals and administrators with their education degrees and teacher's conferences see themselves as the guardians of information, and as we can see here, they can be very loath to give it out. Reminds me of the mainstream media in that they feel they have the knowledge, and the authority, and you are only worthy to receive what they deign to give out. Why someone should enjoy being the tinpot dictator of an elementary school is beyond me, but as we can see from the woman quoted here, educators are perfectly comfortable deciding what your children should learn, despite what feelings those who pay her salary might have on the matter.

But just like bloggers are taking away the exclusivity the mainstream media once had on information, parents are using the internet, and finding like-minded parents in their own community, to exchange notes and share options. Not only is homeschooling growing, but parents who for their own reasons do not have homeschooling as an option, have created afterschooling, filling in the public education gaps during afternoons, evenings and weekends. Parents can get immediate information on a curriculum used in their child's school, and also get immediate information on what might be useful to close any knowledge gaps.

It is sad that parents have to spend their own time and extra money beyond what they are paying in taxes, to make sure their children receive an adequate education. It's wrong, with the amount of money schools are receiving, that those children whose parents are not putting in the extra effort (and dollars) will be stuck with a poor education; see here and here. Of course, parental involvement matters, has always mattered. Even in Farmer Boy, Almanzo Wilder's parents did not play educational games with their children, give them worksheets or art projects, but their parents did expect them to behave properly and mind their teacher, and Almanzo's father even gave the teacher a little help with disorderly students. But for schools to fail so dismally at their basic function indicates a serious problem.

We were among the parents who thought to themselves, "Those homeschooling people might be on to something." We got tired of the arguments and tears from the Scientist while she struggled with homework, after a long day in school. We didn't like hearing that the private, Christian school we were sacrificing to send our daughter to, was about a year behind the upper-middle-class public schools in the same city. We wondered why the school that promised an individualized education for every student could not give our daughter the more advanced work that we requested, and that they admitted she could do. We wondered why the teachers with all their special knowledge and education could not help our daughter with her problems with concentration, beyond telling us to "work on it with her at home." We definitely wondered why a private, Christian school should be in the socialism business, taking all the students' colored pencils and distributing them out randomly. This meant, of course, that some students grabbed all the popular colors, and my daughter had to fight to get what she needed. I suppose she did learn something about socialism there, after all.

The waste of time and treasure in organized schools, however, is sad and discouraging. And it will continue until enough parents, and most likely enough of the parents whose children the schools are failing the most today, ask for some choices and take power back into their hands.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

My Days Are Filled

Wildchild has two dance classes a week and I'm getting her back into Girl Scouts. The Scientist has Latin once a week at our pastor's, will be starting horse riding lessons, she wants to volunteer at a local animal shelter, and I'm looking into getting her in 4-H. Plus I have teaching the two of them. We don't have as much of a school routine as I'd like, yet, but I'm feeling more on top of things than I have for a long time. I'm getting better at giving them work that doesn't bore them, and they're getting better about doing work.

I'm trying to fit sewing in where I can. Haven't really made a lot of worthwhile progress. Maybe over the weekend?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Commercial Commentary

The Indians game was on ESPN last night, instead of its normal station Sports Time Ohio. I was repulsed by a series of commercials by Chevy for its new line of electric vehicles, that I hadn't seen before. First of all, every commercial featured the same man talking to the standard multi-ethnic group of children. Does this mean Chevy sees us as children, that must be schooled in the wonders of the new vehicles?

Secondly, one commercial touted the car in question as "vegetarian." I don't really remember the logic for that one, but what I do remember is the man asking the children how many of them were vegetarian. About four out of eight children raised their hands. Puh-leeze! Drop the preachiness! And isn't vegetarianism generally not recommended for growing children?

Lastly, electric vehicles don't use gas. Well and good if you're talking about not using oil purchased from countries that hate America and seek its destruction. However, electricity generally involves burning coal. Coal mining can be dangerous, and environmentalists fight coal mining as hard as they fight drilling for oil and creating new refineries in our own country. Burning coal creates pollution. California is already suffering from high electric prices and electricity shortages because the state government is prohibiting new electric plants from being built. I'm not sure how electric cars would compare in cost savings to gas-powered ones currently, although I'm sure once enough people started using electric cars, the greater demand for electricity would make the price of said go up. So what's the great advantage to an electric car?

On the Indians game: I think we need to fly Travis Hafner *and* Ryan Garko's parents in for every game now.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Love Crayons

You Are a Yellow Crayon

Your world is colored with happy, warm, fun colors.
You have a thoughtful and wise way about you. Some people might even consider you a genius.
Charming and eloquent, you are able to get people to do things your way.
While you seem spontaneous and free wheeling, you are calculating to the extreme.

Your color wheel opposite is purple. You both are charismatic leaders, but purple people act like you have no depth.

via Jau.

Whaddya know. A genius. Hee!

Friday, September 07, 2007

The State and the People

Clayton Cramer, who is a fan of The Fred's, makes some remarks now that Fred's in the race, and discusses how federalism, or leaving decisions up to the states, means that some people may not get everything they want. Now I think states should be allowed to make their own decisions on a lot of things, but I'd like your opinion on one thing Cramer said: "If you don't like the particular policy decisions that your state makes, moving isn't so difficult." I realize that a lot of people in Ohio are already "voting with their feet" and moving to other states, and the economic policy decisions our local legislators make may be behind a great deal of it. However, I would say that moving can be very difficult for a family, for example, with younger children. Moving out of state can be an enormous expense as well, one our family just isn't prepared to take on the moment. Not to mention my husband is currently blessed to have a job he is comfortable with and he'd like to build up some seniority, not start over fresh someplace else. I don't know, the comment just seemed a little flippant. For that matter, aren't there already people fleeing more liberal states because the socialist economic policies are bringing the state down, but wanting to keep their liberal ideas, in essence trying to recreate life in their old state? What if you do move to another state and then the voting make-up of that state changes within five years or so? Move again?

And while Cramer sees reason in allowing states to have their own laws on partial birth abortion, he finds the idea of cross-breeding humans and animals at the embryonic level disturbing, although to be fair, he makes no comment about whether it should be legal in this country or not. Well, I find the practice of sticking a sharp object into the head of a perfectly viable, feeling human being extremely disturbing. Aren't there some things so beyond the pale that we as a entire nation should be able to decide against them?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

An Advantage to Homeschooling

I am, while my husband is away, the guardian and gatekeeper of the home, and so I don't have to worry about who shows up around my children while they're learning. When you are responsible for a large number of someone else's children, I suppose there can be a fine line between overreaction and necessary caution. As so many news blurbs do, this article doesn't allow for much of an accurate assessment to be made, but I would hate to have had a warning letter sent home about me if I had been visiting a child I knew while they were at school.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bier Trinken

This past Monday, Labor Day, we were looking for something fun to do, so we took a trip to the Oktoberfest at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. We had a good time, although the German culture was mostly represented by all the beer. :) The dancers that impressed me most were the Verlezza Dance company. They were *smokin'* hot! Also lots of flirting going on, flipping the edge of the women's skirts, etc. Those Italians!

I didn't take the camera with us. My shoulders were a little tired from having my purse on one and the camera case on the other, on Saturday. You can see lots of pictures on the official website, if you're interested. But in honor of the Hofbräuhaus they had set up, I'll share a picture of my husband and I, before we were married, at the real Hofbräuhaus in Munich. We were visiting a friend of my husband's, who went to high school with my husband for one year. Yes, the place is touristy, but we had fun, and neither my husband nor I are too fond of beer, so we wouldn't have appreciated a place that served "better" beer anyway.

And here's a beautiful shot in the Nymphenburg Park in Munich, which we also visited.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007


Via Don Surber, a case where a woman in England may have her baby taken away from her at birth, due in part to the prognosis of a pediatrician who has never met the mother, that the woman is likely to suffer from Munchausen's Syndrome by proxy. Miss Lyon, the mother in question, has had mental issues and has been under a psychiatrist's care, although this very psychiatrist says that Miss Lyon is at no risk of harming her child or herself. This story seems like something out of an alternate universe sci-fi horror movie. Can this really be happening?

Surber also links to a story that is all over the blogosphere, that John Edwards' proposed government health care plan would require mandatory annual physician visits.

This is all just wonderful. If you ever do suffer from any sort of depression or mental issues in your life, you're going to have to hide it. Heaven forbid you share with your doctor at your mandatory annual check-up that the lack of sunlight this winter has you feeling a bit down. Your kids will be taken away by social services before you get home.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Cleveland Underground

Today our family got a glimpse of Cleveland's past, taking a tour of what remains of the W. 25th subway station, and walking part of the subway tracks. This tour is only open twice a year.

A trolley car, coming around a bend.

A subway wall.

Underground tracks.

Walking along where the tracks used to be, underneath the current Veteran's Memorial Bridge. This turned out to be a little more dicey for me than I would have thought. There was a metal grid, with steel girders every 24 feet or so. There were pieces of plywood on top of the metal grid to walk across, but where the steel girders were, the metal grid did not quite meet the girder, and there was a few inches that were open, straight down to the river below. For some reason, it really bothered me to cross over the girders and the empty spaces. I'm not normally afraid of heights, although usually when I'm up high, I'm nicely buckled in to a roller coaster car!

Here's a view looking down through the grid.

Looking at a bend in the Cuyahoga River.

Where the Cuyahoga meets Lake Erie.

A view of the Westside Market (the tower) from underneath the Veteran's Memorial Bridge. We stopped at the Market on the way home and bought lots of fresh fruit.

A trolley car you could walk through. Not really different than a bus, on the inside. There were lots of pictures to look at in different areas around the station, and even a couple of movies showing the old subway system in use. Some pictures showed older looking, horse-drawn trolley cars. It would be fun to ride in a horse-drawn trolley today! Well, maybe not so much in the winter.