Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Some random fun

Even when there are holidays and snow days for the local schools, I have my children do their home school work. That meant that last week they had five days of learning while their friends had just three. Dd8 was starting to give off a "put-upon" vibe, and I was getting weary of the taskmaster role, so yesterday afternoon, I made them a little "clue-chase" for no reason except to show them I love them and I'm not "all work and no play". These were the clues:

Clue #1:
To find where Number 2 is hid
Look under a bear that is pallid.   
[This led to dd6's favorite teddy bear.]

Clue #2:
Tigers have stripes just like the wall
By the drawer in which Clue 3 did fall.

Clue #3:
Number 4 is not in the land down under,
But Sydney says it is resting beside her.   
[Sydney is dd6's betta fish that she got for her birthday recently.]

Clue #4:
The globe downstairs points to the hiding place
Of the next-to-last clue in this clever word race.

Clue #5:
Now up, up stairs to your parents’ closet
Is a teeny-weeny present for you red-headed set.  
[Oops, should have double-checked that one for grammar....]

[A little travel chess game that I'd been keeping for them when they got bigger. I guess they're "bigger" now.]

On a side note, I made sure that my clues rhyme. I don't think much of poetry that doesn't even try to rhyme.  Rhymes simply flow better and are easier to remember, while "modern", non-rhymed poetry (esp. that created in school) seems the product of wanna-be visionaries seeking shortcuts to the imagination via awkwardly disjointed prose.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Because we all just love math, here's an update on the math portion of our home education endeavor:

Dd8 is finally starting multiplication and division in earnest. She finds it conceptually easy. We haven't started drilling multiplication and division facts yet because she is still doing the addition practices on the Xtra Math website. Xtra Math is a great resource for kids who need daily repetition and practice of math facts but balk at long sessions. It costs nothing, keeps track of individual children's progress, and makes math drills relatively pleasant without a lot of screen clutter.

Yesterday dd8 surprised me by asking whether I would give her a test of only word problems. It turns out she likes word problems because she feels as though she's actually doing something. I'm a little gobsmacked to hear a child request more word problems, for I don't recall that being a common occurrence in elementary school. Or else maybe she just really, really dislikes plain calculation exercises.

Dd5 finished her kindergarten math book a while back (we use the Bob Jones worktexts because they cover the basics in a fun, convenient way), and I've been putting off ordering her the first grade book while we do Xtra Math and some Singapore math. Yesterday I looked over the first grade worktext table of contents and tested dd5 on some of the more advanced concepts listed, and she grasped them immediately. So now I'll be ordering the second grade worktext for her. That saved us $22, and our little girl is pleased with herself for being able to skip a grade in math.

Dd3 is starting to learn to recognize numbers. We finally taught her how to show her age with her fingers. She loves to play on

Dd1 is just cute. She turned one this week. Her life is still quite binary. She's either allowed to do something, or Mommy says "no, no, no" and takes her off the table, chair, high chair tray, or bathtub edge. Oh, rats, she was just tearing the curtain liner. Time to finish this post and get on with other things.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Just because they live in the boonies...

...doesn't mean that they are going to be nice to you. I just saw this account of a horrid experience that three North American tourist underwent at the hands of around 30 villagers in Peru.

Jennifer Wolfrom, her brother Jed and her sister-in-law Meghan Doherty were hiking in a village close to the southern Peruvian city of Cuzco when they were attacked by around 30 angry villagers.
The group were reportedly bound, beaten and robbed by the villagers during a two-day ordeal, beginning on New Year’s Day, which left the group physically and mentally traumatised.
But Ms Wolfrom alleges that staff at the US embassy failed to help the family until media began covering their story.

As a former consular officer, I have a reaction to their statement that they felt the U.S. Consulate didn't help them. The U.S. Consulate in Cuzco apparently didn't know about their ordeal until they had already escaped from it. Having been in the situation of dealing with U.S. citizens after they've suffered some sort of injury abroad, I can only say that there is often almost nothing that U.S. consular officers can do in situations where the host country police won't take action. Consular officers work to ensure that the host country--in this case Peru--gives U.S. citizens the same treatment that citizens of the host country would get; if at possible, they typically do try to cajole the host country into providing even better treatment, but there's no law that forces the host country to give it. Where the host country suffers from deep-rooted corruption and habits of indolence in the local police force, the police "service" rendered its citizens is often far below what we expect coming from the USA.

Getting their story out to the media was probably the most effective thing Ms. Wolfrom could have done in order to have their attackers suffer some sort of punishment. The villagers' action have embarrassed their country internationally and probably hurt tourism in a tourism-dependent area. I don't imagine their neighbors will thank them for it.

If you're planning a trip abroad, please read the consular travel information for your destination(s) and pay attention to the warnings.