The Dust Bunny and Penny Dragon War

It’s finally well above freezing so the cats are shedding.
Bee was holding our cat Quazi this morning and when put down, a cloud of hair followed.
This hair, combined with my hair and the kid’s hair and Kevin’s (fiancee guy i keep mentioning) hair plus dust and what not that seven people contribute to,
make some fearfully large dust-bunnies.

While sweeping up the floor this afternoon I kept having to dodge children who seemed set in trouncing through my dust piles.
“Watch it, these dust bunnies are dangerous. One false move, and you’re a goner.”
Bee: “What do they do?”
“I’ve seen it with me own eyes. One minute a kid’ll be walking along, next minute they’ll be dragged under the sofa, never to be seen again.”
Tessa: “moooooooom. no they do not!”
Me: Oh aye they do. It’s a dreadful sight. (for some reason,  i switched to pirate voice)
Tessa: its not April fools yet is it?
“I’m going to step in it and prove you’re just being silly.”
“Ack! No!!  I’m joking I’m joking!!!!”
After she steps away, “Maybe.”
Aidan suggested that the dust bunnies and the penny dragons were bitter enemies.
“Oh yes, they’ve been at war for years.”
“But,” Lily says, “they breath fire! the dust bunnies would be toast!”
“True, but they’re fiercer than you think, they have STEALTH and nasty big pointy teeth!”

Aidan says “That sounds kind of Holy Grail.”

“You’ve seen Holy Grail????”  (how did i not know this?)

“Yep. ” He then yells:”WATCH OUT THEY”VE TAKEN THE LOVE SEAT!!!” (we dont have a love seat)

Later he said, “we need this in a story.”

So here it is. I think it would make a delightful if somewhat dark children’s book.


Putting it all Together – Home schooling High school

End of the year paperwork takes up much of my spring free time.

This year, there’s a new twist.

I’ve been an on and off again home educator for a total of twelve years now. I’ve dabbled in classical education, Charlotte Mason curriculum, tried structured school like and relaxed and used canned curriculum and designed my own. I have taught gifted kids and those with significant learning challenged.

Been there, done that.

Except for one thing,

high school

I’ve never home-schooled a year of high school.

Until now.

Now I have a young teenager wrapping up ninth grade.


Going about taking all the stuff we’ve done this year and organizing it all into to some semblance of something transcript-y looking that I can turn in to the umbrella school has been more difficult that I expected. It’s easier for traditional studies like English. Here is a rough of the course description for his composition studies:

English Composition

Text: Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students (this is a book for a one semester college course that I stretched out to make more 9th grade friendly)
Sharon Crowley, Debra Hawhee 427 pages (projected to complete entire book)
Credit – 1
Ancient Rhetorics: Their Difference and the Differences They Make
Kairos and Rhetorical Situations, Stasis Theory, Asking the Right Questions
Common Topics and Common Places, Logical, Ethical, Pathetic and Extrinsic Proofs Arrangement of Argument
Style: Compositions and Ornament, Memory and Delivery

Weekly Reading Assignments (no points) As Chapters are lengthy and technical, we finished approximately one chapter per month.
End of Chapter Writing Assignments worth 10 points per -140 points total
1. Define and list examples of three types of persuasive argument – 10/10
2. Write a comparison between a book and its movie -10/10
3. Write a “Chreia” for a line from a favorite poem or song 10/10
4. Write a second Chreia describing a famous landmark 10/10
5. Defend and then refute an argument concerning an issue in the news (gun control) 9/10
6. Following Alphonius’s instructions, compose a common place against someone who commits acts of terrorism – 10/10
7. “Elvis has left the Building” is part of a long enthymatic argument whose other premises are never stated, can you explain them? 8/10
8. Write a rhetorical comparison of two candidates for President of the United States, who do you think is more qualified? 7/10
9. Compose three “sketches” describing three landmarks or historically significant objects 10/10
10. Using the shooting that occurred during the standoff at the Malheur Wildlife Sanctuary, test the reliability of the eyewitness accounts using criteria discussed in Chapter 8. 8/10
11. Examine two speeches of famous rhetors or writers. Find examples of insinuations, narratives partitions, and peroration. 10/10
12. Using a passage of your writing, re-write some sentences using examples of figure of speech discussed in chapter 10.  10/10
13. Using a lengthy passage from a favorite author, write a new piece imitating the style and structure /10 (not yet completed)
14. Paraphrase a stanza from the poem “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” converting it into prose. /10 (not yet completed)

Schedule: one hour 4 times a week (He’ll have put in 160 hours between June 2015 and April 2016)


I can work with.

On the other hand, combining all of our hiking activities we’ve had since start of school year into a 1/2 credit of P.E. is trickier. I’m adding time spent for Nature Quest, will be listing all the parks visited and trails completed, as well as designing some projects to cap the year off with.

Thankfully, there are quite a few resources available for figuring it out.

One I’m finding invaluable is Let’s Homeschool

(I am not associated with the site in any way other than being a fan)

When it’s all put together , I’ll share it with you…





Just Walkin the Dog – Baltimore Street Harassment

I’m typically a point A to point B person. I don’t go walking in the city unless I have somewhere to go and then its either not a long walk, or I typically have someone with me.  I never was out walking just to walk.

I am now.

We have a dog and she needs walked about three times a day.

I have discovered that any day its above 40 degrees and we’re not out obscenely early I can look forward to being harassed for merely being a woman on the street.  I thought I had seen my prime for this sort of thing but noooooooooooo.

Apparently groggy, makeup-less overweight forty year olds can be targets.

Tits and ass are apparently all I need to possess to be hollered, whistled and shouted at with gems such as:

“Hey Baby, why don’t you smile? Aint you got a man?”

(not that pretty/thin women invite or deserve that either)

It’s usually a drive-by but this morning the guy was walking behind me.

I ended up letting him pass, crossing the street, and walking back home.

The dog shit on the kitchen floor.

You know what I hate?

That I either need to put up with it, take Kevin (fiance person I keep mentioning) or have him do it by himself.

I shouldn’t need to take protection, go out at 6am, or not go at all.

I shouldn’t.

I do.






To Be “Normal”

To be or not to be, Normal?

As a writer for Quora I answered questions primarily for autism and mental health topics.
One question, I don’t remember it exactly but, it went something like:
“Should people with mental disorders wait until they are normal again to have relationships?”
I wasn’t in the mood for a nuanced argument that day, and began my answer with:
“I’m not “normal” and I never will be.”
He didn’t like my answer, to put it mildly.  He was simply astounded I wouldn’t  want to be normal nor have any shame that I wasn’t.

“Normal” is a 19th century idea brought to you by this dude:


  An out of work astronomer by the name of Quetelet
He decided to take data collected in censuses and surveys (also 19th century inventions) and apply the mathematics of astronomy to the data in order to determine averages.
Astronomers believed that every individual measurement of a celestial object (such as one scientist’s measurement of the speed of Saturn) always contained some amount of error, yet the amount of aggregate error across a group of individual measurements (such as many different scientists’ measurements of the speed of Saturn, or many different measurements by a single scientist) could be minimized by using the average measurement. In fact, a celebrated proof by the mathematician Carl Gauss appeared to demonstrate that an average measurement was as close to a measurement’s true value (such as the true speed of Saturn) as one could ever hope to get. Quetelet applied the same thinking to his interpretation of human averages: He declared that the individual person was synonymous with error, while the average person represented the true human being.
Before that, people were not compared to each other but to the ideal (perfection of god, those we felt represented god) where all but a few were found lacking. They lived their lives pursuing a goal of heaven or enlightenment.
History shows this is not necessarily a better attitude, yet the shift made way for rather darker ideas of the worth of those who for whatever reason were deemed  abnormal or less.

Genetic Fitness

In the same century as this development Francis Galton,  Darwin’s cousin, whom Darwin disagreed with I might add, decided to apply Darwin’s studies of plants and animals to people.   His work was the root of the modern Eugencis movement and is still alive and well today.  At its core Eugenics puts forward the philosophy that certain traits are more ideal and make a person more genetically “fit.” Some have gone as far as trying to engineer the perfect society by encouraging child bearing among the “fit” and discouraging it through various means from propaganda to sterilization and murder.


from wikipedia: The Black Stork is a 1917 motion picture written by and starring Harry J. Haiselden, the chief surgeon at the German-American Hospital in Chicago. The Black Stork is Haiselden’s fictionalized account of his eugenic infanticide of the child John Bollinger. The film was re-released in 1927 under the title Are You Fit to Marry?


The ideas of both Quetelet and Galton influence cultural thinking today

Even if we don’t necessarily agree with Galton, or know or believe that there really is a “norm” of humankind, we let these idea influence our thinking.

We compare ourselves and others against the perceived new view of perfection, the ideal traits, the cultural expectations we deem “normal.”

It still influences how we view people with disabilities and mental disorders and any others perceived to be “abnormal.”

You might be thinking at this point,

“but Amanda, Surely, there are typical people?”

Oh yes sure, but even “typical” people are nuanced individuals who don’t fit the mold of “normal” with perfection.

Also,  I don’t believe you can rate people’s worth as better or less based on measurement of any kind,

not in accomplishments or lack,

not in test scores,

not in contribution to economy

and certainly,

NOT in culturally preferred traits.

People are people.

No better or less than others.

The pursuit of happiness however one defines it shouldn’t be put on hold because we don’t meet an imaginary ideal.



almost like us

sharing from “loveexplosions”

love explosions

This morning I was reading the Valentine’s messages given to Evelyn by her classmates.  Because of the similarities in the messages (and that they are on pre-printed paper), I’m assuming that the students were instructed to write a thoughtful message.  I imagine that they were asked to think of something special about each classmate.  Most of the messages were wonderful and I found myself smiling.

image Image is a piece of pink paper with preprinted lines. There is text written in pencil written by a child which reads: “To Evie you are really good with your ipad And you are almost just like us.” The text is followed by a heart and smiley face.

And then?  I read this.

“To Evie you are really good with your ipad And you are almost just like us.”

Remember “evelyn: you in a box”?

Remember the big stink I made about compliance training

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An apology to my autistic students…

reblogging from “Someone’s Mum”

Someone's Mum

I am sorry. I am a good human being – a good teacher, I think. I listen, I learn, I strive to be better. I know it is a great responsibility to shape young minds, young opinions. I thought I knew what it means to teach a pupil with autism. But experience has given me something knowledge never could and I am sorry; now I begin to understand.

Before I was the mother to my son – my son who I now know is autistic – I thought you might struggle to imagine as vividly as others. I see now that isn’t so; your minds can be quick and bright and colourful – like exotic birds, beautiful but unusual. Sometimes you just struggle to imagine things that are governed by the expectations, the minds, of others.

Before, I knew that some of you might find relationships difficult. I thought your emotions ran differently…

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ADHC: Attention Deficit Hyperactive Cognition

reblogging 🙂

Mindless Focus

I have been told time and time again that if I could just pay attention, if I could just focus, if I could just put the effort in, I could be incredibly successful. I have been consistently informed of the fact that I have a much greater potential than my achievements would suggest. That if I could only conform to the wishes of my teachers, my parents, and authority figures, I could really do well. And quite frankly, I think they’re wrong. Because I’ve accomplished an awful lot. I’ve found a great deal of success; when placed in the right environment and given the right kind of support.

The last thing that I want to do is make this post about me. And yet, I’m going to have to rely on my own experiences to articulate what I’m trying to say. I hate having to put myself under the microscope as…

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Moon Unit (No relation to Ms. Zappa)


In the winter time I cover topics that do not need a warm/dry day such as space, the forces of nature, Newton’s laws…etc.

This week the littles (6-9 classroom kids) and Pete (autistic teen with expressive language impairment) learned about the moon. The other older kids did not pass up the cookies and joined us for videos as well.


Making the moon cycle with GF  off brand “Oreo” Cookies




Books Read:


The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons


and “Papa Please Get the Moon for Me”

Visuals/Activity Added to Work Area:

DSCN9987  DSCN9990

Phases of the Moon Chart (purchased from Amazon) used as control chart for three part “Moon Phase Cards” arranged in the lunar cycle (downloaded, you can find versions of these both as free downloads and for purchase)

Videos Streamed:


Apollo 11: First Steps on the Moon (“free” on Amazon Prime)

the moon

Bill Nye the Science Guy : The Moon (available to stream free or purchase online)

Pete’s Spelling/Vocabulary Words:

rotate, orbit, gibbous, crescent, full, new, moon, satellite, astronomer, telescope, luna


Pete practices spelling words using “I speak Word Wizard” on the Ipad.

Concept’s covered:

  • Why the view of the moon changes
  • Moon’s gravity causing tides
  • Eclipses
  • Lunar month
  • Moonlight is from the sun
  • Moon myths
  • Theory of the moon creation via asteroid impact

History discussed:

Apollo 11 Moon landing, briefly touching on other Apollo Missions

Note to Commenters

Note: While we are all free to have our opinions, beliefs, and mindset about life, we are also free to make our spaces as we want them. i wont allow comments/posts that are antithetical to my beliefs to stay on my pages/blog/nor facebook because leaving them there can be taken as implied consent/approval of the opinion expressed. That means I sometimes delete or edit crap that finds its way to my space. (commenters are free to say whatever they like on their own stuff)
In short, yes I censor people sometimes, get used to it or find some other thing to look at.