Thursday, March 23, 2006

What a waste of money -- Uncle Milton's Hermit Crab Habitat

We went shopping in the big city today. The big city actually has a bookstore, a craft store, decent restaurants, an Office Depot, a mall, a Home Depot and other great places.

While at the craft store, I picked up some things for my son's county fair projects. He found an Uncle Milton's Live Hermit Crab Habitat. $26.99. He didn't beg, he asked nicely if he could have it. We kept trying to explain that it was probably junk but he kept saying how cool it would be to have a hermit crab or two. So after walking through the store, debating, we finally gave in and bought it.

Big mistake.

Our $26.99 got us the cheapest piece of plastic that bends and warps and barely stands up on its own. It is JUNK. Most toy packaging comes with stronger plastic than this thing. The cat will be able to destroy it if he sees a hermit crab inside. If the cat even jumped on it, it would collapse. Everything but food was included. Junk, junk, junk.

Also included was the FREE coupon for a hermit crab. All you have to do is mail the coupon in and include shipping and handling for the crab. $6.95 shipping and handling. $13.95 for two crabs.


Because it is a major PITA to drive to the big city to shop, we won't be returning it. We will be using the coupon and spending yet another $13.95 for two hermit crabs. We'll use one of our glass aquariums to house the crabs instead.

I knew better, I knew better, I knew better.

Next time we think of buying something in a city far, far away, I'll be opening the box to check it out first.

$26.99, $13.95 -- I could have bought books!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

At the Kitchen Table Tonight...Censorship

Tonight after supper, the three of us started a discussion on censorship. It was very enlightening to all three of us. My son sided with me immediately. My husband took what normally is my role. I took what normally is his role. He is a conservative. I grew up in a liberal family.

I brought the boycott topic up. I asked my husband if he would join me in my boycott. His answer? No.

Of course my jaw dropped to the table.


Because it's censorship. "As much as I hate it, as much as I hate what they are advocating, it is censorship."

We had a big, long discussion on censorship. My son decided the book should be banned off the face of the earth and then burned. Then we brought up how the conservative right try to and succeed sometimes to ban such books as Harry Potter, Narnia, Heather Has Two Mommies, My Brother Sam is Dead, The Stupids, The Color Purple which was turned into one of mom's all-time favorite movies, to name a few.

I told my son of stories where people have imitated crimes in novels. He thought the novels should be banned.

I told my son that some people hate Disney. He wanted to know why and I said because they are magical, and magic is against the bible's teachings. Maybe those should be banned, too.

We went through a long list of all the types of books out there: How to commit suicide and Kevorkian's books on assisted suicide. Had to get a little off topic with that to explain what that was.

We should ban those.

We kept bringing up other books and topics that might be offensive to some.

All should be banned.

Then I said to my son: Guess what? There are no books left. All books have been banned. Every book out there is going to be offensive to someone.

His eyes got huge. I could almost see that light bulb above his head going on.

At this point my husband got into a little bit of a "discussion" about children's rights. We bantered back and forth. We even brought up the cult that is demonstrating at the American soldiers' funerals. My husband, although he hated what they did, thought they should have freedom of speech. Then he jokingly added that he wants the right to protest the protesters. The protesters infuriate me and I don't know if I'm big enough to support their right of freedom of speech in that forum. Gulp.

My husband asked me how I could believe in censorship.

I couldn't come up with an answer right off the bat. How can I? It goes against everything I believe in: Freedom of choice, freedom of speech, live and let life. How can I believe in censorship?

After sitting there for a few very awkward moments, I turned to my son and said this: I am against censorship. Vehemently against it. However, sometimes we have to stand up for our principles. My view on the safety of children is stronger than my view on censorship. In my perspective, the greater good is to protect children and stop the production of child-abuse manuals and devices that are produced for the sole intent of inflicting pain. It may be wrong in the realm of censorship, but it is right in my heart and for children. I believe in it and therefore I will continue with my boycott.

My husband and I agreed to respect each other's choice. I do admire him for taking a stand on such a painful subject. I will add that he thinks the author was probably the child who mutilated bugs, pulled the wings off flies, killed baby birds, etc., because he was so cruel.

19 free gifts

Okay, so maybe I'm getting a little petty here, but this question has been at the back of my mind since I heard of a certain magazine.

Why do they need to give 19 free gifts to get you to subscribe? I've heard of magazines like Time, for instance, giving one free gift or Sports Illustrated giving one free gift, but why 19?

It makes me think they are desperate for subscriptions. Is it that bad of a magazine, they have to give you 19 free gifts to get you to order?


First listed is Focus on the Family. That's enough to get me running in the other direction PRONTO. And yes, I am a Christian. (A point that is really nobody's business, but just added for emphasis -- the silent group speaking up, Doc.)

Scrolling down the list, oh, there's BJU Press...another supplier that I will never buy from. Ever. Not even used.

Scrolling further...oh wait, LOOK, it's NO GREATER JOY, Debi Pearl’s best homeschooling ideas from 20-plus years of homeschooling.

Yup, free, with your subscription. No Greater Joy. Free. One of the 19.

Three strikes, you're out.

Becky's Boycott Business

My very good friend, Becky at Farm School, wrote a very powerful letter regarding the boycott. Please, take a moment and read it. Thank you, Becky, and bravo!

Boycott Business

Memories of Public School Sexism

H at Not School has an excellent post entitled Pass Me the Vomit Bag. It reinforces something that I was thinking about just yesterday.
When my son was in public school, his school had to take part in a research project where someone came in and did weird exercises. It was supposed to fire up neurons and actually build more neurons in the brain.

My son hated it. You have to know my son to appreciate this, but he's very serious just like his mom and dad, and he just isn't the type kid that can bark like a seal, dance in public, or crawl on the floor like an alligator in front others. He just cannot do it. And that's okay.

And he didn't. And I got phone calls. "He's not participating. We can't make him do this. He needs this to build his brain."

So, this mom, who volunteered twice a week in his classroom already, went in three days in a row during this brain boost project. The kids did it on a daily basis the entire year. It wasn't bad, but I thought it was all rather silly. Had I been a child and forced to do it, I wouldn't have done it either -- parts of it.

So I watched the first morning, and my son sat with me because he refused to participate. We went home that night and discussed it. My final directive to him was do the parts that don't embarrass you. Barking like a seal was terribly embarrassing for him. Really, he's that sensitive. I would have been too. I told him he didn't have to do what made him uncomfortable.

I show up the next day and lo and behold, my son actually participates in parts of it -- the parts he feels comfortable with. I'm satisfied and proud he faced his fears. They aren't. He needs to do all of it to build his brain up.

So at the dinner table that night, I discuss this with my husband. He decides to take a half hour off work and go watch. I went a third time. My husband got down on the floor with the kids and did everything in the program.

My son wouldn't have done a thing if I had not encouraged him, given him permission to do only what's comfortable, to add things slowly.
My son had participated that day and the day before because I had made him feel safe and gave him freedom of choice.

I think it was wonderful that my husband went and was supportive. I know many men wouldn't do that. It did not make my son do the things he felt uncomfortable with, though. Dad was performing his parental obligation to help his son, nothing more.

Here's the kicker. The staff at that school put my husband up on the highest pedestal. He could do no wrong. He was basically worshipped! The rest of that school year I heard, "Your husband is so wonderful." "How's your husband?" "I can't believe how supportive and loving your husband is." "Tell your husband hello for us." "He's such a good father." Oh puke.

He shows up for a half hour one day and he is suddenly a male-parent god? Because he's male and took an interest in his son in front of an audience of public school staff, he's promoted to sainthood? Because he's actually performing his father role he is adored? I was shocked and appalled at the way he was treated versus how I was treated. I mean, I was there volunteering twice a week. I was the one that did homework after school, that took DS to the library weekly, that read all the classroom newsletters. My husband shows up for a half hour and is the man all men should aspire to be?

My husband is a good man and a good father. But by the mere fact he showed up for a half hour does not make him a saint. And he will be the first to admit that. My son learned a valuable lesson in sexism that year. We discussed it openly and honestly at home.

It was that same treat-them-like-they're-four-years-old mentality that H was discussing in her blog. We, the parents, are children and needed to be treated as if we are completely ignorant and unaware of our parental responsibilities. We need to be talked down to yet praised for our efforts. My husband was doing his job: he was being a father. Why do they not respect the mothers that are doing their jobs, too? When will they realize that there are a lot of people out there that take their parenting responsibilities very seriously.

As my son says way too often, sheesh.