They were my kinfolk, my people - many of whom I'm still friends with today, though we've scattered across the country, spilling out in different directions as fast as we could once we'd tossed our graduation caps in the air.

Aimee Nezhukumatathail - World of Wonders

For quote archives click here

It's In the Past

Three Dave's No Waiting

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Look for a New Year

It is already the new year on the east coast. But it's still 2009 here in the Midwest.

So here are 3 things for the end of 1 year and the beginning of another.

1. Saw Sherlock Holmes with my wife, her brother, uncle and cousin last night. The 4 of us boys liked it, Amy did not. Actually, she hated it.

2. I will be making some changes to the blog in the weeks to come. I will probably experiment with a few looks before hopefully unveiling a more permanent new look next Thursday on my 1 year blog-o-versary.

3. 2009 was a rough year for our family. Losing my brother in April had a profound impact on the entire year. God is still blessing us, however, and I look forward to what's ahead in 2010.
If you'd like to blog about 2009 or 2010 you can add it to Mr. linky below.

Next Time: Maybe This Year.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A cool use for a GPS

It's been a while since I posted a Works for me Wednesday post. I thought of one last week that I thought I would share.

If I have a place to go to during the day and I don't want to be late for it instead of setting an alarm clock I set the address in my GPS. The GPS will tell me what time I will be arriving at my destination. I leave the house as the arrival time on the GPS nears the time I want to arrive. Not the most usual use for a global positioning system but hey it works for me.

To see what works foe others head over to We Are That Family.
Next Time: A New Look for a New Year

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Six words after Christmas

2 New Cameras 1 New Phone

Had a very merry Christmas. We did something new this year giving each other only 1 gift per person from each person. We knew that between grandparents, aunts and uncles the kids would be lavished with gifts and we did not need to pile on.

Each kid spent their own money for the gifts they gave. Allowing Amy and I to get what my dad used to call "the biggie."

Charlie and Emma received cameras. So if you ever happen over to their blogs (Emma, Charlie) expect to see lots of pictures of bunnies and Star Wars Lego Sets respectively.

I wasn't totally surprised to receive a telephone this year. We had washed my last one and I was in need. However the type of phone floored me. We have never had any kind of phone with a contract before it has always been pay as you go. My new Samsung has internet access, a camera (that also takes video, a GPS, a pastry chef, and a word processor. Amy wanted me to have something that I could use when I got a blog or other creative idea that worked better than a Taco Bell Napkin.

I have to go now and register for the graduate school course I will need in order to master the intricacies of this phone. Hope every one's Christmas was as good as ours. Skip on over to showmyfacedotcom to see more of Six Word Saturday.

Next Time: A Cool Use For A GPS

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve at the Bowling Alley


Amy, Siblings and Cousins on 23rd

One of the things I really enjoy about Christmas is continuing family traditions. On Amy's side of the family there are 2 such traditions that I enjoy partaking in each year.

The first takes place on the evening of the 23rd. It is the celebration of my MIL's birthday. Being born so close to Christmas sometimes can seem like the short end of the stick. My MIL's family certainly made it work for her. They gather the relatives for a great dinner (these day's it's an outstanding pot luck). Then after dinner they gather round the table and the birthday girl is celebrated. She is sung to and she opens a barrage of presents. When that is finished the Christmas presents are handed out and everyone opens presents from youngest to oldest.

My 2 favorite parts of this evening are the themed gifts and the clapping. Not every year, but many years some of my wife's relatives will give everyone the same type of gift. One year it was slipper socks. What is really cool about this is how the family pulls it off. After a few people have opened their gift, and the pattern has emerged, people begin chanting the name of the item while it's being opened. If you've never opened slipper socks while 15 people are chanting slipper socks you are missing out!

After each gift is opened there is a moment of gift appreciation and clapping. This is no golf clap either. These are heartfelt moments of appreciation, the clapping is really more from the joy of Christmas and time spent family and less the celebration of the material.

The second established tradition is also on my MIL's side of the family. Each year on Christmas Eve they go bowling. I am not quite sure how or why the idea started but as a guy who loves bowling I don't question it.

It's such a nice tradition that I just penned a ditty to celebrate it.
Tis the season to go bowling
Fa la la la la la la la la
Gets the Holiday fun a-rolling
Fa la la la la la la la la la
In the peaks and in the valleys
fa la la fa la la fa la la
We have fun in lighted alleys
fa la la la la la la la la
Some have t-shirts with their names
fa la la la la la la la la
Some are bowling Flintstone frames
fa la la la la la la la la
Some are striking some are sparring
Fa la la fa la la la la la
great experiences all are sharing
Fa la la la la la la la la
Here at Home School Dad I wish the happiest of holidays and the merriest of Christmas and the least amount of gutter balls possible.
Next Time: Six Word Saturday

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Great Drum

Hockey Lessons

Life Lessons from the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

This is the first post that I am publishing in it's entirety on both my blogs. The idea speaks to me on both a sports and home school level.
Mark Pavelich was one of the three young men who played on the "conehead" line for Herb Brook's gold medal winning hockey team. Named the cone head line because of the unique perhaps alien style the boys played with as an homage to the popular conehead sketch on Saturday Night Live at that time.

The book "The Boy's of Winter" does an excellent job portraying Pavelich as someone who loves playing Hockey but not the notoriety that comes with excelling. Pavelich is one of 2 NHL players to score 5 goals in a game. 1

That fact notwithstanding, Pavelich was much more comfortable getting the puck to other scores than scoring himself. Most familiar with the Miracle on Ice are familiar with Mike Eurizione's game winning goal. It was Pavelich who got the assist. Pavelich also got the assist on his line mate Buzz Schneider's first period goal that knotted the Russians at one. How appropriate that a player who liked being behind the scenes made the first and final assists in the most important hockey game in his countries history.

As a NHL player Pavelich was known for his poise on the ice, his practical jokes in the locker room and his desire to be and completely comfortable in who he was as a person. Who he was off the ice was not a social butterfly or a clotheshorse. There are countless stories in "Boys of Winter." showing Pavelich's preference to be withdrawn and only comfortable outside of the rink when He was fishing, hunting or other outddorsy tasks. His New York Rangers teammate Nick Foitu described him thusly, "He dressed like a mountain man from the backwoods of Minnesota. Then he would come out on the ice and play his heart out." 2
Joe Devaney a close friend of Pavelich's summed him up this way . . . "He's completely happy and content with what he does. He marches to his own drum and it's a great drum." 3
I really liked that quote because it makes an important distinction for going against the status quo. Some people march to a different drum just to be contrarian. When they hear toe-may-toe they have a knee-jerk need to say toe-mah-toe. Unfortunately, being different just to be different doesn't usually make a difference.
Amy and I march to a different drummer when it comes to educating our kids. We home school our children and we don't do it to be different. We do it because, for us, homeschooling is a great drum. Like Pavelich, we are happy and content with our decision to homeschool.
As a parent I also see the quote about Pavelich as an opportunity to help my children find their drummer. All our children seem to be on their way to establishing their own paths. Emma, the literary giant and animal lover. Charlie, the scientist, explorer, super hero. Lucy, the 1 man wrecking crew/ballerina with an unusual take on about everything. I recently told her that over Christmas Break I wanted her to memorize three state capitols. I suggested Indiana, Iowa and Missouri as they border Illinois. She responded back that she wanted to memorize the capitols of Kentucky, Bethlehem and Arkansas.
As Amy and I help them find their drummer we realize it doesn't have to be the road less traveled, we just want the path they take to be a great drum.
Next Time: Christmas Eve at the Bowling Alley

2. The Boys of Winter. Coffey, Wayne. p. 167
3. Boys of Winter, P. 169

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Library Week

Six Word Saturday

Library Week with my Intrepid Reporter

Twice a year we have library week as part of our home school activities. We generally spend 5 days going to various libraries. Since Amy gets two weeks off at Christmas time we have decided to take two weeks to visit libraries.

Our first library chose itself as Charlie was invited to a afternoon birthday party 30 minutes from our house. While he sleds and has general merriment with the Bioncle and Star Wars set, we went 600 feet (thanks GPS) across town to the local library.

I have assigned Emma with the task of reporting on each library. I am actually posting this while visiting library #1.

Here is Emma's report:

Name of Library: St. Charles Library. St. Charles, IL.

Something I liked: I liked all the Animal Ark Books they had.

One thing I didn't like: They didn't have one of my favorite books, Bunnies in the Bathroom.

A book I read while I was there: 2 Minute Mysteries by Donald Sobol author of Encyclopedia Brown.

Dad asked me to ask the Librarian a question. Lucy said she would, so I followed her with my notebook.

Lucy: Knock Knock

Librarian: Who's There?

Lucy: Emma

Librarian: Emma Who?

Lucy: Emma Kayrene (My Middle Name)

It's time to pick Charlie up from sledding so thus ends the first installment of Library Week

Head over to showmyface.com for more six word fun.

Next Time: Hockey Lessons

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Three Things This Thursday

I am a bit of a procrastinator. Thursday is almost over and I am just getting to Three Things This Thursday. Today is supposed to be a themed edition of 3 Things This Thursday entitled 3 Gifts This Thursday. If my tardiness hasn't put too great a damper on the proceedings I will tell you about 3 gifts I have received in my life time and give you an opportunity to do the same.

Gift 1. When I was in the fourth grade my parents gave me a book called Chippy Chipmunk. It was a fantastic read and I read it over and over. When I think back to my formidable years and my life love long of reading I often think of that book.

Gift 2. A few winters back Amy gave me a fantastic book about the 1980 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey Team that surprised the world and wrested the gold medal from the perpetual clutches of the Soviets. The name of the book is The Boys of Winter by Wayne Coffey. I have used it as source material for a segment I do here at the blog called Hockey Lessons.

Gift 3. Most Christmases and birthdays my Dad gives me a bit of money with the general instructions don't spend this on the mortgage or use this to buy something you generally wouldn't. When my Dad this in Christmas of 2004, Any and I saved it for a few months until we figured out best how to use it. One day a co-worker gave me the White Sox group tickets order form. She worked in the mail room and had received it and knew our company wasn't going to use it and thought I might want to look at it knowing how huge of a Sox fan I am. Most of the plans were untenable financially but there was 1 plan the Minnie Plan named after White Sox legend Minnie Minoso. The Minnie plan was for 9 home games. It still seemed like a lot of money to pay for tickets when we generally only went to 2 to 3 games a year.

Amy was adamant, she said we had the money from my Dad's gift and she knew how much I would enjoy it. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and spent the big bucks on an extravagance.

I am really glad I did. It turns out that the year that I attended my most Sox games was in fact the year they won the World Series. We bought 2 tickets to each of the nine games. I was able to invite friends and family and even if the Sox had not won it all the memories of the time spent with loved ones watching my favorite sports team would be worth every penny my Dad spent.

So those are my 3 gifts this Thursday. What gifts do you remember? What meaning do they have? link on to Mr. Linky below and tell us all about it.

Next Time: Library Week

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our Kids Sing

Today was a first and possibly last in our family. All 3 of our children sang on stage together.

Our family loves singing. No one's going to confuse us with the Von Trapp family singers or anything. In fact, if our kids sang as poorly as I do, they'd be the shut your von trap family.

For the past few weeks we have been preparing for the kids to sing at our church's Christmas choir service. Lucy was in the age range for the first year and Emma for possibly the last.
Here is a clip of them all singing.
We'd like to thank all the hard work put in behind the scenes done by so many people in our church. Special thanks must go to our Children's pastor and his wife who do such a fantastic job of heading it up each year.

Next Time: Three Things Thursday

Saturday, December 12, 2009

No Business Like Snow Business

Nothing says "Hello Winter!" like sledding!

Here's a recipe for winter excitement:

Take 1 kid and 1 clone and . . .

Go Sledding!
Have fun and don't forget the Hot Chocolate! Slide down over to show my face dot com for more Six Word Saturday. and don't forget to check out my new Blog: Crazy Uncle Dave's Sport-O-Rama.
Next Time: Our Kids Sing

Hello Sports Fans

I have been blogging for almost a year at my main blog: Home School Dad. Like me, my blog is eclectic. I blog about a great variety of topics. Fow whatever reason, I have not posted alot about sports. This is not because I don't have a lot to say about sports. No, I have plenty to say! I am constantly having sports discussions in my head that are begging to get out. Perhaps Home School Dad is not just the correct springboard for my sports diatribes, discourses, and delusions.

To Read More Click Here

NEXT TIME: No Business like Snow Business

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dude! Where's Your Manners!

Three Things This Thursday

1. When you raise children, you spend a lot of time with children. Yours, relatives, their friends, kids from church, neighbors, the list goes on.

Charlie is 8 and is a friend to everyone. So, I spend a lot of time with his friends. I have found this thing out about 6-10 year old boys: they say dude a lot. Charlie doesn't. We used to call him Big Dude when he was a baby, but he never took to using the word too much.

I don't really have any big problem with boys saying dude. But here's a couple things that kind of bother me:

1. Some kids seem to use it so often I wonder if they even know each others names.

2. Some kids address me as dude.

This may not be as rude as it seems to me sometimes as in many ways I act like a big kid. I try to relate to kids on their own level, I talk to them about things that I think they might be interested in like Star Wars, or baseball. But still it does bother me. Sometimes I just want to say to them hey, that's Mr. Dude!

2. Opening another Lucyism

My MIL has a neat tradition with our kid's birthdays. Instead of buying them a present, she goes shopping with them for some presents and takes them out for lunch. The kids really enjoy this special time with Grandma.

Since this year was Lucy's first shopping expedition with Grandma, I tagged along. Lucy thought she might be lonely with just Grandma. Lucy had a great time. She picked out an umbrella, a Lego horse set, and some baby tiger dolls.

On our way to McDonald's, I told Lucy that when we got to Grandma's she could open one of her presents. She replied, "I'll open my umbrella."

It's good to know the Lucyisms haven't come to an end just because she turned 4!

3. Sky High watch out!

Our local high school made the news this week. According to the school district's website they set the Guinness book of World Record for most people assembled dressed as superheroes. With the effort they Smashed the previous record of 1,016 by a fantastic 400 (pun definitely intended). More notably they raised almost $2,000 in cash and almost 1,000 food items were donated to our local food pantry.

Congratulations to the kids at DCHS! I just wish I had known about it before hand, they would have had 4 more heroes to contend with!

Those are the three things This Thursday. Next Week is our themed edition. With Christmas coming it is called 3 Gifts This Thursday. Think about participating.

You can participate this week by blogging about 3 things and linking your post to Mr. Linky below.

Next Time: Hello Sports Fans

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas On The Radio

Amy and I both enjoy the theatre. While neither of us has seen a Broadway show, Amy has seen several shows in London and I have seen fine performances at other cities with a tradition of stage excellence such as Khabarovsk, Russia and Louisville, Kentucky.

We also like to see shows in Elgin, Illinois and it's little sister city, Chicago. Amy will sometimes give her family members the gift of going to a show. Last year, she bought tickets for her Mom and Aunt to see a stage production of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life", performed as a radio play. Say that with a cookie in your mouth!

I mean it! Go get a cookie! I'll wait.

Amy's Mom and Aunt both enjoyed the show and I thought it might be a nice one for Amy and I to attend at some point.

So, this summer, when I saw the 2009 schedule for an Elgin theatre, I was glad to see they were putting on "It's A Wonderful Life" on December 5th, I bought 2 tickets for the 2:00 show and decided to surprise Amy with them as an early Christmas present.

By definition, as a surprise, Amy did not know about it beforehand, In retrospect, I should have done some sort of save the date thing. Amy scheduled Lucy's Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party at the exact same time and I didn't notice the double booking until we had already sent out the invites.

Providentially, there were two shows and I was able to switch our tickets to the late show without giving away the surprise to Amy. On Saturday after Lucy's party, Amy and I went out to a dice dinner and then I took her to the play.

The premise of the show is that it's Christmas time in the 1940's and a radio station is about to do a live performance of "It's A Wonderful Life." A snow storm keeps the majority of the cast from getting to the station. We are told at the onset, that if the show does not go on, the radio station will fail. This forces 2 of the support staff and 2 of the actors to play all the roles and to do the sounds.

What followed was a delight for all in attendance. It's one thing to hear a drama on the radio, but to watch actors literally having a conversation with themselves as they play two roles is astounding. Amy especially liked watching the actors make use of facial expressions and other body language while performing their lines. I liked watching the actors running from one mike to another or to the sound table to make sure the scene got properly executed. It was very interesting to be both behind the scenes and in the audience at the same exact moment.

Next Time: Dude! Where's Your Manners?

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Jeanne and Lucy share a birthday!

My mom and my daughter were born on December 6th. In different years of course, in fact, in different centuries!

This year they are both celebrating significant birthdays. My Mom is turning 70 and Lucy is turning 4. Now 4 may not seem like a significant birthday, to you, but at our house it has quite a bit of significance. It is affectionately know as the Chuck E. Cheese Birthday.
When Emma turned 4 we had her first kid party at Chuck E. Cheese's. We did the same thing when Charlie turned 4, two years later. 4 is the perfect age for Chuck E. Cheese and Lucy has been looking forward to it for a long time. The party is actually today, for logistical purposes. But Lucy is cool with that.
My older sister flew in from Virginia last night and we had a family surprise party for my Mom at a nice restaurant. The kids did not come, just my parents, their kids and spouses. It felt odd to have Keith's wife there without Keith. While his absence was palpable, it was still nice to celebrate Mom's birthday as a family.
Happy Birthday Mom! Happy Birthday Lucy! On the day that some celebrate St. Nicholas, it is great to celebrate what a gift you both are to me!

Six Word Saturday is brought to you by Cate at Show My Face Dot Com. Head over to see more six words than you can stick a shack at.
Next Time: Christmas on the Radio

Thursday, December 3, 2009

And The WInners Are (Not Me) . . .

It's time for Three Things This Thursday . . .

1. HSBA Winners.

I was nominated for the 2009 Home School Blog Awards at the HSBA Post. I was nominated for Best Homeschool Dad Blog and since the name of my blog is Home School Dad, I thought I was a shoe in.

My victory was not meant to be, as Families Again took that particular category. Congratulations to him, and all the other winners. In honor of all the winners, I will have links to all of them on my blog until the end of the year. I am only halfway through putting them up now, so if you won and don't see your blog, a link will be up soon.

2. Snow!

The kids were a little disappointed when they woke up this morning and there was no snow. They had heard, (or read or seen) a weather report that said it would snow overnight. They don't know what we know that weather forecasters are basically guessing! Well, they guessed a few hours late and it is now snowing. The kids are playing in it now as I had some light yard work for them to do as well. Let me look out the window and see how they are at multi tasking. Not bad, better than I multi-task.

They are excited as this is the first snow of the season here's an as it's happening picture of kid's playing in snow.

I know you see the kids playing, but where's the snow? The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The snow is blowing in the wind. It's almost time for them to come in for hot chocolate, so I'll move on to ....

3. Carving out Time

Today after school Charlie and I are going to carve a bar of soap with a dull knife as practice for how to handle the pocket knife he is going to use at cub scouts tonight. Let's see that's Cub Scouts tonight, dinner plans tomorrow, A party and an outing Saturday, Church and Lucy's Birthday Sunday, Awana Monday, Bible Study Tuesday. Wow! We are busy! How do we carve out time as a family among the business of the holidays and just plain everyday life?

Amy heard an idea on the radio of reading one chapter from the book of Luke each day in December. So at dinner each evening after opening the advent calendar, we read a chapter.

How do you carve out time during the Holidays? I would love to hear from you. Consider putting in on a post and linking it below to Three Things Thursday.

Next Time: 74!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My First Tutorial!

You Can Do Better Than This!

Tutorials to show that some people are less crafty than others.

When my wife was teaching two elementary school children and one preschooler at home, it was pretty easy for her to see that crafts work very well for these age groups. The problem is that very few people are less crafty than my wife. Now that we have switched roles and I teach the aforementioned elementary kids and preschooler, it is extremely easy to see that I am one of those few souls less crafty than her!

This doesn't stop me from trying! Last week I was reading a post at Sandwichink.com when I came across several ideas for making Advent Calendars.

I decided that as a class we could make an advent calendar ourselves. You can also try it yourself. Here is what you'll need . . .

1 piece poster board 24-25 index cards or 3-4 pieces construction paper, markers, scissors, tape, glue stick.

Not Pictured: Foil Star stickers, colored pencils and pencil.

Step 1: Fold 3-4 pages of construction paper in half left to right and then fold in half top to bottom then fold again in half top to bottom.

Step 2: Cut out pieces.

Result: you will have 24-32 pieces a little smaller than the size of 3" by 5" index cards. 3 sheets is perfect if you are doing a 24 day calendar and not planning on making any mistakes. We used 4 sheets!

Note: Step 1 and 2 are not needed if using index cards.

Step 3: Fold cards in half lengthwise.

Step 4:. Color inside cards with Christmas or any other pictures. (My students had to include at least some bunnies and Star Wars pictures.)

Step 5. Number the fronts of the cards in pencil and then color with colored pencil. It's as easy as ...

Step 6: When all cards are colored and numbered place on poster board how you want them displayed. This way you can get a preview how it will look before applying the glue.

Step 7: Glue cards in place on poster board.

Step 8. To close cards use tape or stickers. We used green and red star stickers. One sticker did not seem enough to close flap so we used 1 green and 1 red on each flap.

Step 9: When calendar looks something like this . . .

(Cute 8 year old not included)

Tape calendar and display in prominent place in house.

Now that the Calendar is complete it's time to put it to use. Beginning December 1st have a family member open 1 tab.

So, that's our craft and we're sticking to it. I want to hear about your crafts especially if you are as craft challenged as our family is.

Next Time: And the Winners are (Not Me) . . .

Monday, November 30, 2009

A November Keithsake

As most of you reading this already know, the timing of my blogs in November have been a tribute to my Brother Keith. He would have turned 39 this month , so I have been posting every 39 hours. This is the last post of the month

In addition, on November 11th, Keith's birthday I posted every 39 minutes with memories of Keith. By clicking here you can see all the November 11th posts in their entirety (albeit in reverse order). I am also editing these posts into a word document. If anyone would like a copy of that document, let me know.

Now, as my blogging reverts back to semi wheneverly postings that you have become accustomed to, this does not mean I have stopped remembering Keith. I will continue to remember him, miss him and celebrate him on these pages and in my life beyond these pages. I am thankful to have had a brother like him and am glad I will be reunited with him again someday in Heaven.

Next Time: My first Tutorial.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I knew it!

Congratulations, and I told you so!
Before Amy and I moved, Amy and I worked with our church youth group. I noticed a compatibility between our pastor's daughter and a friend of her older brother, who was already in college. Over the past 10 years, I have "hinted" that they should consider marriage to each other. Today, they finally follow my advice and walk down the aisle.
My hints which contained all the subtly of the proverbial brick wall were all but acknowledged and unheeded for nearly a decade. I persisted because their story mirrored Amy and mine that they were good friends who did not see the efficacy of such a match (sorry Jane Austen aficionado) that was apparent to me.

Obviously, they finally got the memo and a few hours ago Jimmy and Beth were married by her father. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who saw this before they did. When they announced their intentions, I tried to remind them that they had me to thank and their answer was get in line. I and now my blogging public know that I should be at the front of that line and that’s good enough for me.
So, congratulations to the happy couple! For more six word Saturday go to Showmyfacedotcom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Home For Thanksgiving

My cousin (first cousin once removed) Jenna is a typical high school senior. At least she was until she was diagnosed with Leukemia late last month. Her family, friends, church and school have rallied around her at this time of need. Yesterday her school,Benet Academy, hosted a blood and bone marrow registry drive. Jenna's story along with a promotion of the event was recently featured in a local newspaper. There was an amazing turnout, much more than had been predicted.

I spoke with my cousin Amy (Jenna's Mom) briefly yesterday at the event. As excited as she was about the turnout and the outpouring of love for Jenna and her family, she was more excited that Jenna has come home from the hospital for the Thanksgiving Holiday. She will be home until Monday when she goes back to the hospital for her second round of chemotherapy.

Today as I celebrated Thanksgiving with my family, I thought what a blessing it is to be home for Thanksgiving. Then I thought of my brother, Keith who was not home with his family this Thanksgiving. I remembered all the Thanksgivings he and I spent together throughout the years. I felt a twinge of longing and sadness and then I was reminded of Kermit the Frog's words in The Muppet Christmas Carol (Yes, I realized he didn't write them. )

Kermit (as Bob Cratchit) : Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it. I'm sure that we shall never forget Tiny Tim, or this first parting that there was among us.

I also take solace in the fact that Keith, is indeed, home for Thanksgiving. He is in his heavenly home. While, we have had a "parting" from him this year, we also can have a "meeting" with him in heaven some day. Jenna's continued progress, the love showered on her and her family, the memories of a brother I loved and the promise of a reunion with him in heaven are only a sampling of the many things I gave thanks for today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Not Even Thanksgiving!

The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree, so they say. In our house, if the tree is of the Christmas variety this phrase is especially true. Over the past few weeks there has been a proliferation of Christmas decorations everywhere our family has been. They always bring out the same reaction from my oldest daughter, "It's not even Thanksgiving!" Now our youngest daughter has joined in on the refrain.

On October 1st I blogged here about how Halloween displays had been up since early September. It seems that holiday preparation (read commercialization) extends every year. Today, I heard long time Chicago radio voice Garry Meier talking about how it is too early to play Christmas music and suggest to hold off playing them until the Friday after Thanksgiving. He is absolutely right! I was glad to hear someone other than my own family members suggest it.

I don't have the exact dates but by mid to late July the back to school sales had already begun near me. Labor Day was September 7th, and I saw Halloween displays on the 10th! As soon as those Halloween displays were removed they were replaced immediately with Christmas! I often see Easter displays a week before Ash Wednesday. 40 days isn't enough to sell a Holiday?!?!

In my opinion marketing these holidays for such a long time has a number of adverse effects:

1) It takes away from the meaning of other "lesser" holidays. Thanksgiving has been changed from a day to thank God for his provisions and has now been marginalized to an old McDonald's ad slogan: food, folks and fun. Actually it's more like food, folks and football. I ate dinner at an excellent restaurant last night that was advertising their Thanksgiving buffet. But instead of the traditional cornucopia and the like, they are already dressed in full Christmas mode, tree and all. One would hope they won't be piping in the Frank Sinatra Christmas album as they were tonight, but one can never tell.

2) It takes away from the meaning of the holidays they are promoting. The over saturation is so much that some people are ready for it to end weeks before it gets here. I can understand that in a political campaign, but when celebrating such special events as Christ's birth, resurrection or the founding of America we want the days to be special not something to be endured.

3) Running from holiday to holiday creates more stress than good will. Rest is good. A few weeks between celebrations is a good thing. Rest gives us the opportunity to celebrate holidays all our own. Yesterday Lucy declared to Amy you're the best Mom ever. Tonight is Mommy night. When she woke up this morning, Lucy furthered her proclamation and decreed today Mommy Day. Mommy Day so far consists of Lucy coming in our room every few minutes with a new gift or card for Amy. The latest was a folded up piece of blue construction paper which Lucy called a laptop. This freedom also gives us the opportunity to celebrate something equally important, everyday life.

Next year I plan to post about what in my perfect world is the best way to celebrate each holiday as they occur. Let me just say now that getting back to traditional observances and time lines would be great. Advent generally runs from December1st to the 24th. I would be perfectly fine if I didn't see any decorations or hear any carols before then. I would also be okay if "Black Friday" was the official "unofficial" start of the season. Any sooner and hey I've got daughters to contend with! etiquette

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Open Letter to My Narnia Classes

Dear Narnia Students.

30 years ago I embarked on a journey. I heard my first Narnia story. I am not sure whether it was how Aslan died for Edmund, or how Eustace turned into a dragon or how Aslan changed him back. It may have been about a mouse's courage, or a horse's boy. Those stories that I heard read to me, or later read myself, had an impact on my life.

An impact that continues to grow to this day. It has been my delight to share those stories with you. It has also been a joy to see the impact these stories are having on you. I can see how much Narnia means to you from your involvement in class, the projects you've done and the stories you've written.

C.S. Lewis was able to put important spiritual truth in a fantastic world. Aslan, as you know, represents God. Here are examples based on what we read this semester.

  • In The Magician's Nephew, Aslan creates the world and puts into motion a plan to save Narnia from the evil Digory brought into the world. In the book of Genesis, Jesus creates the world and God puts into motion a plan to save us from the evil Adam and Eve helped bring into our world.
  • In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan dies for Edmund and comes back to life because He was innocent. In the Gospels we see how Jesus died for the sins of the world and how God brought His son back to life, because he was sinless.
  • In A Horse and His Boy, Aslan saves a baby in a boat and then uses that baby (as a boy) to save Narnia from destruction. In the book of Exodus, God saves a baby in a boat and then uses that baby (as a man) to save His people from slavery.

There are so many more spiritual tie-ins, but at it’s heart, Narnia is great stories told by a great storyteller. It has been my pleasure to share Narnia with you this semester. I hope you will join me next year to finish the series and take the adventure Aslan gives us.

To Narnia and the North,

Mr. Roller.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Lizards Rock!

I really thought it said Lizard!

When I was 17 I met a girl and dated her for almost 3 years. My entire Senior year and my first two years after High School. For the latter 2 years I was also a volunteer leader in my high school youth group. For those two reasons I read a lot of books on dating relationships at that time. One book I read recommended many different dating ideas. After I read it I was always on the prowl for unusual dating ideas.

One day I was visiting a friend at the Elmhurst Hospital. I saw a sign for a museum in the town. It was called the Lizard Museum, at least that's what I thought. It sounded cool, a whole museum about Lizards? It sounded like it might make for an unusual date. When I got home, I called my girlfriend (This was early mid eighties and cellphones weren't really the end all or be all that they are now) and told her about the museum. She also thought it was cool, and we talked about going there some time.

Flash forward about a year. I was at my girlfriends dorm room meeting some of her suite mates. One of the girls was from Elmhurst. I got all excited and said, "Hey, have you ever been to the Lizard Museum?" At first she had no idea what I was talking about. Then she started laughing. " You mean the Lizzadro museum!" She said, "It's a rock museum!"

Now 25 years or so after the Lizard Museum debacle, I am finally heading over to the Lizzadro. It's full title is the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. It's a free day at the museum, so a number of families from my home school co-op are heading that way.
That's my Six Words, for more six word Saturday At Show mt Face dot com click here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Thanks Thursday

Every Third Thursday I like to mix things up here at 3TTT with a special themed edition. With Thanksgiving on the horizon, I have decided to blog about 3 things, for which I am thankful. If you are planning on blogging about what you are thankful for any time in the next week or so be sure to link the post to Mr. Linky below.

Here are 3 things I am thankful for . . .

1) I am thankful that I spent regular time with my brother prior to his death last year. I saw him twice in the week before he died. His death was unexpected, so it's not like I had a chance to say goodbye. But, I did have a chance to visit with him and spend time with Him, and I will always be thankful that I took the opportunity to do so.

2) I am thankful for my wife's encouragement. I had a men's group meeting this morning and went to a men's retreat this past weekend. Amy encouraged me to attend both these events and shuffles her schedule around to make attendance possible. I really appreciate that she is interested in my growth.

3. I am thankful for the pioneers of the homeschool movement. Because of their passion and perseverance, My family and so many others are homeschooling with much less obstacles than they faced.

So those are my 3. Please blog about 3 things that you are thankful for and link up. I am also thankful for you, my readers and followers.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where I've Been, Where I'm Going.

Where I've Been.
This is a map showing the states I have been in. Don't be too impressed. If I weren't counting airports, Washington, Colorado and Alaska would not be on there.
visited 43 states (86%)

These are the countries I've been to . . .

Create your own visited map of The World

Again not as impressive as it seems. The map gives me all Russia when I was never in the European part. Belgium and Switzerland were "airport countries".

Where I'm Going!

This review of my travels reminded me of the words of Paul to the Philippians:

320But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (NIV)

Like much of the Bible this is part encouragement and challenge. These verses are a contrast to those who "live as enemies to the cross of Christ" v.18 They are described in v 19 . . .

319Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. (NIV)

So, I challenge you today to focus on the transforming nature of Christ rather than the tragic transient nature of the world. But mainly I challenge me!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Friday and Saturday I was at a men's retreat. I hope to tell you more about the retreat at a different time.

While I was gone, the rest of the family went to the circus . Special thanks to my Dad, who was the founder of the feast.

Everyone had a great time. Amy liked taking multiple videos of elephants. Here's one of them.

Amy asked Lucy what she liked best about the circus. Lucy responded, "The exciting parts of course!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Home School Blog Awards

I'm honored, I'm humbled; I'm third.

I just found out today that this blog has been nominated in the 2009 Homeschool Blog Awards(HSBA). It has been nominated in the Best Home School Dad Blog category. While I'm very honored for the nomination, I must say I'm a little cheesed off for not being nominated in the humor category. My Lucyisms alone would make me a shoe-in!

Seriously though I am honored to be nominated and look forward to looking through all the nominations and all the blogs.

The thing is now that I've been nominated, I really want to win! (Currently I'm in third place, thus the six words) That is where you, my readers, come in. You can vote me by clicking here or on the I'm Nominated button.

If you are just in from Six Word Saturday and don't know a lot about my blog, I hope the rest of this post gives you an idea of what kind of fun and frivolity occurs at regular intervals here.

Art Fans

All my kids are fantastics and prolific artists. Charlie and Lucy often draw 2 excellent pictures on opposite sides of the paper. This has made displaying them a bit problematic.

That is, until yesterday, when I created the Izola Becker Revolving Art Gallery. This week, Charlie is Displaying his exhibit: "Hijinks on the High Seas". Lucy is already working on the portfolio for her showing.

Interactive Reading

For the past few weeks I have been reading the children a chapter a day from Marguerite de Angeli's fine book, "The Door in the Wall."

I was reading today's installment, while the kids worked on their sewing and are projects. Since they were multitasking, I decided to as well by reading and filming at the same time. Here is what happened . . .

My new camera has a lot of cool features. I was playing with the self portrait setting yesterday. This shot captures my feelings of my HSBA nomination. I call it in an homage to Dead Poet's Society, "The Sweaty Toothed Madman."

So I managed to Show my face once more at Six Word Saturday. Head on Down to Show My Face dot com to see what's doing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Three Things This Thursday

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Here are 3 Things for This Thursday.

1. Remembering Keith. Yesterday starting at midnight. I posted memories about my brother Keith every 39 minutes as yesterday he would have turned 39. He died this past April. You can browse through all 37 installmets by clicking here.
2. Fall programming. Hadn't got a chance to watch anything new this week. Here are some videos from our "work" day Tuesday.

3. Next week is already the third Thursday of November. We will be having a themed edition. Think and blog about 3 things you are thankful for and come back next week and link up to 3 Thanks Thursday.

Those are my 3 Things for This Thursday. Please join in!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life and Death go on

This is the last post of the day. All I can say is whew! What a roller coaster of a day! I was up at midnight launching this and woke up at 5 a.m for a men's group at church. I taught school today and still managed to make sure these posts kept coming every 39 minutes.

It feels a little (even for me) heavy handed to go on about Keith all day. I had friends and relatives having surgeries and tests today. I just heard that a dear friend from high school's father passed away this weekend. (Please pray for the Broten family in this time. ) I also have a 1st cousin once removed who is battling Leukemia. (Pray for Jenna and her family as well.)

Do I really have the right to focus so much energy on my brother when there is so much need elsewhere? I think, yes. Preparing to celebrate Keith in this manner and then celebrating him as helped me appreciate his significance but also to see that there are so many people out there who have lost or are losing someone just as precious as Keith.

I hope by recounting his story, that others are blessed and encouraged. I know I have been in writing and editing these memories. I would like to thank all those who have contributed to this collection. I especially thank My wife, Amy, who encouraged me and anchored me in this project.

Died in 2009

One of the big highlights at our house growing up come Oscar or Emmy time was the listing of those who died in the past year. Here are just a few who passed away the same year as Keith did . . .

Bea Arthur - Actress. Died April 25th at age of 86. Best known for work in Maude and Golden Girls. She was actually just portraying our Grandma Friedrichs.

Corazon Aquino - World Leader. Died August 1st at age 76. Beloved president of Philippines.

Walter Cronkite - Anchor Man. Died July 17 at age 92. Longtime CBS News icon.

Larry Gelbart - Television and Movie Producer. Died September 11th at age 81. Creator of M*A*S*H (the T.V. show not the movie, acronym or potatoes).

John Hughes - Movie Director. Died August 6th at age 59. Known for his work on Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Ricardo Montalban.

Died January 14th at age 88. Veteran actor best known for his work on Fantasy Island. Keith and I know him best for playing Khan. In Star Trek II Wrath of Khan.

Died at the age of 38

Keith would have been 39 today. You don't need to be the caliber of a mathemagician that Keith was to figure out that he died at the age of 38.

Here is a short list of others who have died at the same age. . .

Roberto Clemente - Baseball Player. Died 1972. Pittsburgh Pirate Hall of Famer died while doing humanitarian work.

Harry Chapin - Song Writer, Singer. Died 1981. Most famous for song Cat's in The Cradle.

Florence Griffith Joyner - Olympic Track Star.
Died 1998.

John F. Kennedy Jr. - Son of President Kennedy. Died 1999. Published George Magazine

Died April 7th

Here is a short list of famous people who share Keith's date of death.

P.T. Barnum - Circus Organizer and hoaxer. Died in 1891 at age 80. The saying "A sucker born every minute" is often attributed to him. May have been uttered by a contemporary.

Henry Ford - Automotive Pioneer. Died in 1947 at age 83. Streamlined auto industry.

Johnny Hart - Cartoonist. Died in 2007 at age 80. Created the comics strips B.C. and Wizard of Id. Stirred up controversy with his highly evangelical Easter Sunday panels in B.C.

Speaking of Easter, I found one reference on the Internet that Jesus Christ died on April 7th.

If that is indeed historically accurate, I find it very encouraging that Keith died on the same day that His savior died for His sins and those of the world. Because of Christ's death and subsequent Resurrection, I will one day see Keith again in Heaven.

A quick Keith and Dave Joke

One day I told Keith that I would love to go skiing in Norwegia.

I knew he would correct me and he did.

He said "Norway."

And I said "No, Really! I'd love to go!"

We tried to recreate the magic for years but no one else would fall for it.

Keith is as Keith does.

Keith was an avid movie goer. He really loved the movie Forrest Gump. I never quite got that movie. But that's okay many people never quite got Keith and I always appreciated Him.

Keith liked the movie so much that he gave his Daughter Sara the middle name Jenny. (Melchior had already been taken.)

The problem was that nobody did a worse Forrest Gump impression than Keith. The real problem was that no one did a more frequent Forrest Gump Impression than Keith. I mean how many times does a guy need to say "And that's all I have to say about that" which by the way it is.

Keith won't be at Chuck-E- Cheese. Rats!

We have a family tradition of celebrating our kids 4th birthday party at Chuck-E-Cheese. These pictures are from 6 years ago when Emma turned 4. We just sent out the invitations for Lucy's party next month.

The hardest thing about the upcoming party for us is no Keith. He and Lynne always made time for any occasion our kids were having, a football game, a dance recital, even an opportunity to spend time with a 6 foot rodent. The place won't be the same without Him.