A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

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Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Busy (But Awesome) Weekend

A Weekend is a beautiful thing. This past weekend had it all romance, international intrigue, the lowest lows and the highest highs and cheesecake.

It started on Friday morning. Instead of the regular day at school we had a library day. We went to the library near my folks house as I would be doing an errand with my Dad later in the day. (More on that in a bit.)

Our youngest has been little miss panic lately. The moment I get out of the car with the express intentions of going around and letting her out she starts screaming at the top of her very able lungs "Don't leave me, don't leave me!" Usually at time one of the oblivious twins (They're not twins) starts to talk to me about something, seemingly unaware that the screaming soprano is in the middle of her aria.

Well I solve the crisis at hand and the four of us go into the library. Now I brought some of the kids work and wanted them to start on it right away as Lucy played. Nobody wanted to do anything I wanted them to. So, I gave in and gave them some free time. By this time I was quite frustrated with the three of them and when Lucy told me she found a new friend to play with, I was sarcastic with her.

By God's grace I regrouped. Formulated a plan to get the kids to do their work. Implemented the plan and interrupted Lucy's play time to tell her that Daddy had been unkind to her and ask her for her forgiveness. She forgave me, which is good. Now, I am pretty sure she did not understand that I had been sarcastic, but even so it was important for me to admit fault even to a 3 year old.

The rest of the time at the Library was uneventful, until Lucy had "an accident" on one of the libraries chairs. Which is very eventful. It was the kind of accident that requires a change of clothes, which I had not brought with me. There have been so many outings this year where I have had the change of clothes, and never needed it and on those occasions where there's no change of clothes, I usually end up needing them. So I apologized to the librarians, who assure me that such behavior is quite common. But seemed genuinely thankful and surprised that I told them what had happened and where. I feel sorry for anyone who just happens on such a discovery. We made a hasty retreat from the library and got to my folks as they pulled up. I got Lucy's clothes in the washer and my Mom took care of the kids while my Dad and I were off to Keith's house.

For people new to this blog, Keith is my youngest brother, and he passed away in April. About 6 weeks prior to that my Father had knee replacement surgery. Before the surgery My Dad was one of the most active man in his 70's I know. He is constantly on the move, between projects and 2 part time jobs and bridge and the list goes on he is always in movement. It is very difficult to believe when you see him sitting down more than 5 minutes at a time. But after the surgery, he has had to slow down quite a bit. He works very hard 5 days a week at rehab. But that takes most of his energy and wipes him out for the rest of the day. He had just gotten back from rehab when I got to his house. He needed me to drive and do most of the work on removing a desk in Keith's house and installing a new one. Work that he could normally do 3 to 4 times quicker and better than I could. We worked hard and got the job completed, we were able to donate the desk to a local Salvation Army rather than have to store it in his garage and deal with it later. We had some good talks about Keith, but being back in that house and seeing my Dad aging before my eyes, made it for a sobering afternoon.

It was close to 7 when we got back to my folks house. My Mom had fed the kids lunch and Dinner while we were gone. We drove back home and I took Amy out for a date. It was about 8:00 by this time. We went to a Mexican restaurant, that we enjoy. There was an NBA game on their television. The show was being telecast in Spanish. It reminded me of my years in Russia. How on Sundays they would play an NBA game on the television and of course it was dubbed in Russian.

Amy and I had a nice dinner and good conversation. We then went to the park district and walked 2 miles. It was a relaxing yet invigorating end to a excellent but difficult day.

In writing this portion I have decided that while this weekend took 3 days to live that I will take 3 days to recount it. Tomorrow's installment starts with a marriage conference. I will close today's installment with a comic strip I did, about something I did not learn at the marriage conference. My apologies to Cristina at Home Spun Juggling, for calling my work a comic strip. I merely thought of the concept and let the Internet do the rest. For a truly excellent strip check out her blog.

Next Time: A Busy (But Awesome) Weekend Part II, Come for the Conference Stay for the Cheesecake

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Turning off the t.v. for the summer

This being the unofficial start of summer, we have again turned off our television. For the past few years we have turned off our television for the summer. In the first few years we would actually move the t.v. into the garage. Now signs like these will have to suffice.

We have not had broadcast t.v. for well over a year now since we moved the set away from the antenna plug. But we do a brisk trade in watching d.v.d.s and videos on it. Turning off the t.v. for the summer lets us enjoy time together as a family unencumbered by the distraction that box can bring.

The television, like many 21st century families, is not our only means of watching television programs. We watch a lot of t.v. straight from the good old Internet. We have decided this summer to not watch any t.v. like stuff on the Internet as well.

So what will we do with our free time? Walking, biking, swimming, working on our garden, Playing games and visiting friends and family.

Turning off the television for the summer works for us. To see what works for others go to Works for me Wednesday at We are That Family.

Next Time: A Busy Weekend.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Some carnivals may vary.

Summer doesn't really start until June 21st. But Memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of summer. Today isn't even traditional Memorial day, today is the day Memorial day is observed. The official Memorial day is this coming Saturday. But all that aside, perception is reality, and if those around me think Summer has started who am I to argue with them?

We celebrated the end of the unofficial first weekend of summer with a carnival. It is the carnival that comes to our town each year and it is a family tradition to attend.

The kids and I all got one of those all ride arm bands for the day. Everybody has their favorite ride. Charlie loves the Tilt-A-Whirl, Emma digs the Tornado, and Lucy the Merry Go Round. We invited 2 of Amy's cousins as well and everybody had a great time. Because of the arm bands we were able to go home for a nice dinner and then go back for a couple more hours of carnivalling. While carnivals pale in comparison to the majesty and splendor that is Six Flags, we enjoy this annual time of family bonding.

Next Time: Turning off the T.V. for the Summer.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Short Trip

The above title does not refer how long it takes for my children to drive me crazy. But when they do they certainly do not need a GPS. We as a family just got back from a less than 48 hour journey that took us from the Land of Lincoln (Illinois) , to the boyhood home of Lincoln (Indiana) , to the birthplace of Lincoln (Kentucky) and back again. This was no presidential visit though. We were bound for the blue grass state for the purposes of celebrating family achievement. Amy's cousin Chris graduated from high school.

Highlights of the trip were shouting "Marshmallow!!" when crossing state lines, swimming in the hotel pool, and using GPS for the first time.

My Dad lent me his GPS and it is a lot of fun. Amy and my favorite part of a GPS is not following their directions. We got home yesterday and today as we drove to church, we plugged my Dad's address into the GPS. The thing is my Dad lives south of us and church is north of us. As we got closer and closer to the church you could hear the frustration mounting every time she (it's a woman's voice) said "recalculating". The best time was when it suggested we turn into a cul de sac with 4 houses with the express purpose of turning around.

So that's enough interstate travel for a few weeks until we will again shout marshmallow. Our congratulations to Chris on his outstanding achievement.

Next Time: Some Carnivals May Vary

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Nuts.

Three Things This Thursday : Nuts, Chuck and Dye edition.
1. I think we have established in other posts, that our youngest daughter is clearly insane. One things she does now is remind us 100's of times about things we obviously know. "Don't shut the door" (We never shut that door.) "No,gate!" (Haven't used the gate in months." "Peanut Butter, no nuts!" (We know she is creamy all the way.)

Last week for lunch, I told her: "I am making you a bologna sandwich (She loves bologna.) Her reply: "No nuts!" That's right cause I have this bowl of nuts I am constantly pouring it into her bologna sandwiches. Craziness!

2. Chuck has been renewed, Why am I not more happy? (Possible Spoilers)

I love Chuck. It is the perfect blend of spy, romance and comedy. It's like The Office meets Moonlighting meets The Man From Uncle. At least before the latter two shows lost their spark.

Which may be why I am not as ecstatic as I should be. The second season finale worked great as a series finale. It closed enough story arcs that I would have been satisfied if the suits at NBC decided to pull the plug.

Don't get me wrong, I will be first in line to watch it when it returns in 2010 after the Winter Olympics. My concerns are that in order to maintain Chucks cover and in order to keep the Buy More employees in the cast, I can't see any alternative than his returning to the store. One of the best part of the series 2 finale, for me, was when Chuck told Emmet the Weasel that he quit. I think the producers have established that intersect or no intersect that Chuck is so much better than the Buy More. I mean really how many installs can he possibly go on? Hopefully the producers will surprise me with his employment status, as they have so many times with this quirky but lovable show.

3. It's done It's done the White Sox won!

That's what my oldest daughter cheers when the White Sox win. For me it's a way of squeezing 2 things into my last thing. What's done is the Carnival of Home Schooling I hosted this week. The topic was Baseball. Thanks to everyone who contributed. In the post I included a link to a list of all the Major League ballplayers who homered in their first at bat. On that list was White Sox slugger and 2005 World Series MVP Jermaine "I'll love you to the day I" Dye.

Which brings us to my final thing. JD hit a grand slam last night to put a big old exclamation point on a 7 run 4th inning in a game which the White Sox won 7-4. There are few things more exciting than seeing a grand slam live, especially when it benefits your team. It was my first game taking all 3 kids at the same time. It was Dog day so there were many furry friends to pet and play with prior to the game. My youngest liked her first game, the foam finger I bought her, and the bologna sandwich I brought from home. No nuts!

That is 3 Things this Thursday from me to you. For more of the same go to Psalm 104:24.

Next Time: A short trip.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

COH #177 - Take me out to the ball game

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome to the 177th edition of the Carnival of Home Schooling. Today's theme Baseball.

Before we go any further please join me for the singing of the Star Bangled Spanner. (I have the music playing and the lyrics below so you might as well sing.)

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Play ball!

Since this is my first time hosting the carnival, that makes me a rookie. Perhaps like these major leaguers I will hit a home run on my very first at bat.

Batting leadoff Cristina presents Two Cakes Down, One to Go posted at Home Spun Juggling. It is a reflection of how on her daughters 16th birthday, how little himeschoolings she has left with her. While stopping by the sight, take some time to see some of her comic strips. As a cartoonist she really takes the cake.

As it turns out I am going to see the White Sox play tomorrow. My beloved team has lost 5 in a row as this carnival begins. Lately, the team has been winning when I've been in attendance. But that was not always the case. A few years back, I wrote a humorous piece on how poorly the Sox played in games I attended. It gave me a bad case of Cell Shock.

U.S. Cellular field is a relatively young stadium opening in 1990. The oldest stadium currently in use is Fenway Park home of the Boston Red Sox since 1912. Wrigley Field home of the Chicago Cubs opened 2 years later. The newest stadiums opened in New York this year; one for the Mets and one is the new home for the New York Yankees.

Speaking of which, ChristineMM presents A Parenting Tip for Those Raising Independent Persons posted at The Thinking Mother. She even has a story about attending a recent Yankees game. Way to Theme Christine. Way to Theme.

Behind every great baseball team is a great manager. It once was common that as a player aged, he would transition into a player manager. Don Kessinger who spent most of his time with the Chicago Cubs finished his illustrious career as a player manager of the Chicago White Sox.

A home school parent is a type of player manager. Teaching "the game" to the next generation. The next few posts deal with some of the managerial aspects of homeschooling beginning with Richele Baburina presenting Managing Chores posted at Barefoot Voyage.

Kevin presents Teaching the Autistic Homeschooler posted at More4kids Homeschooling.

Erin presents Getting it all done, well, enough of it anyway posted at Delighting in His Richness.

Amy Roberts presents Raising Arrows: Declutter Me posted at Raising Arrows.

Prior to the game beginning the managers submit their lineups for the game. Joy Miller presents her line-up in Our Spring Term Curriculum posted at Five J's.

Managing the game is important, so is maintaing the field. Shannon (groundscrew for this ferstival) presents How Does Your Garden Grow? posted at Song of My Heart.

When I attend tomorrow's White Sox game I will be taking all 3 of my children. (1 for the first time) It should cost me a pretty peeny right? Not as much as you'd think. Of the 30 major leauge ball clubs 90% have some sort of kids club. The majority of these clubs offer free tickets to elected games as part of the membership. There is generally amembership fee (usually 10 or 20 per child). 4 of the teams including the White Sox have some level of membership which includes free tickets at no cost to join. So, I still have to pay mega bucks to park? Nope, with public trans the 4 0f us will travel round trip for less than $10.00. Before you ask about outrageous concession fees, I am able to bring 1 bottle of water for each person into the ball park and food in as well. That's what I call fun on a budget.

In the middle of baseball season they take a break for the All Star Game. Lara DeHaven presents her own all star team in Our Favorite Books for the 2008-2009 School Year posted at Texas Homesteader.

The Chicago Cubs are famous for their famous double play combination Tinker, Evers and Chance. Reading and writing make a great home school double play, as talked about in the next several posts.

Barbara Frank of Barbara Frank Online has a great way to help your children write clearly and concisely.

Meaghan Montrose presents 5 Ways to Encourage Young Children to Read posted at TutorFi.com.

~Kris~ presents Great Tools for Teaching Reading posted at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Susan Gaissert presents Reading Aloud is Alive and Well posted at The Expanding Life.

Runners have to stay on the bases and the basepaths or else they will be tagged or called out.

The following folks "tagged out" ideas they found off base:

Alasandra presents Homeschooling in nothing like creationism posted at Alasandra's Homeschool Blog.

Henry Cate need an umpires ruling. Read What are they measuring?
at Why Homeschool? to help him out.

Bring out the pink bats.

Major League Baseball recently started celebrating Mother's Day by having the players use specially made pink bats at Mother's days games. To that end, Becca presents On Making your Child Feel Loved posted at Inspiration for Mothers . Com.

Billboards near the bleachers.

Baseball games are a great way for businesses to advertise. Many companies have brought naming rights for the stadiums themselves. Others just buy advertisements on the programs or around the ball park. A few of this weeks submissions were somewhat prmotional in nature and I thought I'd run them here as the "products" may be useful to home schoolers.

Bridget Verhaaren presents The Literate Mother » About posted at The Literate Mother.

Kelly Sonora presents Usability.Edu: 25 Incredibly Useful Usability Cheat Sheets & Checklists posted at Designer City, USA.

Speaking of promotions, Beverly Hernandez of Beverly’s Homeschooling Blog (About.com)wants to remind us of the Subway Sandwich Make It Happen! Contest.

As we near the end of the carnival it's time for the seventh inning stretch. At Miller Field in Milwaukee they play the Beer Barrel Polka, but at most other venues they stick with Take me out to the ball game. It amazes me that the song was written by someone who had not been to a ball game himself at that point in his life.

While many ball parks are completely enclosed, there are still many where rain outs can really mess with their schedule. Last year the White Sox had to make up a rain game against the Detroit Tigers after the season ended. It was a must win game for the Sox as they needed to win to force a tie for their division. In Treasure Trove Katherine of No Fighting, No Biting would not allow a field trip to be rained out. Instead she went to a military exhibition in downtown DC which netted her many school supplies and a chance to learn hands-on about land mines, guns, and parachutes.

Speaking of traveling, Brenda presents Is There a Northwest Passage? posted at The Tie That Binds Us.

This brings us to the end of our ball game. I'd like to commend the fine efforts of those who filled out our roster today. Please exit the carnival in an orderly manner. The next carnival is being hosted by The Common Room. Click here for submissions. I know it's not a magnet, like the ones they give out at the ball park, but here is a schedule of upcoming carnivals.

Next Time: No Nuts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In which I review a book.

From time to time I will be reviewing on these pages books, c.d.s, movies and the like. Today I will be reviewing Date or Soul Mate? by Neil Clark Warren, the founder of eharmony.com. I am not sure if I have ever disliked a book more than this one. (If you haven't figured it out yet, this will not be a positive review.

The subtitle of the book is How to Know if Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or Less. By that title, I expected a corrective if not an indictment, of the current dating system. Since I hope one day to write a book questioning the efficacy of dating in choosing a mate, the title had me at hello. The problem was that after hello, he lost me.

One of the many problems of this book is the author really never tells you how to know if someone is worth pursuing in two dates. His book reminds me of the old Steve Martin stand up routine:

Martin: Tonight, I am going to tell you how to make $1,000,000.00 and never pay taxes.
First, make a million dollars. Second, don't pay taxes.

Illuminating isn't it? Clark Warren seems to be saying in this book I am going to tell you how to meet your soul mate in two dates or less: First, meet your soul mate. Second, do it in two dates or less.

I actually agree with the author's main premise that many young people cheat themselves and their potential "soul mates" by staying in prolonged relationships which they knew very early would not lead to a successful marriage.

That premise would make an excellent magazine article. As a book there's not enough material. So the author advocates an unnecessary system that takes the majority of the book to explain.

He equates finding a soul mate to shopping and says that each single person should have a ten item list of must have qualities and a ten item list of must not have qualities they are looking for in a marriage partner. Further they should bring that shopping list on every date.

Even though the author admits that the number 10 is an arbitrary number he counsels strongly that you should not continue in a relationship unless the prospect has all 10 of the positive qualities and none of the negative. In later chapters he advises if the have none of the 10 negative qualities, it is sometimes okay to look for "a diamond in the rough." This is not the only confusing and contradicting advice he gives. While he says you can know in 2 dates if the person is worth pursuing he still suggests at least 2 years of dating to know for sure.

Dating in my opinion is a flawed system that can't be fixed by arbitrary rules. His rules seem superfluous to me. More than once the author tells stories of people who knew early on that the relationship they were in was a troubled one. If they "knew" this without benefit of a shopping list, why do they need one now? If dating relationships are to continue the way they are (something I hope to address in future posts) we should learn to not settle for less than God's best for us, but that does not mean by creating arbitrary rules to govern our actions.

Next Time: Take me out to the Ball Game.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You must be proud.

It's Thursday and it's time for three things from me to you, the reader.

1) Starts with a movie quote ...

Karen: He likes to butt things... with his head.
Nathan: How proud you must be.

From the 1989 movie "Parenthood"

Well it's not exactly butting things with his head but here is one of Charlie's many antics:
Now I have better footage of that where my daughter is not oblivious of the camera work, I am doing. But I like that one. It shows the commotion that is lunch at the Izola Becker Home School. Charlie has been climbing the walls lately. This is actually a doorway, but he actually has been shimmying up the hallway on a regular basis. I am encouraging the doorway and discouraging the hallway as the doorways are much easier to clean. But the point dear readers, is he climbs well, and for that I am proud.

2. To Tweet or not to Tweet. Yesterday I read two very good posts one advising why they love twitter and the other explaining why they don't. I have no real opinion on the matter. I have no desire to use twitter, but neither do I find it socially repugnant. Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers has this opinion in Twitterless. Amy at Mom's Toolbox shares her take in Twitter: Why I love it and how to get started.

3. Shameless Carnival Promotion. I am hosting a carnival next Wednesday. It is the Carnival of Homeschooling. And like in any good carnival, you need a huckster. SO, step right up home school parents and students. Join the carnival by submitting a post by 7 p.m Central Monday night. You can click here to submit a post.

So that's my submission for 3TTT for this week. For more of the fun and excitement go to Psalm 104:24.

Next Time: In Which I Review a Book.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Not much, What's a co-op with you?

Today was the last day of my kid's enrichment classes. This school year on Tuesdays my children were part of a program called G.I.F.T ( Godly Influenced Fine Arts Training). Though technically not a home school co-op, it gives home school families opportunities to study drama, music, art and other classes. The teachers are paid for their efforts and do an excellent job. My son studied chess and my daughter took a drawing/cartooning class.

A few weeks ago our home school co-op which meets on Mondays ended for the semester. This is a more typical home school co-op where the parents teach the courses. The cost was far less because the parents are only compensated for materials. It was my first semester in the co-op and we are looking forward to doing it again in the fall.

Let me take a minute and let you know why Home School co-ops work for me and give a few hints from my experience of how they can work for you.

1) I am able to have my kids taught subjects from teachers more skilled in those subjects than I am. I love art, but I am no artist. My children are and while I encourage them and work with them, they have in a short time exceeded my abilities. There are other parents at the co-op who are trained artists and able to guide my children farther than I could.

2) It gives me the ability to teach others, building my confidence and impacting more students. Through this semester I have realized that there is a lot that I can teach my children. Next fall I will be teaching classes about the Chronicles of Narnia and my children are looking forward to those classes.

Now here are some recommendations based on my experience:

A) If you have the opportunity to be involved in two cooperatives at the same time, don't do it. From Sunday to Tuesday it seems like we were always on the run. Sunday with church, Monday with co-op and AWANA and Tuesday with enrichment classes. It seems like we were all being run ragged. Next year we have decided to forego enrichment classes.

B) Keep up to date with your children's progress and requirements. There was many a week when I didn't find out about an assignment until we were in the van on the way to class. This is also true about school supplies! Sunday night at 10:00 is not the time to realize that your daughter needs more crayons.

So, that's why home school co-ops work for me. To see what works for others go to Works for Me Wednesday at We Are That Family.

I now have a special announcement for any homeschooling families out there. If you have a good post about home schooling (perhaps your own experience with a co-op) do I have an opportunity for you!! That's right, next week I am hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling, right here at Home School Dad. If you would like to submit an article for next week's issue click here.

Next Time: You Must be Proud.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Message From Springfield

Springfield, IL

I saw the new Star Trek movie last night. I tried to come into the movie with low to modest expectations. It is hard to maintain low to modest expectations for a movie you travel 225 miles to see. This is especially true, when the first leg of your journey includes Chicago's Friday rush hour traffic.

Chicago was not blacked out for the premiere. I decided to mark the occasion with a visit of a dear Star Trek loving friend in Springfield. I am blogging from his computer at this instant. Another college friend went with us and just hanging out together was enough to make the evening a success regardless of the merit of the film.

Star Trek, in my opinion was a blast rather than a bust. It re imagines the series without dismantling it. From the opening sequence to the closing credits it was a festival of imagination and innovation. Actually the closing credits were pretty standard fare. They did however give me an idea for my next career once this home schooling gig has run it's course: Font Advisor.
(I know that is such a Times New Roman thing to say, but all my jobs can't be wingdings.)

My friend has amassed quite the library of movies and t.v. shows and comic books. I have watched episodes of Dark Wing Duck. Doctor Who, Life on Mars and The Batman (cartoon version) and read the first issue of the Marvel adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. You have to make room for the classics.

I also went into down town Springfield sat on a bench right next to Abraham Lincoln, spent time in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, visited the television station my friend works for, and saw cougars and Chinese barking deer at the local zoo. That's pretty good considering I have only been in town for 27 hours.

My friend (I'd mention his name but that's classified information, alright it's Clark Kent. There were cut backs at Metropolis and he's been re-stationed in Springfield.) lives about a mile from one of the best 2 restaurants in one building combos in the history of restaurant sharing. Long John Silvers meets A&W Root Beer. Been there once already and hitting it on my way out tomorrow.

I do miss my family, it's nice to get away from time to time, but even nicer to head back home. I hope Clark doesn't miss Season 1&2 of Dark Wing Duck. "When there's trouble you call D.W.!"

Next Time: Not Much, What's a Co-op with you?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Never Assume.

I did not know that Frugal Fridays had moved. Biblical Womanhood had been carrying it and I felt a little bit self conscious posting there (although I did on an infrequent basis) Now it's at Life as Mom and I am no more Mom than I am woman. Or perhaps not. As the stay at home parent and school teacher my life right now is much more Momish than it was a year ago. I mean that was me getting my sink to shine earlier this year wasn't it?

It seems like a valid assumption that the bigger the size of the package the lower the cost per unit. That's generally why people buy in bulk. While this is generally true, my word to the frugal is never assume.

With three children under 10, and all budding artists, I go through a lot of colored construction paper. Walmart sells the Rose Art brand at 88 sheets for 2.00. They also sell the Rose Art 200 pack. If you did the math you would see that the cost for 200 sheets at the 88 for $2.00 price would be $4.55. You would then assume that the cost for the 200 sheet would be less than that maybe $4.25 maybe $4.50. You would be wrong. My Walmart sells the bigger package for $5.00.

This is not the only instance I have seen this. Michael's sells their craypas ( oil pastel crayons) at a greater cost per unit than their smaller sets. I don't think that this is purposely done to defraud the customers as this is the exception rather than the rule. However, it is not a bad idea to double check when you go for the larger size.

The same thing is true for places like Costco and Sam's club. The discounts, while significant to the same brands smaller packages sometimes cannot compare to off brand labels available at places like Aldi.

So bigger can be better but that doesn't always make it cheaper. For more Frugal Friday suggestions go to Life As Mom.

Next Time: A Message From Springfield.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Oh where is my hairnet?

Larry the cucumber and I welcome you to another fast paced edition of 3TTT.
I have also contributed this piece to Home School Carnival # 186 being hosted by Carol at Home School CPA. Check it out!

1. What's with the hairnet?

This past Tuesday, Emma, Charlie andI along with a number of families from our home school cooperative went to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children. In 2 hours time we packed enough food to feed 27 children for the next year. Because volunteers package all the meals, Feed My Starving Children is able to feed starving children around the world at a cost of 17 cents a meal. It is an excellent program and quite an eye opening one.

Volunteers 9 and over work in the kitchen packaging the food. The music in the background is loud so be warned as you watch my daughter taking a little out of her package to meet the weight standards. That package she's filling has enough food for 6 meals in it.


and the others in the 6-8 set labeled the packages and drew pictures and wrote messages on the boxes. My children enjoyed themselves immensely and are saving some money to donate at their next visit.

2. Inch by Inch.

We are growing a garden behind the Izola Becker Home School this year. I used a roto-tiller for the first time in my life and I am pleased with the results. We now have a 90 square foot plot of dirt. Charlie got in on the act as well and helped me apply the fertilizer.

3. I may never wash that hand again.

I had the opportunity to see Michael Card play a few songs at a fundraiser for the Evangelical Family and Child Association last weekend. I had seen him in concert about a 1/2 dozen times previously, but was able to actually meet him and have a decent conversation about home schooling with him prior to the dinner. I talked to him briefly at the end of the evening as well and he autographed two of his cd's for me.

Thus ends another contribution to Three things this Thursday. Head on over to Psalm 104:24 for more threedom.

Next Time: Never Assume.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009



To Aldi food I bought before. 
I used a quarter near the door. 
It secured for me a cart, 
and now I feel so smart. 
I saved and saved and saved some more. 

(My apologies to Julio, Willie,  and anyone who has no idea what I am talking about.)

Aldi is awesome. Not much to look at. My wife went to an Aldi in Austria a few years back. It wasn't called Aldi there. But she said the shape, color and layout of the store was exactly the same as here in the states.

If you are an off brand shopper like myself, Aldi is your dream come true. The selection is not the same as other grocery stores or supermarkets but they definitely have more than just the staples. The prices are much lower than the other stores.

I decided to do a little research. I decided to compose a "typical" grocery list (not necessarily what Amy and I buy but more on that later) and compare the prices to the lowest priced comparable item at another super market. For the competition, I chose Jewel (Same company as Shaws and Albertsons). Jewel was my choice for 2 reasons: 1) It was the grocery store of my youth. We weren't sent to the store. We were sent to "The Jewel." 2) They have been advertising quite a bit lately about their price cuts and I wanted to see how they stacked up to Aldi.

Here is a copy of my list:
Sour Cream, Butter, Tomato Soup (2 cans), Onion Soup Mix
Saltines, Dry Roasted Peanuts, Off Brand Cheerios, 2 Gallons Skim Milk
1 dozen eggs, 1/2 lb block cheddar, 1/2 lb grated cheddar, 3 pounds bananas
Cottage Cheese, Graham Crackers, Sliced American Cheese,Gala Apples 3 pounds
2 pounds green grapes, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can chicken noodle soup, Cream Cheese
3 loaves wheat bread, Creamy Peanut Butter, 2 cans corn, 2 cans green beans
2pounds carrots, 3 boxes mac and cheese, Ramen 12 pack, Cake Mix
Off Brand Oreos 18 0z, Yogurt 4 6 oz containers, Ground beef 80/20 3 lbs, Sugar 5lbs
Flour, Mayo, Iced Tea mix

The first thing I did was to look at the cost at A, Jewel's pre-discounted prices, comparing that with B, their adjusted prices, and then to C, Aldi. Since Jewel sometime had 3 or more kinds of the same product I always chose the lowest priced item.
Here are the results. These prices are before sales tax.
A. Jewel regular price: $114.39
B. Jewel reduced price: $ 89.93
C. Aldi price: $ 63.55
So for comparison purposes let's call A $115, B $90, and C $65. Lets also assume that is the average cost of 2 weeks groceries.

The savings in one year by going to Aldi rather than Jewel is $650 ((B-C)*26) or $1,300 ((A-C*26) over their regular prices.
Now I know a lot of people who shop at Aldi, but very few who do so exclusively. We don't get our meat there (although I know people who say the meat is great there). Amy flat out refuses to let me buy saltines there as well. There are some items we can't get due to HFCS concerns. (Yes, last month's themed entry was an April Fools joke!) We do get most of our groceries at Aldi and the savings are significant.

Now there were some items that were actually priced lower at Jewel but overall Aldi was the consistent winner on price. I am not sure exactly how they do it. But here is one thing I noticed on Thursday when I was doing my comparisons. I got there about 7:40 p.m only to realize that they closed at 8:00. I got my comparisons done just as they were closing and was off to Jewel which was open until midnight. So, Aldi had 4 less hours of payroll to contend with on Thursday. The old adage is that you pay for convenience, but an adage of the frugal is that convenience is overrated.

Aldi works for me. I enjoyed my stint as a GSI (Grocery Store Investigator.) Contact me if you want me to e-mail you a copy of my spreadsheet that I used. For more Frugal tips that work go to WFMW at We are That Family.

Next Time: Oh, Where is my Hair net?

Monday, May 4, 2009

What time is it?

Tom Rogers passed away on April 23,2009. He was 74. Mr. Rogers was my scout master. A kinder man I have not met. Some time in the mid to late 1970's we went on a 1 week boy scout camping trip. I would go from activity to activity passing through our camp several times a day. Often Mr. Rogers was sitting down on a lawn chair as I'd walk by. Every time he walked by I would ask him what time it was. He would tell me and I would go on with my day.

I don't recall him giving me a hard time about it then, BUT FOR THE NEXT 30 YEARS, every time he saw me, He would say "Hey, Dave what time is it?" Until the late 1980's the Elk Grove library was located across from my boyhood home. Often I would be in the front yard shooting baskets or mowing the lawn and Mr. Rogers would shout from across the street, "Hey Dave, what time is it?" If he saw me at the Jewel or Denny's he would be sure to inquire. I have not spent much significant time in the Elk Grove area besides my parents house the past 12 years or so. But every few years my Mom or Dad would say "hey we ran into Tom Rogers at the Senior Center, or the Park District, or the Library and he wanted us to ask you what time it is. "

Now, those who know me well, know that there is nothing I like more than running a joke into the ground, until the mere mention of it becomes of funny. David Letterman has made a career of that. But I think Mr. Rogers was doing so much more than that. He was reminding me of his involvement in my life 30 years past and showing that he still wanted to be a part of it if only a memory. My prayers go out to his family, especially, his wife and children at this time. Just remember that if anyone wants to think poorly about Tom Rogers it will not be on my watch.

Next Time: Aldi

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Beginnings Part IV: Star Trek on Purpose

It was December 6, 1991. My Mom's 52 birthday. I was nearing the end of my penultimate semester of college. My best friend called me in my dorm room and asked what I was doing that night. I told her that Matthew, Joe and I (and perhaps others) were off to Peoria (or perhaps Springfield) to see Star Trek 6 The Undiscovered Country. There were 2 theatres consisting of 4 screens in our college town and catching the premiere of a movie often meant heading out of town.

I will always remember my best friend's reaction. She said: "on purpose?"

I still have the same best friend. I married her 11 years ago to make it official. She is still into me but not into Star Trek.

I, on the other hand, love Star Trek. We never watched the show as a family when it ran from 1966 to 1969 on NBC. (Yes, I am old enough, to have done so.) I began watching Star Trek reruns at my friend Jeff's house when I was in junior high. While there I discovered that the best two things that go with pizza are root beer and Star Trek.

I did not see the first two Star Trek movies in the theatre. The first film of the franchise I saw at all was Star Trek II which I saw at my friend Dominick's house. It remains to this day my favorite. I have seen all the rest in the theatre generally on opening night.

Now let me make a few clarifications. 1) I hardly ever see movies on opening night. So seeing Star Trek on opening night is a big deal. 2) I am not exactly a trekkie. While I own many d.v.d's and video cassettes only 1 is Star Trek related. 3) I don't speak Klingon, would never dress like a character, and have never lived in a house with a basement (reference to famous SNL sketch. Click here to see it.)

Star Trek is a friendly passion for me rather than an obsession. I love to watch a t.v. episode or movie with friends who enjoy it as much or more as I do.

A new Star Trek movie comes out Friday and I am going to go see it, on purpose. In fact, although I am sure that the movie will be playing at the theatre a mile from my house I am going to drive nearly 4 hours to Springfield and watch it with the aforementioned Matthew who now lives there. I am looking forward to reconnecting with him, and watching lots of t.v shows and movies together like the old days. Next Saturday or Sunday I will post from there and tell you how it's going. It's Springfield, it's hardly where no man has gone before, but I will boldly go.

Next Time: What Time is it?

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Five Minutes At a Time

Hockey Lessons

Life Lessons from the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team

In the 1980 Winter Olympics in the semifinal hockey game between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Jim Craig, the U.S. goalie had what many, including himself, call the best game of his life. He played his best hockey when his country needed him to most. A mentally tough young man from North Easton , Ma. his approach to every game was the same no matter the result. Instead of trying to focus on the entirety of the game he would divide the game into bite size chunks of 5 minutes.

A hockey game is made up of 3 20 minute periods, so Craig would try to shut out the opponents 12 times a game. Striving for perfection 5 minutes at a time. If a goal did score he would shake it off and attempt a new 5 minutes of perfection.

At times life comes at us quicker than the offensive juggernaut that was the Soviet hockey empire of the 60's 70's and early 80's/ Crises bounce off us like so many hockey pucks trying to get past us and getting in the way of our goals.

As a home school teacher, I often feel totally out matched. It's some time in the morning and I am making my way to the table to sit down with one of my kids and on the way I spy the mess my 3 year old made. While I am cleaning that up my 9 year old calls me because she needs help with her computer based instruction. By the time I make it to the table my student is no longer there and so on through the day, you get the picture.

I think we can all learn from Craig's example. Here are some ideas of how I am trying to tie in his goalie philosophy into my life. I hope they help you bring your a-game as well.

1. Come to the game prepared.

In our house we all have a morning routine. Each part of my morning routine is pivotal to my having a productive day. On days I start without completing it, I often get distracted or disheartened much easier. By coming to the table game ready, there is an enormous benefit for both me and my children.

2. Leave your troubles in the locker room.

From 9-1 I have a policy not to answer the phone. I have a nice outgoing message explaining that we are doing school. The problem is that I always answer the phone when it rings. 15 years in the customer service industry has taken it's toll on me. I am almost always disappointed and frustrated when I answer the phone. Especially when it's a telemarketer or a phone survey. I am going to discipline myself to turn the ringer off on school days.

3. Take breaks between periods.

At about 10:30 we have a snack break each day. I am teaching the kids that this is a break for all of us. I try to use that time to re energize myself and get ready to get back in the game.

4. Keep your eye on the puck.

I sometimes try to extend my breaks by taking a peek at my e-mail or my blog comments or my face book page during school time. As well as I can justify this, it is always a recipe for disaster. Again, it takes discipline, but things always go better when I avoid distractions.

5. Do your best to keep to the game plan.

In theory I try to get 1 0n 1 time with each of my kids each day. It seems some days that I flit from crisis to crisis and never get quality time with any of them. By doing my best to keep to the game plan I have a much better chance of not over stretching myself or short-changing them.

6. Develop a short memory for failure.

While it is important to learn from your mistakes, bringing them back in the game with you is never a good idea. Philippians 3: 13b+14 would be excellent to add to our play book: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. If there was hockey in the first century, Paul would have made an excellent coach.

To see what other home school "coaching" is out there go to this weeks Carnival of Home Schooling hosted by Andrea Hermitt the Atlanta Homeschooling Examiner.

Next Time: Star Trek on Purpose.

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip