A Quote to Start Things Off

"Passive Aggressive. It works for my mother, it works for Duolingo" Luis Von Ahn , co-founder of Duolingo from his TED talk, How to make learning as addictive as social media.

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Pictures of Memories I

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

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Bunny at Last

When my oldest daughter was 4 months old, my mom gave her a red stuffed bunny for her first Christmas. She named him red bunny and he became her favorite toy and started her life long love for bunnies. Not only would she sleep with it, each and every night, she would also suck on its ear, as if it was a pacifier. She did this so much that the ear became black and her teeth started getting black marks on them. We tried to have her switch ears to no avail. In the end, we had to cut off the bunnies ear making him Vincent Van Bunny.

Now she has had a couple of dozen stuffed bunnies over the years, none of them as important to her as red bunny. Until, I should say, a few years ago at her cousin's birthday party at build-a-bear when she brought home Alice. Alice became her new best friend and bedtime companion. The great thing about Alice for us was that she was the best consequence we could ever use to discipline her. When we'd ask her to bring Alice to us, and she knew we meant business!

Soon after she got red bunny, she became enamored with real bunnies and especially the possibility of owning one. She began to learn the ins and outs of the bunny business. When she was almost 3, she taught me that baby bunnies are called kittens. When she was about 5, to curb the requests for a bunny, we told her that when she was 10, we would get a pet. Well quite honestly, we never quite expected her to become 10. But 5 +5 is alas, 10 and today I bought my bunny her first real bunny.

About 6 weeks ago she and I went bunny searching at the Kane County Fair. We encountered a girl who had 6, 2 week old bunnies and was willing to sell one to us after they were weaned. Emma was keen on getting a girl bunny and the seller was pretty sure that at least one of the kittens would be a girl. Earlier this week, I contacted the seller and alas, all 6 kittens were boys. She did have a 6 month old doe, and she was willing to sell her. Bunny decided that she would rather have an 8 week boy than a 6 month girl. Yesterday we bought all the needed equipment and today we bought the bunny, a grey jersey wooley, which Bunny has named Smoky. In a future post, I will put up pictures of the 3 most significant bunnies (stuffed and otherwise) in her life. But the most significant bunny in MY life is my little bunny girl!

Next Time: 7 Word September

Friday, August 28, 2009

A thought for My Pennies

Give-a-way: 200 pennies for Lincoln's Bicentennial.

When I was in college, I volunteered at a Campus radio station from 10 pm to 1 a.m on Tuesday nights. The radio station broadcast primarily in a few of the dorms and also could be heard on one of the campus t.v. channels that broadcast school announcements.

My show had an average listenership of maybe 10 people. I did it because, a) I loved playing Christian music and had the only christian program on the station b) I loved talking on the radio, reading copy introducing songs the whole thing and c) I love having crazy ideas and gimmicks and when you are doing a latte night radio show that virtually no one listens to it is the perfect place to showcase your crazy ideas and gimmicks. One gimmick I would sometimes do is give away a package of ramen soup to the 100th caller. Now I could buy the Ramen generally 10 for $1.00 at the Local Hyvee. So at 11:30 at night I am giving away ten cents worth of soup to the 100th caller when I have maybe 10 listeners.

The thing is people would call. I always gave the package away. One time somebody called in to request a song and didn't even know I was doing the give-a-way and they were the 100th caller.

So, we have established that back in 1987 I was as crazy (if not more) as I am today. Which brings me to my give-a-way. A few weeks ago I started the give-a-way with this post.

Earlier this year I gave away a set of 50 state quarters. I think that post had the most comments I had ever received. The Pennies give-a-way has not been so successful. So far I have had only 2 comments on the original post but both from the same person. I am making entering this contest very easy, though comment on any of my posts from the original until September 23rd and you qualify for one entry. So I encourage you to go to the original give-a-way comment there and comment on all the later posts including this one.

On September 23rd I will randomly pick from the entries and give-a-way the 100 pennies. I am also giving another 100 away to those following my blog. Yes it's crazy. Yes it's more work than is needed to get 100 pennies, you can simply go to a bank and get 2 rolls easy as you please. But that's where the fun is. Anyone can enter for a meaningful give-a-way but how cool will it be if you actually are the one who can say "hey I won 100 pennies from Crazy Dave. He paid more than that to send them to me!"

Remember if you blog about this give-a-way you get an extra entry. Just leave a comment on this or the original give-a-way post with the link.

Join in the madness! Another kind of madness is Six Word Saturday. Join in that by heading directly to Show My Face dot com. No passing go, no collecting 200 dollars. But you can collect 100 pennies if you are the lucky winner! If you'll excuse me I have to go listen to some Christian music and eat some ramen.

Next Time: A Bunny at Last.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Legend in My Own Mind

Fits me to a T
My Life in T-shirts

Some of the darkest days in my sartorial life were those that my mom was choosing my wardrobe. I could make an entire post of the joy of going to Zayre, Venture or Sears with her and picking out my New School Clothes, but my therapist doesn't have enough open sessions. (Okay I don't have a therapist, which is telling in itself, but I liked the line.)

Worse than anything we ever purchased, were the t-shirts she bought from catalogues. Remember, it was the late seventies early eighties, and when it comes to fashion, early eighties really means seventies. So T-shirts with crazy sayings were in. Probably the worst shirt she ever got me was "runners do it for the health of it." It was embarrassing. However there was one shirt that I actually liked. It said "I'm a legend in my own mind." I wore it regularly, which was different than what I did with the shirts she bought me which I did not like. Those used to spend weeks at a time under my bed. Those who knew me then would rightly say that most of my belongings spent weeks at a time under my bed. Again, fodder for another post.

As I began to research this segment, where I write snippets of my life history based on the shirts I wore, I started to think of that shirt and its implications.

While my shirt was more of a demonstration of my self-effacing humor, the phrase itself can be more of an indictment of false pride, than I at that time had intended. Often in false bravado, we believe our own press about how great we think we are. Pride comes before a fall and since autumn is less than a month away I thought this might be a good time to discuss it.

In the pivotal scene of Quiz Show where Charles Van Doren, portrayed by Ralph Fiennes, is confessing his involvement in the quiz show scandals in a congressional hearing he states:

"I've been acting a role,maybe all my life, of thinking I've, I've done more... accomplished more, produced more than I have."

When I think of that phrase "A legend in my own mind," I think of that quote. It is so easy to think of ourselves as basically good to cover up our blemishes and imperfections. The disgruntled employee says " Sure I steal money from my company by surfing the internet, when I am supposed to be doing my job, but that's a lot better than what most everybody else is doing." I don't believe man is basically good. I believe at that our core we are all sinful and self seeking. It is very easy though, to deceive myself into thinking that I have somehow merited God's favor. The truth is that everything I have has been given to me by God. My life, my health, my wife, our ability to earn money and maintain a residence, my ability to reason, my ability to type on this keyboard, even the planet I dwell on was formed by Him. God is no legend, he is real, and as the psalmist says the heavens declare his glory. If I were to have any prowess that would be considered legendary, it would be given to me by God, or only exist in my mind.

A special welcome to those visiting from the CREATIVE CARNIVAL.
Be sure to read some of my more recent posts before heading back to Write Anything.

Next Time: A thought for my Pennies.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boys are from Idaho or Albuquerque

Boys are from Idaho or Albuquerque

"All boys are from Idaho!" This is the chant that my wife has been singing lately. She gets into these laughing fits and she can barely breathe while she's singing, "all boys are from Idaho!' Get it, Boise, Idaho? No, I don't get it either. But it sure bugged Charlie, as he screamed back, "I am NOT from Idaho!" Why, oh why am I subject to such craziness? Oh, I like it, never mind. I liked it so much I told Charlie that boys were from Albuquerque. So the next time Amy chanted all boys are from Idaho, Charlie shot back "no, they're from Albuquerque." Priceless!


For More Six Words of wisdom (or just wisecracking) go show your face at show my face dot com.

Next Time: A Legend in my Own Mind

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Four Weddings and a Funeral Part II

My brother passed away earlier this year. He was not yet 39. He was the youngest boy and second youngest child. Yet he got married before either of his brothers.

Lynn (my brother's bride) had gotten a winter wedding dress on sale. Now a hint for you June Brides: Don't get a winter wedding dress! She looked lovely, even when she fainted during the wedding!

It was the last wedding my Grandpa Friedrichs would attend. Keith's middle name was Bertram just like my Grandpa's first name. I remember him dancing at the wedding and Amy and I driving my grandparents home after the wedding. My Grandpa passed away later that year.

I was finishing my second year of living in South Carolina when Keith got married. I came in for the wedding and also to land a job as I had decided that I was going to come back to Illinois and court Amy. I got the job, so after the wedding I went back to South Carolina for a few weeks to tie up loose ends before I started.

When Keith got married 3 of my grandparents were still living. They have all since passed. At the wedding I knew that their time was closing to an end. However I never expected that I would be eulogizing my brother in the same church he was married in less than 12 years later.

I wanted to write this post to commemorate Keith's anniversary back in June. I just couldn't find the words then. Even now the somberness of his death makes it hard to recount the great joy of his wedding.

I have sat for about 20 minutes since writing the last paragraph. Not with writers block, just going over in my mind the events preceding Keith's wedding and those following it. He and Lynn took a Disney Cruise for their Honeymoon. I remember what a great uncle Keith was to my children and how much he loved his own kids. Our families spent a lot of time together over the years. Kid's birthdays, scouting and church events, carnivals and cookouts. Tomorrow we will head over there for his daughter's sixth birthday party.

As much as I miss Keith, I continue to celebrate his wedding and his life by spending time with his family and reminding his children what a great Dad they had.

Next Time: Boys are from Idaho or Albuquerque

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Zoos work for me because they create memories like this.

That is Lucy in the background screaming "do it again, do it again!"

For more WFMW head back to Kristen at

We Are That Family

To see my current give-a-way click here

Next Time: 4 Weddings and a Funeral Part II


I generally do not lament my name. My Dad's name was David and he named me such, sure I would have rather him named me David. But Such Roller has a good ring to it. But today I lament that they did not name me Kevin for if they did I could name this post Pennies from Kevin.
Okay, that was a long way to go for a bad joke, so let's move on.

As you may know this year is 2009. If you did not know that, you may be beyond my ability to help you further, so hopefully you did. Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, 200 years ago . 100 years ago to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth. His image was placed on the penny.

Prior to 1909 the penny had an Indian Head.

To put things in perspective the last time the Chicago Cubs won the World Series Lincoln was not yet on the penny. Wow!

In 1959 to celebrate Lincolns Sesquicentenial (150 years) The Lincoln Memorial replaced the wheat.

This year to celebrate Lincoln's bicentennial the face of the penny got a new look ...

And 4 different images on the back . . .

The 4 images represent his early years in Kentucky, his boyhood years in Indiana, His professional years in Illinois, and his presidency in D.C.

Many wheats are still in circulation. I opened 2 rolls (100 pennies) today and found one 1958 wheat and no 2009 pennies. I usually average about 2 wheats and 1 Canadian penny per roll.

Being a good Illinois boy from the original LOL: Land of Lincoln (Not the original Land of Lincoln which is Kentucky, but the original LOL) I would like to celebrate Abe's 200th with not 1 but two give-a-ways! Yes I will be giving out 2 sets of 100 pennies (with at least 1 wheat each). Yes you heard it right the buck ships here.

To win the first set do the regular old comment thing. When you comment tell me significant years in your life (yours, spouses, kids birthdays anniversaries, year favorite team won World Series (after 1908 of course) and I will try to mix a few of those years in).

For the second set I will be picking from my followers, so if you don't follow, this would be a fine time to start. While it's mathematically possible to win both sets, let's share the wealth and say that we will have 2 different winners.

I am going to run this contest until September 23rd, because 2 dollars is a lot of money and in these tough times I may have to raid my birthday money to make good. If you blog about my crazy give-a-way I will give you 2 more chances at the first contest, simply link the blog to your comment. See the official rules on the sidebar. .

All this bang for a buck? That's why they call me Crazy Dave!

Next Time: Zoos

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hark! The New School Year Approacheth!!

Cristina at Home Spun Juggling is hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling this week. She has asked me to write an article for her edition. Since she is one of my favorite bloggers, I am glad to oblige. But since she is always going on about how funny I am, I feel a little pressure to be funny in this post. Since I am not sure how funny it will be I will tell one of my favorite jokes and then move on to the actual content. I am putting the joke in italics for the humor deprived.

Two guys walk into a bar.

You'd think the second one would have ducked.

Oh, well let's move on. Back in the days when I was working outside the house, my oldest daughter started a tradition. As we were sitting around the dinner table, first thing after we prayed she would ask "So, Dad, how was your day today?" Then I would go ahead and tell them about my day. When I became the home school teacher last year and Amy became the leave the house work person, "So, Mom" replaced "So, Dad." in my daughter's nightly tradition.

Amy works in a local school district as a School Bob Newhart. (For those who only know Bob Newhart from Newhart and not the Bob Newhart Show, this means she is a School Psychologist, not a School Inn Keeper.) As such, she gets the summer off. Sometimes now at dinner as a joke, my daughter will ask Amy what she did today, even though they spent the whole day together.

When I think of going back to school after Summer Break, I always think of the old "How I spent my summer vacation essay." Asking that question would be equivalent to my daughter's joke, as I know exactly how they spent their summer vacation.

Our Schedule for the coming year is as follows.

Sunday Evening

For about an hour each Sunday between dinner and bedtime we will be doing some of the "funner" activities from our curriculum as a family. This way Amy can participate with us and I think it will help us segue from weekend to week.


On Mondays we have CWF (Christian Workshops of the Fox Valley), which is our home school co-op. I will be teaching two classes on the Chronicles of Narnia which I am very excited about, and I am sure I will be blogging about in the future. The kids' other classes (the oldest 2 are in a Narnia Class) sound good and I will probably talk about those in the future as well. Monday is also our AWANA day. So, Amy and the kids will be busy with that in the evenings while I decompress and prepare for the remaining week.

Tuesday through Friday

The rest of the week, will be rather uniform aside from the various appointments that will creep their way in the schedule. We are doing a multi-level unit study this year as our educational main course. It is produced by Konos. This should incorporate all the subjects except for math where we will be using Horizons, by Alpha-Omega again this year( and also for handwriting). We are using the Notgrass Company to combine bible and art with their Draw to Learn/Book of Psalms (click here for sample page). When I give Emma some reading time, Charlie, Lucy and I are going to be working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

I am introducing a bit of change this year. Last year, we would have school from 9am to 1 p.m we would then have lunch, no school afterwards. This year I plan to start earlier, and have lunch at a convenient breaking time, rather than always at one, and work a half an hour or more after lunch.

I also plan to be a little less structured about some things this year and more structured about others. One thing I will be more structured about, is quiet time. For one hour a day, I plan to put all the kids on their beds have them quietly read or look at books while I have time to myself.

This year will also be my first year of home schooling a 1 car family. This means that if we need (As on Mondays) or want the car we have to get Amy to her school at 7:30 a.m. and pick her up at the end of the day. It will make our regular visits to the library and whatever field trips we embark on less spontaneous, but that could be a good thing.

School begins on August 24th. Emma and I are going to Six Flags: Great America on the 23rd. So on the 24th we will just do our regular Sunday Evening stuff before we start our first full day on the 25th.

It's been a great summer of swimming and biking and blogging and spending time with the family. I am looking forward to my second full year at the helm of the good ship Izola Becker Home Scool. I am thankful for Amy being able to work but will miss having her home every day. I am thankful to God for giving us our family, and another year of home schooling.

For more great ideas on "juggling" home schooling into your day, head back over to Home Spun Juggling.

Next Time: Pennies

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Few Thoughts About Movies

I went to the movies twice this week and Amy is out seeing one now. I decided to take the Friday Fragment/Freewrite section to tell you a few things I like about movies.

I like watching movies with groups of people.

There is a dynamic of watching a movie with lots of people. The jokes seem funnier when you hear other people laughing at them. If it is an especially powerful film, watching the movie together adds an extra amount of poignancy to it.

I like watching movies I enjoy with people who have not seen it before.

On Monday I biked about 16 miles round trip to watch a movie at a neighboring town's library. It was the original version of 12 Angry Men. There were between 20-40 people there and about a third of them had not seen it before. It was very interesting for me to hear some of the other's watching it for the first time. They seemed to enjoy all the moments that I love about the film which enhanced my experience. At an important part of the film when they are doing a roll call of guilty or not guilty. I was counting the not guilty votes as they were being given, when all 12 had responded and before the foreman gave the result, a member of the audience whispered with anticipation in her voice "hey it's 6 to 6!" It felt so good to know that I wasn't the only one counting.

I like watching movies that are older than me.

While many of my favorite films have been made in the past 45 years I really love when I find a good film made earlier than that. Marty is a film that Amy and I have fell in love with since we've been married. It may well be my favorite love story movie of all time. Four of my top 10 movies of all time are pre-1964 (another one was made in 1965).

I sometimes prefer going to the movies alone.

While many people do not like going to see a movie by themselves. I actually quite enjoy it. I think I always have. The first film I remember going to the theatre alone for was Breaking Away when I was in High School. I walked the 4 blocks to our local theatre saw the movie and went home. I had such a spring in my step as I came home. I really like thinking about movies and the best time to think about them is often on the way home.

I seem to have more thoughts about movies than I anticipated. I think I will share more on another occasion. I also would like to do a few movie reviews here in the future. For now let me leave you with a Lucyism and head off to bed.

Tonight when I was putting Lucy's pajamas on I was doing so rather distractedly. Lucy noticed I did not seem happy so she put her face right up to mine and said "You should smile like Me! and gave me the cutest smile you could possibly imagine and I really had no choice but to smile back at her.

For more fragments and free writes head over to Half Past Kissing Time and Ordinary and Awesome.

Next Time: The new school year approacheth!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A Letter from the President

This past February ago I posted about some letters and pictures our family sent to President Obama.

A few months ago the kids got a reply. It was typed on a postcard sized piece of good stock paper signed by the president and with the White House Seal embossed on top.

It states:

Thank you for your recent note, and for sharing your thoughts with me. Your kind words echo the messages of millions of American who have welcomed me and my family to the White House with an outpouring of goodwill.

On January 20th, Americans spoke with one voice, choosing hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. Our nation faces serious challenges, but we will overcome them if our imagination is joined to common purpose.

Now is our time to work together, reaffirm our enduring spirit, and choose our better history. With your help, we will renew our Nation's promise to carry forth the great gift of freedom to future generations, as our forebeara have delivered it to us.

Sure, it's a good letter but not exactly what you would expect as a response to 3-9 years olds who sent pictures like this . . .

And asked questions like "Do your daughter's have Webkinz?"

The kids liked it though and Charlie has it safely tucked away in his room with the rest of his treasures.

At the same time the kids were writing their letters, I was writing the president one of my own. I wrote of my genuine gladness that an African American was elected President. I talked a little of our mutual love for the White Sox, but mainly I told him candidly but respectfully why I had not voted for him in either his Senatorial or Presidential campaigns. I told him of my concern for the unborn and my hope for the possible repeal of Roe V Wade. I urged him to change his stances on abortion.

Because of how the kid's letter was responded to, I expected no response to my own letter. Indeed several months had passed since the kids received their letter, and I had almost forgotten about my own letter when I received a hand addressed letter from the White House on July 31st

My letter dated 7/28/09:

Dear Friend:

Thank you for taking the time to share your views on abortion. This is a heart-wrenching issue and I appreciate your input and thoughts.

I am committed to making my Administration the most open and transparent in history, and part of delivering on that promise is hearing from people like you. I take seriously your opinions and respect your point of view on this issue. Please know that your concerns will be on my mind in the days ahead.

Thank you again for writing. I encourage you to visit WhiteHouse.Gov to learn more about my Administration or to contact me in the future.


Barack Obama (signed)

I was genuinely moved that The Office of The President of the United States took time to respond to a concern that I had. I understand that President Obama himself is far too busy to attend to my letter himself. I could tell that the majority of this letter was pre-formatted. I can also see that it's a text book example of a non-response response to the issues I brought forward.

I have struggled for the last 1/2 hour to write a conclusion to this piece. I could wax eloquent of the democratic process where I have the freedom to write a dissenting view to the most powerful person in my country and receive thanks rather than censure. I could make a spiritual tie-in to how writing a letter to the President is like but so much less a privilege than the ability to talk directly to the Executive Officer of the Universe. I could encourage families to send letters and pictures to their elected officials thanking them for their service and communicating their needs and concerns. Since I am not quite sure how to accomplish any of those, I will instead just tell you what I have in store for next time.

Next Time: A few thoughts about movies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Knowing Your Neighbors

I bet I could write an excellent blog post about the importance of meeting and befriending your neighbors. How to get out and become a community with those who live in closest proximity to you. Yeah that would be a great post, it's just not this post.

I am talking about something completely different. I am talking about my WFMW neighbors. Each week I view some excellent posts about what works for others here in blog world. My problem is that so many of these posts I never get around to applying because of the enormity of fine posts each week. So I developed a system that helps me review past posts and save some of the good ones for posterity.

Here is what I do: Each week after I post my link, I mark the posts immediately before and behind mine as favorites and put them in a folder called "WFMW Neighbors." This is my 25th WFMW post and that means that after I link this up, I will have 50 neighbors in that folder.

After a few months I decided that I wanted to honor some of my favorite neighbors, so I reviewed all my neighbors and put the ones that I thought were best in a second folder called top 10 neighbors. Each subsequent week when I organized my neighbors I put the especially good ones in the top 10 list. My top 10 list often had more than ten items at a time but once a month or so I would weed it down. Today I would like to present you with my Top 10 Neighbors:

Starting us off at #10 is Lynn's Kitchen Adventures who introduced Frozen Hot Chocolate (July 09)

Speaking of neighbors, weighing in at #9 is Kristen's neighbor from Bake at 350 with Mini Moo Cards and coupon! (July 09)

How to Clean a Kitchen By Joyfully Retired (January 09) checks in at # 8.

Which brings us to #7 Protecting Your Marriage (and Money) with A Spending Communication Policy By Sarah @ Real Life (March 2009)

# 6 is Don't Bring Me Down by ELO. (Sorry my inner d.j. escaped for a moment.) Didn't mean to bring things down. It's time to Exhale. Return to Center as they What's Working: Our Mud Pit (May '09)

A Back Seat Boredom Buster is what awaits us at #5 found Inside the White Picket Fence. (July '09)

Momedy (Ba Ba Ba Ba Da) Momedy (Ba Ba Da Ba) presents Making Procrastination Work For You (April '09) at # 4.

At #3 we have Pause your Nose Again from Heavenly Homemakers dot com (February '09)

The Animator's Wife hits at #2 with Cheap Shots- Christmas (January '09).

And my #1. neighbor is A Simple Walk with her beautiful post, A Bag Full of Pennies (January '09)

Introducing My New Neighbors . . .

Tonight Kayren of Everthing's Coming up Daisies blogged about Getting Chewing Gum Out of My Dryer.


Over at Blessed With Grace Lisa shared Things I Liked About Today ...

Welcome to the neighborhood!

Keeping tabs on my WFMW neighbors works for me. Thanks to all 50 of my neighbors for their excellent ideas. To see what works for others, bop on over to Kristen's at We Are That Family. A special shout out to Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer who got this party started. Many of my neighbors originally linked there.

Next Time: A Letter from the President

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Century Mark

My Father-in-law turned 70 today. This is of course a grand achievement in itself. But given his medical history in the past 18 months it is a remarkable one. He has had many sicknesses during that time and has been in hospitals and nursing homes for about 1/2 of the last 18 months. A few of those months he was in a coma like state. The past few months have been a time of remarkable recovery. His oldest son Mike spends 1/2 of the week doing rehab with his Dad. Every time I see him he is more and more active and vibrant than the next.

To celebrate his birthday Amy , her brothers and sisters planned a surprise party for Him. It was really the youngest sister Katie, who just found out she is expecting her first child, that did most of the planning and contacting.

Katie's 30th birthday happens to fall a week after her Dad's. Amy thought that since Katie was already getting the family together that she would work behind the scenes to make a double surprise party. So instead of celebrating Donn's 70th we celebrated Donn and Katie's 100th.

Every one had a fantastic time. So congratulations to Donn on seventy years and continued best wishes on a full recovery. Thanks to Mike for pouring so much of his time in working with His Dad. Best wishes to Katie on 30 years (I have shorts older than that), and congratulations to her and Danny as they eagerly expect their first child.

I will leave you with some research I conducted on what happened 100 years ago:

  • There were 45 stars on the U.S. Flag

  • The Roman Catholics made Joan of Arc (Not Joan Van Ark) a saint.

  • Two cents was the cost of a postage stamp.

  • The first race was run at the Indianapolis Motor Speed Way.

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series.

  • Las Vegas, NV Population:30

Next Time: Knowing Your Neighbors

Friday, August 7, 2009

Remembering Millard

Millard Posthuma 1916 -2009

Heaven centered living provides own eulogy.

I have recently discovered that there is a new blog carnival for Christian men. When I think of Christian men, I think of Dr. Millard Posthuma. So I am going to submit this post to the innaugural edition of the carnival. If they accept it instead of reading this sentence you will see a link to their carnival.
I first met Millard Posthuma at a prayer meeting on my university campus in 1990. Until he started attending regularly, I, at 24, was the oldest person at the meetings. Millard, then 74, changed all that. The retired surgeon was the father in law of our campus group's faculty advisor.

I remember one of the first conversations I had with Millard. I recognized his last name and asked him if he was related to Dan Posthuma who produced contemporary Christian music albums (Margaret Becker, Julie Miller among others.) It turns out that he was Dan's father. I followed that up with some question of how he must be proud to have such a famous son. His response was that he was very glad that all his children loved Jesus and were following Him.

Now, please don't imagine that comment coming as a rebuke. It was said with the same graciousness he said everything with. I am not sure that I have ever met as kind of a person before or since I met Millard. He was a regular at our prayer meetings and often attended and many times sang at our weekly meetings.

He was also the most active man in his seventies I ever met. He had a spry step and was involved in a plethora of activities: Rotary, Gideons, Pro Life rallies, etc. Anyone who has the caricature of an anti-abortion protester as a hate spewing unmerciful hypocrite in their mind, has never heard Millard present the Pro Life message. He gently stood up for the unborn fetus and used his medical background to provide evidence of where conception begins.

Millard had a great deal of influence on people my age. A friend 5 years my senior became involved in the Rotary because of Millard's leading. Another friend 5 years my junior had him as a groomsman in his wedding. A twenty two year old with a 76 year old groomsman! After I graduated in 1992 I spent two years as a missionary in Russia. Millard sent me a an encouraging letter while I was there mentioning meeting Russians when he was in WWII.

Most of all, I remember Millard loved his wife. He was always so tender and protective of her. I never heard him say one disparaging word about her. If you talked to Millard for 5 minutes, you would know 3 things about him 1: Jesus was his Savior, 2: He loved his wife and 3: He was genuinely interested in you.

When I was a younger man I read many books about dating, love, and marriage. One thing I read that stuck with me was: don't visit friends and relatives on your honeymoon. When Amy and I married in 1998 we honeymooned in the Smoky Mountains. We flew from Chicago to Louisville, Ky and drove to the Smokies. On the last day of our honeymoon we spent the day with Millard and Trudy in Louisville, where they had recently moved to. It was one piece of advice I am so glad I ignored. We had a wonderful visit, the couple married 1 week and the other married 57 years. It also turned out to be the last time we would see Millard alive. I found out a few weeks ago that he had passed away on May 31, 2009.

There is so much I would like you to know about Millard. I could start with his obituary, there are some things that I didn't even know. I knew he was in WWII but I had no idea that he was seriously injured in the Battle of the Bulge. Near the end of his life, Millard started blogging, he only posted three times but one of his posts was so Millard that I wanted to share it here:

A New President !! 11/04/08

A new president? Yes. and he will be receiving our prayers for God's guidance We asked for God to be incontrol in the election, and We trust that He was. Now we owe him our prayerful support. http://mposthumablog.blogspot.com/2008/11/new-president-110408.html

Millard in his unassuming way could so quickly get to the heart of a matter. The same precision God gave him with a scalpel was also evident in his communication.
In a way Millard speaks even though dead. His life speaks volumes and I'd like to leave you with the sound of his voice as featured in a Gaither and Friends album a few years back entitled appropriately enough: Heaven. (He is on the second to the last cut.) I guess there are advantages to having a son in the music industry.

Goodbye Millard, we miss you and look forward to singing with you again in Heaven.

Next Time: The Century Mark.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Home School Convention

There is a special edition of WFMW this week. It is a back to school edition. Things here at the Izola Becker Home School won't get started until the last week of August but I do have a back to school tip to share.
We really like going to our local Home School Convention every year. Even though it is held generally at the end of our school year it really sets us up for what we will do the next year.

There are several things we like about going to the convention: 1)Amy and I get to spend time in seminars and large group settings learning more about home schooling. 2) We get to spend time together. 3) We generally run into and catch up with several home schooling families that we know. 4) Amy likes switching name tags with me during the convention, which is usually hilarious when I forget we switched and someone calls me Amy.

But the best thing about the home school convention is the vendor's hall. This is where rows and rows of companies sell their textbooks, videos, computer based programs and so much more. The majority of these vendors have their best sales of the year at these conventions so this is often where we (as well as many others) buy the bulk of their curricula for the coming year.

The Vendor Hall can be a very intimidating place. Even with all the discounts it can be a very expensive place. What works for us is having a system of how we are going to work the hall.

A. Before the convention we discuss what we are planning on as far as the curriculum for the next year.

Amy and I decided we wanted to try Konos for the coming year as we already had the curriculum from a previous home school convention. Konos is a multi level curriculum that includes all subjects except Math and Phonics. Amy and I then decided that we were satisfied with the Math that the kids were doing with Alpha Omega and would most likely stick with them in the coming year. We also discussed that we would want to focus a little more on Art as all our students show an affinity with that subject and that we also wanted to work more on penmanship as none of our students were showing an affinity with that.

B. We decide how much money we can or want to spend on curriculum.

C. Before we purchase anything we go through the vendor hall and look at what they have. Sometimes things change at the conference and our direction changes from what we were discussing before. Sometimes we end up getting exactly what we were talking about before the conference.

D. We leave the vendor hall and we discuss what we are going to purchase. Often the product is available at more than one vendor so Amy pulls out her calculator (me) to figure out what vendor has the best cost. Sometimes at this point we don't have everything decided yet. If that is the case we might divide and conquer where one of us will buy what we are certain about while the other will continue to look at products and make a decision

E. We generally find at least one new product at each conference that we are very excited to try out. This year we found out about the Draw to Learn series from the Notgrass Company. Remember how we wanted to have some more Art for the children. This book combines Bible Study and Art by having each student describe each of the Psalms in pictures. Click on the book cover for a sample page.

So that is how we make the vendor hall work for us. We are looking forward to a great school year and encourage you all to do the same. To see what has worked for me on previous Wednesdays click here.

To see what back to school nuggets await you at WFMW go back to We Are That Family.
This Article has been included at the Carnival of Homeschooling #189: The Lolcat Edition being hosted this week at Homeschoolbuzzdotcom.

Next Time: Remembering Millard.

Monday, August 3, 2009

In Which I Say a Bad Word.

So I know you all tuned in today because you want to hear me say a bad word. I will not disappoint. I will not actually say it, nor will you actually hear it. I will type it and you will read it. I may even type it more than once.

So, you may be wondering, what's got into his sock drawer, that would cause him to say (type) a bad word? Well nothing has really got into my sock drawer, so to speak. There are just a couple of bad words out there that I use from time to time because I like the meaning and the impact of them. This review calls for one of them.

I was recently straightening out my book shelf when I came across a book that I had read about 3-5 years ago. I remembered reading it during a point in my life when I was taking the bus to and from work. As I looked over the book, it seemed I was using the bus ticket as a bookmark. The name of the book is The Socialization Trap by Rick Boyer. It might as well be called (here comes the bad word) The Socialization Crap. Not that the book is crap, it is actually quite good. It's just the whole concept that the book refutes (Home School children are going to suffer ill effects because they have no socialization is a whole bunch (don't have the energy to use it thrice) of rubbish.

This misconception is not an idea that is going away any time soon. Just last month Sylvia Biu used the myth of socialization as one of her main reasons "Homeschooling is a bad idea." I will not spend this article refuting her silly piece of drivel (I didn't much care for her article), As Alasandra of Alasandra's Homeschool Blog did a fantastic job of tearing the work apart in "Homeschoolings advantages far outweigh any preconceived shortcomings."

I mention it here because as homeschoolers we have all heard people say "but what about socialization?"

Boyer points out that many homeschooling families fall into the socialization trap by buying into the idea that children need some sort of age segregated activities and often become even busier than public or private schooling families trying to remove this "deficiency."

Boyer does acknowledge that Home school moms (He doesn't mention dads, but hey I'm a maverick) do need support groups of other like minded parents, that often these groups disintegrate into centering around entertaining the kids rather than supporting the parents.

You know what conversation, I'd like to hear? I'd just like to hear this conversation of two parents whose oldest children are about to enter Kindergarten:

Parent 1: So Johnny is about to start kindergarten an the public school.

Parent 2: Aren't you concerned about socialization?

Parent 1: What do you mean?

Parent 2: Aren't you concerned that Johnny will soon begin spending more time with his peer group and his teachers than he will with you and your husband? That his ideas about morality and civility are going to be shaped not by you but in a large part by other children his own age?

Could you imagine the look that Parent 1 would have on his or her face? No one really questions age segregation because it is how the majority of adults today were brought up. The majority of adults my age also watched The Partridge Family every Friday night when they were a kid. That does not mean it was a good show!!

And now a personal moment, when Amy and I were just starting homeschooling we had many discussions with friends and relatives and naturally they would all wonder "What about socialization"?We would answer the question best we could. The odd thing during each one of these conversations are children weren't at home. They were either on play dates with other homeschooling families, playing with neighbor kids or out on field trips with Amy or I. In short while our friends and relatives were worrying about socialization our children were socializing.

While I don't agree with everything in Boyer's book, I highly recommend it as an excellent resource to homeschooling Parents. Boyer's book comes from a Christian perspective, I come from the same perspective. If you do not, there may be more that you disagree with the book about. I still think it makes some fine points regardless of your spiritual bent.

Thanks to Beverly at About Homeschooling for including this in the Carnival of Homeschooling # 188: Game Day Edition. To see my previous Carnival of Homeschooling submissions click here.

Next Time: The Home School Convention

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