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
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fragments, Photos, Tweets and Rants.

Yes you can sing my title to the tune of Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes if you want to. You got to know I will! That said, I have been blogging like crazy lately. I still have a lot to say and Friday Fragments is a great place to tie up loose ends

Fragment 1: I blogged earlier about former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich this week. Maybe I didn't mention that when he ran he said he was going to clean up corruption left in the wake of the previous governor. Now that George Ryan is in jail and Blago soon to join him I really like this new license plate and slogan proposal.

Fragment 2: I also have blogged some what inadvertently about the Pioneer Woman over the past two posts. They were really peripheral blink if you miss them comments beyond the main themes of the posts. It got me to thinking though that I do have a few pictures of her I wanted to post. Amy and the bigs went to a book store in Naperville this spring to get her new book.

She signed Spider Droid's book. and posed for these pictures.

She was impressed with his profound Lego skills. If I was The Next Big Thing on the Internet, I would have probably been "Next!" She, was incredibly gracious.

Fragment 3: As you may or may not know bad or inaccurate commercials drive me crazy. Today I was listening to Pandora while weeding the garden. (If you don't believe me check out this tweet.) A commercial for Lowe's came on and they said July 4th was finally here. That really ticked me off. (If you don't believe me check out this tweet.)

You see they Didn't say July 4th weekend was finally here. They made a single day into a season and then call the season by the day. This sort of thing really irks me, because making the day something it isn't, obscures what it is. In the Little House books, especially Little Town on the Prairie and Those Happy Golden Years, the 4th of July was a special day nestled in between 2 ordinary days. This gave it special meaning.

Our town's 4th of July fireworks were June 25th! 9 days before the actual event. Now they used to always have them the Saturday before the 4th, which I could understand. I even sort of got it when the 4th of July was on a Saturday, and they held the fire works the Saturday before. But 9 days? I mean they should have called them the Father's day fireworks since they were held closer to them, then the 4th of July. Many of the local area festivals which usually coincide with the 4th of July are ending on Sunday this year. I don't get it. The date has significance!

The timer just rang which means I have to stop this ranting and move on. (If you don't believe me check out this tweet.)

Fragment 4: I stole this picture along with the picture from Fragment 1 from the same Facebook account. I could type a lot more, but I think the picture speaks for itself.

Those are all the fragments I have for the time being. Click here to head back to Half Past Kissing Time for more Friday Fragments. (If you don't believe me, check out this tweet.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Next Big Thing on the Internet?!?

When I started this blogging adventure 2.5 years ago, I fully expected to be the next big thing on the internet. I didn't necessarily want to be. I just thought I was slated for fame. Now that it hasn't happened, I am not sure at all as to why not. Let's examine the package that is HomeSchoolDad.

  1. I am young. (If 46 can be considered young.

  2. I am vibrant (If taking 3 minutes to get off a couch can be considered vibrant.)

  3. I am fun and exciting (I am actually fun and exciting. No, really.)

  4. My children do things like this . . .

  5. So, I don't understand with all that going for me, why I am not the next big thing on the internet. Maybe I should change my name to Ree and become the Pioneer Home School Dad?

    Here is my first question for you. Why are you not the next big thing on the internet? Since an early age I have been a big fan of Steve Martin. It probably stems from watching him make balloon animals from unblown balloons on The Muppet Show. I memorized all of his stand up albums which are pure genius. I even love stuff I now disagree with. For example he once said:I believe that Ronald Reagan could make this country what it once was: A barren wasteland covered with ice. I love Ronald Reagan but that is classic misdirection and liberal or conservative, you have to admit: that's funny.

    I say all this because I have been following Steve Martin's twitter feed. He has been doing this bluegrass thing and his new song about Paul Revere from the POV of his horse is lovely. If I ever had the chance to say something to Steve Martin, I would probably say something like, "Thank you for showing me that it was okay to view the world a little differently." This brings me to my second question for you: "If you got a chance to see a childhood (or adult idol )of yours, what would you say to him, her or it?"

So those are my two questions and I am sticking with them. For more of Thursday Two Questions click here.

Good Lorenzo Charles Reflection.

I was staying up late working on my other blog, tweeting and watching the White Sox lose yet another extra inning game when I saw a tweet from a former pastor of mine regarding this piece at SI.COM. For whatever reason I felt compelled to link it here.

Maybe it's because my last post here was about the NCAA tournament. Maybe because I remember the 1983 NCAA Finals very well because I graduated high school this year. Maybe it's because Lorenzo Charles was 47 and I'll turn 47 in a few months. Not sure exactly why I am sharing it here. But, like my pastor tweeted, it's a great article by a great sports writer. This is also a golden basketball moment . . .

My thoughts, condolences and prayers go out toLorenzo's friends and family.

Hopefully I'll post here again before another former pastor tweets about some sports moment. I was waiting to post until the Sox got rolling again. As Dr. Phil would ask "How is that working?"

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Garden Variety Wordless Wednesday

For more Wordless Wednesdays click here.

For a really good Chicken Wing recipe from the Pioneer Woman cooks click here. Not exactly wordless, but man can't live by salad alone.

Dances with Puppy

When we were at Taste of Chicago last week there was an opportunity to get Puppy to do what she loves best: dance. At one of the booths a lady was teaching some traditional Mexican dances.

Puppy and I came forward to participate

At this point it looks a little like the Hokey Pokey.

This is the traditional part of the dance where the man stops to tie his shoe and the pink clad princess looks on.

I'm sorry ma'am but I have no intention to show that much leg!

You put it all together and . . .

As you can tell that dance was not exactly Puppy's speed. But this is . . .

It's a new move called the Puppy-it's-as-easy-as-1-2-3

Here it is live.

I will have some more pics and stories from Taste of Chicago soon.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thank you Blago, for the home school civics lessons.

It was a Tuesday, that's all I remember for sure. That's the day the kids had their enrichment course. (It's a co-op, but they don't call it a co-op. They call it enrichment courses.) Puppy and I played in a kid's area while Bunny took an art class and then Spider Droid took a chess class. I was driving to enrichment classes, (that's how I knew it was a Tuesday) when I heard on the radio that our state's governor Rod Blagojevich had been arrested on federal corruption charges. The most egregious of which was trying to sell the then President-elect Obama's vacated senate seat to the highest bidder.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich by captainleadbottom
Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a photo by captainleadbottom on Flickr.

It was there in the car on the way to enrichment classes, that our 2 1/2 year civics lessons began. Theses include lessons in filling vacant seats, abuse of power, impeachment, trials, hung juries and retrials. Then today as I went to run errands with the bigs, I turned on the radio and they announced a verdict had been reached in the Blago retrial and would be announced in the early afternoon. As quickly as that, our civics classroom started all over again.

Here are a few educational and pseudo educational moments from the last 30 months of Blagomania:

  • When Spider Droid first heard about the Blagojevich arrest he assumed that the governor had been framed since a governor would never do anything wrong. What I wanted to say to him was "live in Illinois much?" But I went the AWANA route and reminded him of his memory verse, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

  • Many of Blagojevich's public appearances gave us quite a lot to discuss. I tried to find a video of him quoting Rudyard Kipling shortly after his initial arrest. The only one I could find was merged with Simpson's clips. So instead here is the beginning of an interview he did with Dave Letterman shortly after the impeachment.

  • The kids' impression of him was aided by the media. At one point between the arrest and the impeachment, the kids got to calling him "Governor Deadmeat" because he had been referred to that way in a local paper.

  • We even did a Lego workshop about him. . .

rod blagojevich by robayre
Just kidding! Here's the real credit.

rod blagojevich, a photo by robayre on Flickr.

Blagojevich's downfall seemed to be that he felt that his years of service to the public entitle him to some sort of payback. During the past 2.5 years, even in his trial, he talked about all the great things he did for the state of Illinois. His defense seems to be (a) This is what politics is(everybody's doing it)and (b) I deserve something out of this. I am sure that in his mind, which must be an amazing place to visit, he did nothing wrong.

Interestingly enough, these are my kids' two biggest excuses for not admitting when they were wrong. "They started it"and "But I wanted it." Blagoevich serves as a warning to my kids and hopefully everyone who tries to cover up their misdeeds with excuses.

So thanks Blago, for all the civics lessons. I guess we'll just have to wait until your sentencing date to learn more.

Thanks to As for my House for hosting this weeks carnival of homeschooling and puting in this post. To go visit the carnival click here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Recap: It Goes Fast, Dad!

I spent a portion of today blindfolded. For many of you this may be a common occurrence. For me, it is not. The reason why I endured it is because the kids wanted to surprise me with some Father's Day events today. So, this morning I got in the van blindfolded and drove to our mystery location. I actually didn't drive, that would have made a real surprise, for oncoming traffic!

Amy drove to the mystery location and if we used blind folds on our kids’ mouths, I would not have known we were going to Old Country Buffet. Alas, breakfast covers a multitude of sins, especially when there's bacon!

After breakfast we went to church (sans blindfold) where we saw this video produced, starring and directed by men in our church.

After church, it was blindfold time again. This time when we stopped I had no idea where we were, until Spider Droid handed me a rather large bag and I knew we were at a bowling alley.

The kids had said let's take dad to do something he likes. Amy saw a coupon for unlimited bowling on Father's Day. So we went. Bowling is one of many things I don't do well but am passionate about. I had a B.C. (Before Children) goal of bowling in every state. We have bowled in quite a few. We have much of the Midwest and South taken care of. We hope to slowly but surely hit the rest. (When I say "we" I mean "I.") If HSD ever gets big enough for a speaking tour many of the venues will probably be bowling alleys.

We spent a good portion of the afternoon bowling. We had two lanes: one with bumpers and one without. At one point Spider Droid and I were bowling two games at the same time. I ended up bowling 7 games: 3 over 100, 2 99's, and none under 90. These are not good numbers for most bowling aficionados. For me they are dreams come true.

Like the song says, it goes fast Dad. I am glad I was able to savor some special time with my kids and my wife. I hope you all had a great day.

Next Time: Reading: it’s not just a railroad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The gift that keeps on giving.

A few Father's Days ago my kids gave me a present: tickets to a local minor league baseball game. A present that is also a family event is, for me, the best kind of present. Especially, since this was at least 3 Father's Days ago, back when I was working full time and family time was harder to come by than it is today. Before the game, all dads and their children were invited to play catch on the field. This was a great moment that I still think about.

During the game there was a drawing for all the dads in attendance. One of the players had signed a bat which I won!

So if you are scoring at home, the kids gift of tickets turned out to be 3 gifts in one:

1) Family time in a busy season of my life.
2) A cherished memory of playing catch with my kids.
3) A tangible reminder of a wonderful evening.

Well this week the gift kept on giving.

The bat had been hanging in my garage since I won it. I didn't really have any practical use for it since it was much too big for the kids to use. Recently, Spider Droid asked if he could hit with it. This is an adult bat and he is a little guy for a nine year old. He had trouble swinging with it at first and when he did connec,t the ball did not go very far.

When we went to home school baseball this wee,k Spider Droid insisted on taking that bat and I threw him a few more while we waited for the rest of the boys and girls to arrive. When the game started, I had to coerce him to use one of the smaller bats rather than the piece of lumber I had brought. As a result, he was hitting fly balls out of the infield all evening, which he had never done before.

Being ever the budding scientist he credits this to practicing with a larger bat. He now wants to practice with that bat to prepare for next week’s game.

So for the past two nights we have gone to the local park taking turns pitching and hitting. Spider Droid might just think these trips are fun and a good chance to improve his game. Someday he may view them as I do: exquisite times of a father with his son.

Happy Fathers Day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Swimming suits us.

Today didn't hit 80. But we still went to our public pool. We got a pool pass and in my mind that means we go for free. The thing I like about our pool is that it's like one of those choose your own adventure books my brother used to love when he was a kid. There are so many different things to do. On a cool day like this, there's a sand area where kids can play. There is also an indoor pool and the diving well next to it. Two weeks ago I told you that the bigs started going off the diving board. Today they went off it with gusto, at times Bunny and Spider droid were the only ones going off it.

Last week puppy started doing a little bit of swimming on her own. just a little doggy paddle for a few inches. When she was done she went back to wearing a life jacket (I have called them swimmers jackets since bunny was very young. Don't know how I came up with it, I just did) for most of the time she was in the water.

Today, Puppy spent most of her time in the indoor pool with me sans Swimmers Jacket. After holding me tightly like her life depended on it for a large chunk of time, I tried to get her to swim a few inches to me and then back to the side of the pool. After a while she was really into it. I had Spider Droid take this footage.

After he had put the camera away she was doubling that distance. Amy came in to the indoor pool at that moment and was thrilled that she continued with what she had learned from the week before.

Then later in the day as Spider Droid played in the sand with a friend he had made last year and Amy read a book, I watched on as Bunny helped Puppy swim in the deep end for the most of the rest of our time at the pool. This was amazing as a) Bunny was eager to be helpful with Puppy and b) just two weeks ago I couldn't get Puppy to go into the deep end even with a swimmers jacket on and clinging to my neck.

All in all. It was quite a grand adventure at our local pool.

Next Time: The Lost Art of Reading

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Little Town on the Prairie

Little Town on the Prairie is the 7th of the nine Little House books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It takes place in De Smet, South Dakota (then just called the Dakota Territory.) The book follows The Long Winter and precedes These Happy Golden Years.

If you have not read any of these books before you might wonder why Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to herself in the third person. This is because when she originally submitted her book as a first person narrative, it was rejected by the publisher. When she changed it to referring to herself in the third person, it was then accepted.

As I said in yesterday's post, I like to read these books aloud to the children because they go back to a long ago time, and while doing so, I can teach values that are timely even for our modern age.

In this book, we see the return of Nellie Olsen, Mary goes to college, and also the beginnings of the Almanzo Wilder/ Laura Ingalls relationship which develops more in the next book. I love Almanzo and even though he only shows up once every 50 or 60 pages, I am always glad when he does.

One of the best parts of this book is Laura's determination to study hard so she can become a teacher. What is most interesting to me is that Laura does not even want to be a teacher. She only wants to do it so she can provide money to her family so Mary can go to and stay in a special college for the blind. Especially touching in the book is Laura and Mary's last walk together before Mary and her parents take the train to Iowa to take Mary to her college.

The book is also very humorous and especially fun for reading out loud. From Pa's dream of getting his haircut, to the exploits of Kitty, the Ingall's cat, who is a scourge to gophers and a nemesis of local dogs, this book is every bit funny as it is poignant. I guess that's why I like these books. Modern life is sometimes stressful, funny, miserable, inspiring and heartbreaking all in the same day. It seems that life on the prairie was no different.

In researching this review, I found biographical information on Laura and her family. One thing I read said that when Laura's daughter Rose died in October 1968,and that she was the last direct descendant of Charles and Caroline Ingalls. I am not quite sure if that is true. Thanks to Laura's fine chronicles of her family, I think that the descendants of Charles and Caroline include anyone who reads and absorbs these fine Little House books.

Next Time: The Lost Art of Reading

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thursday Two Questions, already?

I can't believe it's been a week since I posted last. I am at least 3 posts behind. I have 2 book reviews I need to write and I want to talk about the oh, so excellent Home School Conference I attended over the weekend.

Well a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. It actually now starts with an I-phone. They have an app for that. But since I don't have an I-phone I'll go with the single step approach. I liked participating in Self Sagacity's Two Questions Thursday last week I thought I'd give it a shot again. I'll have to put off the book reviews and the conference comments (That sounds like a kind of Celestial Season Tea) until next time.

The book I am going to review if I ever get to it is Laura Ingall's Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie. I love reading these books to my family as they really give good perspective to things. For instance in Wilder's the Long Winter which preceded Little Town, Pa and Ma make the following observations on "new" technology. . .

"If only I had some grease I could fix some kind of a light," ma considered. "We didn't lack for light when I was a girl, before this new fangled kerosene was ever heard of.”

That's so," said pa. These times are too progressive. Everything has changed too fast. Railroads and telegraph and kerosene and coal stoves - they're good things to have but the trouble is, folks get to depending on.

What's most telling is 3 of the 4 items mentioned are basically obsolete in Western Culture. Trains are still around but nowhere near what they were 150 years ago.

This brings me to my first question: What new technology do you have the most trouble living without?

My next question also stems from a book I am eventually going to review. The book called the Lost Art of Reading is an essay about the state of the book. The paper, ink, binding variety.

My question is this. Do you have a nook or Kindle or other e-reader or do you read books the old fashioned way or do you just not read books?

Those are my questions. For other peoples questions click here.

Next Time: Little Town Review. (Yes, I know I have been saying that for awhile.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thursday Two Questions

I am trying out a new meme today. Called Two Questions Thursday. The basic gist (The central thought, the common idea, - It.s one of Spider droids vocabulary words). is that you ask 2 questions and your readers and those linking to you from the meme answer those questions. The meme is hosted @ Self Sagacity.

When I first started blogging I participated in Mnoga (Russian for many) Memes. I even hosted one for awhile after the original owner decided to let it go. Recently I participate in them less and less. I occasionally will post @ Friday Fragments or Six Word Saturday but it's definitely not an every week affair.

My two questions today are about memes.

1) How come the majority of memes start the day before? For instance here I am asking my two questions for Thursday on a Wednesday. Considering the relative ease on most platforms of predating your material. It is not hard to time your post to begin at midnight the day of your meme.

2) When not participating in a meme for the week, do you still read it? I faithfully submitted over 25 Works for me Wednesday submissions before I finally realized that hints from Heloise is just not my bag. I really enjoyed reading all the hints but noticed that once I stopped being a contributor I also stopped being a regular reader.

So those are my questions and I am sticking to them. To join in answer my questions as a comment and then click here for more questions.

Next Time: Little Review of the Prairie

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