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

Thursday, August 29, 2013

BILL WATTERSON: A cartoonist’s advice from Zen Pencils

I recently became aware of this Bill Watterson style cartoon at Zen Pencils, drawn to go with words to a 1990 commencement speech Watterson gave his Alma Mater, Kenyon College during the time he was producing Calvin and Hobbes cartoons.

I can really relate to this strip, as I have always followed the road less travelled  in my "professional" career.  I think this has led many people to not "get me" over the years including family members. This was actually before I "stopped working" altogether and taught my children at home.  After that, people really didn't know what to do with me.

Watterson's sage advice paired with these wonderful drawings really encouraged me that even though I am ending my 5 year journey as a happy SAHD, that  my path on the  road less travelled will continue to make all the difference.

Next Time: Being Paid to watch Saturday Night Live

Monday, August 26, 2013

Stop The Clock.

In the movie "City Slickers" Billy Crystal's character starts to talk about the death of the trail boss, Curly and his friend announces "Stop the clock." checks his watch and notes how long it took him to comment on the subject.  It seems Crystal's character, Mitch is so obsessed with death that his friends can conduct a pool to see how quickly he will talk about it.

Our family has a way of adapting movie lines in to our every day activities.  We use this above referenced line when it comes to crying, particularly mine. I am the family crier. I am an emotional guy.  I cry at movies all the time.  I cry when I listen to the radio.  I cry while I am reading books to the family.  I will sometimes even read the books ahead to avoid crying, and I'll cry any way.

I am a pretty astute t.v and movie watcher. This goes for books as well.   I can usually figure out the unwinding of even the best constructed plots long before that unwinding takes place.  The ability to travel well ahead of the pace of the plot and even make fun of the poorer contrived ones does not curb my propensity to bawl when the conclusion is  presented.  When I ultimately do succumb, myself or another family member will utter, "stop the clock."

Sending our 2 youngest to public school this year has been an emotionally verklempt time for Amy and me.  Even though we sense God's hand in the decision and hope this is just a 1 year detour off their home schooling path,  (Spider Droid refers to his middle school teachers as substitutes.) it still sometimes feels more like a trial than a blessing.  For the most part I had  been able to get through their having a commute farther from their bedroom to the dining room table without tearing up. I was, that is until the 2nd day of school.

On the 2nd day of school I walked Wolfina to  her school, which is about 3 minutes walk from our house.  We were running a little late so her class was already walking into the building when we got there.  I put her in the line, and her teacher (who had been Bunny Girl's kindergarten teacher 9 years ago, the last time any of our kids attended public school) went up to me, took me aside, and said, beaming with pride, "you have raised a wonderful daughter."

I said thank you to the teacher, and goodbye to W and started walking home.  But it was time to stop the clock.  I cried so much, I could have swum back to the house.  I was an emotional wreck, but  in a good way.In that moment, I knew that time we spent home educating our kids had made an impact.  She had spent 1 day with our daughter and was commenting on the difference we had made.  We will continue to try and make that difference every day with all of our kids, and that is one of the things that motivates me to make it possible to get Amy back home next year, to continue to build character into our kids.

Next Time: My 2nd job

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Carnival of Homeschooling #399. My reflections on being a Home School Dad.

Hello and welcome in to the Carnival of Homeschooling #399.  This year is a kind of Home School sabbatical for our family.  I am starting a full time job next month, and my wife will continue to work outside the house for what we hope is one more year.  Our 6th grader and 2nd grader will be attending public school this year, and our 9th grader will continue her studies at home through an on-line curriculum.  I have hosted this carnival 1/2 dozen or so times over the last 5 years and have been a regular contributor and reader of the carnival as well.  In between posts today, I plan to share some thoughts on my time as a Home School Dad.

Before I begin I'd like to thank all of those participating in today's carnival, especially those who sent encouraging notes to me with their submissions. I'd like to thank 4 contributors by name for their special encouragement. I will do so by kicking off this carnival with their submissions.

Andrea Hermitt of Notes from a Homeschooled Mom wrote her post especially for my final carnival.  I hope you all enjoy her piece, When Homeschooling Ends, as much as I did.

Cristina Ramos-Payne of Home School Juggling has been a friend of my blog since the beginning. She actually gave me the choice of two of her fine posts for this edition.  I chose In Every Life, A Little Chaos Must Reign.

I'd also like to thank Susan Gaissert of The Expanding Life, who while no longer blogging, offered me to raid the pantry of her archives.  I hope you enjoy The Difference Between Knowing and Learning.

No list of shout outs is complete without including the fabulous Henry Cate.  Why Homeschool
and the work he does behind the scenes at COH have made my time in the homeschooling blog-o-sphere that much more rewarding.  This week he checks in with his second daughters perspective, From the trenches - the last year of homeschooling.

Our family has been home schooling for somewhere between 9 and 14 years depending on what the meaning of the word is is.  Just kidding, with the Clinton reference. Sometimes I count our home schooling experience from when Bunny Girl went to  1/2 day Kindergarten and Amy taught her and Spider Droid when she got home.  This is often when Amy reminds me that she started homeschooling BG  when she was 2 and said you two (Amy and me) are always reading, and I want to read too.  So they started "playing school" every day, while I was at work.  This is usually when I remind Amy that the Homeschooloing probably started in earnest prenatally, when I started reading Chronicles of Narnia to BG in the womb.

Whichever  number you want to choose as a starting point, we have been at it a while. The following 3 posts all have a number in their title . . .

Kris of Weird Unsocialized Home Schoolers presents 10 Clues That You Might Be a Homeschool Kid.

Janet Golovine presents 25 Blogs with Preschool Lessons You Can Teach at Home posted at Become A Nanny.

Julie Gilbert of Homeschooling Ideas shares 5 Things to stop doing in your homeschool. She says
it is time to take note of those things and cross them off your list.

I started actively participating in homeschooling, when I went to a 4 day 10 hour week at work.  I was basically the field trip and errand guy while Amy was working a part time job.  But I did some of the teaching even though thc kids were much younger.  A few years later in 2008, I lost my job about  a month before school was supposed to start.  We had already picked out the curriculum.  Amy  and I decided to both look for work and see who could get hired faster.  I got let go on a Friday, and Amy was hired the next Monday before I even started looking.  We decided that I would home school for a few years, and then we would switch.  The few years turned out to be five. 

Elena talks about The Ordinary Homeschooler at My Domestic Church.

Deana, at the Frugal Homeschooling Mom, is collecting reviews of affordable field trip locations nationwide.  Here is an example of her section Frugal Field Trips.    She is looking for guest posters.

Speaking of travelling, Jodi Whisenhunt presents Disneyland Paris: Big Thunder Mountain posted at Magical Mouse Schoolhouse.

Homeschooling my kids as a Dad, put me in a unique position even among homeschoolers who are in a unique position already. When you tell someone you are a home schooling Dad, that usually tells people what your wife's occupation is, not yours.  It was kind of hard for people to wrap their mind around a teaching Dad.  

Annie Kate talks about the joys of having time to learn along with her children in What Are You Learning This Year? 6 Tips for Moms at Tea Time with Annie Kate.

Laura Grace Weldon dispels six common fallacies about home education in Homeschool Worries: Erased With Research & Experience.  

Amber of Large Family Learning shares her  families school plans from preschool to 8th grade in 2013-2014 curriculum choices.e

While it was not an ideal situation, or even a job I excelled at, it was a job I loved.  In  the past 5 years,  I have spent the majority of almost every day with my children.  When I compare that to when I last worked outside the house working shifts, where my kids would be asleep before I left and asleep when I got home. I realize how blessed I was.    Also with my wife working in a school district we have had 8-10 weeks each Summer where we were for the most part together.  

Like our family, Happy Elf Mom of Homeschool and Etc. will have some children in public school this year and some homeschooled.  Her is her post on Homeschooling Kindergarten.

Celeste presents Second Grade in Our Home - An Overview posted at Joyous Lessons.

The opposite of second grade in our home is our experience with our youngest.  Tomorrow (I am writing this on Monday) she starts 2nd grade at the public school across the street from us.  Today she started her own blog to write about her school experience.  I have made my other 2 start blogs, but this was her idea.  Here is Wolfina of Wolfina's Secrets with My Teacher.

One of the things I have enjoyed most during my tenure as the teacher and something that I plan to continue is reading books to the children chapters at a time, usually at lunch or dinner.  Sometimes after finishing the book we will check out a movie version from the library.   This Summer we read Louisa May Alcott's Little Men and are 3 chapters into Jo's Boys.  Teaching my younger children to read was a much less enjoyable, but ultimately rewarding task.  We are a family of bibliophiles and watching any of our brood enjoying a good book makes the time and energies expended worthwhile.

Speaking of reading, Sharon of Reading-Writing-Learning describes what we have to be able to do in order to learn to read in Ever Wondered What Reading Actually Entails?.

The reading on reading continues with Gearing up and Slowing Down in No Fighting No Biting.

Christine of Our Curious Home tells a story of nature, nurture, and nuthatches in Caratunk during the flute lesson.  

Like all teachers, I discovered that I had strengths and weaknesses in what types of classes I could teach. This is why I really enjoyed my involvement in our home school co-op.  My children were  able to take classes that suited their interest but did not always suit my abilities.  I taught classes on blogging, literature and writing, and math while my kids learned crocheting, robotics, street drumming and the list goes on.  My son's robotics team advanced to the state championships and was featured in a national magazine.  Also, our family built strong relationships with other  home schooling families in the area.  

Speaking of robotics,ChristineMM of The Thinking Mother mentions them while sharing why she thinks academic competitions of different types are goo:d for homeschoolers in Why Do Academic Competitions.

Susan of Corn and Oil presents Springfield letter: Illinois Home School Standards Needed.

Homeschooling Choice is the topic at Alasandra's Homeschool Blog.

 Hosting this carnival was always a highlight for me.  I loved being behind the scenes watching how this weekly link fest got produced.  If you have never hosted before, you may not realize how many submissions to the carnival have little, or nothing to do with home education.  Each time I host, I usually have to leave out 2 or more of these kind of posts.  As a glimpse behind the scenes sorts I offer you This week's Carnival of Homeschooling Outtakes at a new post HSD blog of mine, YBD: Your Basic Dave.

I also went in the way back machine to HSD 2009 to present Strawberry Picking with Bunny Girl.

The Coming School Year is Chris Shaw's focus at Home School Vs. Public School.

Rebecca Taberski of Down A Rabbit Trail sums up this carnival quite nicely by saying, "My post is about finding the homeschooling path that works for your individual family...and enjoying the journey!

I have certainly enjoyed the journey of being the teaching member of our  school family.  Thank you for letting me share some of that journey with you.

While this may be the last time I host from the perspective of a fulltime educator, it won't be my last time contributing or reading the Carnival.  Next Week  is Carnival # 400.  I already have my contribution ready. Click  here for info on how to submit yours.

Next Time: Having it your way at work.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Status Updates

The new school year is upon us, and I want to  share  what's new for each  member of our clan.

I have been offered a job at a firm I used to work at before the whole homeschooling thing. It is entry level , and in order to bring Amy home(see Amy), I am going to need more than entry level money.  So I plan to wow them and get on the inside track as quickly as possible.  I also am pursuing freelance blogging and opening a content based blogging business as alternate income streams.

Amy and Bunny Girl

Amy started back at her school this week.  This is the start of her  3rd year at her current school, and the 6th since she returned to her  job as  a school psychologist.  Our hope is to get her back at home next year home schooling the kids as she did before I took over.

Bunny Girl starts school next week with the online Monarch program.  She volunteered at the library this summer and quite enjoyed it.  She is still a reading machine.
Spider Droid

Spider Droid is jumping in the deep end of middle school this year.  Since Amy and I will both be working this year, we have enrolled our 2 youngest children in public school for what we think will be one year.  It was a tough decision, and we are all still making our peace with it.  SD has been going to Camp Sixth Grade this week to get ready for the school year.  He did a lot of swimming and biking this summer along with a lot of reading and Minecraft.  He is not quite sure what to expect with the big change, but  we know he is up for the challenge.  

Wolfina isn't exactly having a cow about going to public school this year, but it is definitely outside the old comfort zone.  Inside the old comfort zone are howling, swimming, reading, howling, biking, writing letters, howling, drawing, cooking, and howling.  She was in her first theatrical production this summer and loved dancing,  singing,  and howling.

Next Time: COH

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My First Job

It has been hammered into me repeatedly that the best way to land a job these days is put yourself in front  of decision makers. This is so you can become what is called,  the known candidate, when a job opening comes along.  This may seem  like a strange and foreign alternative to posting your resumes on job boards and sending out more to every company in your industry and sit back and wait for the interviews and job offers to start (not)  pouring in.  However, when I think back on many of my previous work experiences, they definitely followed the known candidate pattern than the post and see method that most people employ, when they are trying to be employed.

It has also been suggested to me that everyone should keep a resume that they will never use, one that has listed each work related experience that have ever had.  This will help the job seeker and future job seeker alike have a living document of all their abilities at their finger tips in case the perfect job comes knocking.  To that end, I have decided to write about each job I have ever had, both paid and voluntary.  I will talk about how I got it, what I did, and mostly what I learned from it.  Today we start at the beginning:   folding newspapers on my kitchen table.

My first job started with a murder and had property damage and grand theft auto in between.   In May of 1976, a grisly murder occurred in the the suburb I grew up in.  It actually occurred on the street where I lived.  A young woman and her boyfriend brutally killed her parents and brother.  One way the police became aware that some thing might be amiss was that the family's newspapers started piling up on their porch.

Shortly after the murders, my sister's friend, who delivered the papers on that route, offered her route to my sister.  I am not sure if the murder prompted her decision or not.  The route turned out to be a little more than my sister bargained for.  She lasted less than a week and sought to give the job to someone else.  That is how I became the known candidate.  I spent most of the next 4 years delivering papers.


You have to walk before you can bike.

When I first started the route, there was quite a learning curve.  I would sometimes have to use 2 or 3 rubber bands before I could wrap a paper without snapping the rubber band.  I started out biking my route.  I found that I could usually not hit the porch while sitting on my bike and balance other newspapers in my bag.  So, I had to get off my bike at every house, (and almost every house on our 2 block route got a paper) deliver the paper, and then get back on my bike.  I quickly found I could do the route faster walking than I could on my bike.  This was especially easier in the hard winters of the mid to late seventies. Each spring I would try biking again and found with all the practice of delivering on foot, that I could now deliver from my bike with only the occasional missed porch.

Brothers make "interesting" business partners.

I have a brother who is 18 months younger than me.  Over the years we worked newspaper routes together and also separately. One fateful morning, my brother and I were quarreling up a storm.  I was chasing him around the house.  He said something, I threw a paper at him for what I think was the first and I'm sure was the last time.   You see he ducked, but my mom's glass plated curio cabinet didn't.  Ka-rash.  The new glass came from our earnings.

In the winter my dad would sometimes drive us on our route before heading off to work.  My dad was in a car pool so even though we only had 1 vehicle at the time it was usually parked in the garage.  One time my brother who was probably 11 at the time started taking the car on the route.  I wanted nothing to do with it and would rather just walk my route and leave him and his friends to their criminal activities. I did get bullied into going with him on occasion but never drove.  This went on for a few weeks and strangely enough, no one ever reported the activity to my parents.  I think this was because my dad was still driving us some days and people just assumed there was an adult in the station wagon.  One morning my brother got the car stuck in a snow drift and he had to wake my sleeping mother and make her aware of his activities.  The car keys were not readily accessible at our house for a long time after that.

 Reading is Fundamental

I earned quite a bit of money (at least from a pre-teen and early teen perspective)  on my newspaper routes and only had to spend a small percentage of paying for my outbursts of anger.  I  remember buying a fishing reel and a new bike with some of my earnings.  The biggest benefit from being a newsboy was that I became a newspaper man.  Not a newspaper man in the journalistic sense, although I have done that.  A newspaper reader and lover.  I had always been an avid reader.  But delivering turned me into a newspaper reader.  I delivered 3 different papers at one point and was allowed to keep the extras when there were some.  I ended  up reading almost every paper I delivered in that 4 year period from cover to cover.  I learned how to proofread just by spotting mistakes in the papers I delivered.

The traditional role of the youth delivering papers on his/her bike has all but vanished in the 30+ e years since I had my route.  It now seems to live on in only in t.v. and movies.  When I look back on my first job, I am glad I was paper trained.

Next Time: Status Update

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

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