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

Monday, December 22, 2014

Simple Plans a review and reminiscense

Listening to an old CD is like going into the way back machine.   When I pull out Billy Crockett's Simple Plans

I'm transported back to 1999 when it came out.  It  was released on August 31, 1999, just a few days prior to my oldest daughter's release.  So back in my newlywed apartment days I first heard this album.  I have it both on c.d. and cassette, so I probably first heard it on cassette and then picked it up in a cd bargain bin sometime after that.  I am glad I did ,as we no longer have a functioning cassette player in the house.  I found this out much to my chagrin earlier this week when trying to listen to Crockett's  earlier Red Bird Blue Sky, which I have only on cassette.  Don't even get me started on vinyl.

There is much to love about Simple Plans,  from it's delightful cover art to the fact that it's dedicated to Habitat for Humanity,  the fact that the music is evocative of so many styles of music while maintaining its own distinct sound. One of the things I like most about the album is that the music is so reminiscent of the work of so many of my  favorite Christian artists, particularly, the late Rich Mullins,  Allen Levi and Noel Paul Stookey, best known as the Paul from Peter , Paul and Mary and also Bob Bennet. Michael  Kelly Blanchard and Michael Card.

I just started  playing the album and will give you a few reflections as I listen.

For the shaping of a shelter, where everybody can come home 

Simple plans, the title song ,starts things off.  It catches the ministry of Habitat for Humanity in a musical nutshell .  It is soothing musically and also spiritually energizing.  This song reminds me of Spider Droid and my trip to Joplin Missouri a few years ago where we helped with construction and clean up after the tornado.

Oh remember the fish and the loaves,  how love has a math of it's own 

The very catchy "what you got" is a reminder that we are just pieces in God's redemptive puzzle.  It is a perfect tie in again to ministries like Habitat for Humanity that rely on volunteer efforts.  We may think that we have relatively little to bring to the table, but by a "just bring what you got" mentality we can see God do so much beyond our own meager efforts.

You may live on borrowed time, broken heart and troubled mind, God thinks your the keeping kind

My friend Don Brorsen and I used to call songs like no strings on love, what's your point songs back when we were deejaying together in college,  We called them this because they repeat the moral of the story lyric so many times.  We sometimes meant this term derisively, however the repetition works nicely on no strings on love.  Don, like all of us, lived on borrowed time , dying of cancer earlier this year.  He also was familiar with broken hearts and troubled minds, I am not sure if he ever heard this song  but confident it would have ministered to him if he had. This song is the most Stookeyesque of the set.  It is fast paced, but deep , thoughtful and provocative.

I will remember the hands of Christ, touching the broken, the scandalized.

If No Strings on Love is the most Stookeysque of the tracks on Simple Plans, Love The World is hands down the most Mullinsesque. Crockett performed BGV's for Rich Mullins self titled debut Album in 1986 and also played guitar and toured with Mullins in later efforts.  Just a few years after Mullins untimely death, Mullins presence  is palpable on Simple Plans and most evident on this track as well as the cover artwork.

What  I see in you is shining in your eyes written on your face ... and I will be the lucky one for all I see in you.

All I See in You seems to be an intimate song about a friendship that I would love to know the whole story about.  It reminds me of the power that encouragement brings and how well placed words can have a lifetime of benefit.  I remember when I was engaged to Amy, I was briefly unemployed and felt bad as I had no job. When I shared that concern with her, she said I'm not worried, you always work.  That confidence in me has helped me many times in retrospect when difficulties have come.  Knowing that Amy is in my corner, has been enough to keep on punching through.

What have you learned that means a difference to you? 

Billy Crockett and Allen Levi are the only 2 artists I know who have the consistent ability to be simultaneously irreverent, silly , poignant and thought provoking.  There songs are like  poetic lasagna with many layers weaved throughout.  Tap on Your Shoulder from the fast pace to the Stookyesques "Tap Tap" is the most fun song on a very fun album. 

All of my children will be who they will be and I will be there with them to the end.  

While there may be too much hoe down in All of My Children for my wife's liking, I like the simple message that God made us special and loves us very much.  It's a very Big Idea.

I find my guitar and I walk to the light and I vow to be the man I'm made to be tonight. 

Following Hammer Thumb , a brief instrumental interlude that shows off Crockett's mammoth guitar abilities ,  Mark and Sammy is the one song on the album that has not aged well.  This is mainly due to the fact that Crockett uses the home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa from 1998 to sing about doing your best and playing at a high level.  Unfortunately how could Crockett know that McGwire and Sosa's achievements would be tainted by allegations and admissions of steroid use?  It is my sincere hope that Crockett did not use PED's or fill his guitar with cork to complete this album.

It all turns doesn't it turn, daylight to darkness and daylight back again 

It All Turns is a modern lullaby, a soothing song about the beautiful cyclical nature of life.  It is like the book of Ecclesiastes from a glass half full perspective.  

Nobody wants to be the last in line.

Jesus mixes things up.  He took the hierarchy of his day and stood it on his ear.  In his vivid descriptions of what it means in our society to be last, Crockett shows how powerful Christ's contention that in the kingdom of heaven the last will be first, really is.

The problem with many records is that they are  not produced to have one cohesive message.  The songs are not laid out in any order and are usually a hodge podge thematically.  I do not feel that way about this album.  The overall message I get from Simple Plans is that of a modern epistle about God's role in our lives, and ours in His mission.  Like most epistles, Crockett ends his with a benediction called Traveling Mercies.  

My favorite lines from the song are ...

Go in peace

live in grace
trust in the arms that will hold you
go in peace
live in grace trust God's love

That is a message suitable for 1999 , now and the future.  

Christmas traditions

When I was  a stay at home dad and home educator, Christmas was a 2  week break in the action.  My wife would be off her job  and we would have plenty of time to spend as a family for the holidays.   Now that I am working full time, and my wife has taken over the schooling portion of our lives everyone else in our family still gets a two week break ,except me.   I get Sunday's and Monday's off per usual but still have to work my regular Tuesday through Saturday with the exception of Christmas and New years day off. Sure we get to leave 90 minutes early on Christmas and New Year's Eve ,  but must make those 90 minutes up in the week we take them off, which is not exactly like getting them off.  I don,t say this to complain, I am very thankful to have a job.  I just say it as a point of contrast to what I am used to.

Getting so little time off, means there are some traditions at Christmas that I don't get to participate in and others that I do.  This past Saturday, Amy went with the kids to her sister.s house for the second annual family baking day.  While I worked and later while I OD'd on Netflix at home, they worked hard making multiple Christmas treats for later consumption.

After a regular day at Church yesterday,  and then helping out at  a local soup kitchen we did one of my favorite Christmas traditions, watching Its A Wonderful Life as a family.  Usually we watch it on a videocassette that predates my marriage by 10 years.  I have been married almost seventeen years ,so the videocassette is more than a quarter century old and not exactly a pleasure to watch.  Earlier this year I bought a DVD copy of my all time favorite film, and it made quite the difference in the quality of the product.

Today, we are spending the entire day out and about and doing some holiday related events. Last year we volunteered  several times at the Northern Illinois. Food Bank, Last Christmas, we invited some relatives to volunteer with us.  I was unable to go because of work.  This year we scheduled it on the Monday b4 Christmas so I could attend as well.  With another group of volunteers we assembled food to fill fill 20000 backpacks for a school backpack program which provides about 12000 meals.  Jesus gave so much to us by coming as a baby and then dying for our sins.  Giving love through volunteering and meeting the needs of others is a great way to celebrate Jesus.  After the Food Bank and after eating at one of Bunny Girls favorite restaurants, we went to one of our favorite libraries which is where I am typing this post. About twice each year we embark on what we call Library week.  Because of my work schedule, I am not always able to attend anymore.  A few hours doing what Rollers do best Librarizing , is fun and festive no matter the season.  In a few hours we are off to start what may become a tradition or just a warm holiday memory.  Amy's older brother has invited his relatives with children to a indoor fun center (roller rink, bowling alley, laser tag, bumper cars, and arcade.)  We took my side of the family there last summer for Cousins Day when in addition to the things I mentioned, there was also outdoor activities such as mini golf, bumper boats and batting cages.  It was a blast then, and should be more than 64000 ounces of fun which would make it tons of fun.

 Traditions and memories are important at Christmas time.  I hope your holiday traditions, new and old, help you experience family, fellowship and the true meaning of Christmas 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This week at COH

The Carnival of Homesdhooling is at momSCHOOL this week. I hopr you all enjoy the Ages and Stages Edition.

Bunny girls birthday!

Bunny Girl is 15 today!

We are spending day at libraries and bookstores

Which means she is all ....


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Re-booting This Crazy Life: Too Young to Die

A friend from college died last Monday.  He had cancer.  I was on a trip when he succumbed and I did not notice until Friday, the day of his funeral, that he had passed away.  He was 4 or 5 years younger than myself and it is very possible that I may have thought that he was too young to die. Today his father shared a link on FB to a post my friend wrote on his blog this past  February.

Re-booting This Crazy Life: Too Young to Die

My friend made very good points.  I think death is one of the biggest Monday Morning Quarterback issues we have with God, sickness is another.  My friends wife shared in her blog  few months before her husband died  how his cancer led to their eventual reconciliation and remarriage to each other (they had previously been divorced from each other.)  Who expects God to use cancer like that?

I had not seen my friend for over 20 years.  He had been planning a trip back to our home state and I would have loved an opportunity to see him again.  I would also have been very happy if he had not passed while I was on a trip of a lifetime with my son.  I also wish that I had one last chance to say goodbye even if was just on FB.  However my friend was right, God controls our destinies; He doesn't do it in a way we can fathom, but in a way that is best for us.

My wife,  oldest daughter, and myself were some of the last people to see one of my grandmothers before she died.  We and my son were one of the last to spend time with my other grandmother at her home before she spent her last few weeks dying in a hospital.  My son and I were among  the last family members to see my younger brother before he died 5 years ago. If I didn't question God's timing when he allowed me opportunities to connect with family prior to their relatively sudden passings, why should I question him when He does not allow me those opportunities?

Most of all, I miss my friend and am glad for  the time we spent together in person 2 decades ago for the  past 5 years we spent together electronically.

I owe you a packet of Ramen, Don.  I don't think I can bring it to heaven, so I will eat it myself in your memory.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carnival of Homeschooling at Living Life and Learning

The Current COH is up at Living, Life and Learning.  Please enjoy the  So you're thinking of homeschooling edition by clicking here.  My first post of the reboot, I Am Back, was included in the edition, for which I am grateful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Galena Day I

On July 13th  this year I went on vacation to Galena, Illinois with my family and my sister-in-law's family. We stayed in a time share that my parents graciously shared with us.  We arrived on Sunday and returned home Thursday. Three adults and five children ranging in age from 8 to 14 drove from suburban Chicago to the
tri-state area of northwestern Illinois, southwestern Wisconsin and Northeastern Iowa.  This is our story.

Day One

Since Galena is just a few hours away from us, we were able to attend church on the day we left.  Our interim pastor was taking a few weeks of well deserved vacation.  At church I saw Ben Calhoun from the Christian band Citizen Way. His band has played at our church before, but that is not why he was there. His father was giving the sermon for our vacationing pastor.

After church, we had a quick lunch and drove to Sycamore, IL where my SIL lives.  We reorganized the vehicles by gender and drove to Galena.  Galena is the part of Illinois that is not flat and I enjoyed the scenery as my son and nephew chattered on about all things Mine-craft.  The trip took about 2 hours.  I may have considered throwing myself off one of the rolling hills with all the Mine-craft discussions, had we not had radio contact with the other car  provided by the walkie talkies we brought along for the ride.

We got to our hotel and scouted the place out.  My SIL and her kids were in one suite and we were in another.  Ours had 2 balconies,2 fire places , 3 TVs,  2 bedrooms, a main room, a kitchen, 2 bathrooms, one with a hot tub, and a laundry room.  In other words, it was a dump.  For the rest of the day,we went swimming and talked on the walkie talkies, and after dinner all watched the movie Field of Dreams. Galena is an hour from the place where it was filmed, and planned to visit there later in the week.  The vacation got off to a terrific start!

Next Episode: Returning the favor.

Hall of Fame Part 1

My son and I were at Cooperstown over the weekend. We went to see Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tony LaRussa and the rest of the 2014 class be inducted.

Over the next few posts I will share clips to the speeches and some pictures of the players inducted.  Let's start with good old #35 Frank Thomas.

Here is a link to his very impressive and moving induction speech.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What the Reboot will be like

Hello.  It's been a  while since my last post.  (Why do I start  so many posts like I'm in the confessional booth?  Haven't been in one of those since the year I gave up Catholicism for lent.  Once lent was over, I never took up Catholicism again, as I was  no longer Catholic, and as such not  doing the old giving up for lent thing.)  I was on vacation.  As I alluded to in my last post, I wanted to spend this post discussing what the HSD reboot will look like.

Content:  This will still be a bit of hodge podge.  The focus will be on my activities, thoughts and concerns as well as family stuff.  Since I am no longer the ft home educator, I will not be posting as much on the day to day activities of our school. I am still our families co-op teacher and will be posting about that from time to time.

Activity:  In the old days, I would post 5 times a week or more.  I will try to post twice a week , but there will be weeks, like this past one when I don't post at all.  There may be some occasion when I post more often but 8 to ten times a month sounds about right to me.

Involvement:  In the past, I was a regular contributor in several MEMES and CARNIVALS.  (I am not shouting, I am just using all caps, I am actually not talking at all.) I also  hosted the COH (Carnival of  Homeschooling) on many occasions.  It was something I loved doing, but was also very time consuming.  I imagine that as the spirit leads, I will become an irregular contributor to carnivals and memes (I am not whispering, I am just using a smaller font size.  Again, I am not talking at all.).  I do not plan to resume my hosting duties at the COH.   I will promote the Carnival, as my time permits.

Craziness:  I am still reality challenged.  As my parenthetical comments aptly illustrate.  Just because I will appeared here less, does not mean I will appear less crazy.

Metablogging (blogging about blogging):  While that, essentially is what this post is, I plan to do very little of it.

That is what I expect you can expect from this blog.  (If you are reading this and happen to be expecting; you can also expect a baby.)

Next Episode: Galena Day 1

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Next Generation of Roller Family Bloggers

Yesterday Amy was talking with the kids about what the homeschooling  schedule will look like this Fall.  She was explaining that a chunk of time when the kids were supposed to work on typing and computer assignments could also be used on working on their blogs.
The big kids each started blogging when I  blogging.  Each of them had a few different  incarnations as one of the platforms we used subsequently went out of business.Their  blogs went into hiatus two years ago, about the same time that I was working a full time job and teaching the kids full time.

Last Fall W, our youngest went to 2nd grade at a local public school.  She was told in advance that this would be a 1 year only situation (The public schooling and the 2nd grade).  She decided to chronicle the occasion by starting a blog called Wolfina's Secrets.  She calls her posts howls and produced  42 howls during the school year such as  How was your first day?, My first substoot and The plusses and minuses of going to school.

So yesterday, each kid decided on their own to produce new material for their blogs.  BG started a new blog with the same title as a previous blog of hers Bookworms and Bunnies which describes her passions to a T.  SD has decided to go back to his old blog, Homeschool Jedi Apprentice.    It promises to be as Minecraft intensive as he is.  Each of their initial posts was only about a paragraph long, but each entry was student initiated.

You can link to any of our family blogs below.

Next Episode: What the reboot will be like.

Friday, July 18, 2014

I am Back

Hello all.  It has been quite a while since I last posted.  I have decided to reboot this blog.  A lot has changed since I began the blog in 2009 . . .

  • In  January 2009 I had just started being the stay at home home schooling Dad , the semester before.  
  • My Wife was working full time and I was not employed at all.
  • We had 3 children ranging in age from 3 to 9  they were all home schooled
My homeschooling the children was supposed to be a 2-3 year thing and tan longer than that.  I worked some summers starting in 2010 and worked full time in 2012 for 6 months and homeschooled the kids full time as well.

In the Summer of 2013 I landed a full time job and we enrolled our youngest 2 children in public school so we could both work full time for 1 year.

In that year, we paid off nearly 15,000 in debt and once we became debt free (except for our mortgage) my wife went from full time to part time at work allowing  her  to begin home schooling all 3 kids again come the Fall. I now work Saturdays so I teach on Mondays which is our co-op day.   

Our kids will turn 9, 13 and 15 during the Fall Semester.

So, I have decided to come back to this blog in a limited capacity.  I will now take up the more traditional role of principal  of the Izola Becker Homeschool.  So, the blog will have a different feel, then it did in it's first carnation.  For instance, I used to have to cut these posts short because I had to teach in the morning. Now, it's because I have to go to work.

To go back to the Carnival of Homeschooling click here.

Next Episode: The Next Generation of Roller Family Bloggers 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

My Hall of Fame Voting

I have not written on this blog for about 18 months.  Tomorrow the results of the  Baseball hall of fame voting for the class of 2014 come out.  Each voter can vote for up to 10 players.  I am not a member of that association but each year I pretend to be and say who I would vote for If I had 10 votes 9 votes and down until we get to one,  I also say what my actual ballot would look like.

This year there are 36 names on the ballot 19 for the first time,   any of these players  who get 75% of the vote or more we'll be elected into the hall of fame.  Any players who get less than 5% of he vote will be removed from next years ballot.  Anyone who gets between 5% and 75% will return 5 % the ballot until they a) receive 75 % or more of the vote, b) receive less than 5% of the vote or c) go 15 years on the ballot without being voted in.  This year Jack Morris is on the ballot for the 15th year.  From 2007 to 2013 his % of vote has increased each year.  Last year he received.67.7 % of the vote 2nd only to Craig Biggio in his first year on the ballot.  He received 68.2% of the vote last year.  Joining Morris on the ballot for the third time or more are:

Don Mattingly 14th year on ballot 13.2%  in 2013 highest %  28.2 in 2001 (1st year)

Alan Trammell 13th year on ballot 33.6% in 2013 highest % 36.8 in 2012 (11th year)

Lee Smith 12th year on ballot 47.8% in 2013 highest % 50.6 in 2012 (10th year)

Mark McGwire 8th year on ballot 16.9% in 2013 highest % 23.7 in 2010 (4th year)

Tim Raines 7th year on ballot 52.2% in 2013 is highest %

Edgar Martinez 5th year on ballot 35.9% in 2013 highest % 36.5 in 2012 (3rd year)

Fred McGriff 5th year on ballot 20.7% in 2013 highest % 23.9 in 2012 (3rd year)

Jeff Bagwell 4th year on ballot 59.6% in 2013 is highest %

Larry Walker 4th year on ballot 21.6% in 2013 highest % 22.9 in 2012 (2nd year)

Rafael Palmeiro 4th year on ballot 8.8% in 2013 highest % 12.6 in 2012 (2nd year)

Players, beside Biggio in their 2nd year of eligibility are:

Mike Piazza 57.8%, Curt Schilling 38.8%, Roger Clemens 37.6%, Barry Bonds 36.2% and Sammy Sosa 12.5%

On the ballot for the first time in 2014 are (in alphabetical order): Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Ray Durham, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Jacque Jones,  Todd Jones, Jeff Kent,  Paul LoDuca, Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, Hideo Nomo, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Frank Thomas,  and Mike Timlin.

Before I go into my 10 votes I want to say short words for two people one who won't be on the ballot next year and one for someone who should still be on the ballot.

1st Harold Baines -  In 2011 in his 5th year on the ballot Baines received 4.8% of the vote and was removed from the ballot.  I think that the 5% rule should be for the first 3 years and if you make less 5% after that you need to do so in consecutive years to be removed or a total of 3 years in non cpnsecutive years.  I don't make the rules but Baines would be no less than my 4th vote on this years ballot if he was still elgible.

2nd Jack Morris - As I mentioned earlier this is his last year on the ballot, and if the ballot wasnt so stacked this year he'd have a good chance of getting in.  I think last year was his best  to make it and he fell short.  He never did make it on my top 10.  But since Bert Blyleven.  If I did have 12 votes this year and Baines was still on the ballot I would go ahead and make a vote for Morris.

Here is how I would vote based on the 36 names on the ballot.

If I could vote for 10 players, my 10th vote would go to Larry Walker.

If I could vote for 9 players, my 9th vote would go to Fred McGriff.

If I could vote for 8 players, my 8th vote would go to Mike Piazza

I think if I had an official ballot I would vote for 7 or 8 playes. I am kind of wavering on Piazza so for now lets imagineHOF ballot had 7 places.

My 7th vote would go toJeff  Bagwell

Limited to 6 my 6th vote would go to Lee Smith but when compared to my 5th vote Tom Glavine I could easily switch those 2 around.

My 4th vote would go to Craig Biggio

My 3rd vote would go to Tim Raines.  3 years ago Raines got my top vote so that says something about the two players ahead of him.

If I could only vote for who I thought were the 2 most HOF worthy players on this years ballot my 2nd vote wouldo go to Greg Maddux.

If I could only vote for 1 player from this years ballot, I would surely vote for Frank Thomas.

At this time I usually pick who I think will make the Hall.  With so many worthy candidates it is hard to say.  I know Maddux will make it and think 2 of the 5 following will join him: Biggio, Thomas, Glavine , Piazza and Bagwell for a total of 3 elected.  4 will not surprise me, nor would it totally surprise me if Morris squeaked in.
If my top 3 Top 3 Thomas, Maddux and Raines were the only ones to make it this year I'd be equally shocked as delighted.  I don't generally see eye to eye with the HOF voters, but I'd be very glad if this year was an exception

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip