Signs that you might be a homeschool dad

I saw this post from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, and the title made me wonder. What if someone really was a homeschool dad and he didn’t know it? What if his wife had asked him while he was browsing on the internet, and he had just agreed without really hearing her? What if she stealthily handed him the Letter of Intent to homeschool for the school district in a stack of other papers to sign?

So, if you suspect that your wife may be homeschooling your children on the down low, here’s some clues that it could be true.

  • The books in your home are multiplying, but they still claim that a weekly trip to the library is necessary.
  • The picture you knock down while vacuuming or playing living room football seems to have a whiteboard on the other side of it.
  • Crayons, pencils, and scissors can suddenly be found EVERYWHERE throughout the house.
  • The Rainbow Resources catalog (along with about 50 other educational catalogs) mysteriously shows up at your house.
  • The Household or Education budget significantly increases.
  • People report seeing your children out during the day.
  • The kids all just happen to be on school break whenever you take a sick day.
  • Also, they don’t really seem all that excited when the public schools go on break.
  • Your wife starts texting you math problems at 10 a.m. “Honey, I’m thinking about our Christmas trip. If Train A is going 60 miles per hour . . . .”
  • She asks that you show your work.
  • Ancient Greece has become a dinner conversation topic for your wife and kids.
  • Herb gardens and butterfly terrariums start showing up in the dining room.
  • Despite all the kids being in school, your wife REALLY needs you to pick up takeout on a much more regular basis.
  • The house seems significantly messier each day when you come home.
  • The kids no longer have any homework after dinner.
  • You start getting regular book deliveries from Amazon, Rainbow Resources, Apologia, and more.
  • Your wife no longer cares if the kids are wearing matching clothes for the day.
  • Your kids talk about doing school instead of going to school.
  • Packing lunches suddenly seems to baffle your wife.
  • Backpacks start to contain less books and more rocks, sticks, leaves, and other random stuff.
  • Your children start a home business.
  • Notebooking is mentioned, as in “Did you do your notebooking for science today?”
  • When you ask the kids what they did at school today, and they reply “I don’t know”, your wife jumps in and starts detailing all the things that were covered in math, science, and history.
  • The children’s desks have migrated out to the living room or other spare room.
  • Your wife has considered getting backyard chickens or “homesteading”.
  • Your children start talking about some place called “co-op”.
  • All of your children are studying the same topic in History and Science.
  • Your wife calls a book “twaddle.”
  • Bookcases start appearing in the dining room along with maps and letter charts and white boards.

And, of course,

  • Your children complete all their schoolwork at home under the instruction of a parent (or two).

I hope this is a helpful post to those of you who didn’t know you were homeschooling.

Posted in Fun, Homeschool | Leave a comment

I have a lot of cabinets

It was Wednesday. Our co-op was going to take the next week off, so we had a free week where we did not need to do school everyday. I had two thoughts about what to do with this week.

1. Potty train Micah. I’ve read a lot about early potty training, and I would love to get this kid out of diapers.

2. Refinish kitchen cabinets. We had pretty much decided to do this ourselves, and I knew it was going to take a lot of time so a break week would be a great time to get started.

I asked Bryan what he thought we should do, and he voted cabinets. I should have made this decision a week ago so I could get stuff, but it’s just busy busy all the time here, so I decided to take advantage of this time and roll with it.

Since it had been so busy, I started on Thursday just figuring out what I wanted to do. I opened a Pinterest account despite my general objections to time wasting on Pinterest (I do that on Facebook and Twitter enough) so I could see everything there is to see about cabinets and decide what kind of look we wanted. Then, while the girls were at choir, Micah and I went to Home Depot to check out some options. I brought home some stain and paint choices.

Later that night, Bryan and I talked through our options. I paired some countertops with floor and cabinet colors. We decided to try the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit in the Espresso color. Friday morning, I took the girls to Menards, picked up what we needed and got out of there, over an hour later. Then, I got everyone home, got them some lunch and started tearing stuff up. Saturday morning, I sent Bryan to the store for easy dinners. Thankfully, we’ve had food all this time courtesy of Great Value and Stouffer’s. Everyone misses Mom in the kitchen, but she’ll get back in there once we have a kitchen.


I’ve been working (not tirelessly) since then. I’m not going to lie. It’s a ton of work. The little guy wants me. The girls want me. The cabinets want me. I’m racing the clock, and I’m not winning.

Today, we’re back to school. The girls did great at finishing their schoolwork. I did well with balancing my time, but I’m really hoping to get the big wall varnished by the end of the weekend because it’s killing me. We have one more wall after that and then the new cabinets (when they get here) to do. After this final push over the weekend, I’m going to be taking it in small enough pieces that I can get a paint or varnish coat done in an hour so I can sneak work in here and there during the week, also so we don’t have so much laid out all over the kitchen and we can work a little easier in there.

The big wall needs to wait 5 hours now before I put any varnish on it, so I have until 7 or 7:30 before I need to do any work. I’m hoping to get the house picked up in that time because things really blow up when Mom’s not on the clock. I throw pictures on Facebook and Twitter as I can and as changes occur, so look for updates there. Once all the cabinets are done, we’ll probably get a post up here. This is Stage 2. Floor was Stage 1, we still have countertops (and sink and faucet), backsplash, and wall color to go, but we’re getting closer. I don’t love home renovation.

How about you? Home renovation, love it or not?

Posted in Family Updates, Frugal | 2 Comments

Does Kickstarter make entrepreneurs lazy?

Remember back in the days when someone would believe in their idea so much that they would mortgage their house, borrow from savings, borrow from relatives, because they believed in their ideas?  They put skin into the game and I think that drove them more to succeed.

When I used to run Rubik’s cube competitions, people would want to secure a venue, and have me come and run the competition.  Since I spent a ton of time before the competition preparing, brought all the equipment, and spent the whole day running the competition rather than competing, I had no problem asking them to reimburse my expenses.  Usually this consisted of just a little bit of money to replace batteries or other equipment, and the hotel if needed.  Someone would always ask, “What if enough people don’t show up?”  I’d tell them that they’d be responsible for the shortfall.  Mostly because it would be a lack of advertising on their side that would cause this.  But you know what happened when they had a risk?  They were driven to succeed.  They advertised and made sure they made it something that people would want to go to.

With Kickstarter or many of the other crowdfunding sites, you seem to have entrepreneurs that don’t want to take any risk.  There are some legitimate reasons you’d need to do crowdfunding. Some people will come up with the product, but need to sell a mass quantity to afford mass production.  But the research on the feasibility of the product has already been done.  That’s cool. Or you have the book written, but need to handle getting it printed.  Perfectly fine.

But here are the things that make me not like crowdfunding campaigns

  • Person does no work upfront.  Doesn’t make a proof-of-concept, doesn’t have a draft written.  Refuses to do any work until they have the cash in hand.
  • Rewards that aren’t of value.  If you’re doing a pre-selling, that’s cool.  If you sell me an item for $10 because I’m backing you and it’d normally sell for $15, that’s great.  If you’re selling me a $1o item for $50, that’s asking for a handout.  If you’re wanting to do a charity campaign, do a charity campaign.  And if you’re selling me a “warm fuzzy feeling” for ANY amount, no.
  • Covering ever single cost.  I like it when people have a breakdown of costs.  That means they’ve actually sat down and figured things out (hopefully).  But sometimes you’ll see those breakdowns contain every little detail.  Not just the Kickstarter fees, but every little cost.  Yes, I see you’ve stated you needed $768 for the plane ticket.  But I see the next item of $8 because “It could be an early morning flight and coffee at the airport is expensive.”
  • Not backing anyone else. The sites show how many other projects the person has funded.  When is says, “0 backed”, I always think, “Really, you want to come and ask people for $50,000, but you haven’t found 1 thing you could spend $10 on?
  • Creating multiple campaigns. Sites also lists how many campaigns they’ve previously had. If you’ve had a previously successful campaign, you need to make a compelling reason why you’re coming back a second time.
  • Asking for so little. I know….$X amount of dollars may be a lot for some people.  But there comes a point when the amount is so ridiculously low that picking up a part-time job for 2 weekends would handle it.
  • Flexible funding. Some sites have this option, which basically means even if the project doesn’t receive all the funding, the person gets to keep all the money.  Seeing this throws a big red flag for me.  If you can’t do it without at least $50,000, what are you going to be doing with $10,000?  My guess is nothing, so don’t take my money.

What are your thoughts of crowdfunding campaigns?

Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

The “One more thing” problem

I have always had this problem, but it feels worse since we’ve been homeschooling and now that we have a toddler again. I call it the “one more thing” problem. It happens when a task requires one more thing that I don’t have the time or opportunity to do right then. Maybe I need to schedule a trip to the post office to mail something. I’ll have the package ready and waiting, but I won’t get it mailed for a week or two, and it’s late. A letter will need an envelope that I need to go find, two weeks later, I’ll finally mail it. I’ll need to hunt up a receipt to finish my budgeting. It’ll sit until the end of the month. I need to check the calendar or ask Bryan about an email question; it’ll be a week turnaround rate.

This isn’t because I forget, though. No, these tasks completely stress me out all day while I’m doing other things. However, at the end of the day when I kick back to check Facebook and actually have time? Poof! They’re gone!

Now this is probably actually a good, adaptive thing because if this didn’t happen (and sometimes it doesn’t) I’d run around like crazy after the kids went to bed and not be able to get to sleep because of the to do list swirling in my brain. But it still irritates me no end. I need to use my phone to keep better lists. And get a personal assistant.

Does this happen to you?

Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

Random Ramblings

Since I’m unwilling to actually polish and edit one of the 42 drafts sitting in my pile, you get some random ramblings about what has been going on lately here.

School. We’ve started our co-op and school activities have picked up. It’s going well with the little guy, but I still struggle all the time with the whole “my kids are home all day making messes but I’m teaching so I don’t have time to clean the house how I want” thing. We’ve developed a system that keeps things picked up, but my toilets need cleaning and my floors need vacuuming, and well, I have a toddler which someone described as living life with the blender lid off. So true.

Emma is growing up super fast. She’s just awesome at doing stuff now. She is basically self directed for school requiring assistance here and there. She can see what needs to be done and do it. She’s great at hanging with her little brother. It’s sometimes hard to remember that she’s not all ready for everything yet. We’ve started the phase of having long discussion about lots and lots of things. She’s reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy now, and I’m reading it along with her. I’m liking this phase more than I thought I would.

Hannah is still brightening things up with her unique perspective on life. She is a master of function, and asks hard questions. I love to watch her play with Micah. She always thinks up some creative game, and it’s so cute seeing them snuggled up and her reading to him. I’m looking at ways of helping her be more independent in her schoolwork because even though she requires more teaching, it’s just irritating having mom remind you all day long to keep working. So, I’ve ordered a 10 drawer shelf, and we’ll be trying the “work box” method. We’re, in essence, trying “workbox light” today as I put all her books in a bin and labelled her assignments with sticky notes. It’s going well so far!

Micah is great. His little face. I can’t get enough of it. His vocabulary is growing and he echoes words all the time now. One of our recent favorites is when he would say “pobly” after Emma would say “probably”. He’s into EVERYTHING right now and stuff is getting pulled out of everywhere. I feel a little like the mom in “Love You Forever.” He’s starting to do more pretend play, so that’s adorable. He loves his stuffed Curious George and blanket. He’ll ask for Georgie and bankie. So much cuteness. He’s the reason my toilets need cleaning, but I’m keeping him anyway.

Tutoring Essentials is so much fun. I get to field grammar related questions like “Why is it called a Predicate Nominative?” That one allowed me to use my very limited knowledge of Latin as well. Plus, we play math games every week, and sometimes I get to show off my mad skills.

I have had two colds within the past 3-4 weeks. At this point, buying elderberries and making an immune boosting syrup is pretty much a given. Last night, while perusing Facebook, I found a post referring to a well-behaved child as an “angle”. Bryan suggested commenting that this child certainly was “acute.” This provoked a coughing fit that lasted long enough for me to cave and take some Nyquil.

I had a Pumpkin Chai Latte while I was waiting for Emma to finish her field trip for American Heritage Girls at the local grocery store. It was delicious. You should have one to if you like that sort of thing.

The little guy is crying, so I’m just going to end this post by telling you this is why none of my other posts have gotten finished. Because I need to go hug some cuteness.

What have you been up to lately?


Posted in Random | 1 Comment

Pondering stoplights

I think about things constantly.  Like elevators. And other things. They’ve been having a lot of construction near our house recently so a bridge is now one-lane.  This causes a lot of traffic to get backed up.

But do you know what I think causes traffic to get more backed up?  The people who try to conserve energy.  For example, look at this illustration:

rect3788The yellow car wants to take a left, so he pulls into the left turn lane here.  Now, what if someone is conserving gas by leaving a TON of space in front of them?  Well, this happens:

rect3789The yellow guy can’t get into the turn lane just yet, even though there is room in for the three cars ahead of him because the red wants to leave a bunch of space in front of him.

Of course, this is just one example.  Another issue this creeps up is where you have two lights close to each other.  You see there’s space for multiple cars, so you pull up and the car ahead of you stop WAY short.  So much that you’re now stuck in the intersection.  You hope the light ahead changes quickly so you can get out of the intersection.  But most of the time you end up either having to pull awkwardly in the other lane and back, or waiting for the person to slowly roll up into their proper position.

Now that guy that’s driving this way is probably saving some fuel efficiency.  But at what cost?  Other people are having to idle longer because of missed lights.  So is the OVERALL system better?  And what happens if EVERYONE started driving like this?  Would traffic engineers need to redesign the road systems to assume each car may be taking 2.5 car lengths?  Will lights need to be timed differently because people want to accelerate at the speed of smell?  Will road infrastructure itself need to be changed to make turning lanes longer?  If that occurred, would the fuel savings be greater?

Now I’m not saying we should be pulling up to the person with 3 inches between our bumpers.  I’m pretty sure traffic engineers assume there’s some space.

Of course, I don’t have all the information to figure out the numbers.  Maybe there would be savings.  But my gut feel tells me that some of these fuel-saving measures come at the cost of others.

What’s your thought on this topic?

Posted in Random | 5 Comments

My stove, helpful neighbors, and repair guys

We just had back to back weeks where grandparents got to visit so my kids need extra hugs and we’re a little behind on things. I was making some dinner and rising my bread when it started to stink like burnt electronics. I thought maybe it was just a smell from the new pan I was using, by when I switched off the burner, the display on my stovetop cut out. While the kids and I ate dinner, Bryan (who had eaten at a Men’s Ministry event) went over to ask the neighbors if we could use their oven to finish the bread. They very graciously agreed. Bryan and the kids headed out the door, and I headed next door to bake bread. After sharing some rolls, I made my way back to try to call or connect with Maytag on the internet. The Maytag website was unhelpful and not great even by my standards, and I’m half Amish, but I finally managed to locate a recommended local repair person and called it a day. Sunday, I bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t use my teapot, but I survived. This morning, I tried calling Maytag’s man, but his phone message said he could get back to me at the end of the day. Figuring someone else could do better than that, I tried the repairman recommended on Saturday by my neighbors. He promptly returned my call and agreed to come after lunch. Hearing about the problem, he had come prepared with one part, but when he found this


he had to run out for a cord as well. He fixed it up, and we tried it out. Then, he gave me a tutorial on how to clean my oven (nice, but embarrassing, next time I’ll have to clean my broken appliance before calling the repairman). I guess the Brillo pads from the dollar store work just as well, who knew? The best part was when he left his business card and told me about his AM radio show on Fridays. Do you think that would count as home education credits?

But now my oven works, I’m happy, and I want to bake something.

Who wants to come over for muffins?

Posted in Family Updates | 2 Comments

Soda pop jelly

“If nothing else, it’ll make a good blog post,” I quipped to Bryan as we got started.

It seems on Friday at lunch, Bryan and a few coworkers started speculating if one could make jelly from pop. It seemed like it would work, so when he texted me, I agreed to help him out.

On Saturday, we picked up pop and some pectin. I googled a few recipes, sent him back to the store for liquid pectin and jars, and then we began our high fructose corn syrup laden quest.

I can’t emphasize this enough, but jam and jelly making is hot, difficult work. There is a reason I freeze everything, and I have not canned anything since I left my mother’s home. It’s hard. However, we were in high spirits, and we were both capable adults, though one of us was inexperienced and unable to intuit the other’s every need, and we managed to follow our recipes for Mountain Dew jelly and Coca Cola jelly.



The next day, because it needed time to cool and I needed time to recover, I made some biscuits for us to taste test our creations. Both types of jelly did indeed gel which is a victory in itself. Beyond consistency, they both tasted rather passible on biscuits. The Mountain Dew jelly had a bright, citrus flavor. Someone might have even guessed it was a fruit jelly, though what kind would be tricky. It was Emma’s favorite, and as much as I hate Mountain Dew (which is immensely), it was surprisingly edible. The Coca Cola jelly had a hint of caramel in the flavor. It was Hannah’s favorite. Bryan thought it would be good on pancakes. He’s probably right.

Will we ever do this again? We already have plans to make a few batches for our fall fundraiser at church. Are we crazy? That’s pretty much a given :)

What kind of pop do you think would make good jelly? I’m leaning toward Cherry Coke and root beer myself.

Posted in Family Updates | 3 Comments

When things get busy…..

You know when people complain about being busy, and they advice others give is “Well, something’s got to go.”  Like it’s just that easy to cut something out of the schedule. Yes, looking at other people’s schedule, you can sometimes figure out what to cut.  But you know what, it might matter to them.

These last few weeks have been really tough on us.  First, I was on-call for a week.  This usually entails cancelling all plans for the week except for church. This time, we ended up taking separate vehicles, which was good because I got a call right before I was about to leave. I handled that, but arrived at church late.  After multiple nights in a row of going to be late, handling stuff in the middle of the night, and handling stuff early, it wears on you, and the whole family. My on-call ends on Tuesday morning.

Now, I could go and list all the things we did the following week, but it doesn’t matter.  The things we ended up doing were important to us.  Seeing family, honoring prior commitments, giving the girls opportunity to have fun. Looking back, Amie and I tried to think of what we could’ve cut.  It turns out really nothing.  Is that 100% literally true?  No.  We could’ve shut out the entire world until we were caught up. But the things we needed to do were important to us and our kids.

Without the on-call, we probably would’ve been fine with that week.  I would’ve been a “this is busy week”, but we would’ve managed.  But since we had no time to catch up from the week before, it’s like when you stumble, and you can keep going, but you’re stumbling constantly.  Or you could choose to fall flat on your face and recover.  We chose the first option.

Did we cut anything out?  Yup.  I didn’t get up early in the morning for a while.  We didn’t have energy to pack lunch some days or make dinner, so we ate our more.  The girls were thoughtful of us and asked to have scrambled eggs for dinner one night.  The garden didn’t get weeded as much as it should’ve. We didn’t write on the blog as much.

What, if anything, do you cut when things just get busy?

Posted in Family Updates | 3 Comments


The news has been ridiculously bad lately, has it not?

Nigerian girls kidnapped at the beginning of summer.

Immigration border issues escalating.

Ebola outbreak in Africa with hundreds dying.

Israel and Gaza unrest, images of broken, bloodied children from there, people using schools as weapon repositories?

Beloved actor Robin Williams allegedly committing suicide.

Ferguson, MO rocked with death, rioting, and militarized police.

Then adding local news which always involves car accidents, crime, and health issues.

Then adding busy schedules, stress, relationships struggles that we all have.

It’s hard even to write sometimes because everything is a fresh, open, gaping wound on the soul.

My gut reaction is to retreat, to hide from the news, to at least work to heal myself.

But I need to remember, that there are so many out there that do not have the hope that I do.

And let’s face it, we need hope. As small as the death of Robin Williams should be in the face of all of the rest of that tragedy, it’s that that’s blowing up my news feed. And it tells me something. It tells me that we’re desperately looking for something, for someone. This man who made so many laugh and smile, if he couldn’t face the world and it’s problems? This man who was a GREAT, if he needed to escape? The question remaining seems to be “how can I?” This question breaks my heart because all of this news, it breaks your heart. The girls, their families have to be aching with their loss. The people of western Africa are mourning and even more are afraid that they could be next to succumb. The families of Israel and Palestine must always be mourning as death mounts upon death. The nation mourned Williams. And Ferguson rocks us all as we try to sort through some very murky mess of crime and death and racism and authority and power and peace.

But who has the hope? Is it hope to say that those who have died are free from the pain of this world? I’m afraid that’s poor comfort to those of us still here. We are scarred and left bleeding by those who leave life whether it’s by force or by choice. Our hope is and must be in Jesus. All of this sin and death and pain and wrongness is no surprise to the living God. He knew it would come way back when a man and a woman in a perfect garden did not think that God was enough. So, God worked through history a plan to bring us back to Him. He sent His Son to live a perfect life and die as a payment for all the sin and death and pain and wrongness in the world. Then, he appointed those who would believe and accept that God was enough to carry the truth to a world that keeps searching for what will satisfy and comfort and save. And the answer is easy and it’s hard and it fights against will and feelings and prevailing opinion. But the answer is Jesus. He is enough. Even though all this world fall away with all the people and the stuff that I love, Jesus would still be enough.

Help me tell the rest of everybody, OK? Because from what I’ve seen, not near enough of us know it. And remind me of it, too, when I struggle because this world is hard and we can help each other remember.

Posted in Faith | Leave a comment