Saturday, May 31, 2008

Warning: a Political Entry. . .

Today, the Democratic National Committee announced that delegates from Florida and Michigan will be given 1/2 of a vote on the floor of the convention. (forgive me if I didn't phrase that exactly correctly; but it's roughly right!).

Let me just assert for the record that this will do nothing but make everyone involved mad.

Florida and Michigan Democrats are now officially (as far as their party goes) 5/10ths of a person.

Hillary supporters are angry that their supporters are considered "less than equal" than voters in Rhode Island or South Dakota.

Obama supporters are angry (I'm having trouble finding a polite way of spelling "p*ss@d" without obscuring the real intent of the word) that states that were originally found "afoul of Democrat Party rules" are now given any legitimacy at all.

No one wins. Everyone loses. (except possibly McCain)

I regret to admit that only the Republican Party leadership could have messed up an internal situation like this any worse.

Can't we just send everyone in DC home for good and start from scratch? Maybe elevate a few city council representatives, maybe a state senator or two, and lots (LOTS) of people who have never held elective office?

A breath of fresh air, no?

Friday, May 30, 2008

An open question. . .

My "about me" section provides some insight into our family, but let me dig a little deeper into our family dynamics - then I have a question. We are homeschoolers with three children, ages 8, 6 and 4. Excluding a few months of "dry run" with Belle at the end of her 5K year (we moved in March and started with her then) we really started two years ago when Belle was in first grade and Tink was in 5k. (they are 20 months apart in age but only one school year apart). The Boy has been enrolled in our church's Mothers Morning Out program for the past two years, giving my wife a chance to start with two before adding the third. This, in my humble opinion, was brilliant thinking on her part. However, his MMO program only met Tues - Thurs, so he was often in and around during school-time on other days and during "summer session".

Fast forward to today. We are starting to notice a trend, and I'm wondering if this is found among other homeschool families, particularly those with children close in age.

Example 1: What took Belle a full twelve months to learn last year (particularly math) has taken Tink about nine months. Why?
Example 2: Tink has struggled a bit with reading this year. She's getting it, but it's a lot of work for her. The Boy, on the otherhand, just caught up to her in the Phonics book we're using. And, he's showing a real talent for math as well; we're pretty sure we can knock out 5k math by the end of summer / mid fall, and then he'll be off into 1st grade level.


One hypothesis, particularly in Tink's math example, is that it's because she was sitting right there listening all of last year while Belle did her lessons. There had to be some osmosis going on, because she's "clicking" a whole lot faster.

However, that doesn't necessarily apply to The Boy, as he is only around for classes two days a week (and often spends that time playing with blocks, not sitting at the table in the school room).

What various factors might be at play? I don't know all of them, but my guess is that homeschool families, where children of different ages and skills learn together (at least a lot of the time) see younger children gain some skills faster than the trail-blazing older kids.

(author's note: this is not at all pleasing to Belle. "It's not fair!", she complains, that Tink gets to move so quickly!! And, yes, lectures on "life's not fair" followed immediately.)

Thoughts from the blogosphere?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Isn't it interesting. . .

that Google can manage to have a special graphic celebrating the "anniversary of the first ascent of Mount Everest", but they couldn't manage to do a graphic honoring the military on Memorial Day? In comparison,,, and all had Memorial Day graphics but no "Mt Everest Day" graphics.

I have absolutely nothing against commemorating Sir Edmund Hilary and Tensing Norgay's great feat. In fact, I love it when Google mixes it up with a special design on the home page. I just wonder why they tend to skip certain holidays.

Hmmmmm. . .

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Kitchen

My favorite room in the house. The source of all goodness. The center of the home. Mom, hotdogs and apple pie. Only baseball and Chevrolets are rarely to be found in this room of rooms; this holy of holies. As mentioned previously, it is also the locale of the greatest concentration of expensive devices in the house (with the exception of the garage, which we had to totally outfit last year, alas).

A recap. The fridge and the range jointly decided that their time had come. After 20-plus years, they were tired. Not to mention the fact that, for the first 18-plus years, they were used exclusively by retired couples who only spent 4-5 months per year in this house; preferring to spend the balance of the year in their Florida homes. Needless to say, said appliances, along with the rest of the house, were startled when a family of five moved in full time and expected diligent and reliable cooking, cooling and freezing services. "Enough!" they said. "We quit."

And quit they did. Thus, we found ourselves seeking replacements.

Good news abounds! In addition to remembering our fallen soldiers who made our everyday lives possible, Memorial Day (formerly "Decoration Day"; google it if you must) is also well known for great sales. I'd feel more guilty about this if Christmas and Easter weren't thrown in the same boat. At least we recognize the original intent of each holiday before we go shopping!

Wecome to the "Home Depot Memorial Day Appliance Sale and Extravaganza (Internet version)". We started shopping early last week when the fridge started freezing the carrots and the freezer refused to do same. However, we got word (through the wily HD staff themselves) that great sales were approaching. Take heed. Be patient. Bide your time.

Surely enough, in-store sales started the Thursday before the actual holiday weekend. Given the due diligence performed by yours truly and his wife, we knew roughly what we wanted. A final run through the HD website uncovered additional "internet only" discounts. AHA!!! Remembering my mothers motto of "it's not how much it cost, it's how much I saved!", we sallied forth.

However, new options required additional visits to an actual store. Regardless of how pretty the pictures are online, it's always best to actually touch / feel / open / close / and yank on all potential purchases before buying. Last night this involved my wife and Belle. All that did was expose new options. Thus tonight, everyone ventured onward to "the other Home Depot" close to us (with a larger selection to view) for further assessment.

As a result, we have ordered (online, once we got home) two stunning additions to the family. Let's give it up for the fridge:

She's the lovely and talented LG 25.0 cubic feet French Door Stainless Steel etc etc fridge. Note the absence of an in-door ice/water dispenser. Given that our family rarely uses ice in drinks and prefers tap-temperature water, we forewent the additional cost for that feature that we would NEVER use. Dave Ramsey would (might, maybe?) be so proud.

Second, let's hear it for the range:

This would be the equally lovely and talented Jenn-Aire 30 inch slide-in range with down-draft exhaust and smooth-glass ceramic cook surface.

We wouldn't typically lean toward this high-end of a product except that the original (dying) range was a Jenn-Aire with said down-draft exhaust. To replace it with a traditional free-standing range would have 1) meant major surgery on the countertop; and 2) installing some type of "above the range" exhaust system. Number one wasn't too scary given that we hate our countertops anyway and the result would be invisible behind the range. Number two was of greater impact. That, plus the fact that we really wanted a range with the controls on the front of the device, not posted above the stove elements at the rear. When you have youngish children in the house, conventional wisdom might suggest "keep the dials as far away as possible!!!" However, our younsters love to help in the kitchen. With a hopeful eye to a future filled with meals prepared by someone besides the two of us, my wife and I cultivate and encourage that love. However, the last thing we want them doing is dangling over an already hot element to "turn the boiling sauce down to a simmer. . .". Thus, we sprung for the best option that met our (admittedly unique) needs. It helped that it was one of the aforementioned "internet specials" with additional rebates etc that brought it within striking distance of the other options.

So, now we're excitedly waiting for our new appliances to arrive. Which, upon installation, will make our crummy countertops and backsplash look absolutely horrible.

To be continued (in some possible combination of granite, corian, stainless steel, or "other"). And, therefore, more dollars will also follow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

So, when was the last time I posted. . .

anything of substance? Not sure. Some might argue "since you started blogging, genius".

So, rather than change my ways with this post, I'll simply tease you with three subjects to be blogged about by weeks end. There. That's my commitment. Three entries by Sunday night.

Potential entries may include (but are not limited to):
  • status of the kitchen woes ("it all started with a knob", as my wife puts it)
  • starting the big "fish pond / front walk" project (this should give me fodder for months of entries keeping you tediously updated with every shovel-ful of dirt moved!)
  • thoughts on "year end kid events" that we've been living through for the past few weeks (pro's, con's, up's, down's)

Oh, aren't you titillated now!? (I had a college professor who LOVED that word).

Who knows, entry one may even come later tonight. In the meantime, you're all free to wait with bated breath. (and don't get me started on all of the people who spell that "baited breath". I'm a stickler that way!)


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

In re: American Idol


That's all I have to say about that. (tonight, at least).


Sunday, May 18, 2008

How do they know. . .

"They" being expensive kitchen appliances. How did the refridgerator find out that there was a slight (unusual) surplus in the checking account this month? Did it hear us talking last month about the floor sample fridge we saw at Home Depot (french door top fridge with a bottom drawer freezer in stainless steel) that was on clearance? Did it not hear the end of that conversation when we decided "no, our fridge works just fine - there are other ways to spend our money"? Was it so offended that we even considered a replacement that it decided to take extreme measures all on it's own?

Whatever the cause or source, our faithful side-by-side refridgerator / freezer (original equipment when the house was built in the early 80's) has decided to mix it up a bit. Let's freeze the fresh veggies in the crisper drawer, yet thaw the salmon steaks and Ego's that are in the freezer.

Simultaneously, our range (of identical vintage) is suggesting a similar tactic. A few months ago, it refused to completely roast a pork tenderloin. "Just. Can't. Get. That. Hot!" Ever since, it's been just fine. Before we left on vacation, one of the eye's on the stove decided to give up the ghost. Now we're down the three (and only one "big" one!). Worse yet, this is a really fancy (for it's day) Jenn-Aire range with the down-draft vent that, if we choose to replace it with a like brand, will cost a fortune and will NEVER be on clearance at Home Depot. It is not in a critical state yet, but holding one's breath everytime one starts to cook a meal ("will it work?") is no way to keep the blood pressure down.

So, this week, in addition to the spring Children's Chorale Concert (Belle), dress rehearsals for the spring dance recital (all three), and The Boy's last three day's of 4K at our church, we get to go shopping for at least one, maybe two, major appliances.

How do they know?

The good news items hidden in here are 1) we actually do have some surplus to work with, so we don't have to automatically go (further) into debt; and 2) I'm not traveling this week.

Did they know that too?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Would that there were more like these. . .

Profundity at a comedy club! We're certainly not hearing it in Congress or precious elsewhere in the public square, so why not!?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A moment of silliness. . .

This post has nothing to do with homeschooling.

Nor with working from home.

Nor parenting.

Nor any of the other weighty subjects you've come to expect from other bloggers whom I love to cite and quote (but rarely from me in original form - I admit it!!!).

Instead, this is all about that all-important, all-consuming subject clogging the thought-processes of intelligent, well-meaning adults all across the fruited plain who have many other things they should be focusing on but aren't.

This post is, indeed, about American Idol.

(feel free to move on to another site / blog / etc if you have no desire to waste time on this subject. I'll wait while you move on)

OK, now that the boring people are gone, an admission. Typically, my wife and I are "end of the season" AI viewers. Don't bore us with the 12, the 8, or even the final 6. Get it down to the final 4 or so and we're suddenly interested. (We have a similar approach to professional baseball, the Braves, and play-off season / the World Series, but let's not turn this into a psychological analysis, shall we (not)?).

Our interest in American Idol really started when we lived in Birmingham AL which, for several years, had a statistically inprobable likelyhood of having a resident in the final 4. Rueben, Bo, etc. Who couldn't love Rueben? We were minding our own business shopping at Rich's (now - alas - Macy's) when he walked by with some of his posse. We were thrilled. Our interest in Idol was cemented.

We also claim any links to anyone else from the Atlanta area (our hometown) and, in general, the South. But, we don't have the time or patience to sit through all of the drama of the first 8 weeks. We know someone we can love will end up in the final group. If not, there's always next year. (refer back to my reference to major-league baseball).

This year, it's all David Cook. Due to travel, I've had more opportunities to check in on Idol over the past 4 weeks or so. From the moment Michael the Australian guy was knocked off, I've known it had to be David C. OK, so he's from Missouri. Technically, that's the "south". More importantly, he's all that and a bag of chips. David A is cute and all, but let's send him to Orlando (Disney) to marinate for a decade or so, then he can burst on the scene when he's an adult. In the meantime, in the "Battle of the David's", it's all about Cook. There is no alternative.

Nuf said.

Watch next week.

Vote for DC.

(We now return to our original programming.)

Friday, May 9, 2008

One thing really quick

I recently found an editorial cartoonist that I really enjoy. Michael Ramirez of Investor's Business Daily has a terrific wit and timely message every time.

For all of you homeschoolers out there, today's is particularly significant.



We're back!!

At long last, we have returned from vacation. OK, actually we got back Tuesday night, but this is the first chance I've had to actually post. A few housekeeping items:

1) Timothy, thanks so much for your suggestions for the trip a few months back. I'll file a more comprehensive description of where we went and what we did later. Suffice it to say that we had a great time. Sorry we didn't get to the Sacramento area, but I'll look you up next time I'm there on business.

2) Arby, ditto for you on my next trip to Kansas City.

I'll leave you with this quick shot of The Boy posing for his mom after finishing lunch in Sequoia National Forest. Yest, that's snow in the background.