Monday, December 30, 2013

Learn to program with Kahn Academy

The following post is from my thirteen-year-old daughter.

Some of the things I enjoy most about home schooling are flexibility and opportunity.

Recently, I have been taking advantage of these and working through some of the Khan Academy programming lessons. By watching Khan Academy videos on programming and using their workshops I now have a better understanding of how computers work, and what programming is all about. I have also been able to try my hand writing programs, with some coaching from my Dad.

As a homeschooler it is natural to turn to my father, who is a programmer, for help. We have had a couple sessions which were both educational and fun.

Kahn Academy is free, but to use it you'll have to create an account.  Once you have created an account go to their Computer programming page to get started.

I like to play with it.  It is a lot of fun.  They tell you step by step how to do things.  They'll guide you into the basics of programming. 

Here is a pretty simple program I created which draws red circles as you move the mouse and creates a blue square when you click the mouse:


var mouseMoved = function(){
  fill(255, 0, 0);
    ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 30, 30);

var mousePressed = function(){
    fill(0, 13, 255);
    rect(mouseX, mouseY, 40, 40);

background(231, 235, 14);


You can copy and paste the above program into the Khan Academy new page.

I now want to learn how to make apps!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Reminder - Please submit your post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at: Our Curious Home.

This will be the 418th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Christmas Eve Edition

The NerdMom is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at NerdFamily.

She starts the carnival with:

It may be Christmas Eve but it is still Tuesday and Tuesdays are the Carnival of Homeschooling! I am blessed to be hosting this week and we have a few great blog posts. So lets jump right in.


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 23, 2013

Homeschool debate

I found an interesting website:

Check out the Homeschooling page here.

The page lists pro's and con's to homeschooling and then allows there "members" to comment or even "challenge to a debate" on a comment.

I spent some time today checking it out.  Here's one of my favorite quotes:

Profile Card
Online:11 Hours Ago
Updated:1 Day Ago
Comment: State funded public schools are the only way to really ensure that required curriculum is actually being taught to students and that no ideological spin is being put on it.

I'm half tempted to challenge Jingram994 to a debate.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Reminder - Please submit your post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at: Nerd Family.

This will be the 417th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, December 19, 2013

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at

The carnival starts with:

Welcome to the December 17, 2013 edition of Carnival of Homeschooling! Every time I host the Carnival, I think I say the same thing – but, this week’s submissions are absolutely NOT to be missed! Pass them on to your friends!

And, without further ado …


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas in the park

Janine and I believe music is an important part of education. All of our children have taken lessons for various instruments and sang in homeschool choirs. This Fall Janine and our younger two daughters have been practicing with a homeschool band every Friday morning. They have been part of this band for about ten years.

Tonight they will be performing at a local Christmas in the Park!

Attending class and learning something can be a lot of fun and interesting, but putting the learning into practice elevates the learning process and the mastery. I am sure the performance tonight will be a bit stressful, but it will also be a lot of fun. And there is a bonding process which happens when you go through stressful times.


Here is a picture from the performance:
It went well.  We had a decent sized audience. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Reminder - Please submit your post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at:

This will be the 416th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Life Humor 2.C

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:
    Who's On First
  (Sketch by Bud Abbot and Lou Costello)

LOU:   I  love baseball.  When we get to St. Louis, will you tell me the guys' name on the team so when I go to see them  in that  St.  Louis  ball  park  I'll be able to know those fellows?

BUD:   All right.  but you know, strange as it may  seems,  they give ball players nowadays very peculiar names, nick names, like "Dizzy Dean."  Now on the St. Louis team we have Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third --

LOU:   That's what I want to find out.  I want you to tell me the names of the fellows on the St. Louis team.

BUD:   I'm telling you.  Who's on first, What's on second, I Don't Know is on third --

LOU:   You know the fellows' names?

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Well, then who's playin' first.

BUD:   Yes

LOU:   I mean the fellow's name on first base.

BUD:   Who.

LOU:   The fellow playin' first base for St. Louis.

BUD:   Who.

LOU:   The guy on first base.

BUD:   Who is on first.

LOU:   Well, what are you askin' me for?

BUD:   I'm not asking you -- I'm telling you.  WHO IS ON FIRST.

LOU:   I'm asking you -- who's on first?

BUD:   That's the man's name!

LOU:   That's who's name?

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Well, go ahead and tell me.

BUD:   Who.

LOU:   The guy on first.

BUD:   Who.

LOU:   The first baseman.

BUD:   Who is on first.

LOU:   Have you got a first baseman on first?

BUD:   Certainly.

LOU:   Then who's playing first?

BUD:   Absolutely.

LOU:   (pause) When you pay off the first baseman every month, who gets the money?

BUD:   Every dollar of it.  And why not, the man's entitled to it.

LOU:   Who is?

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   So who gets it?

BUD:   Why shouldn't he?  Sometimes his  wife  comes  down  and collects it.

LOU:   Who's wife?

BUD:   Yes.  After all the man earns it.

LOU:   Who does?

BUD:   Absolutely.

LOU:   Well all I'm trying to find out is what's the guys name on first base.

BUD:   Oh, no, no, What is on second base.

LOU:   I'm not asking you who's on second.

BUD:   Who's on first.

LOU:   That's what I'm trying to find out.

BUD:   Well, don't change the players around.

LOU:   I'm not changing nobody.

BUD:   Now, take it easy.

LOU:   What's the guy's name on first base?

BUD:   What's the guy's name on second base.

LOU:   I'm not askin' ya who's on second.

BUD:   Who's on first.

LOU:   I don't know.

BUD:   He's on third.  We're not talking about him.

LOU:   How could I get on third base?

BUD:   You mentioned his name.

LOU:   If I mentioned the third baseman's name, who did I say  is playing third?

BUD:   No, Who's playing first.

LOU:   Stay offa first, will ya?

BUD:   Well what do you want me to do?

LOU:   Now what's the guy's name on first base?

BUD:   What's on second.

LOU:   I'm not asking ya who's on second.

BUD:   Who's on first.

LOU:   I don't know.

BUD:   He's on third.

LOU:   There I go back on third again.

BUD:   Well, I can't change their names.
LOU:   Say, will you please stay on third base.

BUD:   Please.  Now what is it you want to know.

LOU:   What is the fellow's name on third base.

BUD:   What is the fellow's name on second base.

LOU:   I'm not askin' ya who's on second.

BUD:   Who's on first.

LOU:   I don't know.


LOU:   You got an outfield?

BUD:   Oh, sure.

LOU:   St. Louis has got a good outfield?

BUD:   Oh, absolutely.

LOU:   The left fielder's name?

BUD:   Why.

LOU:   I don't know, I just thought I'd ask.

BUD:   Well, I just thought I'd tell you.

LOU:   Them tell me who's playing left field.

BUD:   Who's playing first.

LOU:   Stay out of the infield!

BUD:   Don't, Don't mention any names out here.

LOU:   I want to know what's the fellow's name on left field?

BUD:   What is on second.

LOU:   I'm not askin' ya who's on second.

BUD:   Who is on first.

LOU:   I don't know.

BUD & LOU:     (together and calmly) Third base.

LOU:   And the left fielder's name?

BUD:   Why.

LOU:   Because.

BUD:   Oh he's Center Field.

LOU:   (whimpers) Center field.

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Wait a minute.  You got a pitcher on this team?

BUD:   Wouldn't this be a fine team without a pitcher?

LOU:   I don't know.  Tell me the pitcher's name.

BUD:   Tomorrow.

LOU:   You don't want to tell me today?

BUD:   I'm telling you, man.

LOU:   Then go ahead.

BUD:   Tomorrow.

LOU:   What time?

BUD:   What time what?

LOU:   What time tomorrow are you gonna tell me who's pitching?

BUD:   Now listen, Who is not pitching.  Who is on --


BUD:   Then why come up here and ask?

LOU:   I want to know what's the pitcher's name.

BUD:   What's on second.

LOU:   I don't know.


LOU:   You gotta Catcher?

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   The Catcher's name?

BUD:   Today.

LOU:   Today.  And Tomorrow's pitching.

BUD:   Now you've got it.

LOU:   That's all.  St. Louis hat a couple of days on their team.

BUD:   Well I can't help that.

LOU:   You know I'm a good catcher too.

BUD:   I know that.

LOU:   I would like to play for the St. Louis team.

BUD:   Well I might arrange that.

LOU:   I  would  like  to  catch.  Now I'm being a good Catcher, tomorrow's pitching on the team, and I'm catching.

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Tomorrow throws the ball and the guy up bunts the ball.

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Now when he bunts the ball -- me being a good catcher -- I want  to  throw the guy out a first base, so I pick up the ball and throw it to who?

BUD:   Now that's the first thing you've said right.


BUD:   Well, that's all you have to do.

LOU: to throw it to first base.

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   Now who's got it?

BUD:   Naturally.

LOU:   Who has it?

BUD:   Naturally.

LOU:   Naturally.

BUD:   Naturally.

LOU:   O.K.

BUD:   Now you've got it.

LOU:   I pick up the ball and I throw it to Naturally.

BUD:   No you don't. You throw the ball to first base.

LOU:   Then who gets it?

BUD:   Naturally.

LOU:   O.K.

BUD:   All right.

LOU:   I throw the ball to Naturally.

BUD:   You don't you throw it to2Gto.

LOU:   Naturally.

BUD:   Well, naturally.  Say it that way.

LOU:   That's what I said.

BUD:   You did not.

LOU:   I said I'd throw the ball to Naturally.

BUD:   You don't.  You throw it to Who.

LOU:   Naturally.

BUD:   Yes.

LOU:   So I throw the ball to first base and Naturally gets it.

BUD:   No.  You throw the ball to first base--

LOU:   Then who gets it?

BUD:   Naturally.

LOU:   That's what I'm saying.

BUD:   You're not saying that.

LOU:   I throw the ball to Naturally.

BUD:   You throw it to Who!

LOU:   Naturally.

BUD:   Naturally.  Well say it that way.


BUD:   Now don't get excited.

LOU:   Whose getting excited!!  I throw the ball to first base--

BUD:   Then Who gets it.

LOU:   (annoyed) HE BETTER GET IT!

BUD:   That's it.  All right now Take it easy.

LOU:   Hrmmph.

BUD:   Hrmmph.

LOU:   Now I throw the ball to first base,  whoever it  is  grabs the ball, so the guy runs to second.

BUD:   Uh-huh.

LOU:   Who  picks up the ball and throws it to what.  What throws it to I don't know.  I don't  know  throws  it  back  to tomorrow -- a triple play.

BUD:   Yeah.  It could be.

LOU:   Another  guy  gets up and it's a long fly ball to center. Why?  I don't know, he's on third, and I don't give a darn.

BUD:   What did you say.

LOU:   I said "I don't give a darn."

BUD:   Oh, that's our shortstop!


Here is a version of the sketch - Abbott & Costello Who's On First

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pretty cool: Casting a Fire Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum

I found this fascinating - Casting a Fire Ant Colony with Molten Aluminum:

I was surprised the ant colony went so deep.

Hat tip:  Ann Kerchner

Common Core Implementation Will Be Worse Than Obamacare

AFT’s Weingarten: Common Core Implementation Will Be Worse Than Obamacare starts with:

“You think the Obamacare implementation is bad? The implementation of the Common Core is far worse,” said American Federation for Teachers president Randi Weingarten at the National Education Writers Association last month.

Though she is ostensibly supportive of national standards, Weingarten joins a chorus of concern about the push for Common Core standards and tests and their hasty implementation.

In May, Weingarten called for a moratorium on the stakes associated with the Common Core assessments—effectively requesting that no penalties be levied on teachers whose students fare poorly on the new tests—stating that when it comes to educational decision making, “they simply don’t get it in Washington.” She proposed at least one year of field testing the standards.

The first comment says: "Another reason to home school."  Right now the comment has 20 up votes.  The other three comments have 2 votes down, 2 up and 1 up.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Living with Books Edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Dewey's Treehouse.

The Living with Books Edition starts with:

Welcome to the 415th Carnival of Homeschooling! Our theme this week is books: homeschool books, holiday books, and more. One of the families who originally inspired us to homeschool (and they don't even know that) said that they spent every afternoon together on the couch, eating popcorn and reading library books. "Works for me," I thought, and off we went.

So when you're done reading the carnival and the posts...go grab a kid (and a bowl of popcorn) and a book. Or two or three.

Carnival of Homeschooling

The importance of character

Good point:

Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success.
John Hays Hammond

Hat tip: From my Franklin Covey Planner

Life Humor 2.B

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:


    1.  This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church.  Children will be baptized at both ends.
    2.  Tuesday at 4:00 P.M. there will be an ice cream social.  All ladies giving milk, please come early.
    3.  Wednesday,  the ladies Liturgy Society will meet.  Mrs. Johnson will sing,  "Put me in My Little Bed" accompanied by the pastor.
    4.  Thursday at 5:00 P.M. there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers Club.  All wishing to become little mothers, please see the minister in his study.
    5.  This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Smith to come forward and lay an egg on the altar.
    6.  The service will close with "Little Drops of Water."  One of  the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation  will join in.
    7.  On Sunday, a special collection will be taken to defray the expenses of the new carpet.  All those wishing to do something on the new carpet, please come forward and get a piece of paper at the end of the service.
    8.  The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.


     A trainee was assigned to guard the entrance to a bivouac site, and told to use the challenge "Victor" and listen for the password, "Romeo" to allow entry.

     The trainee had been on watch only a short time when an officer from another company approached.  "Halt" commanded the guard.  "Victor."

     The officer didn't know the response, but he did know trainees.  "No private," he said.  "That's my part, I say that."

     The trainee, having been corrected a million times, assumed he had made another mistake.  The officer then said, "Victor."  The trainee responded, "Romeo," and, having heard both words, permitted the officer to pass.


     A man who was involved in a serious motorcycle accident was unable to speak when he first regained consciousness.  Wishing to know how long he had been unconscious, he took a piece of paper and a pencil from the bedstand and, after writing "Date?" on it, gave it to his nurse.  She handed it back to him - after she had written the word "Married" on it.


The following appeared in the Wednesday (24-Jun) New York Times, in the Metropolitan Diary, a weekly column of "human interest" stories sent in by readers:

 A small sign was taped to a building on West 120th Street near Amsterdam Avenue, and Ellen Shaw of Scotch Plains, N.J., noticed it as she passed by.  It was a discreet advertisement for a nearby stand run by three young entrepreneurs - two boys and a girl - who were selling iced tea, cola and cookies.

Ms. Shaw ordered tea and offered the youngsters a suggestion: "You may want to make a bigger sign," she said.  "That one is really not to noticeable."

 "I know," said one of the boys, gesturing toward one of his partners, "but that's as big as his computer makes them."

 He paused, thought for a moment, and slapped his forehead.  "Hey, I've got it!" he exclaimed.  "Maybe we could DRAW a bigger sign!"

 The tea, incidentally, was herbal.


Several recently deceased people were standing in front of the pearly gates awaiting admission to heaven. St. Peter announced that a final short quiz was necessary prior to entering to be sure that the people learned at least a little about religion before they died.

St. Peter asked a man what Easter meant to him.

"Easter," replied the man, "is a very important holiday. You bake a turkey, have the family over for dinner and give thanks for the good things that you have in life."

"No, no, no," said St. Peter and he sent the man to purgatory. He then asked another man what Easter was.

"Easter," answered the second man, "is a wonderful time of the year when you decorate a tree, sing carols and exchange gifts!"

"No, no, no" exclaimed St. Peter in desperation. "Doesn't anyone here know what Easter is?"

"You," said St. Peter, pointing to a third man, "can you tell me what Easter is?"

"Certainly I can" the third man answered pointedly. "Easter is when the Lord Jesus Christ is buried in a cave and after three days he arises up out of the cave."

 "Finally," exclaimed St. Peter, "Here is a man who truly understands what Easter is."

 "Yes," said the third man, "and if Jesus sees his shadow and jumps back into the cave we have 6 more weeks of winter...


        The boss returned from lunch in a good mood and called the whole staff in to listen to a couple of jokes he had picked up.  Everybody but one girl laughed uproariously.  "What's the matter?" grumbled the boss. "Haven't you got a sense of humor?"

        "I don't have to laugh," she said.  "I'm leaving Friday."


        A woman's three sons went to Texas to raise beef cattle, sheep, and  hogs.  They had no idea what to name their ranch so they wrote home to mother for suggestions. Name it Focus, she replied.  Puzzled, they called for an  explanation.  Mom said Focus - where the sons raise meet.


"Millions long for immortality who
do not know what to do with themselves 
on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
  ---Susan Ertz---


 A Dutch guy is standing by an outside wall of his house and is diligently scraping off the paint.  His neighbor spots him and with natural Dutch curiosity asks "Hey, you're moving?"


 The governor of Texas was showing the president of Mexico around his huge cattle ranch one day.
Not to be outdone, the president said, "I have a dirt road that goes around my ranch. I drove it one time, and it took me 4 days to go around it".

The Texas governor thought a minute (as he chewed on a piece of hay), and replied, "I had a car like that once."


 A WASP was driving his car at Sonoma County, where is a large mental hospital, he realizes that one of the tires of his car is flat.  He stops his car, looks outside. There is nobody around.  Also he realizes that the road he was riding was near the mental hospital.  In short he realizes that there is no available cheap labor to change the flat tire. 

The WASP takes the spare tire out, jacks up the car, removes the tire, puts the nuts in the hub cap and while trying to get the spare tire, trips over the hub cap and all the nuts go down a nearby storm sewer.  There he is, a WASP near a mental hospital, away from any cheap labor, helpless.  Suddenly he hears someone yelling "Hey you! ", looks and finds that there is someone inside the mental hospitals' yard (behind the bars). The patient behind the bars says " I have been watching you for a while and saw the terrible thing happened to you, I think I can help", "How ?" asks the WASP, "Easy " says the loonie, "take one nut from each of the other three wheels and put it on the fourth wheel, then if you are careful you will make it to the nearest gas station"

"You are very smart" says the WASP to the loonie and continues, "why did they locked you in ? "

"They put me in because I am a loonie" the guy tells the WASP and continues "not because I am  stupid".


 At some point in time, a bad spell of wet weather came over a Southern state, flooding most of many counties.  Since the water was about six feet deep outside (and inside) their house, one family spent its time sitting on the porch roof, watching the wreckage float by.  The son happened to notice a nice straw hat as it went downstream.  "My," he thought, "I'll bet the person who lost that hat is sorry now!"

 After the hat had floated out of sight around the corner of the house,  the boy kept watching the river.  Suddenly, much to his surprise, here comes the hat, floating upstream, against the current!  This was obviously very strange, so the lad kept his eye on it.  It floated upstream and around the other corner of the house... and came floating back down again.  After a while, it came back  upstream yet again, rounding the corner of the house.

 Finally, the boy could stand it no longer and pointed out the hat to his mother, asking her whatever could cause such a sight.  His mother replied,

 "Oh, that's just your grandfather.  He said come Hell or high water, he was going to mow the lawn today."


 Toni was a communist and very unhappy in capitalist Austria. He wanted to go over the border to Russia, where everything was supposed to be better. His friend Josef was interested too. However, they'd also heard a few stories of repression and shortages, so they didn't know what to do.

"Look," said Toni, "I've got an idea. I'll go over first. If everything's great, I'll write back a letter with blue ink. If things really are awful, and everything's censored, I'll write back a letter with green ink."
Toni went over the border. After several months Josef got the following letter, written in blue ink:

"Dear Josef,
"Everything is just terrific. I'm doing very well. I've got a beautiful large apartment, and there's lots to eat and drink. Prices are really low and you can get whatever you want. The only thing I haven't been able to find is green ink.


Just after the end of World War 2, it was decided that the borders between Poland and Russia should be redrawn.  A surveyor was out one day looking over the proposed border when he noticed a little house right smack dab on the line.  Well he was unsure as to which country the house belonged to, so he decided to let the occupants choose which country they wanted to be a part of.  He knocked on the door and an old man answered.

"Well, old man.  I'm here to tell you that you have a choice of country.  Which is it, do you want to be part of Poland or Russia?"

The man thought for a moment and said decisively, "Poland!"

The surveyor was taken aback by the old man's vehemence and said, "Why did you choose Poland."

The old man countered with, "Well, if I have to go through just one more of these Russian winters...."


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

This explains it

I enjoyed today's Baby Blues.   

Both of the foster care boys we have right now have a hard time really listening to us.

Book reivew: The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Somewhere in my early twenties I was exposed to Anne of Green Gables. I quickly read all the books in the series and plowed through dozens of other stories by Lucy Maud Montgomery. One of my favorites is The Blue Castle

At the start of the story our heroine Valancy is twenty-nine years old. She has lived her whole life trying to be an obedient daughter to a controlling mother. Valancy’s soul is slowly dying. She is worried about her heart and goes to see a doctor. Dr. Trent mistakenly tells her she is going to die. She decided to start living her life as she wants and not how everyone else tells her to live. Then her adventure really starts.

I recently reread this story. It was still great fun. I’m not sure all the reasons why I enjoy it so. It is a well told story. Even though you know some of where the story will end up, since this is a Lucy Maud Montgomery story, it is fun to go along for the ride. I love the message that we can’t live our lives just for others, that we all need our own piles of dust and our own Blue Castle.

If you have enjoyed other Lucy Maud Montgomery stories, then I encourage you to give The Blue Castle a try. I think you will enjoy it.

Good intentions are of little value

From Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:
The smallest good deed is greater than the grandest intention.                                  -Anon

Some of our best posts from September 2008

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for almost eight years. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from September 2008:

One of the lessons we are trying to teach our daughters - to look for worthwhile things to read.

We had a few Suggestions for helping children to learn self-motivation.

We wrote about Why it is so important to teach, correctly, the first time.

And I had a few thoughts about Homeschooling and World War II.

TED Talk - Pamela Meyer: How to spot a liar

I enjoyed Pamela Meyer's talk on How to spot a liar:

I have added her book Liespotting: Proven Techniques to Detect Deception to my list of books to buy.

Monday, December 09, 2013

Retiring outside of the United States

Why US baby boomers are retiring in Latin America covers an interesting trend where many Americans are moving to cheaper locations to spend their sunset years.  It is an interesting article. It talks about both some of the benefits of living in Latin America and some of the problems.

On a somewhat related note, my bother has put up a real estate web site for buying land in Anguila, where he lives.

Good article about 3D printing

I like this article: How the Innovation Economy is Turning Makers Into Manufacturers.

I would like to buy a 3D printer some day.  My father did buy one six months ago and has had some success playing with it.

We live in an amazing world.

What is the purpose of a report card?

Our foster boy who is in Kindergarten got his report card in the new Common Core format. What a ridiculous document! And what a terrible burden it puts on the teacher to track these idiotic "standards."

In most of these bizarre categories, the child is evaluated on "group participation."

For example,

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
Participates in group reading activit
ies with purpose and understanding by using prior knowledge and making predictions"

Here's another one:
"Participate in a variety of collaborative discussions, recounts key events, and ask and answer questions."

Kind of creepy. "Group Think" is the new standard of excellence in Kindergarten.  Why would I care how well a child reads in a "group activity?"  Isn't reading kind of a individual sort of activity?  Collaborative discussion is not my top priority for a Kindergartener. 

What is worse, the report card was mostly inaccurate about the boy's academic abilities.

For example,

Reading Standards: Foundation Skills
Phonological Awareness: Demonstrates understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds.

In this category, he got a 2 which stands for Basic - Making adequate progress toward end of year grade level standards.

First of all, what in the heck does that really mean? He is basic doing what exactly?

Second, the kid reads fluently, easily on a 3rd grade level. Does the teacher really not notice that this kid can read and that he can sound out almost every thing he reads?  I'm guessing that they gave all the students - Basic on the report card except maybe the obviously struggling students.

This same kid got a 2 (Basic - Making adequate progress toward end of year grade level standards) in Math for Count to tell the number of objects to 20.   He can count to 100 plus easily.

So, if the report card doesn't really report accurately what the child is doing academically, then what is the purpose of a report card?   Whom does it benefit?  

A friend explained to me (that her child's teacher explained to her) that the students would be given 2's so that the report card could show improvement by the end of the year.  I do see the teacher's dilemma.  If the child is proficient on the end of year academic goal at the beginning of the year, then it is tough to explain why the child should bother to attend the class at all.

As a homeschooler, I don't have much experience with report cards.  I did create a transcript with grades for my older girls so that they could apply to community college.  I called the transcript my little "creative writing project."    I assigned grades based on how well I thought the child had mastered the material with no actual hard data.  I gave A's, A-, B+, B, B- based on "feelings."  

The grades of C and below don't exist for us because no kid of mine is done working on a subject until she has mastered it, no matter how long it takes, which is why a daughter was still finishing up the Algebra 1 book at the beginning of the 11th grade.  [Interestingly, this same child scored well enough in math on the ACT test to meet the admissions requirements of the universities of her choice.]

Even though we didn't have grades in our homeschool work, my daughters have gotten very, very good grades in their college classes, so the absence of grades in their early years didn't hurt them any.

Interesting test for Alzheimer's disease

My mother forwarded a link to a moving puzzle.

She had this explanation:

If you can put this puzzle together, You can say goodbye to Alzheimer's! This is really clever and a bit challenging. As we older people are concerned with Alzheimer's disease, this puzzle may help dispel some fear. It's easy to put together if you are not affected by Alzheimer's disease, but impossible to do for someone with the disease. Give it a try. If this puzzle is particularly difficult for you, then your physician can offer you additional testing to check you for Alzheimer's. Just remember, if you can put this puzzle together, you do not have to fear Alzheimer's! A really neat puzzle!!

I am happy to have put the puzzle together without any problem.


This is an important lesson to teach your children:

A man's success or failure in life is determined as much by how he acts during his leisure as by how he acts during his work hours.  Tell me how a young man spends his evenings and I will tell you how he is likely to spend the latter part of his life.
B. C. Forbes

Hat tip: From my Franklin Covey Planner

Life Humor 2.A

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:


Bumper Sticker:

If all else fails read the instructions   (The Bible)

Prepare for your FINALS Read the Bible


Quotable Quotes from Reader's Digest, April 1987:

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

One thought driven home is better than three left on base.

Cultivate the habit of early rising.  It is unwise to keep the head long on a level with the feet.

He who hesitates is sometimes saved.

If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we

It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.


Anti-trust laws should be approached with exactly that attitude


"One size fits all."

Just who is this "all" person anyway, and why is he wearing my clothes?


"The law, in all its majestic equality, forbids both rich and poor to sleep in the streets, to beg for money, and to steal bread."



Dear Ann,
 I think I can top the person who wrote complaining about the idiocy of the phone company.  Talk about garbage in, garbage out!

 When AT&T split with Bell, we had three phones in our house.  The equipment belonged to Ma Bell and the service belonged to AT&T.  After we returned all the phone equipment to Ma Bell, we received a bill for $0.00.  A few weeks later, we received a check for $5 and a note thanking us.  Several months later, we received another computerized bill for $0.00.  We called again, got nowhere, so we sent another check for $0.00.  A few weeks later we received another $5 refund with the same thank you.

This went on every three months for two years.  Now we are down to once a year and have given up trying to straighten this out.  We just cash the $5 and forget about it.
      -- Linda K. R. in California


This is related by a recent emigre from the USSR, according to a recent issue of "World Press Review":

One cooollld winter, a rumor went around that a certain butcher shop would have meat for sale the next day. By very early the next morning, a long queue had formed outside of the butcher shop.
At 8 o'clock an official came out briefly and announced, "Well, comrades, I'm afraid there's not enough meat for everybody here. Would all of the Jews leave?"
They did, and the line was shortened somewhat.

At 11 o'clock the official came out again and announced, "Well, comrades, I'm afraid there's still not enough meat for all. Would all of the non-party members please leave?"
They did, and the line was shortened again.

At 2 o'clock, the official came out again. "There's still not enough meat for all of you! Would all those who did not defend our great country from the fascist German intruder leave?"

Once again, the line was considerably shortened.

At 5 o'clock, the official announcement was, "There's still not enough! Would all those who did not participate in the liberation of our people from the terrors of the Czar leave!"

This included just about everybody.

Finally, at 8 o'clock in the evening, the official came out again. The only people left in line were three half-frozen old men. He told them,
"There isn't any meat."

The old men moved slowly away, grumbling among themselves - "Those Jews get the best of everything!!"


Thursday, December 05, 2013

Reminder - Please submit your post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at: Dewey's Treehouse.

This will be the 415th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Vlog hop edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Notes From A Homeschooled Mom.

The carnival starts with:

I am happy to be posting this week's carnival of homeschooling, but since this past week was thanksgiving weekend, alot of our regulars were off giving thanks and didn't submit posts. But never fear, there's still plenty to share. We've found a couple of new bloggers to add to our carnival, and I want to introduce you to some of my favorite homeschool vloggers, and encourage you to give that a try too.


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 02, 2013

Homeschooling and family time

Family time is a benefit of homeschooling which is very important to us.

When our children were little, homeschooling was like a little oasis from the hustle and bustle around us.  While our friends rushed back and forth to school, crammed homework in during the evenings and got up early to do it all over again, our lives where one of freedom and a relaxed pace.

We NEVER did homework in the evenings.  Evenings were always family time.

We traveled and enjoyed the off season discounts and short lines at museums.  We spent a month in another city, far from home, just because it seemed like an interesting thing to do.  We ate almost every meal together and did most outside activities as a family.

However, as time went on, our homeschool pace got faster and faster.  While we still get more family time than our friends with children in traditional school, we are rushing back and forth and getting up early each day to do it all over again.

It seems like we have more outside activities than we have at home activities.  With two teenage drivers and a extra vehicle, we are also going in opposite directions.  I'm coming to the realization that from now on, we will only have limited family time together as our young adults prepare to step into the adult world.

Some of this is just a natural progression of things.  We no longer have little girls (9 years old, 7 years old and three years old) who I drive around to activities we do together.  Now we have a 19 year old young adult who is working and preparing to leave home in the next month or so. We have a 17 year old who is attending community college, working as a nanny, sing in a choir group and preparing to leave for 4 year college. We have a 13 year old and 7 year old with their own separate activities in addition to our foster children who come and go.

I'm very grateful that we had all that time when our family was young to build our relationship and spend time together.  I'm grateful that my children spend as much time home as they do.  Thanks to homeschooling we had the gift of family time.

My 13 year old pointed out to me that because she is homeschooled, she only talked to members of her own family today.  I think to myself, "Enjoy it while it lasts, it will end all too soon."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Reminder - Please submit your post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next Carnival of Homeschooling will be held at: Notes From A Homeschooled Mom.

This will be the 414th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Life Humor 2.9

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:


Q: What do you call a sadistic Dentist who rides a motorcycle and wears a black leather jacket?
A: The Leader of the Plaque


 Q: How many members of the U.S.S. Enterprise does it take to change a light bulb?

 A: 7. Scotty will report to Captain Kirk that the light bulb in the Engineering Section is burnt out, to which Kirk will send Bones to pronounce the bulb dead. Scotty, after checking around, notices that they have no more new light bulbs, and complains that he can't see in the dark to tend to his engines. Kirk must make an emergency stop at the next uncharted planet, Alpha Regula IV, to procure a light bulb from the natives. Kirk, Spock, Bones, Sulu, and 3 red shirt security officers beam down. The 3 security officers are promptly killed by the natives, and the rest of the landing party is captured. Meanwhile, back in orbit, Scotty notices a Klingon ship approaching and must warp out of orbit to escape detection. Bones cures the native king who is suffering from the flu, and as a reward the landing party is set free and given all of the light bulbs they can carry. Scotty cripples the Klingon ship and warps back to the planet just in time to beam up Kirk et. al. The new bulb is inserted,  and the Enterprise continues with its five year mission.


My four year old and I were discussing holidays, and I asked him, "What is the day which comes after Halloween when you have turkey?"  My husband quickly answered, "Election day."


What would you call Santa's son if he became an elf? A subordinate Claus.


What does Santa call his wife at tax time? A dependent Claus.


Santa noticed that the elves weren't working as hard this year as last so he told them that the elf who made the most toys could have his beautiful daughter for one night.  What did the elves call his daughter after that? An incentive Claus.


A pickup with three guys in it pulls into the lumber yard.  One of the guys gets out and goes into the office.

"I need some four-by-two's," he says.

"You must mean two-by-four's" says the clerk.

The guy gets a kind of a blank stare and scratches his head.  "Wait a minute," he says,   "I'll go check."

He goes out to the truck.  The window gets rolled down, and there's an animated conversation.  Finally the guy comes back in.

"Yeah," he says, "I meant two-by-fours."

"OK," says the clerk, "how long you want 'em?"

The guy gets the blank look again.  "Uh . . . I guess I better go check," he says.

He goes out to the truck, again.  There's another animated conversation. The guy comes back into the office.

 "A long time," he says,  "we're building a house."


"You can neither win nor lose if you don't run the race"  --Bowie.


From the San Jose Mercury News, Sunday 14 July 1985, page 23A, referring to arson investigations:

On highly publicized cases, it's not unusual for tips to arrive from all over the country.  "People call in and tell us about one individual they don't like.  They say, 'He's the type who could have done it.'  A couple hundred of those and you're chasing people all over the country," Bressler said.

In one case, he was flooded with calls from "people back in the Midwest who knew people in California who were really weird."
It wasn't the kind of tip that led anywhere, he said.  "Almost all of California's really weird compared to the Midwest."


Lots of folks are forced to skimp to support a government that won't.


The advice your son rejected is now being given by him to your grandson.


Some people pray for more than they are willing to work for.


One of the most common mistakes is to believe that others know more about the problem than you do.


Parents often talk about the younger generations as if they didn't have anything to do with it.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some of our best posts from August 2008

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for almost eight years. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from
August 2008:

An unusual reason for homeschooling - To avoid air pollution.

Janine and I shared Sorta kinda the first day of school and Ramping up for the new school year.

I wrote about how David McCullough got me to read Anna Karenina.

This was one of my favorite videos from August 2008 -  I Will Survive- Homeschool Version:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Proclamation

As tomorrow will be Thanksgiving I've gathered a few Thanksgiving Proclamations.  (Click here to see all the presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations.)

George Washington

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks...

John Adams

As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants....

Ulysses S. Grant

Whereas it behooves a people sensible of their dependence on the Almighty publicly and collectively to acknowledge their gratitude for his favors and mercies and humbly to beseech for their continuance; and

Whereas the people of the United States during the year now about to end have special cause to be thankful for general prosperity, abundant harvests, exemption from pestilence, foreign war, and civil strife :

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States, concurring in any similar recommendations from chief magistrates of States, do hereby recommend to all citizens to meet in their respective places of worship on Thursday the 24th day of November next, there to give thanks for the bounty of God during the year about to close and to supplicate for its continuance hereafter.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 21st day of October, A.D. 1870, and of the Independence of the United States of America the ninety-fifth.

George W Bush

November 16, 2006

As Americans gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, we give thanks for the many ways that our Nation and our people have been blessed.

The Thanksgiving tradition dates back to the earliest days of our society, celebrated in decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables. Nearly four centuries have passed since early settlers gave thanks for their safe arrival and pilgrims enjoyed a harvest feast to thank God for allowing them to survive a harsh winter in the New World. General George Washington observed Thanksgiving during the Revolutionary War, and in his first proclamation after becoming President, he declared November 26, 1789, a national day of "thanksgiving and prayer." During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln revived the tradition of proclaiming a day of thanksgiving, reminding a divided Nation of its founding ideals.

At this time of great promise for America, we are grateful for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and defended by our Armed Forces throughout the generations. Today, many of these courageous men and women are securing our peace in places far from home, and we pay tribute to them and to their families for their service, sacrifice, and strength. We also honor the families of the fallen and lift them up in our prayers.

Our citizens are privileged to live in the world's freest country, where the hope of the American dream is within the reach of every person. Americans share a desire to answer the universal call to serve something greater than ourselves, and we see this spirit every day in the millions of volunteers throughout our country who bring hope and healing to those in need. On this Thanksgiving Day, and throughout the year, let us show our gratitude for the blessings of freedom, family, and faith, and may God continue to bless America.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 2006, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-first.


This week we can spend time reading the past proclamations as part of our studies. It is interesting to see how proclamations have changed over the years, as well as how they have stayed the same.

Happy Thanksgiving

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - the Geography edition

CT is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Petticoat Government.

She starts the carnival with:

"I like geography. I like to know where places are."      
     - Tom Felton (the actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies)

We went to Cost Plus World Market last week to get chocolate Advent calendars, and my six-year-old daughter fell in love with and just had to have two globe Christmas tree ornaments. I gave in and bought them for her as a Christmas present because I thoroughly sympathize with her. After all, we did just have her older sister compete in a geography bee. It's neat to look at a globe and think about all the foreign and fascinating places, landscapes, cultures, and peoples represented by each different colored patch.


Carnival of Homeschooling

Life Humor 2.8

From the Henry Cate Life Humor collection:


In a survey taken several years ago, all incoming freshman at MIT were asked if they expected to graduate in the top half of their class. Ninety-seven percent responded that they did.


From Harper's Magazine:
  Amount of pizza eaten each day in U.S. (acres): 75


Found on the seal of a bag of bagels:

 Made the old
 fashioned way


On a story about the discovery of a 20-million-year-old bear-dog den:
    "Den of Antiquity Uncovered"


Did you hear about the gallant lady in Peru who saved a drowning man from a lake, fell in love and got married before the Inca was dry.

From Robert C. Cumbow's "Pardon Me Roy, and Other Groaners":

A publisher was dismayed at the manuscript for Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses."  He'd contracted for a children's book, of course, but he was appalled that Stevenson had delivered a volume of poetry.  "It'll never sell," said the publisher, and informed Stevenson that he was backing out of the contract.  Stevenson, however, gently reminded him that he had no leg to stand on.  "After all," said the author, "I never promised you a prose garden."


Sign in a restaurant:
"We reserve the right to serve refuse to anyone."


According to "The Australian," an airliner recently encountered severe vibration in flight.  The captain decided to make an emergency landing, and switched on the seat belt sign.  The vibration stopped immediately. A passenger emerged from a lavatory and explained that he had been jogging in place inside.


Q:  What's the difference between Xerox (Or pick your favorite organization) and the Titanic?
A:  The Titanic had a band.


There is no statute of limitations on stupidity

The average nutritional value of promises is roughly zero


     Working at a theater box-office ticket window poses many challenges in dealing with people.  When a disgruntled customer at a window exclaimed, "No Tickets?"  What do you mean NO TICKETS?" the women waiting on him smiled sweetly.  "I'm terribly sorry, sir," she replied.  "Which word didn't you understand?"


     A normally sweet Great Dane, Pail has one quirk: she hates United Parcel Service drivers.  While walking Pail one day, around the corner of a house came a UPS man.  Struggling to keep hold of Pail, the owner tried to ease the situation said, "As you can see, he just loves UPS men."  "Don't you feed her anything else?" he responded.


     One student fell into a cycle of classes, studying, working and sleeping, Didn't realize how long he had neglected writing home until he received the following note:

     "Dear Son, Your mother and I enjoyed your last letter.  Of course, we were much younger then, and more impressionable.  Love, Dad."


One women is never happy when she has to wait in line, and people who try to squeeze in front are a special sore point. One day a young man at the supermarket stepped up to her just as she reached the checkouts counter.  "Mind if I go ahead?" he asked.  "I just have this one can of dog food." "Goodness, no," she roared, "If you're that hungry, go right ahead!"


Guidelines for good writing from a recent Omni article:

-Subject and verb always has to agree.
-Do not use a foreign term when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.
-It behooves the writer to avoid archaic expressions.
-Do not use hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it effectively.
-Avoid cliches like the plague.
-Mixed metaphors are a pain in the neck and should be thrown out the window.
-Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.
-Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.
-Consult a dictionary frequently to avoid mispelling.
-Don't be redundant.
-Don't repeat yourself or say what you have said before.
-Remember to never split an infinitive.
-The passive voice should not be used.
-Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.
-Don't use no double negatives.
-Proofread carefully to see if you have any words out.
-Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
-Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
-Avoid colloquial stuff.
-No sentence fragments.
-Remember to finish what


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Some of our best posts from July 2008

Janine and I have been blogging about homeschooling for almost eight years. If you missed some of our early posts, you have missed some of our best thoughts. Here are some highlights from July 2008:

Often when trying hard things, like homeschooling, we may not realize You get a parachute.

It is important to Teach your children to pass the marshmallow test.

Many people Rush to fix education, without understanding why it is broken.

This is one of the first times Janine wrote about Baby Bop who we later adopted.

This is still fun - Medieval helpdesk with English subtitles