It is the end of another good year. It was actually a pretty eventful year and the very first year where I wrote something in my blog about every week. Our little business, Quality Corners grew again this year by over 40% and we have prospects to grow at least that much again in 2006. Homeschool is going great. After a light schedule for a month due to our move from Oregon to Texas and two weeks off due to Christmas break, we are primed and ready to go again on January 2, 2006. The Lorena and the kids are starting to make friends with some of the kids from church. We are going to the Sorenson’s house in Rockwall, Texas to celebrate the New Year a little early. Karen Sorenson came by the apartment yesterday to bring Lorena a blender to make salsa for the party. Lorena’s folks are planning to visit from Monterrey for a few days. All in all, life is good.
My goal for today is to find dentist, an orthodontist, a library, and a swimming pool. That really should not be too hard in this part of the world. Maybe we can even go visit the library tomorrow.
Lorena talked on the telephone during lunch today. We came up with a list of stuff we need to find to get back to where we were in Oregon. I am sure the list will grow. Here it is:
The closest public library
A swimming pool that gives swimming lessons
A piano teacher for Kelly
A guitar/saxophone/clarinet teacher (depending on what Christian decides he wants to learn to play)
A community college for Lorena
We went out to Wylie, Texas for our bible study last night. Afterward, there was a birthday party for one of our friends. It turns out that a whole bunch of the people with whom we meet are either 50 or 51 — just my my age. It is a really neat group of people. The kids spent a lot of the day yesterday working on their etching that I got for them. Christian has finished his paint-by-number of the lions and Kelly is getting close on her paint-by-number. The model of a combustion engine we got for Christian is all put together, too. Christian was able to explain how the valves, rocker arm, crank shaft, and cylinders go through the compression and other cycles to make the engine work. I think it was VERY educational for him and he enjoyed it very much. I might start trying to find more things like that for him.
Today is the day we need to look for an orthodontist, a dentist, and possibly, a piano teacher for Kelly. I think I might start looking for a guitar teacher for Christian. After that, we need to find a place for them to get some exercise and a public library. I might have them go to the library tomorrow to get a library card.
This has been a really tough move for Kiwi and Rubix. As you can tell from the following picture, their lifestyle change has been dramatic.
Dramatic lifestyle changes for the cat sisters
Fortunately, the are getting plenty of exercise, just like when they were in Oregon. Here is a picture of Rubix chasing a mouse.
Rubix chasing a mouse
It feels good to be getting back into a little bit of a routine. We are not there yet as our homeschool program will not kick back into gear until January 1, but I am starting to put the schedule together. I still have to find Kelly a piano teacher and a new instrument for Christian. We will only have a keyboard at the apartment until we sell the house in Albany and get another one here. I hope we can find someone who does not mind Kelly practicing on a keyboard or a place where there is a really piano on which she can practice. I am pretty excited about Christian finding something to play. It will be very interesting to negotiate through this with him. I also have to find an orthodontist for Kelly and probably Christian, too, in the next week or two. The last main thing we need to do is to find a way for the kids to get some more exercise. There has to be a lot of different things they can do, but I am not sure even where to look yet.
We had the absolute smallest pile of wrapping paper yet for a Christmas morning, but one of the happiest events of our young family.
We had our normal December 24, evening meal and present opening, but, for the first time in almost forever, we did it without Grandparents. Nevertheless, it was a particularly joyous Christmas due to the fact that we were apart and now we are together again. On Sunday after the morning fellowship meeting, we went to be with our friends Jose and Conchita in Duncanville. Lorena’s cousin Susan and her husband Joel were there along with there kids, Susanita and Karen. It was absolutely great. After that we went to meet a bunch of our new English speaking friends in Rockwall to play games for about four hours. I think we are going to fit in OK here.
I finished up with all of my Christmas shopping today at lunch time with the exception of the stocking stuffers. I think everyone will be quite happy. After work tonight, I think I will just hang out with the kids so that Lorena can go out and get a couple of things. Maybe the kids and I will go somewhere so they can get something for Lorena. I think it is going to be a very nice Christmas. It will just be us four. We will cook up some turkey, eat dinner, open presents, and then just hang out for awhile together. Merry Christmas everyone!
We went to Wednesday night meeting last night. I was glad there was a cute girl there in Kelly and Christian’s age bracket. Here name is Ethne and she seems to be quite a nice girl. It is hard to start out in a new place if you are stressed about making new friends. We had a long family talk about that after meeting last night. It was good. There are plenty of kids around here who go to meeting and it will take a little while to get integrated with them, but it will happen in due course. We need to find a nice neighborhood with lots of kids, but the main thing is to leave this all in God’s hands. Christian and Kelly are under quite a bit of pressure right now, but the are doing great and will do even better as we get settled in. Partially based on this, I am going to work hard on getting our trip to Oregon all put together for our annual skiing stay at Mt. Bachelor in Bend.
Christian wrote a Christmas poem specifically for his cousins. So in the spirit of the season, for the special benefit of Kylee, Julia, Charlie, and Amy, I post it here. Take special note of the illustrations.
Christian’s Christmas Poem
I could not be happy on last Christmas eve,
for unknown relatives were up at my sleeve
and all they were good for was making me snore
when Uncle Eore told of when he was sore, poor, four.
As we decked the long hall; it was heavy and all;
it all made a fall on my tall uncle Paul.
And after the fest, oh, wasn’t the house messed.
My! Mom was stressed.
Moral: This Christmas Eve, I think I’ll just leave.
Christian’s Christmas Poem
We got our DSL (broadband) internet up and running last night. It is really great, but in the meantime, the hard drive on our Linux computer went gunnybag so I will have to go out and get another one in the next couple of days. I think I am going to make that a Christmas present. On the other hand, I was able to get the Windows computer completely upgraded with all the service packs and security updates. I also got the free AVG anti-virus software from Grisoft loaded and running, so we are pretty good to go on that computer. Working with the big phone companies can be a little bit of a challenge if you are running Linux or if you have a piece of hardware (in this case, it was my DSL modem) they do not have on their list. In spite of their help, I was able to get the computer up and running just fine. I got Skype set up on the windows computer. It will be fun to try that out.
Kelly and Christian started in on their homeschool again. They are doing just fine, but we really need to get going on Math, Easy Grammar, and a couple other things that were left behind in Oregon. Both Kelly and Christian can write well. It pleases Lorena and I very much to see them advancing so well. It will take me a couple of more weeks to get everything under control at home, but then we will really dive into our work which will keep everyone (including me) occupied and happier. I love doing homeschool and so do the kids. Lorena tolerates us.
This weekend was very busy. We spent Saturday shopping and making the apartment ready for Jimmy and Laura Bryan’s visit with their four homeschooled kids, Josie, Joshua, Luke, and Bailey. It was a very nice evening. On Sunday morning, we got up early to go to the Spanish language Sunday morning meeting in Mesquite, but I got all mixed up and drove all the way to Irving before I figured out that we were way off track. We got there just in time for lunch, but at least we got to the gospel meeting after lunch. It was great to be able to introduce my family to a lot of new people.
Kelly and Christian start homeschool again today. We will just continue our half-day schedule until after the first of the year. The kids both left some of their books behind, so we will have to get the neighbors to help us out to send the books here to Texas. Tonight, we should have our broadband internet connection up and running if we have any luck at all. We have both the Windows and the Linux computers up and running already.
We went to Ikea last night after work. It is an amazing store with amazingly cheap, but quite serviceable furniture. We bought two tables that came with eight chairs to use for dining and homeschool work, a computer desk, and a cot each for Kelly and Christian. We really need to buy a sofa or futon for the living room, a clothes washer and dryer, and a couple of lamps, but we have enough things now to survive until the house sells. I was not smart enough to bring any tools with me when I came from Oregon, so I had to assemble all of the stuff by hand with the little tools provided in the furniture kit which created quite a blister on my thumb. Maybe I will remember such things, next time we move.
Tonight, I hope to get the homeschool books all moved into the house and the linux computer set up so that we can get started back into homeschool. Hopefully, my friend Jimmy Bryan and his family will come to visit us on Saturday and we can talk about homeschool and life. It will be great for Kelly and Christian to meet their kids, too.
I was not able to make any blog posts while we were on vacation as I had originally planned. I think that is a good thing. We had a wonderful time in Puerto Vallarta and quite an interesting drive from Portland down to Dallas. The high point, believe it or not, was that our car broke down in La Grande, Oregon. I was absolutely amazed at the kindness of the people in that town. The AAA guy that helped us organize our response to the breakdown, the tow truck driver, the hotel people at Howard Johnson’s that let us break the rules one night and keep our cats in our room, the Dodge dealership (Frontier Motors) that fixed the car–every one of them was just great. I was VERY impressed and glad to have an object lesson in the spirit of service for Kelly and Christian.
I will post photos of the vacation as soon as we have the computer hooked up in our apartment. The apartment is beautiful with an incredible view. We should have both electricity and internet service by today or tomorrow.
The day has finally arrived for me to fly back to Oregon. I will try to run down to CompUSA today at lunch time to buy a digital still camera to take pictures while we are in Puerto Vallarta. Yesterday, I went to Fry’s at lunch time to buy a 12 volt converter to power a laptop computer, PDA, cellphone, or other such device from the cigarette ligher socket in the car. The purpose is so the kids can watch DVD’s on my computer from work while we drive from Oregon to Texas. I am hoping that is less stressful than I fear. In addition to the converter, I bought a bunch of cheap Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy DVD’s. I also bought the entire second season of The Walton’s on DVD because Lorena very fondly remembers watching the Walton’s at her grandmother’s house in Monterrey. For me, I bought a Jimmy Neutron DVD that looks absolutely great. Sheen is my hero!
I have been thinking about how to teach Kelly and Christian about managing their money and investing for the future. We talk about money and its place in our life, but we have not yet put together a formal program. When I first considered homeschool, I read Raymond and Dorothy Moore’s book The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. They highly recommend homeschooling families start a family business to help teach fiscal and general responsibility. I agree completely and plan to start a small family business within the next couple of years. In the mean time, I want to teach Kelly and Christian to manage and invest their money in a systematic way.
When Kelly receives money, she puts it into a little purse that she owns. When Christian receives money, he puts it into his piggy bank. They get money as gifts, do odd jobs, and have generally been proactive about finding ways to increase their nest eggs. A couple of months ago, Christian wanted to buy a remote control airplane, so we dumped all his money out on the bed and talked about what might be a good way to divide it up in a responsible way. Kelly participated and this is how we decided to divide up the money:
10% – Charity
10% – Retirement
30% – College savings
20% – Discretionary spending on small stuff
30% – Savings for something bigger and cooler later on
Continue reading Investing and money management for homeschool
I printed out all the itinerary items for our trip to Mexico and also sent copies off to Lorena and my brother Doug who is coordinating everything. I am very much looking forward to this trip. I need to do a little shopping before I leave to buy some drawing supplies and maybe some Christmas music. I think I might do that after work tonight because I am really not going to have a lot of time after that. Tomorrow night I need to get all my clothes washed and the car packed so I can leave from work Friday.
Last night, I drove down to Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to see one of our missionaries, Jonathon Wright off to Chile. I knew him when I first went to Mexico in 1983. He is a wonderful man and has been an encouragement to me in his steadfastness as a servant of God. Also, I met a couple who have two beautiful children that they are homeschooling. They seem to be very balanced in their approach. She is basing here system off of Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer’s The Well Trained Mind. It takes a lot of preparatory work and organization to use that system effectively, but she seems to have the type of personality that is well suited to that type of teaching. The Sonlight program we use includes a lot of the concepts pioneered by the Bauers, but packaged differently and emphasizing things we believe are much better suited for our children and the goals we have for their education.
On another note, a buddy at work sent me a link to a video of the coolest Christmas display ever.
I just read a great article on homeschool in the Seattle Times. If articles like that start appearing in newspapers like the Times, homeschool just might make it into the mainstream.
Just a few more days until I am back with the family. Grandpa Milo is off in North Carolina talking to a couple of Quality Corners biggest customers. We could well know a lot more about the direction our little company will take and, even more importantly, we will be together and on our way to Mexico for vacation before the end of the week. It is all exciting even though there is plenty of stress!
My new hope is that I can get back to making some technology posts. God willing, the family will be together again after a month of separation. The plan is to buy our new homeschool computer for Christmas this year and kick the previously described plan into gear of creating a great homeschool computer using free (as in beer), open source software. With our move, there will be a little bit of a change in emphasis. The goal will be to create a “distributed homeschool environment”. I will restate the goals and then start putting the system together.
Distributed Homeschool Environment
We are currently in the process of moving to the Dallas, Texas. My parents and all my siblings live in the Portland, Oregon (Linux centeral!) and my wife’s parents and siblings all live in the Monterrey, Mexico. Kelly has a homeschool penpal in Vermont, we have good friends in San Diego, one of my old friends is homeschooling his family of four kids in Arkansas, etc., etc. We want them all to be able to participate as fully as possible in the homeschool. I have not really thought about all the things I will need to do to move this forward, but I will start doing that and try to document it as I go.
My plan is to return to some more serious blogging over the next week or so. All I have left to do for my family to arrive is to get the apartment rented. This Friday, I fly to Oregon and then on down to Mexico for a week in the sun in Puerto Vallarta with Lorena’s parents, brothers, and their families, my parents, my brother and his wife, and, of course, all of us. After Puerto Vallarta, we will fly back to Oregon and then head directly down to Dallas.
The reason for the renewed effort in our blogging is to allow for more participation in our homeschool by our extended family. Here is what we plan to do:
Add the ability of registered users to add replies to our blog posts
Kelly and Christian will start writing a weekly blog post as a homeschool requirement
Kelly and Christian will do periodic podcasts of book reports and other reports
We will do a oral report video that we will post
I hope to post, at least a little, from Puerto Vallarta. Maybe I will be able to put up some pictures if I am lucky.
Lorena has been doing a great job of getting rid of stuff so that we do not have to move it. She is giving away cabinets, beds, shelves, and tons of other stuff. It is a waste of time and money to have too much stuff. I worked on Saturday and had a relatively uneventful weekend. I went to Mesquite for Sunday morning fellowship meeting and Sunday afternoon gospel meeting. Kelly had a great time at her sleepover at Malia Doolittle’s house. Christian has been a big help to Lorena lately doing all sorts of things around the house.
I will be working through the weekend again this weekend. I think I might try to find some music to entertain me while I am programming. I wish I would have brought along my noise canceling headphones, but they can wait until the family comes out. Kelly is going to a sleepover at Malia Doolittles house along with all her homeschool buddies. This will be her last gasp with that crew. I hope we can find something similar for her here in Texas. There appear to be a good number of boys around Christian’s age in the gospel meeting. I am sure there will be neighborhood kids, too.