We were reading our book together as a family last night when we got to talking about vocation. We are all very animated (and generally loud) when we have family discussions about things that interest us. We are working on taking turns so we are not always interrupting each other, but when you are excited about something, it is easy to get impatient. At any rate, we had what I thought was quite a fruitful discussion about the concept of vocation. The book we are reading is very helpful in explaining the great importance of doing something for which you have an aptitude. I am an engineer and, of course, I do not know why anyone would do anything else. I have been way too strident in expressing that idea. Engineering is great for people like Christian and me, but it would by quite sad for Lorena or Kelly to study engineering.
I was trying to figure out a way for the kids and I to study something together that will be useful and interesting for all of us. I got to thinking about one of the contractors with whom I work. He has a commercial radio operators license so that he is qualified to be a chief engineer at a radio station. I asked him if that was something within the capabilities of Kelly and Christian. He asked me a few questions about their ages and math ability, then said they could absolutely do it, it would be a very good thing to do, it would be a super homeschool project, and that they would have zero problem getting a job if they had the license. Maybe we will start with a HAM license first.
It will be really nice to get this purchase behind us. If everything goes as planned, we will start taking stuff over to the house starting tomorrow morning. We will move the big stuff on January 3, but we want to get as much stuff as possible moved before the truck arrives to minimize our moving costs. Then, we have to clean out the rental house to get ready to turn it back over to our landlord.
Kelly, Christian, and I have read together for years. I did all of the reading until Kelly was old enough to share the task with me. Now when we read, all three of us pitch in. Last night, though, for the first time in family history. Lorena sat and listened with us. After work, we all went to the Borders bookstore to look at books. Kelly and I looked through some of the CLEP preparation books and saw that it was well within her ability to get ready for at least a couple of the tests. The more of those tests she can pass the more money we will save in helping her get a degree. I think we will start with American History I and II, then move on to Freshman English Composition.
While we were going through those books, I thought of what a financial boon it would be for our family. Then I thought of a radio program to which I listen on the way home from work most days. There is a common sense financial advise guy named Dave Ramsey whose most important piece of advise is to get completely out of debt by only spending what you can afford. I was really doing many of the things he recommended before I started listening to him, but it is pretty fun to listen to him talk to people who have successfully applied his program or are in a difficult situation with which he can help them. At any rate, I bought one of his books with the idea that we could read it together as a family. The kids could listen to it as part of their homeschool education. Lorena and I could listen to it to help us fine-tune our financial management.
The book I bought is titled Financial Peace Revisited. While the book is not what one might consider to be a literary masterpieces, it is really quite engaging. We all stayed at the dinner table after dinner and started reading. Christian, Kelly, and I were stunned. Lorena did not get up from the table to talk to the cat, clean up the kitchen, or page through Southern Living magazine. She listened to, not one, but two chapters. We talked about it all during and after the reading, so I think everyone was understanding what was read. I also got a workbook titled The Total Money Makeover Workbook that I am hoping to go through when we finish reading. More than anything else, though, we are enjoying a book we can read as a whole family.
We had a great holiday. The following are the highlights:
- Kelly and Christian cooked strawberry crepes for breakfast on Christmas morning. They were awesome.
- Lorena, Kelly, and Christian cooked an amazing Christmas dinner that featured spiral cut ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, etc. It was also awesome.
- We put together two 500 piece 3D jigsaw puzzles. Next year we are going to start with a 750 piece puzzle.
- Christian got a new Takamine acoustic guitar with a piezoelectric pickup so he can hook it up to an amplifier.
- Kelly got an XRocker chair complete with the main speakers mounted up by the head and a sub-woofer in the back. She is going to use it as her reading and knitting chair.
- We got some new video editing software to do our “how-to” videos.
- I read an incredibly interesting book titled The Albigensian Crusades by Joseph Strayer with an especially fascinating epilogue by Carol Lansing.
- We hung out and did nothing other than be together for three days. That was the most awesome of all.
In reflecting on the life of our little family as we go into the holiday season, I am struck by the goodness of God. We have every reason to be thankful. I never expected that I would ever live in North Carolina. I am glad to be here. We have very dear friends we did not know before coming here only six months ago. We will be spending the night with a family of those friends tonight and tomorrow. My work is very, very interesting. We hit another milestone yesterday, that presented us with new and interesting challenges for the coming year. Quality Corners, our little company in Idaho is going through a transformation right now. It is a good one that should provide the company with more stability and growth over the next several years. Kelly and Christian are doing very, very well in homeschool. I will report on some new and very interesting opportunities for both of them in our January homeschool update. Lorena is going to have her new house. She is very happy with it. It is good to write one of these kinds of posts every now and then, when everything is going well on this earth. It is also good to remember that we are just passing through. God is good in both regards.
I went to the house inspection last night after work. There are a few things that need to be fixed, but everything really looks great. The new Thermador cooktop and hood are installed as well as the new microwave oven and Bosch dishwasher. There is so much stuff going on right now, it is a little hard to keep up. The next step will be to get the utilities ready to go.
I was reading at the FreeRepublic web site again this morning and found an excellent articles about a physics professors whose courses are available online for free. The web site is the following: Free Online Course Materials | MIT OpenCourseWare. I looked around at some of the other course offerings. Some of them were of the regular bogus “gender studies” and I am sure the home of Noam Chomsky has some equally bogus linguistics and philosophy classes. Nevertheless, the Physics I: Classical Mechanics class I briefly reviewed looked stellar. I think Kelly Christian and I will go through some of the introductory science classes together. There readings, tests, video lectures, and everything necessary to understand the material in an interesting way. What an awesome resource.
Wow is that ever interesting. Click here.
There are lots and lots of opportunities to fill out paperwork in the purchase of a new house. It is kind of interesting that many lists of the causes of stress include moving, going on vacation, and financial issues. We are going through all that right now. All this is after a previous huge set of the same (moving and new job) only six months ago. We are really looking forward to settling into a routine. The house inspection will be tomorrow. I think all the changes we requested in the kitchen will be complete. We are working through the last few items required to get ready for the closing on December 28. The banks appraisal came yesterday and we were very pleased to see we got a reasonably good deal on the house based on the price of comparable houses in the neighborhood over the last six months or so. We are planning to move a few things on the 29th and possibly the 31st in the pickup, but the main move will take place on January 3 when the movers come to move the big stuff. We are very excited!
I was cruising through Free Republic when I came upon an article titled World’s oldest person dies at 116 in Ukraine. It looked interesting, so I started reading some of the comments. I about lost it when I came to this one:
That title ‘Oldest Living Person’ , seems to be cursed.
Last night we went to the home of a young couple for dinner with whom we meet with our church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evening. What a great couple. We talked about the consequential and the inconsequential while they cooked a gourmet meal, paid a ton of attention to the kids, and did everything possible to make us all feel comfortable and welcome. They have lots of things going for them, but far and away, the thing that makes them most attractive is their kindness and desire to make people feel at home. WOW. They really know how to do that. It is so nice to have an evening like that when, even if you might say something wrong, it will not matter–you know these friends will put the best light on it and think well of you anyway. We hope to have them over for a visit to our new house soon.
I am writing a piece of open source software. It has been really fun so far. We have gotten to our first release. It does not do much, but it is the foundation for a lot of future stuff to follow. Click on the image below to visit the web site:
The Oregon kicker tax law says that if the state legislature spends more than 2% over its estimate, it has to return the residual to the tax payers. That residual was HUGE this year, so we got a pretty good little check in the mail. The only thing that could be better about that law is if they never took the taxes in the first place. What is great about how the law works is that, if too much money is taken from the people, the money comes back right before Christmas. Many of the tax and spenders in the state want to repeal the law, but I think it will be very hard because, people remember what a nice thing it is to receive an unexpected check at that time of year. The total tax rates are only about a percentage point different between Oregon and North Carolina, so that has not impacted us too much. It would be nice, though, if North Carolina had a kicker law like Oregon.
On Monday nights we have been going for about a 45 minute drive out to a small town Southeast of where we live to a Spanish language bible study. The bible studies are nice, but the time spent in the car talking to the family are really super, too. The breadth of topics that come up while confined in a car at night for an hour and a half is really breath-taking. Christian’s seemingly bottomless pit of science questions are getting harder and harder to answer, partly because he does a lot of his own reading on things that interest him (which is mostly science) and I cannot get away with making stuff up anymore. It is really fun to talk about a lot of that stuff. As for the other topics, sometimes the angst is palpable, but most of the time we are laughing or talking about God. It is all good, but the topics are not always so comfortable. I am really quite thankful for these times and am sure I will always remember them fondly.
We always like to put a jigsaw puzzle together as a family this time of year. As the kids have gotten older, we have been able to put together more difficult puzzles. Working against that is the fact that there are other very interesting things to do. Last year we got a little too ambitious and tried to put together a 1000 piece puzzle. It was not really too difficult for us, but there was so much other stuff going on, we never completed the puzzle. Kelly and I were shopping together on Saturday. I have to admit that I had completely forgotten about doing a puzzle. Kelly remembered, though, and pointed at the big shelf full of puzzles at a large department store. We rifled through them and found just the perfect one. It is a horribly gaudy thing with a 3-D image of some once popular cartoon characters with 500 pieces. Like I said, it is just perfect. It is my opinion that, for the Chapman family, 500 pieces is just right. It is not so hard or so big that it takes more than a week to put together. You can work on it and talk to the people around you, too. Still, it is not so easy that there are not some challenges in it. Really, we are enjoying it so much, that we will probably do two of them this year. Can you imagine, we will probably put 1000 pieces worth of puzzle together this year when that is exactly what we thought was our problem last year.
We are going down to meet Lorena’s family in Puerto Vallarta in January. Grandpa Milo, Grandma Sarah, Uncle Doug, and Aunt Sheila will also be there. I found an old picture of when we took our first trip there. It was the time we went to Cabo San Lucas. Here it is.
Homeschool has been going well, but we have really been in a little bit of a rut. I have decided to mix things up a little. The basic things we are doing will not change. Those things include Teaching Textbooks Math, Sonlight Literature and History, Rosetta Stone Spanish, and Apologia Science by Jay L. Wile. They are just as awesome as ever and we are enjoying them very much. In addition, we are really enjoying the Fallacy Detective book. We will continue to do some of the small stuff like Lyrical Life Science and current events, Christian will finish his last year of cursive work and Kelly will continue with Teaching Terrific Writing, but virtually everything else will change. I have purchased a course on world views titled Understanding the Times and a course on grammar called Grammar Ace. I really want to add an art class that Lorena, Kelly, and Christian can take together. Hopefully it will be something like pottery or painting.
We are planning to read Understanding the Times together as a family. We love that sort of thing. The program sounds pretty comprehensive and interesting so this could be a super project for us. As for the Grammar Ace, I believe the kids have a fairly strong grammar base, but I want to make sure everything gets well established in their mind. Grammar Ace is designed for that. We should be able to finish it between now and the end of the year both as a refresher course and a way to prepare for standardized testing.
I have been working on a piece of machine vision software that a friend of mine and I are going to put out as open source. The purpose of the program is to allow people with web cams to measure stuff. We are getting to the point where we will be able to do our first alpha release. You can see it here.
Last night, Lorena cooked us up a very nice dinner. Afterwards, Christian, Kelly, and I spent the evening working on math and other homeschool corrections. It was good to have a quiet night because life is going to get hectic at work for the next few weeks. We are performing a dry run on our up-coming trial run for our biggest customer. If it goes well, we can move forward to new projects. Otherwise we will go through a difficult time of trying to figure out how to make it work better. We are all on pins and needles to a certain extent.
We had a very nice weekend. The only sad part was when I was able log into to my computer at work from the Holly Springs public library. It was really quite trivial, but that is not what I want to be doing on a Saturday morning with my family at the library. I finished my work, but plan to avoid doing that as much as possible. Saturday morning at the library is for hanging out with the family and drinking coffee!!
We have gotten a great response from Kelly’s bread making video both for Kelly’s bread and for Christian’s video editing. It certainly was fun.