Thursday, December 30, 2010


Want to start a war on any given homeschool board?  Casually mention that you are going to put high school credits earned in middle school on your kid's transcript.  To say home educators have strong feelings in this regard makes the world's zealots appear to be a bunch of wan and tepid mushmouths.

I find the transcript imbroglio entertaining for a lot of reasons.  When folks feel strongly about something that ultimately matters not a whit, they tend to couch their arguments in terms of highest moral imperative.  Accordingly, those including the credits become cheaters blithely trying to game the system rather than a parent trying to accurately reflect a kid's learning.  The opinions offered in strongest terms often come from those with the most glancing experience--how their one kid got into his/her one college, for example.

Most lists I participate in have the transcript topic come up at least annually.  It allows each of us to don our college admissions staff hats and pontificate in ways that parallel primitive folks in the prescientific past explaining the ways of a volcano.  I suspect the same amount of fear and superstition may hold sway as we collectively try to bribe the gods who control so much of our child's future.

Home educators tend to forget a few things as the acorns bounce off our noggins.  Convinced the sky is falling, we fail to remember:

1. Public schools across the nation have differing standards for reflecting high school credit earned in middle school on transcripts.  Don't believe me?  Engage in your own quick google search and see.

2.  We, as the administrators of our own school, can set our own policies in this regard.

3.  We don't even have to have a Board of Ed meeting about it, though if it results in a date night with my husband to call one, I am in favor.

I like Inge Cannon's staunch support of including high school credits on a transcript, regardless of when they were earned.  However, her transcript formatted by subject rather than by year to accommodate these credits seems just plain odd to me.  The last thing we homeschoolers need is more oddity, agreed?  Lee Binz, on her blog, assumes a reasonable middle of the road approach for deciding what gets high school credit.  Additionally, her transcript incorporating early high school credit strikes me as an elegantly forthright approach in presenting our credentials to the college admissions officer.

My oldest is a freshman/sophomore (we can't decide), so the issue of transcripts is becoming to me more than just an easy way to start a board war.  Throw in the fact that he's wildly asynchronous--easily earning an A in college Calc this fall but still loving playing with Legos--and I am wildly odd--I will take three years to teach American History if I please, thank you very much--and you have the makings of one gnarly looking transcript.

What are your thoughts on the matter?


Sunday, December 26, 2010

No Mo' Money

The husband formerly known as Mr. Wonderful pointed to a rather large math error I made in figuring our net worth.  While we're still average accumulators (see post below), we are not nearly as average as I would like.  My deflated feeling tells me that perhaps I am not doing so well in the making money neither more nor less important than it should be department either.

Phooey and rats.


Show Me the Money

Simple is not always simplistic.

I ran across a simple and elegant benchmark at Get Rich Slowly.  The author attributed the idea to the book The Millionaire Next Door :

  1. Calculate your annual pre-tax household income.
  2. Divide your age by ten.
  3. Multiply these two numbers together.
Ignoring inheritance, your expected household net worth is the product of this calculation.
Being both simple and simplistic, I wondered how to calculate net worth.
Here's an easy way to figure that.
I found out we're not doing too poorly.  We're a bit above average accumulators of wealth as described in the Get Rich Slowly blog piece.  While I was thankful not to be an under accumulator (those whose net worth is less than half what the calculation suggests it should be), I wish we were prodigious accumulators (those whose net worth is double or more what the calculation suggests).
Or maybe I don't.  Thinking about what we would have had to do differently to be prodigious wealth accumulators, there are only a couple large, stunningly foolish actions I wish we could have a do-over for.  I suspect we could easily tighten up a few dripping faucets in the budget that might produce a large effect over time.
But to truly be a prodigious accumulator, I'd have to give finances a larger portion of my thought life than I want to.  I like our financial life to be based on good habits and automated so that it doesn't have to dominate my thinking.  I don't want money to be more important or less important than it should be.
To achieve prodigious status, I'd have to give up some things I don't want to.  Well, I take that back.  I'd give up most things to have more wealth, but I am unwilling to give up most people and experiences.  To be a prodigious accumulator, I'd almost certainly have to give up at least a kid or two.  And even though they are smelly, high maintenance and occasionally ungrateful, I remain ridiculously attached to them.  Furthermore, to be a prodigious accumulator, I'd almost certainly need to give back some of our experiences.  Flying a family of 7 to Arizona for a niece's wedding was foolish--I could have gone alone.  We didn't need to take the side trip to the Grand Canyon.  DisneyWorld is expensive.
Not that every experience must cost a lot of money, but travel with my family is a category I value despite its expense.
What do you think of the formula?  Would you trade anything to be further along in your financial journey?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Came and Went

The Facebook pleadings for a few more hours in the day, a clone, another week, have slowed now.  Rather than busy and important sounding, status updates such as these might now read as merely disorganized and inept.  Or perhaps there is resignation amongst my friends and acquaintances, a sense that if it isn't done by now, it probably won't get done.  Alternatively, it's possible that these folks have simply become such a critical mass of frenzied activity that they can no longer spare the few minutes a day to update us.  Whatever the cause,  I sense the Christmas quiet beginning to descend.

We normally have a quiet Christmas season.  I've spent no small amount of self-deceiving energy constructing righteous rationalizations as to why this is so.  We intentionally live with margin.  We choose our activities judiciously.  We center on deep spiritual meaning rather than commercial frenzy.  Truth is, we probably just have fewer friends than a lot of people.  Five sick kids, four inches of snow and a good book from the library doesn't hurt the motivation to curl up and stay home.

My Christmas came and went last week.  It arrived in a difficult and necessary conversation with a friend.  It moved through painful honesty and concluded with reconciliation as the desired and that much closer, possible end.

Christmas doesn't come every year, at least not to me.  Some years it is the Santas, the elves on shelves, the white elephants.  Fun but ultimately meaningless.  Every so often, though, the reconciliation that God intended by sending his Son to redeem humanity blazes through the trappings and pierces hearts.

Peace on Earth.  Goodwill toward men.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Easy Adjustable Cookie Recipe

One of my favorite people on the planet, Dana, knows a thing or two about being efficient.  She's a single parent.  Who home educates her three children.  To top academic scores and honors.  And runs her own business.  Which has grown from nothing to a client base of hundreds in under four years.  Almost entirely by satisfied word of mouth.  Featured not only in her local paper but also on The Old Schoolhouse magazine's Speaker Bureau.

So when she mentioned that she made 24 dozen cookies for the freezer in under an hour, I paid attention.

Dana's secret lies in knowing the appropriate use of "semi-homemade."

The basic recipe:  One box cake mix, 1 egg, 1 stick melted butter, add-ins (chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles etc) to taste.  Mix and divide into two rolled logs to freeze.  Slice cookies off log as needed and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

The variations are endless depending on what flavor cake mix one selects and which add-ins.  Dana warns if you select chocolate cake mix, add a tablespoon or two of water.  Other varieties of mix don't seem to require this.

Delicious simplicity with endless variety.  Perfect!

For other holiday cookie recipes, check out the links at Raising Olives.