Vote Early and Often!

Kathy and I were flattered and thrilled to discover that our blog has been nominated for the 2007 Homeschool Blog Awards, an informal organization of bloggers desiring to promote homeschooling excellence through weblogs.

Click on the image above to vote
Since both of us write articles for our shared blog, we thought there was a natural fit with the Best Family or Group Blog category — we feel that our collaboration is a key factor in the success and uniqueness of our blog. Besides, Kathy is (by a two-to-one margin) the more prolific author, despite my earlier dominance over our entrée into the blogosphere. We were not, however, nominated for the Best Family category, and so we take joy in the category for which we were nominated: Best Homeschool Dad Blog.

There is one very obvious problem: although all five of my children are homeschooled, as Dad, I don’t do a lot of the actual homeschooling. Oh, we started out boldly enough:

Me: “OK, sweetie, if we’re going to homeschool these kiddos, how are we going to go about it?”

Kathy: “Well, I can handle the Bible teaching, language arts, history, geography, spelling and read-aloud curriculum, but I could really use some help in Math and Science.”

Me: “No problem! I can just see it now — the kids and I doing experiments in the back yard, working math problems on the whiteboard, it’ll be great fun!”

Fast-forward with me, eight or nine years:

  • Total number of science experiments conducted by Dad: 2
  • Total number of math lessons given: 3

It turns out that I was mostly talk. I do help with specific math problems from time to time, and I am fairly vigorous in my role as principal and disciplinarian (especially when I work from home). I’m verbally and financially supportive of Kathy in her role as teacher-of-five, but when it comes down to it, I haven’t made homeschooling instruction a priority, in terms of my own time.

So now we come to the crux of the matter: I’ve been nominated for ‘Best Homeschooling Dad’, but I have minimal credentials supporting such a nomination. Will I have the ethical fortitude to admit this lack, or will I shamelessly promote myself in spite of my inadequacy? You be the judge, as I present this snapshot:


“A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Dad”, by Tim

4:59 am: Dad leaps out of bed cheerfully, a minute before the alarm, quoting an inspirational Bible verse for Mom’s edification. He quickly dresses in shorts, t-shirt and running shoes.

5:02 am: Dad wakes the kids and lead them in a rousing program of calisthenics and a two-mile run around the neighborhood, singing homeschool cadences while the children echo in chorus:

Happy homeschoolers run and think,
they don’t stop to take a drink!
They don’t rest and they don’t slow,
working hard to learn and grow!
Sound off: 1, 2!
Sound off: 4, 8!
Bring it on down: 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024!

Family PT
Not our actual family.

5:45 am: Everyone hits the showers, the first one clean is appointed sous-chef and selects the breakfast menu. Children work together (under Dad’s benign eye as Chef de Cuisine) to assemble a five-course gourmet confection and serve Mom breakfast in bed on an attractive tray with fresh-cut flowers. The kitchen is cleaned by the tardiest two children.

Gourmet Breakfast
Not our actual breakfast.

7:00 am: Dad prays with the children, and heads off to work, after distributing writing assignments and reviewing daily coursework lesson plans with each child.

Noon: After finishing his own Bible reading and prayer time, Dad spends his lunch hour editing and grading written assignments (submitted via e-mail) from each child, including an inspirational proverb and an encouraging comment in each response.

4:00 pm: Because of his efficiency at work and in order to demonstrate the priority he places on his family, Dad has arranged shortened work hours with his employer. He bursts through the front door promptly at 4 pm, and is mobbed by laughing children. Hugging each, he dismisses them for a short recess while he talks and prays with his wife (and presents her with a small gift he procured on the way home).

4:15 pm: Dad helps the children assemble the necessary equipment and ingredients for a science experiment and conducts a short lesson in the back yard. If it is raining, the experiment occurs in a gleaming utility shed/lab that Dad and the kids built last summer.

5:00 pm: All the kids and Dad work for an hour in the yard of an impoverished widow down the street, putting their love for God into practice as a service project.

Science Experiment
Not our actual science experiment.

6:00 pm: Over dinner, each child reports on the things for which they are thankful, and Dad moderates a short role-playing scenario featuring peer pressure and temptation. Applicable Bible passages are read and discussed. Mom is thanked and praised for the evening meal.

6:45 pm: Dad washes the dishes and cleans the kitchen while the children complete their science projects. He fixes a few loose drawer handles and re-arranges the freezer while waiting for the kids to reassemble.

7:15 pm: Each child takes turns working math problems on the whiteboard while Dad corrects and grades their problem sets. Dad assigns extra work or other punishments to any who have come to Mom’s negative attention over the course of the day.

8:00 pm: Dad reads the Bible to the children and tucks them each into bed, praying with each one individually.

8:30 pm: Mom and Dad discuss the day, their dreams and hopes for their children, and re-connect emotionally.

9:30 pm: Dad sits down to write an insightful blog article about parenting, marriage, homeschooling, or theology, carefully supporting his position with scripture (in the original Greek or Hebrew, of course).

Self Portrait
Not my actual profile.

10:00 pm: Dad corresponds with any church leaders or heads of State who may have written to him for ethical and spiritual advice or counsel.

10:30 pm: Mom and Dad go to bed, happily snuggling each other close.


As you now no longer have to imagine, that is exactly how my day plays out (I’m lying). So remember, vote early and vote often (according to the applicable rules, of course), for your favorite Homeschooling Dad!


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Tuesday Tips for Parenting – Guest Blogger Tina

new logoTim and I are thrilled to share the Tuesday Spotlight with Tina Burt. It is particularly appropriate that Tina be featured as a guest blogger, since she is a dear friend we first met while living in the Duckabush Valley, for which this blog is named. Now serving with New Tribes Missions in Thailand, Tina and her family are dearly beloved kindred spirits. Wherever they go, Greg and Tina live out the example that Paul laid down for the Thessalonians:

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. (I Thessalonians 2:8)

kathy and Tina

Kathy and Tina on the eve of Tina’s departure for Thailand.

Hello Duckabush Blog Faithfuls,

As a guest blogger today, I will try to uphold the high standards set by my dear friends. Kathy asked me a while ago to think about submitting a post on her Tuesday Tips for Parenting blog. While obviously very honored by such a request, I was not sure what parenting gems I had to offer. We have our fair share of teasing, annoying, disobedience and unruly behavior at our house.

I mean beyond what my dear husband incites of course! :)

After some deep thinking, (it doesn’t take too long to get to the bottom of my well!), I thought we could share one of our discipline techniques. We like to call it the Jack LaLane method of child training.

It began when with our son, the youngest of our three children. He seemed to find the most trouble of our kids, not always out of rebellion, but from a lack of thought or wisdom. Other forms of, cough, cough, physical discipline did not seem to make much of an “impact” on him, and so we drew on DH’s army training and instituted …

The Pushup!

zach demonstrates

Doesn’t he have nice form, and a smile to boot!

We now use it liberally with all three kids, and they may find themselves dropped for pushups whenever the situation, or attitude demands. Rolled eyes at a request, rude speech, sassing a parent, slow or delayed obedience,…… The number of pushups has a direct correlation to how often the child has been previously corrected for said offense, or how severe the offense.

When beginning, we suggest only 5-10, depending on the strength of your children. Don’t want any excuses to get out of dishwashing!

We liberally used this technique while trying to break our son of his finger sucking habit some years back. Each time we would catch him with his finger in his mouth, he would ‘earn’ 10 pushups. After a particularly long car trip, the poor child sometimes owed us up to 80 pushups! (Yes, we let him take a break in between sets of 20 or so.)

Hey, it came in handy when he began wrestling, and needed all the upper body strength he could get!

wrestling zach

There is a boy (in the #2 place – Great Job, Zach!) who has benefited from some loving discipline.

An extra tip, when an attitude is particularly bad, or you feel you need a little more oomph in your sentence, diamond pushups are great! Instead of having hands under the shoulders, they must have their hands together under their chest, making a little diamond with their first fingers and thumbs. We have found that even the suggestion of diamond pushups will improve cooperation greatly!

zach, leah and ema

Zachary, Leah, and Ema.

What cooperative children, no pushups necessary here.


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Chastened and Repentant

Some of you may have wondered at my absence from the family photos that were posted yesterday. Let’s just say that I came to the negative attention of the Blog Taunting Police, whose authority is much more far-reaching than you might suspect. Kathy and I agreed not to further aggravate the matter by posting any pictures that featured me; I didn’t want to come across publicly as defiant or unrepentant, after all the wife- and blog-reader taunting that transpired.

Based on advice from legal counsel I have retained, I may further jeopardize my precarious standing with the BTP (Blog Taunting Police) unless I am very careful with any public statement. Suffice it to say that it is now permissible for me to post one of my favorite pictures from the CD, if only to prove that I did, in fact, attend the photo-shoot:

Sugar Daddy
As you can see, all was forgiven, at least by my daughters.

You’ll just have to take it from me that my ‘interview’ with the BTP (let’s just say they didn’t offer me any Nutella) has produced in me a sudden desire to cater to our discerning blog readers. I heartily repent of my evil and ill-conceived picture-posting-post (PPP).

As Kathy mentioned, I was very pleased with the CD of pictures we received, and was forced to eat some humble pie after all my swaggering statement: there is no way I could have taken these pictures (especially since I was, in fact, in several of them.

Today we had the privilege of lighting the first Advent Candle at church — we all wore red shirts and many of us dressed in black pants or skirts. (To clarify, Kathy wore a black skirt and I wore black pants, not the other way around.) We read a passage from Isaiah and related one of our family Christmas traditions. As we sat down, I felt vaguely disappointed … we dressed up all ‘matchy-matchy’, but nobody took hundreds of pictures of us! Gone was the happy chatter of camera shutters … how fleeting was our fame!

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7


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Tim and I spent hours (okay minutes) reviewing the family pictures we received yesterday from the photographer, once the Blogosphere Taunting Police (BTP) finished questioning him, and reluctantly released him on his own recognizance.

“Let that be a lesson to you, Mister,” they warned him sternly. “Some of your blog readers don’t take kindly to that kind of taunting, and one or two of them have friends in high places.” Tim was a little shaken by the hours he spent under the interrogation lights, down at BTP headquarters. But I digress.

The pictures are GORGEOUS!!! Can I say that when it’s my own family? Is there any possible way that I can be objective?

Well, I take a LOT of pictures of my beautiful family and I rarely (okay never) call them GORGEOUS. Cute, sweet, dear, fun maybe, but not GORGEOUS.

I have to put in a huge plug for our photographer, Crystal. She did an outstanding job on our family portraits. She is currently working part time for a professional photography company while establishing her home studio. Crystal is offering a pretty fair deal for an hour-plus sitting ($75 plus tax). She works with each family, taking the pictures and poses requested, and then mails out a cd with ALL the photos. From there families are free to pick the ones they like and have them printed anywhere (Costco, Kodak, CVS, etc) they choose.

Even Mr. Cynical (“I don’t like to waste my time sitting in a studio when I can take pictures myself”) was truly impressed. Have I already stated that the shots are GORGEOUS? Just wondering.

Now we’re all fighting over which one we like best.

Too hard to choose – there are so many! Wow.

Crystal’s home studio is in the Puget Sound region, and I can’t recommend her services highly enough. If you are local and in need of a photographer, contact us for recommendations.


The only problem we had at our studio appointment was getting Joshua to smile. The rest of the crew was susceptible to silly jokes and the playful attitude of the photographer. Not Joshua: he was a rock. A pleasant, smiling-because-I-have-to, grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it, kind of rock.

Joshua’s tendency to bang his head against the side of the wall when I announced we had forgotten to take one last round of pictures was a bit distracting, but we managed to ignore him. I’m afraid all my blogging and extensive picture taking have completely exhausted his patience.

mama and her darlings

Next year (can you hear Joshua’s groans from where you’re sitting, when I say the words “next year”?) I’m going to come armed with a list of key words that will extract a natural smile (maybe even a wry chuckle) out of Joshua.

Stanley Leonardo Sappovitz
“Oh wait, we left Jimmy!”
“You take care of your noof spiff, I’ll take care of mine.”

Maybe I’ll prepare a flashcard for each of the children.


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Too Much Coffee

When Tim and I began this blog in 2004 we set up the usual categories – family, Bible study, reviews, etc – we never thought to include Coffee as a topic heading.


What were we thinking? If you do a search for coffee on the Duckabush Blog, more than 30 posts come up. Obviously they aren’t all strictly ABOUT coffee, but coffee is mentioned in some way, shape or form.

I guess if you’re going to give up sleep in favor of blogging (and I’m speaking hypothetically), you need some help from caffeine to survive.

Or so I’ve been told.

Of course, it turns out my love of coffee isn’t just a self-indulgent quirk, it inspires others. I received an email today from Holly, a Seattle blogger, who thought of me while she was buying her coffee creamer today.

She thought of me. While she was buying coffee creamer.

And she emailed me to suggest a fantastic coffee combination – peppermint mocha.

Some people long to make a difference in the world through their ministry, social work, or financial giving – I inspire culinary greatness in the world of caffeine.

Holly, thank you! Only another Washingtonian would truly appreciate my search for delicious coffee at home.

give me some

Stop by and visit Holly’s blog. She is a mom of twins (and therefore a hero in my book) and recently posted a recipe for an amazing Crunchy Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Layer Cake that would go beautifully with a tall mug of coffee.

I know we’ve discussed coffee before, and Tim warns me I’m beginning to sound obsessive, but I’m still curious, so tell me about your coffee loves and hates.

Are you a coffee snob?
Do you find yourself thinking Starbucks and nothing else will do?
Do they know your name (and order) at the local coffee shop?
You’ve never been in a coffee shop, coffee drive thru or other over-rated, high priced coffee emporiums and don’t plan to, thank you very much.
Does it take you longer to order your coffee than your fast food take-out?
Are you happy the holidays arrive, not because of the good will, cheer and spiritual significance but because it means pumpkin spice and gingerbread lattes are back?
Nothing fancy, you like it plain black, no sugar or cream.
Forget coffee, tea is your thing.

This one’s for Tim:

You like your caffeine cold, in the form of Diet Coke, and you think chocolate should stay out of coffee and in the Nutella jar where it belongs.

Coming tomorrow – a beautiful family picture from our day at the studio.


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