Homeschooling - long read... lots of pics...

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chadk

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This may end up in the debatable topics - as there are so many pros and cons to public vs private vs homeschool vs other schooling options.

We have close friends who teach in both public and private schools. I grew up in public schools. My wife spent time in both public and private schools. So we are not 'anti-teacher' or 'anti-school'. We simply know we can do a better job teaching our own kids than the public school can. We are fortunate to be in a position to even be able to consider it an option. And both of us are well educated, hardworking, and determined - recipes for success when it comes to homeschooling.

I could go on and rip the public school system. And if this goes into debate, the ammo is in great supply. But I am aware of many success stories because of and even despite public schools. So I'm not saying that homeschooling is best for everyone and in every situation. It is just what we have determined to be best for OUR family.

Homeschooling has really taken off in this country (and around the world). In fact, it is spreading so fast; many countries are aggressively trying to fight against it. In the US, the education system is strongly against it (in some countries, it is already illegal). It takes away $$$ and power and influence. And those are fighting words when it comes to big gov't.

Now there are clearly horror stories of 'homeschooling'. Kids isolated and locked in a basement with no exposure to the world outside their home. Not really educated. No real world experience. Maybe even abused in many ways. And that is exactly the picture the gov't would have you see in your head when you hear "home school".

In the last decade, the internet has made homeschooling a much more practical endeavor. Online classes, online curriculum, and online homeschooling groups who share ideas and offer support and valuable resources are growing each year.

There are also many more resources today in many local communities for homeschoolers. There are various homeschool support groups, curriculum groups, and so forth. In many areas, the public school has teamed up with homeschoolers and offers classes and resources that homeschoolers can take advantage of if they wish (some see this as a sort of “Trojan horse” and won’t use anything offered via the public school system). With all the resources out there, you have many more options for teaching areas you may not want to teach or don’t have the background to teach: music, art, science, and math for example. You can swap subjects with another parent, or have your kids attend one of the community classes, or find one of the many excellent online\computer offerings.

One of the biggest myths regarding homeschooling has to do with the subject of ‘socialization’. This is a hot button topic on both sides. But studies show that homeschooled children are better socialized in many ways. Spend the day at your local public junior high or high school and you’ll see that version of ‘socialization’ at work. And you’ll see a wide spectrum of bad examples and good examples. Many people seem to feel that good socialization is putting their kid on a bus with their peers, sending them off to school for the day where they sit in classes all day with their peers, ride the bus home again with their peers – and basically learn to think and act and value the same things as everyone else. Group think. Sheeple. Institutionalization. I know, that sounds overally dramatic. But that is my opinion and I see the evidence all the time. Remember, we have 2 girls who just finished Jr High and are now in HS. And my oldest was in K-2nd grade, and second oldest in K-1. So we have our own experiences as kids to draw from, as well as current experiences at different levels.

We strive to have our kids out and interacting with all age groups and in various settings. We want our kids to be able to have a conversation with their peers as well as the elderly. We don’t care if they are not obsessed with the latest fads and trends. Or know all the cool new words and phrases. Now, they do tend to pick a lot of that up, but the pressure to adopt all that and embrace it to ‘fit in’ is just not there.

We do soccer, tae kwon do, basketball, and other organized sports and classes where they interact with other kids. We are part of a few homeschool groups that get together for field trips, show and tell, kids giving presentations, kids doing music recitals, and so forth. We are active in our church and community. And, of course the kids often play with the other kids in the neighborhood and at the local parks.

Our general approach is to foster a love for learning, reading, and creativity. And we love to use nature as a big part of that process. “Class” for us is often a day at the local park or zoo. And we have total flexibility and freedom to get a fun idea and just go for it. If we are learning about reptiles, we head to the local reptile zoo (we have an awesome one nearby). There are many museums in the greater Seattle area, tons of great libraries, zoos, aquariums, and parks (including Mt St Helens and Mt Rainier national parks). We are always on the go and always learning. Learning is just a way of life. Even when we watch a movie as a family, we use it to learn and grow and discuss topics we find interesting. We also make sure our home is a learning center. Our little farm, our little zoo, our many books, maps, and so forth are always at our fingertips ready for either a structured or impromptu learning session.

Another advantage we have with our kids vs the public system, is the 1:1 teaching we can do with each kid. We know them each well and know their strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and what motivates them and turns them off. We know how to challenge, push, and stretch them. We know how to make learning fun for them.
The following is a series of photos that paint a picture of homeschooling from the perspective of my family. Simple. Full of love and a love for life. Happy kids with bright futures.

(pics coming shortly - a sort of photo essay...)


Teaching and learning blend together with big families.
Someone is always reading to someone else, or helping someone with some project. Always interacting, playing, learning:
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School is where we are. And we love the parks and being outdoors:
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Our favorite zoo:
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Late night reading. They can stay late IF they are reading a good book - and then sleep in late as needed. My oldest son is a night owl and will stay up until midnight reading:
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Cooking time is also family time. Everyone loves to help. We learn about measuring, math, science, and have fun:
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I love taking trips with the kids. Sometimes I just take one for a special dad and son bonding time. We have fun, and learn the whole time. Here is a winter camping trip to Eastern Washington with just my oldest boy and me:
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We learned about eclipses (see pic of parial eclipse), and listened to the coyotes and owls and other night time sounds. We spotted satalites and shooting starts in the open skies above us.
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Geography, geology, science, and history around ever corning along the road trip:
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Dang, now I can't edit all the typos... Posts get added together, and the 30 minute editing window closes, even if you just posted a new one... Stinks to have all those typos up there in a post about homeschooling ;)

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These were taken last week:
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Yvonne G

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I'm pretty critical when I see poor spelling and grammar, but I can honestly say, your subject and pictures were so interesting, that I didn't notice any bad spelling. So put your mind at ease!

What a beautiful family! I love the twins. And your wife must be a saint to have all those messy hands in her kitchen. That part made my stomach twist!

They might not appreciate it now, but when they get older they are going to be so glad to have been such lucky children.
 

chadk

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Like I said, we LOVE the outdoors and nature :)

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[hr]
[quote='emysemys']
I'm pretty critical when I see poor spelling and grammar, but I can honestly say, your subject and pictures were so interesting, that I didn't notice any bad spelling. So put your mind at ease!

What a beautiful family! I love the twins. And your wife must be a saint to have all those messy hands in her kitchen. That part made my stomach twist!

They might not appreciate it now, but when they get older they are going to be so glad to have been such lucky children.
[/quote]

Thanks! My mind is a little more at ease now :)

Yes, we like a clean house, but sometimes messes just need to be made (and quickly cleaned up!).

By the way, I do most of the dinner time cooking (she does more of the baking) - so it is MY kitchen (or so the arguement usually goes...) ;)[hr]
More pics later. Gotta focus on work for a bit now that lunch is over...
 

TylerStewart

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I've always wanted to entertain the idea of either home schooling or private schooling.... I went to public schools and my kid does now, but it irritates me to no end the amount of politics and "compassion for the poor (lazy)" that they are taught there. He's freakin 7 years old. Last November during the presidential election, my son's class had an election (he was 6 at the time). He didn't know who to vote for, and I hadn't said a word about who I was voting for to him. He came home and told me they had an election. I asked him who he voted for. He proudly said "Obama." I asked him why. His reply: "Well, I didn't know either of them, but my teacher said that if we wanted to help poor people, to vote for Obama." I have since straightened him out hopefully enough that he'll dish it back at the teacher, almost to the point that the "O word" is a bad word in my house. The thought that they might start teaching sex ed to kids this age or just a bit older is completely stupid, and with the current mindset of so many in elected office, might be difficult to avoid soon.

Personally, if it was me, I would rather pay to have my kids go to a school that I chose based on the teachers, and the ability of them to teach my kids well, not based on what they were zoned for. I think every family paying for their kids education or doing it themselves should have a massive tax cut or credit because of it, and people that want to use public schools are welcome to keep doing that. The govt should sell half (or more) of their school buildings to private companies that want to compete in education. Better schools will be able to charge more, and the parents can decide which school they want, or go to public schools at no cost.

I myself am not such a big fan of home school simply because I don't think my wife or I have time to do it properly. We would if we could, but for us it's probably better to go a private route.

Photo attached of our 10 month old boy last night, wrangling a big sulcata.
 

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chadk

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That's a great pic Tyler. And that sullie is flawless!

I like your thinking... My kids had the experience with the election. Teachers making kids feel stupid, bad, or not part of the group (aka peer pressure) if they didn't vote for Obamma. On the plus side, it helped us have some great conversations about politics and teachers and peer pressure.

And I totally agree about more choice when it comes to school. Private, public, charter, home. Make them compete. Let parents choose. That is part of what makes America great. Freedom to provide the best education for our children that we see fit as parents. Freedom to homeschool. Freedom to go private. Freedom to go to public school. But they twist things to be "every child has a 'right' to edeucation"... and what the mean is "we (gov't) have the right to force you to attend our schools no matter how badly they are failing and no matter what you think is best for your own kids". Choice is always best. Won't happen though. Once big gov't is invloved, it does not like to loose $$, power, or influence.
 

Stephanie Logan

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I know several families who home-school for a variety of reasons, and I have no problem with it if it's done well. I've never heard of or talked to any teachers in the Littleton Public Schools, who express blanket opposition to home schooling, and I meet a LOT of teachers since I am a substitute. ;)

In fact, your story only confirms and emphasizes my contention that without responsible parents and responsible students, our schools cannot succeed, no matter how much money you throw at them. Your kids are fortunate in that you and your wife are clearly the kind of parents whose investment of time and effort will contribute to their academic success and develop strong characters. :)

Parents are their children's first and most influential teachers. Without parental involvement and high expectations, very few students will succeed at school. My frustration is that many people want to pillory teachers and school systems because they cannot execute a miracle: compensating for inadequate, abusive or negligent parents. I would argue that ANY child who comes to school properly fed, properly rested, properly dressed and with enthusiasm for learning will succeed in academics for the entirety of his school years (and his teachers will love and cherish their time with him). Conversely, only a few of the many kids who attend school without preparation, support and accountability on the part of their parents or guardians will succeed, no matter how perfect their teachers are.

I think there are tons of advantages to home schooling, many of which you listed. Because I was able to stay home for most of the years my kids grew up, I was able to do a lot of what you talked about--teaching them about math and science as I cooked, cleaned and gardened, and they all learned the history of the Oregon Trail when we drove up to Bend one year, and geology, Indian culture and history when we drove down to Phoenix another year...;)

I never wanted to spend all day every day with them to home school them, but I certainly reinforced their school work with shared projects, high expectations, homework supervision and tons of praise when their success resulted in numerous commendations and awards (I could wallpaper my kitchen with "honor student" bumper stickers from middle and high school :cool:.)

Fred's job as a pilot, which keeps him away from home about 20-25 days a month, was actually advantageous for the time he was home, because he'd be there all day for the kids to hang out with, run errands with, do chores with, etc, and he volunteered to be the parent chaperone on numerous school field trips as well. :p

I have always looked askance at the concept of "quality time", as such a thing simply cannot be scheduled. Quantity is what it's all about, because the "quality" moments just happen, often unexpectedly and in the middle of something completely unrelated [here's a great one that happened to someone else's preschool kid when I was walking my class to the lunchroom last week: I heard the child say, "I used to suck MY thumb when I was six...oh, wait! I'm still four." :D Priceless!]

The central point I would like to make after all this rambling and nostalgia is "There's no substitute for spending TIME with your kids!"

So enjoy! You don't need to defend your choices, when you know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. No paradigm is perfect, and we all make mistakes within our chosen framework, but there are more ways to win the race than just a straight line to the finish!

Oh, I also meant to say, "Great photos!"

Great camera, great eye, great timing!

:D
 

chadk

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My middle son, now 8, is a math wiz of sorts. Not a rocket scientist by any means, but when it comes to money and problem solving, he's the sharpest of the bunch. He's the most out-going as well (my oldest is super shy). Ethan, the non-shy one, loves to go up to the counter with money in hand and buy things. Holding them accountable for the correct change. I couldn't pay my oldest to go buy himself an ice-cream cone though! Such different personalities. When Ethan was 6, he asked a barista at a coffee stand for he phone number! When my wife asked him why, he said "becuase she's HOT! And maybe someday I can marry her". My wife mentioned she was probably 20yrs old, this little 6yr old thought for a second, and said "maybe she'll wait for me". LOL. Again, my oldest would have been hiding the back seat, afraid the girl might say something to him. Never a dull moment though...


Anyway, more pics...

This day they took school on the road and stopped in at a raspberry farm. They picked their berries, then each went to have their fruit weighed to see what they'd have to pay. Of course, Ehan was the first in line and knew how much money his berries would cost before the lady even finished.
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Stephanie Logan said:
I know several families who home-school for a variety of reasons, and I have no problem with it if it's done well. I've never heard of or talked to any teachers in the Littleton Public Schools, who express blanket opposition to home schooling, and I meet a LOT of teachers since I am a substitute. ;)

In fact, your story only confirms and emphasizes my contention that without responsible parents and responsible students, our schools cannot succeed, no matter how much money you throw at them. Your kids are fortunate in that you and your wife are clearly the kind of parents whose investment of time and effort will contribute to their academic success and develop strong characters. :)

Parents are their children's first and most influential teachers. Without parental involvement and high expectations, very few students will succeed at school. My frustration is that many people want to pillory teachers and school systems because they cannot execute a miracle: compensating for inadequate, abusive or negligent parents. I would argue that ANY child who comes to school properly fed, properly rested, properly dressed and with enthusiasm for learning will succeed in academics for the entirety of his school years (and his teachers will love and cherish their time with him). Conversely, only a few of the many kids who attend school without preparation, support and accountability on the part of their parents or guardians will succeed, no matter how perfect their teachers are.

I think there are tons of advantages to home schooling, many of which you listed. Because I was able to stay home for most of the years my kids grew up, I was able to do a lot of what you talked about--teaching them about math and science as I cooked, cleaned and gardened, and they all learned the history of the Oregon Trail when we drove up to Bend one year, and geology, Indian culture and history when we drove down to Phoenix another year...;)

I never wanted to spend all day every day with them to home school them, but I certainly reinforced their school work with shared projects, high expectations, homework supervision and tons of praise when their success resulted in numerous commendations and awards (I could wallpaper my kitchen with "honor student" bumper stickers from middle and high school :cool:.)

Fred's job as a pilot, which keeps him away from home about 20-25 days a month, was actually advantageous for the time he was home, because he'd be there all day for the kids to hang out with, run errands with, do chores with, etc, and he volunteered to be the parent chaperone on numerous school field trips as well. :p

I have always looked askance at the concept of "quality time", as such a thing simply cannot be scheduled. Quantity is what it's all about, because the "quality" moments just happen, often unexpectedly and in the middle of something completely unrelated [here's a great one that happened to someone else's preschool kid when I was walking my class to the lunchroom last week: I heard the child say, "I used to suck MY thumb when I was six...oh, wait! I'm still four." :D Priceless!]

The central point I would like to make after all this rambling and nostalgia is "There's no substitute for spending TIME with your kids!"

So enjoy! You don't need to defend your choices, when you know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. No paradigm is perfect, and we all make mistakes within our chosen framework, but there are more ways to win the race than just a straight line to the finish!

Oh, I also meant to say, "Great photos!"

Great camera, great eye, great timing!

:D



Thanks Stephanie. I agree on all points :)

And just to clarify, I'm not defending our choice to homeschool, just trying to help educate others who may not really understand what it is all about and just have those stereotypes in their heads. The more who understand and appreciate it for what it is, will be there to help support our freedom to do it, when out state or country tries to stomp our freedoms even more :(
 

DoctorCosmonaut

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Yeah, I think that more than talking about schooling, this topic talks about parental involvement and quality time with ones children. I feel really bad for people who don't have the support your children clearly do.

Just curious, what type of business/career are you involved in? I hope that isn't too prying of a question? Just seems like you are very fortunate to be able to accommodate so many children and lead the lifestyle you do.
 

chadk

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What do homeschoolers do on snow days? Is school cancelled?

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Heck no!! But we do take a time out to have an epic snow ball fight!!

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DoctorCosmonaut said:
Yeah, I think that more than talking about schooling, this topic talks about parental involvement and quality time with ones children. I feel really bad for people who don't have the support your children clearly do.

Just curious, what type of business/career are you involved in? I hope that isn't too prying of a question? Just seems like you are very fortunate to be able to accommodate so many children and lead the lifestyle you do.

No problem. I work in the software industry. I've had a steady job here for 14yrs. Very blessed for sure. It helps to have lots of vacation time, flexible schedules, and ability to work from home when needed. My wife couldn't do what she does without the support I'm able to give her.

We made a LOT of mistakes when we were young. Financial mistakes that cost us now and beyond. But we did do a few things right. We talked about our plans when we were young. Before we were married. While dating in college. We had visions and plans. Some panned out - mostly in ways we never expected. Others changed as we grew and matured.

My wife was determined to get her Masters (or more) in Psychology with empahsis and children and marriage counceling. She wanted to be able to work with kids. Kids from abusive backgrounds; kids impacted by drugs and alcohol. Based on her own childhood, she was very passionate about this. I fully supported her. We thought that at some point, she might be able to open a home office and then we could raise our family with her home, but working. Probably need a nanny though. We agreed we would not start a family until we were able to support one income and\or have one person working from home full time. No latch-key kids for us. Our long term vision was to be able to help kids in some way that invovled her counceling from that home office, having a small farm where kids could come and interact with animals as a form of therapy, and be able to raise our own kids in ways we only dreamed of growing up.

Well, as school moved along, and we grew and matured, she started to see things differently. She realized that she'd be in her mid to late 30's before her dream of being a mom would be able to be realized with that plan. And as we started seeing friends getting married and having kids (she melted whenever she saw or held, or... smelled... a new born baby), she just had to take another look at our plans.

We decided that she'd take a break from school and work for a bit. I had finished school ahead of her and started working at a pretty good software related job. She was working for the city of Seattle as a social worker with a promising career in that area if she wanted.

But after a year or so of that, we realized that we could afford our first house AND afford for her to 'retire' to have a baby. And that is what we did.

Now in hindsight, our plans and dreams are pretty close to what we envisioned. Just not exactly via the path we had imagined. We are involved in foster care, and really making an impact on so many lives of young kids. And our animals play a part in that, as is Becc's background in social work and psychology. And we have our 3 biological boys and are able to adopt the 4 girls. We feel so blessed. Like I said, we stumbled around quite a bit. Financially, we fell into many stupid traps - the dot com bubble bursting hurt. The housing bubble bursting hurt. And so on. But we are determined and take each day at a time, with prayer and focus.

So that is much more than you asked ;) But this IS my thread, so I can ramble if I want... :)

OK that 30 min window is killing me. More typos I can't fix... I gotta be quicker about checking that....
 

terryo

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"I've always wanted to entertain the idea of either home schooling or private schooling.... I went to public schools and my kid does now, but it irritates me to no end the amount of politics and "compassion for the poor (lazy)" that they are taught there. He's freakin 7 years old. Last November during the presidential election, my son's class had an election (he was 6 at the time). He didn't know who to vote for, and I hadn't said a word about who I was voting for to him. He came home and told me they had an election. I asked him who he voted for. He proudly said "Obama." I asked him why. His reply: "Well, I didn't know either of them, but my teacher said that if we wanted to help poor people, to vote for Obama." I have since straightened him out hopefully enough that he'll dish it back at the teacher, almost to the point that the "O word" is a bad word in my house. The thought that they might start teaching sex ed to kids this age or just a bit older is completely stupid, and with the current mindset of so many in elected office, might be difficult to avoid soon. "

I am with you on this one totally Tyler. And...if you think its bad now wait until your kids go to college. Almost every professor is so politicality opinionated on every issue. My son said you have to be very careful to go down the middle path if you want good grades. Sad.

As far as you home schooling Chad, I myself have very strong views about this. You are so lucky to have the home facilities, and enough education and time to handle this. I would have given anything to be able to do it for all my kids too. I have many friends who home schooled and some relatives. I think all their kids turned out so well because of it. I was very lucky with my children. We were always together, and did so many things together and being outdoors played a very big part of teaching my kids too. I took advantage of everything this Island had to offer.
Your children are so lucky, and they will reiterate their memories many times with such appreciation. IMO...There is no public or private school that could compre with the education you are giving your children by home schooling them.
 

ChiKat

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Chad your family looks awesome :) Those pictures are wonderful and your family seems very close :)
I think homeschooling is great the way you're doing it. Your children are very lucky.
Then there's my aunt and uncle who tried to homeschool their five children. They went about it the WRONG way and it was very detrimental to the kids' learning. They basically just memorized Bible verses, did a little math and science here and there...their oldest daughter didn't like math so didn't do it often :rolleyes:
They homeschooled because they couldn't afford private schooling and didn't like public schools.
They ended up sending all their children (ages 7-17) to public schools over the past few years. They just sent the two youngest kids to elementary school this past year, and both kids tested below the grade they should have been in.
Their second grader only uses capital letters in his writing...not good!

I babysat for a family who took their four children out of the public school system and started homeschooling. I spoke with the mom about all her frustrations and I could definitely understand where she was coming from. She was now able to take her kids to museums and other educational places and they would learn through hands-on experience. They had so many opportunities to learn, and did things that you can't do with a classroom full of students- just like your pictures show!

And here I am with a degree in elementary education, about to work in one of those public school systems :rolleyes:

Oh and I can't get over how adorable all your kids are!
 

DoctorCosmonaut

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Sounds like my girlfriend and I, college sweethearts planning things out ^_^
 

chadk

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Planning is good. Good for you guys :)
 
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Maggie Cummings

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Thanks Chad for answering I was wondering about your work also. Is that you the handsome man with the goatee? I am also curious about your wife...I want to see a picture of her and if that is her in one of these pictures, that's not enough for me...I want to see better pictures of both of you...bigger so my old eyes can see them. How long have you been married? This being your thread I can also ask personal questions...:p
 

chadk

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LOL Maggie. I love your directness. Yes, that is me. And she is in there as well. I'll see if I can find a few better pics.... I try to stay out of pics though...
 
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Maggie Cummings

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I totally understand the staying out of pictures thing. But I need bigger pictures to tell if you are both as good looking as it looks. You wife looks beautiful...and I so love a man in a goatee, or any face hair I think...
 

chadk

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Here is my beautiful wife of almost 14yrs (this summer):

12633_198108780745_675900745_3928027_3014203_n.jpg


11037_194452310745_675900745_3900530_1267615_n.jpg
 

Stephanie Logan

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I still think it's uncanny how your adopted daughter resembles the woman who loves her best...
 

dmmj

The member formerly known as captain awesome
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honestly when a teacxher has an "election" for president for six year olds, that teacher has an agenda and should be fire IMHO. Home schooled kids when taught a well rounded education IMHO come out smarter and better people in the future. I see my cousins and the school they are in and it makes me sad and angry at the same time, because they are notbbeing taught anything except how to use condoms and how to have babies.
 
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