“Sometimes one’s batteries need to be recharged.

I’m taking a smidge of a break. Be back shortly!”


And Then There’s This One…

I’m still pondering one of the hottest trends on the web. Wrote about it Tuesday, didn’t excuse poor behavior; and read this yesterday.  A lot of food for thought.

Own your errors, admit it when you’re out of line…but man! This has gotten way out of control!

I hope you’ll read the article and weigh in.

Richard Sherman classless

To Read the Article, Click Here


A Good Question


Just a Friendly Reminder…

Salvation Army Kettle3

Just a friendly reminder during this Most Wonderful Time of the Year…

a season of good will and cheer.

If you are looking for venues to give charitably…

The Salvation Army kettles are a wonderful option.

This past weekend, as we pulled up in front of our local Trader Joes…

Salvation Army Kettle1

there were our friends the Whites and the Blodgetts!

They were cheerfully singing while ringing the bell!

The kids were adorable in the child-sized aprons…

and my friend Genevieve…

Salvation Army Kettle2

was a two-fisted ringer!

A couple of facts for your learning pleasure:

The Salvation Army does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, or religion…

and one hundred percent of everything you give to the red kettle stays in the local community…

where it is received to address needs there.

Easy-peasy!  And definitely a way to help “Do the Most Good!”

Reality Is Often Humorous

Blogging  actually all forms of social media are often interesting.  People can sterilize, manipulate and stage their lives in such a way that things look darn near perfect.  But in reality, they’re not.  No really, this applies to everyone. Yes, even that one individual you are currently thinking about. 

I am blessed with an amazing family.  A family that is loyal, strong, talented, and well…not perfect. Regardless, if nothing else, they are hilarious.

Yesterday consisted of a doctor’s appointment for my father, followed by a visit to a notary, (also for my parents) and some errands.

Son #3 was at the house with our two youngest boys.  This can go either way, as evidenced by the following text message response to my inquiry of:

“How’s it going?  Everything okay?”

Son #3: “We’ve been VERY productive!”

Austin's Compressor Shot1

“What happens when we’re the only ones home and the “adult” at the house has just gotten a new air compressor!”

I hope this makes your personal confidence where parenting, education, and all things responsibility soar!

Clearly, the term adult here is referenced very, very loosely. Carry on, friends.



Tim Driver: All In All…It’s Just A Wall

Tim at Disneyland1

My “At Risk” stories are often popular at parties, because many people can’t believe they are completely true, due to the “entertainment factor.” I assure you, that not only are these stories true, but often times I probably downplay them a bit, because they were just part of the regular run of the mill events over a 12 year period. While the population was not typically criminal, there were an assortment that deserved an honorary degree in Criminal Injustice-at least that was their opinion. Allow me to hit a few of these highlights, so that you’ll get a taste of “the environment.”

Mike~Tried to rob a bank with a flare gun.  I asked him later on, “So was the plan, ‘Give me all your money, or I’ll signal for help?’ ” He found that amusing.

Eric~ Had a real artistic flair.  In fact, he drew his art (tagging) all over Seattle, to the tune of almost $750,000 in damages.  He got caught when a police officer noticed his binder in my classroom that had the renowned “tag name” on it, in his unique design.  They had been tying to figure out who it was for almost 2 years. I knew he was legendary when I saw his “non-commissioned art work” driving by on the side of a Metro bus.  Admittedly, there was a horribly misplaced sense of pride in me that wanted to yell, “Hey, I KNOW that kid!” -I know, I need help.

Imran~ Here was a kid who looked 25 while being only 14.  He ate and shaved three times daily.  One day when I was complaining about my exorbitant cell phone bill, he assured me that he had a “solution” to that, and could get me SIM cards that were “untraceable.” He actually could…and NO, I didn’t.

Cruz~ A beautiful young lady who actually had done some modeling professionally…but unfortunately, she also liked to “roll people” for their wallets down by the airport, and was involved in a gun ring. It was hard to picture a girl who weighted all of 90 pounds being involved in such a venture, but indeed, it was true.

There was one point where I had 5 students in class at the time who were on electronic surveillance.  (This was not normal..perhaps it was just a fluke year.) I joked about this particular group, that our yearbook could be found hanging on the walls of the local post office.

Since I have talked “out of school” about some of these kids, I have to say that MANY went on to be successful, graduate, and turn away from their short-lived crime sprees.  At least I haven’t seen any on TV for awhile.  (Yes, a couple DID make the news, and one is currently on death row.) I could also tell you their personal circumstances, few of which you would ever believe.

At any rate, you can now better understand my hesitancy, when a downtown administrator asked me to attempt to create some group “community service” opportunities for our program.  Without thinking I shot back, “Would that be called work release?”

I set up two or three kids to tutor elementary students in reading…it was AMAZING the impact it had…on the TUTORS. I specifically chose kids with younger brothers and sisters who I KNEW would be protective of those elementary kids.  They did beautifully. In fact, one girl got a job as a tutor because of that experience.  But many of my kids did not want to tutor reading, as many had not fully mastered the fine art yet themselves.  I needed a plan that would include all of my kids.

One day while driving through town, I noticed the 7-11 had once again been hit by “taggers”- thankfully Eric wasn’t one of them- as he saved his best work for larger venues. I thought perhaps our kids could come down and paint over the huge landscape wall as a service to the community! The owner was more than willing to let us do that, and even supplied the paint, brushes, and a few sandwiches.

I loved the idea for two reasons: First , it got us out of the classroom and working “hands on”, which many of my kids loved.  Second, since it was just one color and up and down, it was an art project i could actually participate in!

We painted the wall.  No big deal.  No runs, no drips. No felonies.

It was the AFTERMATH of the wall project that was more amazing.  Here are some things that came out of it.

Another business in the area, a NAPA Auto Parts Store, asked us to come paint over their tagging, providing food and free hats!

Two kids got jobs with the two stores we painted.

The newspaper came out and did a great front page feature article on our program and our kids.

Finally, one other phenomenon surfaced.  Our kids actually PATROLLED those two walls, making sure that no one tagged them again.  To this day, those walls have not been tagged…and this happened 15 years ago!  I found out why, a month or so after we painted.  One of our kids was scolded by police for beating up a delinquent who was about to paint something on the wall.  Wow.  I admired him for his loyalty to the project, I just redirected his methods a bit.

So is all of this just entertainment value? C’mon, you know me better than that.

Our kids start out as blank walls.  Some of them sadly get “tagged on” by life circumstances, many of which are out of their control.  This leads to poor choices which ARE in their control, but because they see themselves as “defaced” anyway, what difference does it make?

Our educational system makes an attempt to slap a new coat of paint on them, hoping that the public will take it as a kind gesture to minimize the “eyesore” to our schools and communities. But as the “PAINTERS” of these kids, we should and DO become quite protective of them. It is OUR paint job, our time, our pride in helping to beautify something that was previously scoffed at or even worse, ignored, that makes us want to pummel anyone who would try to mess with them.  Whether it be a bully, or the pen stroke of a politician cutting funding, we do down swinging where our kids are concerned.  I feel that tone from you and I am proud of you for your protectiveness.

I know it isn’t glamorous to find yourself covered with paint splotches that never seem to wash off, but consider those as medals in the battle for our young people.

Most importantly, NEVER stop painting.

Thanks for all you do for kids,


Back to School?, 2

Quinton with clipboard2

I’m so glad in broaching this subject, that it has already served to encourage some of you who have chosen a road less traveled.  It is also my hope to provide information and trains of thought to those wishing to understand.

Today, I’m sharing but few of the many things we have been asked over the years.  At times, they are stated sincerely and with a desire to understand.  At other times? Snark abounds. Either way, I’ve learned that the best thing you can do in the end, is to sincerely thank others, and move ahead.

Question #1: Also, quite possibly, the #1 question!  What about socialization?

This is an old, worn out train of thought, but I am always happy to address it.  Do I feel my children are properly socialized?  The answer is yes.  Again, judging by your welcoming responses and support of the oldest two, you feel the same way.  But please indulge me my personal soapbox explanation regarding this inquiry, will you?

I think the definition deserves consideration.  For us as parents, socialization involves much more than the ability to relate to one’s peers. In fact, in my personal experience ( remember, public school graduate, baby) the only time in my life that I have been isolated to an age specific grouping, was within the school system.  No job, community service activity, etc. has ever asked me to pair off into my age group.  It was our desire from the get go, that whether you were 4 or 400, our children could easily engage you in conversation, activities and just general “getting to know you” types of things. So far, so good!  In fact, just last week, Son #3 came to Hero Hubby and I, wanting to “know something.”  That can definitely be cause for pause! “This kid that is generally a jerk, was finally with me by himself.  He was a totally different person, and we actually engaged in a pleasant conversation. What do you suppose is wrong?!”  Tongue in cheek response: “He’s socialized son!”  Peer dependency: Please leave home without it.

Question #2: Aren’t you worried about holes or gaps in their education?

Ladies and gentleman, graduating from a system, with honors, where scope and sequence rule (or at least did), I HAVE GAPS.  YOU HAVE GAPS. There are holes in many areas!  The idea in challenging individuals to be life-long learners, is to create a need to seek, search out, and acquire information on a need-to-know, I-would-really-like-to-own-it, basis! Knowing how to thirst after knowledge and obtain it IS the best foundation to education I can inspire in any of my children.  Side note: Another 52 weeks went by where I didn’t personally engage the use of Algebra.  Just sayin’.  And the world continues to rotate on its axis.

Question #3: What do you actually DO all day?

Seriously? As time goes on, I’m not particularly confident that this question needs to be answered.  I mean, when people say that their child attends such and such a public elementary, or so and so’s private academy, I never hear, on the heels of these statements, “So, would you like to share with me what you do all day?”

Question #4: Don’t weirdos home educate?

Yes, they do.  And they send their kids to public school and private school as well.  There are weirdos everywhere, in every walk of life; just as there are stellar, upright families seeking excellence.  You’ll always find what you’re looking for.

Question #5: Do you feel any form of social responsibility to public education?

I do.  In fact, I am a taxpayer, and a citizen who has gone down at the request of my district in the past and reviewed curriculum.  Our local middle school asked my boys to participate in their annual fundraiser two different times by coming and providing music at their event.  We gladly accepted and considered it an honor to be invited.

I used the clipboard shot for several reasons.  In an ever increasing social media driven society, there is more information that anyone could possibly digest.  There is also easy access to snippets of information about the lives of others.

It is my job to love God and love people, while serving my family and fellow man. In that order.  If I have time to scrutinize every in and out, up and down; while analyzing the moves and intentions of others, then I have misdirected my time.  This is sad.

Instead, I want you to know that as another year of academia beckons on so very many different levels in America, I want to be an encourager of people. Because most of them are honestly doing what they can, the best they can.

Think the best of others.  Encourage them in their pursuit of knowledge.

And in the end, lead through being a servant, in the best possible way that you can.


British Invasion, 10

Mrs. Klemens, you definitely won that song round!  I want to know…did you ask the boys for help?  And, Mrs. Hardcastle, you’d better plan your time at the wheel a little bit more prudently, as Mrs. K is out to win! ~ Preston

Today, I’m taking you on a quaint little jaunt to the cottage of Anne Hathaway.  This Anne Hathaway is not to be confused with the Anne Hathaway of Batman and Princess Diaries!  Rather, this Anne Hathaway would be Shakespeare’s wife.

Anne Hathaway's cottage1

The happy couple was married in a “giddyup” type of way, with Anne giving birth to their first child, Susanna, just six months after their nuptials. Never mind that she robbed the cradle by marrying William who was 18 while she was 26! In their time, the life expectancy hovered between 30 and 40 years of age.  Anne also gave birth to twins, Hamnet and Judith, two years later.  There isn’t a whole lot of information about Anne, except to know that Shakespeare did live with her when he wasn’t traveling about with his acting company.

In Shakespeare’s day, the surrounding land was nothing but vast fields.  William would travel extensively across them to come home to his wife.

Most of Shakespeare’s life was spent in London because in order to be a play right you have to be where the actors and crowds gather!

Anne Hathaway's cottage2

Her home was actually a bit smaller than the version that is seen today, as over time some have felt a need to add to it. Their son Hamnet died at age 11 during the plague, but it is thought that Anne lived a peaceful and faithful life. Shakespeare would return home for a portion of each year.  Upon retirement in 1613 he chose to live with her in Stratford rather than remaining in London, until his death in 1616. Anne outlived the life expectancy of the time, passing in 1623 at the age of 67.

Anne Hathaway's cottage3

She was pretty much a “hearth and home” kind of gal!

Anne outlived the life expectancy of the time, passing in 1623 at the age of 67.  She greatly desired to be buried with her husband.

Anne Hathaway's grave1

I guess it really can be said that behind every great man, there is a great woman!

Play On!,


 Song: ” Infant, infant, infant oh, infant, infant, infant oh, infant, infant, infant, oh, foresaw that thou wouldst always belong to thee.”


British Invasion, 5

The answer to Wednesday’s riddle? “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  Congratulations, Mrs. Hardcastle!

Middle Temple Hall portrait

This picture is dated 1950, and is a dinner.  Upon looking closely, there are two women in this room full of men; the Queen Mother and her Lady In Waiting!

Seated with the Queen Mother at the head table are barristers.  In London, there are barristers and lawyers.  Lawyers assist barristers, who in turn are the individuals who represent you in court.

The Queen Mother, Princess Diana, and her son William held or hold the title of Royal Barristers.  They weren’t given honorarily, but were legitimately earned.

The long vertical tables are full of students, and they dine together for meals.  Here is a configuration of how the tables are currently set up.   You can see that not much has changed!

Middle temple hall2

While we were touring, they were preparing for the lunch meal.  Our guide told an amazing story about Princess Diana that confirms on an even deeper level, how incredible she was.

Barristers have historically always been seated at the head tables, while the students dine amongst themselves.  Being accepted to Middle Temple Hall, to study law, is the chance of a lifetime.

The attire for dinner is more formal.  One evening, as Princess Diana came in with her colleagues, she stated that she would love to sit with the students so that she could discuss things with them one-on-one.  She wanted to get to know them.  She proceeded to go out amongst them and do just that! All of the other barristers followed suit, and there were no barristers seated that evening at the head table.  In fact, it wasn’t obvious who was a teacher and who was a student that night.  They were all as one.  This is the only time in the history of Britain that this has occurred!

I love that Princess Diana knew the difference between fame and influence.  And she practiced the latter every chance she got.


We’re going to step this up in level of difficulty.



“Thou Hath Been Clouted By, Thou Hath Been Fist-Cuffed By A Dapper Neanderthal”

‘Tis the Weekend, Play On!,




Reagan’s Reading List – the Past, the Present, and the Future

To close out this guest session of TommyMom that I’ve been hosting, I thought I would give you a taste of my favorite books through the ages…

The Early Years

Goodnight Moon

This is the earliest book that I have a memory of. My “Great Aunt” Suzie gave it to me, and my mom used to read it to me every night until I could recite it myself.

Goodnight Goon & Goodnight iPad are some great parodies to check out, if you’re also a fan.

Make Way for Ducklings

Robert McCloskey has to be one of my favorite children’s writers! This book made my Boston “Duck” tour in April so much more memorable.

IMG_0033 IMG_0063

Saw lots of Spring duck babies while on that tour, and got to meet the “real” ones!

How Things Work in Busytown

Not trying to brag (okay maybe just a little), but this is the book that I taught myself to read with… when I was four. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship that I owe to Mr. Scarry. (What a name for a kid’s author!)

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

I used to read this book all the time when I was afraid to go to bed… but last week I got a nightlight, so I haven’t been reading it as much lately. 😉

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

And I used to think only kids had those days…

Blueberries for Sal

Told you Robert McCloskey was the best…

Grade School

Homer Price

I mentioned that Robert McCloskey was the best, right?

Chronicles of Narnia

Nuff said!

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Name me a kid that doesn’t love this book, and I’ll be happy to give it to them.

Black Beauty

It’s about a horse… That’s pretty much all about it that I remember. But I remember that it was one of the first “Big People” books that I read by myself.

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

What ten-year-old boy doesn’t want to be Robin Hood? …what twenty-four-year-old boy doesn’t? For those of you out there that love the genre, you should check out The King Raven Trilogy, by one of my other favorite authors Stephen Lawhead.

The Adventures of Superman

If you have a son, you’re pretty much guaranteed that he’ll like anything with “The Adventures of…” in the title.

Treasure Island

After Black Beauty, I figured that I would crank it up a few notches!

The Hobbit

Great book! Rather disappointing movie.


Superheroes, Mythical Worlds, Archery and Pirates. I’m pretty sure that all that any boy under 12 thinks about.

I also spent way too many hours reading…

Calvin & Hobbes



I blame brother number one for the Archies… he was obsessed with them. But I soon got tired of Archie not realizing that Betty was the most amazing girl in the entire world. I’m sure mom was happy when we moved on. She probably dropped a few bucks every time we went to the store, because we had to have another one (even though we had literally hundreds of them).

Jr. High


Like Treasure Island, but with hot-air balloons.

Way before there were movies… can’t wait to tell my kids that! “Ya’ know, back in my day…”

Ender’s Game

I just finished this book for the third time through (this time with the future Mrs.). It’s probably one of my top ten favorite books ever! Needless to say, I am very excited for the movie coming out this fall. But I’ve been burned by those before…ala The Hobbit.

This Present Darkness & Piercing the Darkness

My mother waited to introduce me to these books until I was just old enough to not wake her up in the night when I couldn’t turn out the light… thanks mom!


Intense… maybe a little too intense for Jr. High. But when is the holocaust not intense?

High School

The Empyrion Trilogy

Sure, it’s cheesy 80’s scifi… But to this awkward highschool freshman it was “the bomb!”

P. S. anything by Stephen Lawhead is the bomb (still).


“Hello, my name is Reagan, and I’m a fantasy nerd…”

Black, Red and White (The Circle Trilogy)

“…and I’m proud of it!”

The Shack

A little bit of theology…

The Screwtape Letters

…or a lot of theology.”

Les Misérables

My favorite book in the entire world!

Post Highschool

I enjoy Malcolm Gladwell very much! I always walk away from his books feeling smarter. 😉

The One Week Job Project

I would recommend this book to any young man trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life. He may just be tempted to drive his car off into the sunset and “try” a bunch of jobs. I was!

Lord of the Flies

Second favorite book of all time!

Jane Eyre

Third favorite book! I guess I like depressing books… Tabitha (fiancé) says this one doesn’t count as depressing though. She thinks that “The ending is wonderful!”

“But… in the end Rochester’s blind, lame, and his house burned down…”

“The guy still gets the girl. That makes it wonderful!”

Currently Reading

1775: A Good Year for Revolution

A very interesting (but also very dry) commentary on the preparation for the revolution. If you’re a history buff, or and insomniac I would recommend it.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Still chipping away at this bad boy. But (thanks to my Kindle) he’s not taking up space in my backpack anymore!

The Help

It was Tabitha’s turn to pick the book that we read together. Thankfully, I’m enjoying it (unlike her experience with Ender’s Game).

G. A. Henty

I’ve started reading more of him lately to brush up on my history in a fun way! I used to love his books as a “lad” (which he fondly calls his readers). The books are fantastically written and informative. Though they’re definitely written for the 19th century boy, I think anyone who has a love for history would enjoy them.

True to my word I have more free Kindle stuff for you! I started looking for collections of Henty’s books a few months ago, but was dismayed at how much a full set cost (I still might buy one someday (don’t tell Tabitha)). Then I stumbled on an Amazon page with most of his works available for free on Kindle.

Here are links to all of the free G. A. Henty books that are available on Amazon:

Ancient History

1250 BC – The Cat of Bubastes

220 BC – The Young Carthaginian

AD 61 – Beric the Briton

AD 70 – For the Temple

The Middle Ages

870 – The Dragon and the Raven

1066 – Wulf the Saxon

1190 – Winning His Spurs

1314 – In Freedom’s Cause

1340 – St. George for England

1380 – The Lion of St. Mark

1381 – A March on London

1400 – Both Sides the Border

1415 – At Agincourt

1480 – A Knight of the White Cross

Reformation and Exploration

1579 – By Pike and Dyke

1580 – St. Bartholomew’s Eve

1580 – Under Drake’s Flag

1588 – By England’s Aid

1595 – By Right of Conquest

Wars of Religion and Succession

1630 – The Lion of the North

1640 – Won by the Sword

1650 – Friends Though Divided

1666 – When London Burned

1690 –  Orange and Green

1695 – A Jacobite Exile

1703 – The Cornet of Horse

1705 – The Bravest of the Brave

1710 – In the Irish Brigade

1745 – Bonnie Prince Charlie

Colonial Disruptions and Competition

1759 – With Wolfe in Canada

1760 – With Frederick the Great

1780 – True to the Old Flag

1780 – Held Fast for England

1786 – With Clive in India

The Napoleonic Era

1793 – The Reign of Terror

1795 – No Surrender!

1795 – A Roving Commission

1795 – The Tiger of Mysore

1795 – By Conduct and Courage

1798 – At Aboukir and Acre

1800 – At the Point of the Bayonet

1808 – With Moore at Corunna

1810 – The Young Burglers

1810 – Under Wellington’s Command

1812 – Through Russian Snows

1815 – One of the 28th

Indian Troubles and Neighbors’ Wars

1820 – With Cochrane the Dauntless

1824 – On the Irrawaddy

1825 – In Greek Waters

1835 – With the British Legion

1840 – To Herat and Cabul

The Victorian Era: Defending an Empire

1850 – Through the Sikh War

1854 – Jack Archer

1856 – Times of Peril

1856 – Rujub the Juggler

1860 – With Lee in Virginia

1865 – Out With Garibaldi

1867 – The March to Magdala

1870 – Maori and Settler

1870 – A Woman of the Commune

1870 – The Young Franc-Tireurs

1873 – By Sheer Pluck

1873 – The March to Coomassie

1879 – For Name and Fame

1880 – The Young Colonists

1882 – A Chapter of Adventures

1885 – The Dash for Khartoum

1896 – Through Three Campaigns

1898 – With Kichener in the Soudan

1899 – With Buller in Natal

1900 – With Roberts to Pretoria

1900 – With the Allies to Pekin

Other Works

A Final Reckoning

A Hidden Foe

A Search for a Secret Vol. 1Vol. 2Vol. 3

All But Lost Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3

Captain Bayley’s Heir

Colonel Thorndyke’s Secret

Condemned as a Nihilist

Dorothy’s Double Vol. 1Vol. 2Vol. 3

Facing Death: the Hero of the Vaughan Pit

Gabriel Allen M P

In the Hands of the Cave Dwellers

In the Heart of the Rockies

John Hawke’s Fortune

Out on the Pampas

Queen Victoria

Redskin and Cowboy

Sturdy and Strong

The Curse of Carne’s Hold

The Lost Heir

The Plague Ship

The Queen’s Cup

The Treasure of the Incas

Those Other Animals

Through the Fray


I could talk about my favorite books all day, but sadly this post has to come to an end sometime… But isn’t this fun? I wish that I could turn the blog over to all of you and give you a chance to share your favorite books and what you’re currently reading. There are many, many more books that I could share with you, but  I’m sure you have better things to do than to read the titles of everything that I’ve read or liked.

“You’re right, this is so awesome! I wish there was a way to keep up with what you’re reading all the time!”

Funny that you mention that…


Is a social network for book readers that ties in with your other social networks (if you have them). If you don’t have a social network profile, you can still use it. It’s a great way to keep up with what all your friends (or acquaintances) are reading.

I’d encourage you to check it out and give me a follow! I’ll be sure to follow back.

Thanks for all of the great feedback on this series. It was a lot of fun to be a guest here on TommyMom and hear all of your feedback. I can’t think of any better way to sign off a nostalgic post than with a nostalgic song…

Hope to be back soon with “more ideas for you!”

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