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Homeschooling and Parenting Goals

by dave

I noticed that Loretta and I often make different choices in our parenting and in our schooling for our children vs. other parents we talk to. And it frequently comes down to our focus on our long-term goals. I’m not sure that those goals are any different than other parents… but we do think about them when making decisions, and try to avoid getting caught up in the day-to-day routine of school, work, and activities.

Our long-term goals for our children are vague, but simple — we want them to grow up to be adults with the skills to make their own choices, adapting to changes in their lives and their world, setting their own directions for their own lives. We want them to have the intellectual and emotional capabilities to make good choices to build stable lives for themselves, and to build the families they choose to build. We want them to understand the consequences of their actions, and use that when making life decisions.  We want to raise them to be successful adults, not “good children”.

Along the way, we are concerned that they do not make choices that restrict their options later. We care about school performance not because grades matter, but because poor grades might restrict the college options later in life. We care about college not because they have to go (it is not the right path for everyone), but because the choice to not go will impact their career choices later.

And that is what brings these goals down to the reality of homeschooling for an 11 year old girl. In general, when homeschooling, we can focus on helping her advance her skills in various subjects. But we also need to prepare her to be ready to go to college if she chooses, or to decide another path if that does not end up being the correct one.

Our real goal is to teach our children to learn, and to love learning. To help them figure out what their interests are, to learn how to dig deeper into a topic, to learn how to ask and answer questions, and how to manage their own time. We are working on things that many people don’t deal with until after college such as planning out personal time management, setting daily and weekly goals, measuring your own progress, dealing with failure if a project doesn’t work, and figuring out how else to approach a problem. We’re working on how to be an independent learner, how to be productive when someone isn’t spoon-feeding you a schedule, and how to take minimal direction and turn it into a real result.

Of course, we’re covering the actual topics and curriculum needed for kids at their ages, too. That is a given. But again, with the goals of raising adults with the skills to succeed in the world… there is more to it than just the subjects they learn, and test scores.

Seeking My Last Job…

by dave

 

Wait, what? Is Dave leaving his Job? Click for info if that question is concerning to you...

No, I’m not necessarily leaving my current employer…  But we are going through changes, and it is a natural time to think about whether or not it is still the right place for me. I also am suffering from some injuries due to more than 20 years working heavily at a keyboard, and moving to a new role with lighter typing would help me.

I’m also just kind of done with coding. I’ve accomplished all I want to. I could accomplish more, but there is little satisfaction in it anymore. And I’m not excited by newer technologies. I do like to achieve new goals, but I have no personal ego in having to be the guy who wrote the code to do so. So it is time to consider new paths.

None of this is news to my current employer. We’ve been talking about this for over 6 months, and we may find a new role for me there. Or we may not. Time will tell. We’re in a good place with each other either way. But this post is more about what I am seeking for the future, and less about where I sit in the present, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’m intending to have a new role at some point in the relatively near future. I do not think of this as my “Next” role, but as my “Last” role.

I have been thinking about my career recently, and have divided it into three phases. Or, really, 2 phases, and I am planning out the transition into Phase 3.

Phase 1 – Building the Career:

These were the early years. Jumping from place to place for more money, more responsibility, a move to a new city, etc. Building technical skills, focused on always growing and improving, and trying to always stepping up in one way or another.

Phase 2 – Running At Speed:

I’ve been here for a while — Fully skilled up, leading projects, building products, running teams, consulting, having more successes than failures, but enough of each to learn lessons. Basically, a solid, reliable, professional tech guy.

Phase 3 – The Last Job:

Time to change gears to the next phase. The last phase, not the next phase. Time to move to my last role.

Why “Last?”

Because I’m not looking for just any job to collect a paycheck. I’m looking for something that adds meaning to my life, and to my family. I’m no longer interested in just doing generic tech work to make the  numbers grow for some corporation. I want to build something that is meaningful, and watch it grow.  I want to raise my family, and let them see me work at a long-term product while they grow up, seeing me spend time building something meaningful, and taking the time to do it well. I want a product that improves the world. It doesn’t have to change the world, but it should have a net positive impact. It doesn’t need to make me rich, but it does need to support the family. I want this to bring personal satisfaction to my life, and add meaning to my family. I want my children to see that it is good to be proud of what you do, not how much money you make.

So to find a role that hits those somewhat nebulous goals, I think of my search for my role not as just looking for a job… but as a bigger search for the last thing I will do in this life. It punctuates the importance of the search to me, and reminds me not to just go applying to a job because it is available and match my abilities… but to really think carefully about it and ask myself if it really matches who I want to be, and what I want to be doing for the next 15 years.

Now, of course, I hope that in 15 years I am still healthy and get to do this search all over again, and it isn’t really my last role. But there is no guarantee in life. And I do not want to end up working my life away while kids grow up without it adding meaning to our lives, because if it really does end up being my last role… what a pile of regret that would end up for all of us.

Right now I am young enough to accomplish big things in this world. And old enough to know that if I don’t start doing so right now, I’ll no longer be young enough sooner than I would like.

So this spring and summer, the search is beginning. I don’t know if I will find the right role or not. I could just end up staying where I am, while searching without success… but I am going to search.

 

 

It is that time of year again….

by dave

The end of the year rapidly approaches, which means an arbitrary milestone to take an introspective look at your life, and see if your trajectory matches your desires.

Or, in other words — how was 2016?

Let’s see what I said a year ago, and see if I succeeded:

1) Work Either succeed or fail, decisively.

I failed, decisively. But that is not about work performance. It is about my health.  More details below, but I will be switching jobs at some point. Not necessarily employers… I like my employer. Just need a new role.

I am counting this as a success, though. I’ve been an in-the-trenches technologist for a long, long time. I have other skills that can be applied to my work, too. I’ve built and led teams, I’ve designed products, I’ve done platform transitions… I’m not sure exactly what direction things will head in 2017, but it is past time for a positive change.

2) HealthI want to get to the point that I can exercise again. I want 2016 to end with me able to go on hikes, and be at least smaller than as I was when I left my last full-time office job.

Partial credit here. I am exercising daily. I can hike. I am not smaller than I was when I left my office job. But I am SO much stronger than I was a year ago.

I did hit a new problem this year, where my tendons in my wrist are giving me problems, and I really cannot work at a computer all day, at least not as a coder.  I can work still in tech, but the constant reaching for all keys on the keyboard, especially the special characters used so much in coding, is not working for me. As mentioned above, change is coming, one way or another. I will need to find a role that only has me typing a couple hours a day, not 8+. Or typing content, not code. Or something. I’m open.

3) CreativityPainting, drawing, photography, writing.

I really only did the drawing this year, but I did put together some new ways to merge my tech skills with drawing and photography. It took me months to tweak all the details, but I’m calling this goal as a success despite not actually doing exactly the crafts I was thinking about a year ago, because I am producing creative work.

4) FarmSimple goals – get irrigation systems in for all garden boxes and fruit trees, keep the gardens weeded and watered, and have a non-trivial produce harvest in addition to our current production.

Irrigation… Check! Gardens weeded and watered… Check! Non-trivial harvest… No. Well, at least aside from tomatoes, No. We got heaps of tomatoes. But due to half the year being spent with a wife recovering from injuries, we didn’t hit our farm goals this year. I’m not worried about it either, though. We had bigger fish to fry.

5) FamilySimply have a happier and healthier family at the end of 2016 than we do at the end of 2015.

Sadly, no. My health isn’t better, my wife is far more broken than she was last year. And those things don’t make for a good family year. But part of this yearly exercise is just about self-awareness, so I can fix problems over the long haul. So lets try this goal again for 2017

Moving on, I’ll lay out my goals for 2017 with the exact same categories, but new details:

 

  1. Work — I want to start a new job. Preferably with my current employer, but either way, a new job. Not coding. Probably still in tech though, because it is what I know.
  2. Health — I either want a diagnosis of what has been ailing me for the past 5 years, or to give up and just commit to living with the problems. I want to continue the daily exercise that I have finally achieved this year, and end the year having lost at least 20 pounds.
  3. Creativity — I want to continue to pursue the new ideas I’ve come up with for merging drawing, photography, and tech. (About which I may write more in the future.) Because it is a new project, I’m not going to define specific goals… just to work it and see where it goes.
  4. Farm — Get our dairy and eggs back into production in the spring. Produce more value in food than we spend.  Note: we tentatively have someone else working larger scale gardens on our land this year, and sharing the harvest with us. This should help with making this hobby farm thing a success.
  5. Family — Repeat from last year. Lets end 2017 happier and healthier than in 2016.

 

End of Year 2015

by dave

Cliched thought it may be, I set goals for myself in 2015, and although there is still almost 2 weeks left in the year, it is close enough to see how I did:

  • Succeed at work. 
    • Did I succeed this year? Well, I didn’t fail. We delivered on projects. We have a vision for the future.  But I can’t claim anything extraordinary.
  • Get Healthier
    • Yes, but it is just the first step on what is hopefully a long journey.  Most of the year was spent talking to doctors and laying around in pain. We made some progress in the early winter, and I now am only in pain a couple nights a week. I am just now starting to lose weight and exercise again. But there are still some things wrong and not as of yet diagnosed.
  • Rekindle my creative efforts
    • Again, some success – I started painting again. Drawing, too. I have all the tools and supplies I need. We have my artwork hanging on the walls of our home, that was created this year. The only missing piece is the audience. I have not developed anything that I yet feel is worth submitting to any shows.
  • Succeed on the farm
    • We have a larger chicken flock, are inundated in eggs and dairy, and produced some honey and produce. We bred goats, and have 3 goats worth of meat in our freezer. Well maybe 2 – we have eaten some of it. We know what we need to do over the winter to increase our production next year. I’m calling this one a success.
  • Spend more time with children – restart the one-on-one talks and nights out that I did with my kinds in 2013.
    • I now have nightly talks with each child. We have gone out exploring the world multiple times. I have enough energy to do more around the house, and have taught how to do chores more efficiently, which means we spend more time working together.

I believe we can call 2015 a good year. Not an amazing year, but good enough.

2016 is more of the same:

  • Work – Either succeed or fail, decisively. Breaking my normal rules against talking about work, my company has hit a milestone that should allow us to all do amazing work this year. We should be able to grow and have a great year. My goal is to actually do so. However, if that goal fails to happen, it may be time to move on to something else, as it means that either I’m not doing as well as I can, or something out of my control is stifling the potential.
  • Health – I want to get to the point that I can exercise again. I want 2016 to end with me able to go on hikes, and be at least smaller than as I was when I left my last full-time office job.
  • Creativity – I want to keep painting and drawing, but also be more serious about photography, either as a final creative product, or to provide source materials for paintings and drawings. I also am going to start trying to do more serious writing, and improving my abilities as a writer instead of just being a guy who does blog posts once in a while.
  • Farm – Simple goals – get irrigation systems in for all garden boxes and fruit trees, keep the gardens weeded and watered, and have a non-trivial produce harvest in addition to our current production.
  • Family – Simply have a  happier and healthier family at the end of 2016 than we do at the end of 2015.

 

Writing Again

by dave 0 Comments

I’m feeling the need to express myself again, even without a specific audience to hear me. I’m doing more artwork these days, and I am going to start trying to write again.

As I was looking back through older posts, (while trying not to be overly self-conscious about things I wrote in the past, and remembering that cringing at your old work is a sign that you have grown)…

I noticed a set of goals I had written up for 2014, and just wanted to write on whether or not I hit these goals:

  • Finish fixing up the new farm and get gardens, fruit trees,  and animals going.
    We really did well here. Last winter, we had no animals and had not grown anything the prior year. we now have goats, rabbits, chickens, and a beehive. We harvested over 100 pounds of cherries, go some vegetables out of the ground, and learned what kinds of garden boxes, irrigation, and composting do/do not work here.
  • Get better at the new job, and start to really contribute more.
    Mixed results here. In some ways, I feel less productive, but that may be because we knocked out the small easy projects in 2013, and spent most/all of 2014 on a major project.
  • Find the correct routine for everyone’s work – school work, my work, farm work, and house work.
    I think we actually succeeded here. It took most of the year, but now we really do have daily chore lists, specific quiet times at home when everyone is working, and all family members seem to be getting more done during the days.
  • Get healthier.
    Well, no. But it is another year, so another chance to try.
  • Rekindle my creative efforts.
    Not in 2014, no. But I am working on it now.

 

And to let me have some specific content to respond to next January, let me post my goals for 2015, in no particular order:

  • Succeed at work. I’m in my 3rd year at my current job, so the goal isn’t very specific anymore – just keep working and offering value.
  • Get Healthier
  • Rekindle my creative efforts, and start to get my artwork and side projects out to an actual audience.
  • Succeed on the farm – We want to produce enough food to significantly reduce our need for grocery stores.
  • Spend more time with children – restart the one-on-one talks and nights out that I did with my kinds in 2013.