Thursday, April 24, 2014

It's Crawfish Season

You gotta love Texas!

At lunchtime in front of the grocery store they had a crawfish boil going on.

Taken: 4/19/14

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Leafing Out Time

These photos were taken in my yard on March 18, 2014. The leaves were just leafing out then.


Water Oak:

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Article Link: Part 2 How To Get a Job At Google

Article: How To Get a Job At Google Part 2

by: Thomas Friedman

Published in: The New York Times

on: 4/19/2014


They want grit. "I told that student they are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer.”

"...the first thing Google looks for “is general cognitive ability — the ability to learn things and solve problems,” he said. In that vein, “a knowledge set that will be invaluable is the ability to understand and apply information — so, basic computer science skills. I’m not saying you have to be some terrific coder, but to just understand how [these] things work you have to be able to think in a formal and logical and structured way.” But that kind of thinking doesn’t have to come from a computer science degree. “I took statistics at business school, and it was transformative for my career. Analytical training gives you a skill set that differentiates you from most people in the labor market.”

Read the article for comments on a liberal arts education and how to write a resume.  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Article Link: How To Get a Job At Google Part 1

Article: How To Get a Job At Google Part 1

by: Thomas Friedman

Published in: The New York Times

on: 2/22/2014

From part one:

"Google had determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don’t predict anything.” He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time” — now as high as 14 percent on some teams."

They value, in order most important to least:

1. general cognitive ability and curiosity

2. leadership skills or signs of emergent leadership abilities

3. & 4. humility and ownership: "a big ego and a small ego at the same time"

5. expertise

Also mentioned: collaborative work, ability to learn and re-learn, adaptability.

"Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work."

Sauteed Beech Mushrooms

These are organic beech mushrooms. I simply sauteed them in olive oil with salt and pepper, in our cast iron skillet.

I only started eating mushrooms about four months ago. I was on a mushroom obsession binge until my blood test revealed a 1+ food intolerance to mushrooms. Sigh. This dish was made before the blood test results were given.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Italian Ham Pies for Easter - Pizzagaina

Here are 2014's Italian Ham Pies. I made the gluten-free crust. My husband made the filling and our thirteen year old helped out. We can't get all the right ingredients in Houston but we replicated it as much as we could.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What the 13 Year Old Learned About His Learning

Things have been going smoothly around here. It's nice to not have conflict daily. However the 13 year old is not working to his abilities. I have given up on it. I can't take the daily stress and conflict. I have reached my limit.

(One thing I have not considered is hiring a tutor to work 1:1 with him in our home. I know this was done by a couple of people I knew in Connecticut. But one family did wind up using school and/or  boarding school no less, so it was a temporary thing for elementary and middle school for that family.)

While alone with my son driving in the car I asked him out of the blue if he really wants to go to school in the fall. He said no. I asked if he was ready to actually do all the work it takes and to add in more online classes in the fall if we keep homeschooling. He said no. He said he realizes that he works well for a teacher but not for me. He said he just does not feel an internal motivation to do the work just for himself, he needs external motivation from another person. He said he feels that he doesn't feel the drive to do hard work for me or to meet my deadlines but he would do it for a real live teacher. He needs the pressure from the group, from peers, and from a live in person teacher. 

He turns 14 next month. I think this is a pretty darned good and accurate self-assessment, and it's a mature mindset. 

He wants to go to college. He wants to work in a field that interests him but he's not sure what that is. He thinks he wants to be self-employed, in charge of himself, in a position of leadership, able to make his own decisions and rule his own life. He puts a lot of effort into things that he really wants to do. He loves to do lists and checking off things finished. He likes to feel he has met the expectations and that he has succeeded. He likes to know where he stands compared to others, that he's competent. 

He also wants friends and to be part of a group. This is the main reason why looking into a 1:1 private tutor at home is not really an option. It does not fulfill all that he needs.

We are actively looking for a private school for him to attend starting in the fall for grade 9. 

I have evolved to a place where thinking about him stopping homeschooling no longer makes me cry or sick to my stomach. I no longer feel the need to run to phone a friend to pour my heart out to and ask for solutions to help save homeschooling. When I think of a good fit school I think he can be inspired, can learn, can succeed, can learn study skills and things he will use also in college, find friends, and feel competent. I no longer feel terribly that our homeschool is not providing all those things. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quote About the SAT and College Readiness

From the book "SAT 2400 in Just 7 Steps" by Shaan Patel of

The Big Myth

I have one serious issue with the College Board. The company claims that your performance on the SAT is directly related to your readiness for college: If you do well on the SAT, then you are academically prepared for college. In my view, and in the opinion of many others who have studied the test, this claim is false. 

Your performance on the SAT only measures how well you take the SAT. That's it! Your SAT score is no an indication of how smart you are. If your current SAT score is low, don't be discouraged. The SAT tests very specific subject matter, most of which you are not explicity taught in high school anyway. Nevertheless, the College Board maintains that the SAT is an excelent indicator of what you have learned in high school. They say, "[The SAT] tests your skills in reading, writing, and mathematics -- the same subjects you're learning in high school," "[The SAT] measures what you already know," and "If you take rigorous, challenging courses in high school, you'll be ready for the test." Nothing could be further from the truth.

A tough high school course load does not guarantee a good score on the SAT. The truth is, you can diligently train for the SAT, and you will find that most of what I will teach you in this book has not been taught to you in high school."

Emphasis is mine.

This is about the current SAT; the book was published in 2012.

I note that it does not seem that the edits to the SAT which are being written right now and are due to roll out in spring of 2016 are not in reaction to making it a more accurate indicator of what you know or your college readiness but is an attempt to fashion it after the ACT's style which is gaining more and more usage due to it's more straightforward question asking style and seemingly less trickiness. It seemed to me from what I read, that the goal is to stop losing money due to students switching to the ACT by making the SAT more like the ACT.

This author was a public school student who trained using his own methods and wound up with a 2400 score on the SAT. He wrote the book to explain his process, for others who want to train by themselves at home to help raise their SAT score.

A friend recommended this to me and I have just started reading it. I am not sure how this will help our family because so far my older son is not engaged in the SAT prep process and I understand that the motivation and desire must come from within the student. As an external influence a parent cannot make their teen do well, they must buy in, prep, study and practice. The parent cannot do the work for them.