Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Not Back to School

Every homeschooling family celebrates a “Not Back to School Day”, at least that is what I like to believe. Our day to celebrate was Mondaythis week. The plan was to go to our local coffee house to catch up onthe latest news with the coffee-house-posse, to go to Staples to not-buy back to school supplies, to go to Morgan’s Livery one last time to kayak our favorite river and then to Eat at Joe’s (Joe’s Crab Shack) on the river for dinner.
You always see a flurry of noteworthy news regarding the idea of students returning to school:
Parents Clueless on Drugs
Surveys show teens, folks out of synch, out of touch...
A comparison of two recent surveys shows parents apparently don't have a clue about their teenagers' use of drugs and alcohol....[Read on]

Goal is Grads, Not Dropouts
Schools put emphasis on getting to finish line
Glen Este High School in West Clermont missed its graduation goal last year by four-tenths of a percentage point, the equivalent of one student dropping out, says Superintendent Gary Brooks...[Read on]

No Cheating, Kids Pledge
When Villa Madonna Academy senior Sean Spille turns in his schoolwork, you can be sure it's his own - he even put it in writing.

Spille is one of the high school's 180 students who signed a new honor code this year that calls for honesty and academic integrity...
.[Read on]

Just once I’d like to see for example, the Literature reading lists that returning students are required to read, the lists of texts being used and perhaps a syllabi or two of some of the more enlightening classes offered in our schools. This might make me wonder what we are missing by “not-going-back-to-school”.

On our "Not Back to School Day", Staple’s is always a fun stop. As we walked the crowded rows, we saw parents and kids pouring over lists of items required for learning at school. The bulging baskets made me wonder if I had missed something in our planning. There really isn’t much “stuff” a homeschool needs, though I have to admit to replacing our 7 year old laptop this year.

Published in Today’s local paper:

How much we spend (selected items)
Clothing and accessories - $230
Shoes - $98
School supplies - $86
Electronics (lower grades) - $114
Average total spending (lower grades) - $527
Source: Bigresearch

What I spent
Clothing and accessories - $0
Shoes - $0
School supplies - $61.60
Electronics (lower grades) -- $19.98
Average total spending (lower grades) - $81.58
Source: My Staples Receipt

Though, if I really wanted to start totalling my dollars that go toward education, including the property taxes I pay to fund what our local public school system does, we’d be in the thousands...though I am not going there today. (I generally have that number ready for when they start the cries for more taxes to pay for the schools in November.)

We did have a glorious day on the Little Miami River. The leaves on the trees were that green, showing a golden glow that Autum is just around the corner. All the turtles we saw in the early spring were back lazing in the sun on the logs. Several large fish jumped for us and the ducks and herons were all there to celebrate our "Not Back to School" day on the river.

Sunburnt, and tired, we finished our day at "Joe's Crab Shack".

It was a good "Not Back to School" day.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Sometimes you can find the best things right in your own back yard! We spent the summer discovering the local waters in our kayaks and boy do we have some good stuff here in the midwest!

Licking River, Kentucky

The Morgan Family pioneered the canoeing industry in the Southwestern Ohio and Southeastern Indiana regions nearly 50 years Morgan's has 3 locations and we chose the Little Miami for most of our summer adventures. Every Wednesday this summer, until the river got really, really slow, we went to Morgan's Ft. Ancient to paddle six miles. The river is generally a Class I and mellow is just what we wanted each week! They also provide a shuttle service for those with their own boats, and we like that! What's fun about this place is the campground stop. There's a snack bar, good conversation and a frisbee dog that doesn't stop. We like Morgan's because it really is a feel good place. You can tell there is a family pride there as you will encounter many of the Morgan family involved in every aspect, from running the grill at the snack bar to giving paddle lessons in the parking lot to driving the shuttle bus. So far Morgan's Ft. Ancient is our favorite locally. We definitely want to check out Morgan's in Costa Rica, but we'll save that for another day...

Paddlefest - Cincinnati, Ohio

A unique events happens locally in the early part of summer. Last year we attended this event to try out kayaks, this year we were volunteers at Paddlefest. Paddlefest is a huge event where Tevas and Chackos are the footwear of choice and language like "Perception", "Dagger", "good shuttle bunnies" and "Class IV" is spoken. If you paddle, this event is for you. Two days of events, booths, waterhounds and fun. The "float" down the Ohio river to the Public Landing in the city is awesome, almost 1,000 kayaks and canoes in the water floating by River boats and docks hosting a variety of bands playing music for the paddlers. The best part about volunteering aside from meeting other paddlers are the Ohio Riverway water maps you get to keep. Though my back was stiff for a day or two after helping to launch paddlers into the Ohio River for 3 hours, it was one of the best volunteer gigs I ever participated in.

Licking River, Kentucky

Even though we are finding riverways in Ohio to be awesome, Kentucky has some great places too and The Kid and I find ourselves traveling over the Ohio River bridges to the Bluegrass state as often as we head for Ohio water. Once the Little Miami got a little bit lower, we wanted to find moving water, and the Licking River was it. The Licking River is one of the few rivers in the world that flows North and it is right here in our own back yard.The day we were there showed us that it is Class I [where we were] and perfect for a hot July day! Thaxton’s South Fork Canoe Trails, Inc. and Paddlers’ Inn is located on the Northwest side of the US 27 bridge on the banks of the Licking River is where we put in and found shuttle service. Thaxton's is also a family business and you will find family members operating most of the facilities here. Generally The Kid is pretty agile when we have to launch from a dock and that's what you do at Thaxton's, but it was here that I successfully learned how to get into my kayak from the dock without getting wet, and I'll always remember this place for that knowledge. My grand kayak accomplishment for the summer. Now all I need to do is practice what I learned.

Laurel River Lake, Kentucky

We chose to do our big kayak trip for the summer during one of the several midwest heatwaves. Ever slept in a tent with freezer ice packs? Yep. That's what we did, though the water was great! Rockcastle River and Laurel River Lake, both in Daniel Boone National Forest were the places where we spent more time in the water than on it. The Rockcastle River got its name from the majestic cliffs that tower above the river and it is a beautiful place. The Upper Rockcastle is normally suitable for the less experienced paddlers and the Lower Rockcastle should be attempted only by experienced, well-equipped paddlers. I read that Rockcastle can be Class IV, but when we were there seemed like a "pussycat". [links: Nature Conservancy Rockcastle River watershed ] The Rockacastle campground was a very scenic place and camping spots are on a first come basis. Next time we'll probably stay there, but this trip we stayed at Holly Bay campground on the Laurel River. The boat launch was easy, the marina was fun and the scenery was great.

And now it is time for us to get back to schooling but we're planning another sailing trip, so stay tuned......


Rivers are classified based on the International Scale of River Difficulty. Skill level needed is based on both the general fitness and strength of a paddler, plus paddling skill, judgment, and expertise.

SKILL: Beginner, easy.
DESCRIPTION: Moving water with few riffles and small waves. Few or no obstructions.
Intermediate, requires care and some knowledge of paddling and reading of the river. Easy rapids with waves up to 3 feet and wide, clear channels that are obvious without scouting. Some maneuvering is required.
SKILL: Experienced, difficult.
DESCRIPTION: Rapids with high, irregular waves often capable of swamping an open canoe. Narrow passages that often require complex maneuvering. May require scouting from shore.
SKILL: Highly skilled, very difficult.
DESCRIPTION: Long, difficult rapids with constricted passages that often require maneuvering in very turbulent waters. Scouting from shore is often necessary, and conditions make rescue difficult. Generally not possible for open canoes. Boaters in covered canoes and kayaks should be able to Eskimo roll.
SKILL: Team of experts, exceedingly difficult.
DESCRIPTION: Extremely difficult, long, and very violent rapids with highly congested routes which nearly always must be scouted from from shore. Rescue conditions are difficult and there is significant hazard to life in event of a mishap. Ability to Eskimo roll is essential for kayaks and canoes.
SKILL: Team of experts with every precaution. Utmost difficulty, near limit of navigability.
DESCRIPTION: Difficulties of Class V carried to the extreme of navigability. Nearly impossible and very dangerous. For teams of experts only, after close study and all precautions taken.