All posts by Algonad

Father Knows Best – College

My oldest starts her junior year in two weeks. As of a couple years ago, she had said she wanted to go to a small college in a small town within 4 hours of the Twin Cities. Easy! We were already down to under a dozen schools.

Well, since she started attending high school, she's decided she doesn't want to go to a college that isn't much bigger than her high school. Now she really isn't sure what she wants.

The more I learn about college, the more frustrating it gets. Each school has a net price calculator but it isn't easy to find on their website. And you need to go to each school to find that net price. As far as I know, there isn't a website where you can put in the student's information and it splits out the cost of dozens of schools. Why not? Why not have even more transparency in the cost? The college board has the net price calculator of over 200 schools but you still have to enter information one school at a time.

One other thing that isn't real clear - does it even matter which school she chooses? There can be a huge difference in price but is there really a huge difference in outcomes? Articles like this say it doesn't really matter. I know that it does matter for some specific areas - finance, consulting, some technology areas, etc., but I see a lot of people taking on huge debt that would be better served just getting a degree in the most affordable way.

It will be an interesting couple years. And then we'll start again with the freshman.

Josh Ritter – Where The Night Goes

My brother gave me this CD. He saw Ritter perform in a record store. Admission was the purchase of a new CD. My brother gave me the extra after he and his wife both bought one. It's really grown on me. I've got a couple of his older albums too. He was just touring with Jason Isbell. I've seen Isbell twice but I've never seen Ritter.

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Drive-By Truckers – What It Means

Since we have recently discussed the Drive-By Truckers, I'd figure I'd go with this one first. It is one of my favorites from the latest album. And I think their latest album is their best since Jason Isbell was in the band.

I like my protest music to tell stories and ask questions.

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A Series of Questions on Parenting


Here's the situation. I will soon have a 16 and 14 year old. It feels like we've hit a point where parenting strategy has to shift. Less telling them what to do and more picking them up after they fall. This doesn't seem as obvious as parenting younger kids. I didn't have to think much when a toddler was grabbing an electrical cord. It was pretty obvious what I should do.

Should I monitor digital communications with her friends?

Should I let her use social media?

Should I tell her I know she has a second "secret" Instagram account?

How much input should I give her on classes she chooses?

How much input should I have on college?

Do I encourage her to start looking at colleges or just sit back and wait?

Do I suggest any schools she should visit? What if I think she's going down the wrong road? Do I really know the wrong road for her?

Should I give any advice on her major? What if she thinks she wants to go on to get a PhD?

If she's watching Netflix on her Kindle after she's gone to bed, do I punish her or just explain why it's a bad idea?

Should she have a bed time?

Should I push her to get her driver's license?

We haven't gotten to the dating thing. What do I do then? I picture myself like the coach on Friday Night Lights where I say and do the wrong thing most of the time.

How much do I "warn" her about boys?

How much do I talk about safety and avoiding bad situations? (I have a pretty cautious daughter. The hesitance to get her driver's license comes from a Driver's Ed course that focused on car crashes as a "Scared Straight" strategy. It scared her straight out of the vehicle.)

Thanks for reading and any suggestions!

She Works Hard For The Money

This post is partially about parenting, partially about work. In this case, they are intertwined.

My wife has always had a pretty good job and has always been pretty career-motivated. We talked a little about having me stay home when we first had kids. In the end, we decided that it wouldn't work for us. I wouldn't like it (or be good at it) and she would have been jealous of my time at home. She ended up going part-time down to a 3-day per week schedule. She worked downtown at the time and would go in early so I'd be the one to get the kids ready for daycare three days per week. We did that while we had two children.

When we had the third, she switched jobs to a small firm that was five miles from our house. It was still 20-24 hours per week but she went to an hourly wage. She could come-and-go without a ton of guilt. When the kids were in daycare, she'd work three full days. Once they were in school, she'd work four 6-hour days.

It was the perfect job for our family. She would go in to work after the kids got on the bus and would get home right before they got home from school.

Now she has decided to stay home full time with a 15, 13, and 10-year old. From the outside, it looks a little insane. She's worked all this time to get to the point that the kids are old enough to be a little more independent and now is the time she's decided to stay home? If you're going to stay home, why not do it when the kids are young? But I think she made the right decision.

A few things factored into the decision. My mom passing away last year at the age of 67, my wife's lingering affects from a concussion suffered last fall, and my daughter's rehab from a broken leg all played a part in it.

We only have three more years of all of them under one roof. Life is short and the clock is ticking.

Sports! Sports! Sports!

I grew up in a small town. I loved sports. I played four sports throughout the year up until my senior year of high school. I wasn't spectacular but was pretty good at track so that made me passable at other sports.

My oldest is turning 14 soon. She plays soccer and dances. She will also most likely run track in high school next year. The problem is that I think the soccer commitment is ridiculous. She plays on a travel team in the fall and spring/summer. She also plays for her school team in the fall. Practice for her spring team starts in November - essentially two weeks after the fall season ends.

I keep reading about how parents are pushing the kids to do this. I'm sure there are parents that push their children in sports but the majority of parents I talk to don't like the time commitment. It is the organization that is pushing this.

I am happy that she is active and seems to enjoy it. I tell her she doesn't need to go to the offseason practices but she likes to do it. As long as it isn't too much for her, I guess we'll go with it. I'm just not sure she knows how much is too much.

This brings me to child #2. She will turn 12 this winter. She plays for the school volleyball team in the fall and dances. Volleyball is a few days a week in the fall. Dance is 1-2 days per week throughout the school year. She doesn't do any sports or physical activity in the summer. I worry that she doesn't get out and move enough. She used to play softball and basketball but as they got to be bigger time commitments, she wasn't that interested.

I just wish a sport was a sport. I don't know if it is a small town versus suburb thing or a generational thing but I just feel like there is too much specialization and not nearly enough playing of sports just for enjoyment.