And Sydney is at church.
Neither Becky nor Joe is a fan of organized religion. They prefer the Native American way of thinking that a higher power manifests itself through the sun, moon and stars. But when Sydney approached them recently about attending a Baptist church with friends, they were not opposed. Becky thought church would help Sydney fit in, keep her grounded the way Becky never was at that difficult age.
Some faith-based positions bother the Stoltzes. Becky was undecided until Romney named Paul Ryan as his running mate and she researched his conservative social beliefs. Joe says he'll listen intently when Obama and Romney debate -- and not just to their views on the economy.
He's a firm supporter of abortion rights. It's a woman's choice, he says. No conditions attached. But he could overlook the GOP position on abortion if Romney offered a strong economic plan.
Another problem is the Republican view on immigration policy. This land was built by immigrants, Joe says. Why would we close our doors now? He's sure he will hear more about that issue in the debates.
Joe thinks about fixing dinner. He's got a box full of recipes and sifts through them for something to make with the leftover chicken from Saturday's party. He settles on fajitas.
When the kids return home, the mood changes. Logan's going back to elementary school, Sydney will start high school, and Joe will begin community college with Ry.
Joe raised Ry as his own and adopted him formally after Ry told him he wanted Stoltz as his last name.
Ry moved out of the house after high school but came home in December after dropping out of college. Joe and Becky convinced him to give it another try, especially now that Joe was going to start for the first time.
This is an important Sunday for the Stoltzes. If anxiety were like rain, there'd be a downright downpour.
Logan takes out his backpack, untouched since the spring, and discovers an uneaten bag of Goldfish crackers.
"Ry," he says. "My summer ends in five hours."
The first day of school means many things to Logan. Among them is having to return to a strict schedule that includes a school-night ban on video games.
"Am I going back to PlayStation on weekends?" he asks.
"Yup, even if you don't have homework, I want you to focus on school," Joe says.
Logan's wearing his school uniform polo shirt to make sure it fits.
"Hey, Dad, will you measure me?" Logan asks. He's almost 5 feet tall now.
"Quit growing," Becky says.
Again, the pager screams from her purse.
"Bye. Should be a quick one," she says. "It's a temporary pacemaker."
Joe is left to handle the kids by himself.
"Dad, how sure are you that we'll have homework on the first day?" Sydney asks, carrying a basket of laundry into the garage.
"Pretty sure," Joe says. "This is serious. You're in high school now."
When the clock strikes 9, he shoos Logan and Sydney to bed.
"Five more minutes, Dad," Logan says.
"No. Now. I'll have Mom come say good night to you when she gets home."
Becky doesn't get home until midnight. Before the kids have woken up the next morning, she has already gone back to work.
Joe thought he would have to coax his children to get up for school. Maybe even shock them awake with ice. No need. They are so nervous that they've jumped out of bed and are raring to go.
"Are you nervous?" Joe asks.
"They should make summer longer," Logan responds, pacing the hallway.
A friend's mom picks Sydney up; Joe drives Logan to Mount Rose Elementary and helps him navigate to his new classroom.
"All right, now it's my turn to get nervous," he says, driving his Chevy Suburban up a hill to Truckee Meadows Community College. "This is the first day of the rest of my life."
A week ago, he had stood in the jam-packed student center to hear Obama talk about the importance of education. Now, that message was very personal. He felt he was fulfilling his dream. He felt as challenged as he did years ago when a construction supervisor handed him a blueprint to a 5,000-square-foot house and told him it was all his to build.
He heads to the bookstore to pick up a text for his first class: keyboarding. That's the 21st-century term for typing. He rented the book for $140 instead of paying more to buy it.
He signs off on the return date and makes his way to Room 204 in the Red Mountain building. The hallway is lined with fellow students waiting for the teacher to arrive and unlock the classroom door.
"Hi, I'm Joe," he says.
"Hi, I'm Anthony," says a student who will turn 21 soon. There's chatter about being able to drink legally and, for some, casting their first presidential ballot.
"I vaguely remember 21," Joe says.
Joe Stoltz takes his seat in front of a computer workstation. This is the day when he begins again. Election Day will be equally momentous. He's already made a tough decision about his own life. He has a few more weeks left to make one about America.