Friday, November 25, 2011

The Magic that Exists In Us

These are the words that the mathematician, Alexander Tsiaras from Yale, used to describe fetal development and the marvel that it truly is to behold. He created a video showing conception of the egg and sperm and then the initial development of a fetus. He describes it with such awe and marvel, that regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there is no denying that creation is beyond human understanding. It is also a wonderful video to use with children in visualizing conception, which can be possibly awkward, this video is simply beautiful.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Museums Galore!

There is an upcoming event on September 24, 2011 where you can obtain free admission through Smithsonian Magazine. Just choose from a list of participating museums and receive 2 free tickets. Don't forget other great museums that offer free admission on certain days of the week. Check out those links below and enjoy a museum with your child! free tickets.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Northeast 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-5590
When: First Thursdays are free, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.

The Burke Museum of History and Culture features numerous exhibits covering a wide range of subjects, including animal life, plant life and traditional and contemporary cultures. There are also a variety of lectures, events and workshops held throughout the year at the Burke Museum of Natural and Cultural History, which is located on the University of Washington campus.

Frye Art Museum

704 Terry Avenue
Seattle, Washington 98104
(206) 622-9250
When: Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m – 5 p.m. (7 p.m. Thursday)
Admission: Parking and admission are always free.

The Frye Art Museum houses late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century paintings and sculpture from European artists in their permanent collections, but also features exhibits works from internationally famous and emerging artists. The Frye Art Museum also hosts a variety of public events, programs, lectures, and more.

Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame

325 5th Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
(206) 770-2702‎
When: Free on the first Thursday of each month, 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. (in winter only)

Architecture, science fiction, and music — that’s the Experience Music Project and Sci-Fi Museum in a nut shell. Housed in a Frank Gehry-designed building and located at the Seattle Center, the museums allow visitors to browse interactive exhibits on popular music and sci-fi literature and media. Visit the first Thursday of every month for a free live music show.

SAM - Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum Downtown
1300 First Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101-2003
TTY 206.654.3137

All free day programs include access to special exhibitions as well as all SAM collections and installations.

* First Thursdays: Free to all
* First Friday: Free to seniors (age 62+)
* Second Fridays, 5–9 pm: Free to teens (ages 13–19) with ID

Reason #38 - Why We Homeschool: Teachers' Strikes

One reason that we choose to homeschool our two boys is to avoid teachers' strikes, such as the one taking place in Washington State. Why let others dictate when and where your child can learn?

I have an issue with striking teachers in general. I understand the need for negotiations to obtain good working conditions, pay, and benefits. It is when they allow their need for control to interfere with the education of children. Tacoma teachers in Washington are now striking despite a court order calling for them to return to work. There was even one teacher interviewed who said that he is doing this to "model to our students what correct behavior looks like..." Hmmm, sounds hypocritical to me but what do I know, I homeschool my children!

Here's the audio if you want to hear it for yourself.
More audio at

If that's not enough to get your blood boiling, just take a peek at this short video of a child being told that he won't be going to school because of the teacher's strike. Poor little guy!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Friday School Fun

Nathan just finished participating in First Class Homsechool Co-op for the very first time. He enjoyed it much more than he first thought he would. He participated in a digital photography class, a nutritional cooking class, and a fitness walking class. Surprisingly, his favorite class was the walking class. His teacher was great and motivated the kids along with a few parents. On the last day of school I visited as many of the classrooms as possible and took some pictures of the 300+ students who are involved in this fantastic program.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sweet Prayer

There's no quicker way to my heartstrings than with Schulz's Peanuts. The thoughts that were so directly and simply expressed through this man's ability to draw cute, little, round-headed children, a dog, and a bird are simply amazing. Wishing you and yours a very wonderful Thanksgiving!

Abbreviated Version:

Extended Version:

Monday, November 22, 2010

National Day of Prayer Debate

During the month of May I received a lot of forwarded emails from friends and family about President Obama canceling National Day of Prayer. I read through the emails and just added it to my list of reasons why I did not vote for him the first time. I was appalled and insulted that my country and the person who holds the position of president would not want to continue in this wonderful tradition of setting aside a day in honor of our Christian nation.

Then a friend on Facebook, who is a self-professed atheist, posted a link to an article discussing the issue of National Day of Prayer and some of the people involved in making this decision. When I clicked into the link, I found that there are actually Christian groups who are happy that this day might go by the wayside. I was shocked and continued to think about it over the weekend. That is when I realized what a great opportunity this would be for our boys to explore the issue further.

As homeschoolers, the right to make certain decisions for our family, such as educating our children at home, is vitally important. This led me to think about the issue of a National Day of Prayer and whether this actually impedes on our rights as well as the rights of others.

So, we began our school week with a new assignment; investigate the origins of the National Day of Prayer, who is actually suggesting and pursuing the continuation or the elimination of a National Day of Prayer, and what is your personal stance on this issue. It was explained that they’d have to gather information from all sides so they could support either the pros or cons of such a measure.

The many educational aspects that such an investigation would offer are many; media bias, citizenship, analytical thinking, points of view, ethics, distinguishing fact from opinion, research skills, and where do you go for reliable sources. Our society is rich with opportunities to learn. Taking the time to go in depth is the challenge now. So, after doing some further research I found that President Obama did in fact proclaim May 6, 2010 as a National Day of Prayer. Verifying sources would be another skill that need to be reinforced.
 Here are some additional helpful links:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What Does It Mean?

Since the Call of Duty: Black Ops was released only 12 days ago on November 9th, 2010 the game's makers have sold more than 650 million dollars worth of games. Within the game there is a counter bar which scrolls along the bottom of the screen, listing random collective stats and in less than two weeks it has calculated some amazing stats:
  • 6560 years spent playing
  • 96 billion shots fired
  • 45,263,258 head-shots
  • 1,551,912 flags captured
  • 2,810,451 flag returned
  • 1,123,452,673 practice dummies destroyed
  • 120,948,334 offensive and defensive medals gained
  • 10,871,896 matches played
  • 190,624,247 medals earned
  • 80 percent of the world's population has been killed
More than 6000 years spent playing? That's in less than two weeks! So, this raises the question of addiction and what does this mean for America?

The Video Game Addiction Questionnaire (Gentile 2006)

1. Over time, have you been spending much more time thinking about playing video games, learning about video-game playing, or planning the next opportunity to play?

2. Do you need to spend more and more time and/or money on video games in order to feel the same amount of excitement?

3. Have you tried to play video games less often or for shorter periods of time, but are unsuccessful?

4. Do you become restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop playing video games?

5. Have you played video games as a way of escaping from problems or bad feelings?

6. Have you ever lied to family or friends about how much time you play video games?

7. Have you ever stolen a video game from a store or a friend, or have you ever stolen money to buy a video game?

8. Do you sometimes skip household chores in order to spend more time playing video games?

9. Do you sometimes skip doing homework in order to spend more time playing video games?

10. Have you ever done poorly on a school assignment or test because you spent too much time playing video games?

11. Have you ever needed friends or family to give you extra money because you spent too much money on video game equipment, software, or game/Internet fees?

What does this mean? It means that anyone can become an addict and we've seen the tragic results in recent news accounts involving mothers shaking or harming their children when interrupted while playing farmville, as an example. For these people, it means that they are having issues dealing with reality and are escaping elsewhere through this technology. While you might laugh at the image above, I think it captures a sadder truth.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


An article hailing the achievements of an 18 year old young man hailing from Bremerton, WA who has recently accomplished the rare feat of earning every merit badge currently available through the Boy Scouts of America caught my eye. Talk about bling! Then, as I thought about it a bit more, I wondered which of those skills was his favorite in learning. He did after all learn to scuba dive, play the bugle, and design a tent warming system using hand-warmers. It would seem that there would be two approaches to his achievement; quality vs. quantity. There is no way that he was able to master every task but he certainly mastered the task of setting a goal and reaching it. Kudos to him! This wouldn't work for every kid and he achieved this because he wanted it, not his parents or his teachers.

That's when I discovered that his parents were his teachers. He is homeschooled and because of the freedom that comes with homeschooling he was able to accomplish this rare achievement. It appears that there have only been 129 scouts to have accomplished this task, ever. His parents helped him stay focused, chauffeured him, and financed his learning. They did what no school can truly do and that is the beauty of homeschooling, although, not necessarily the focus in this story.

I've heard about a movie coming out called, Race to Nowhere in which the climate of today's educational system is explored through the feelings, frustrations, and realizations of today's students as they look at what they are actually accomplishing and if these accomplishments actually mean anything. It's a very telling look into the reality of "education". 

That's when I came across this video of a young lady giving her valedictorian speech in which she questions the very system in which she excelled while suggesting that her success is not worth as much as she thought.  She also pays homage to a teacher who helped point out some of these ironies and that because of that one teacher, there may still be hope for her, but that she is still afraid. Based on her insights and honest questions, I don't think she needs to fear anything, especially her future.

Kids and Sports

The importance of PE class in the schools have long been debated and continue to fight an uphill battle during these times of budget tightening. I would like to make a case "for" sports in school regardless of the costs. The two vital reasons are: self-confidence and physical fitness.
Self-confidence can be gained through feeling successful to some degree. It's all about personal goals and achieving your personal best. How many books have been written about the defeated teen who is humiliated over an incident in gym class by the more athletically superior "jocks". Being picked last, sitting on the bench, kicking the ball in the wrong goal are all aspects that some of us can relate to but are really unnecessary. Providing a variety of options is the key. How many adults like being told what exercise class they "have to" take at the local gym? It is simple people, kids are humans and like to have choices.
And options are out there. In a recent Sports Illustrated for Kids I came across an article about two schools in New York who are offering PE classes for kids, girls and boys alike, that is about learning how to ride a skateboard. There are those archaic held beliefs that skateboarding is for punks but I would challenge that assertion. Just look at any football or baseball player in the news lately. They could probably be classified as worse than punks...

Tony Hawk is now a 40 something father along with all the other skaters of days gone by who still skate! Wow, you could almost put skateboarding up there with golf as a sport that you can enjoy your entire life. Recently I took my sons, their cousins, and a friend to the local skate park. It was great. There were young guys there as well as the "old dudes" and they were all having fun. The boys spent about 3 hours there over the course of two days.
The beauty of some of these "fringe" sports such as BMX'ing, skateboarding,or golfing, is that they are individual sports to a certain extent but that still require that you "play" with others. It's about your personal best. Not about standing out in left field for 98% of the game not making a single play or on the bench for the entire basketball game. Let's empower our children to participate in activities that they enjoy and that they can continue to participate in throughout their lives.
The second basis for supporting PE classes in school is obviously to access the physical fitness component. Everyone needs more physical activity in this age of conveniences. Kids are no longer  allowed or encouraged to ride the 2 miles to go to the local store and buy their candy bar. They sit in the back seat and consume it. I remember riding to Evergreen Market which was only about 1 mile one way but it would get so windy at times that you literally had to walk your bike. It was a great workout. But in this day and age you can go to jail for child neglect if you put your child in danger by telling them that they could ride to the store - heaven forbid!

So, it is essential for us to provide opportunities for our children to explore different activities that will allow them to be as healthy as possible. If our kids can't be physically healthy they will have a more difficult time being healthy mentally and emotionally. This should be the last thing schools should consider cutting from the budget when everything else depends on it.

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody